Its Nearly Time – Cathedral Gorge Dutch Oven Cookoff

Final preparations are going on for me today.  Loading the trailer and taking inventory of camping gear and cooking utensils.

This coming weekend is the annual Cathedral Gorge Dutch Oven Cookoff (September 16th, 2017)  Sponsored by the Nevada State Park and surrounding businesses.  The weather is looking to be near perfect.

This cookoff is a big deal.  At least for the competitions we normally attend.  There are normally around 50 cooks, and some of those preparing multiple recipes.  We have seen crowds of people (250+) showing up to taste, vote on their favorite, and just plain enjoy the day.

If you are in the area, be sure to come out and support the event.  Enjoy the food, enter the raffle, and enjoy the beautiful Nevada State Park.

Cathedral Gorge State Park Website

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Monterey Chicken Wraps


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Monterey Chicken Wraps
Recipe and Images courtesy of : Rick Beach
Note: This is one of my personal recipes
These can be prepared in a cast iron skillet, Dutch Oven bottom pot, standard skillet, or a wok. This recipe makes 12. But only expect that to feed 3 people. Perhaps 4 if you have some sides. These make excellent appetizers when cut in half after frying them.
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 8 Minutes
Servings
Wraps
Ingredients
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 8 Minutes
Servings
Wraps
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Fry bacon until very crispy, then crumble. Set aside.

    Pour off the bacon grease and use the pan with the remaining stuck on bacon drippings to cook the chicken breast. Roll the raw breast in the Montreal Steak seasoning before starting to cook. Using medium high heat quick sear the seasoned breast on all sides. Once all sides seared, lower heat to medium low and cook covered. Turn occasionally for about 20 minutes but avoid drying it out. Once thoroughly cooked dice into small pea size cubes.

    Toss the Chopped Tomatoes, Cilantro, Onions, and Garlic to combine. Then stir in the cooked and diced chicken, and cooked crumbled bacon.

    Lay out an Egg Wrap and spoon about a 1/4 - 1/2 Cup (fill as much of the wrap that it will hold) of the combine Tomato and Chicken mixture onto a wrap. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded Monterey Jack cheese on top of that. Start rolling/wrapping from a corner diagonally. About half way through the rolling, tuck the two side corners toward the middle of the roll. Continue rolling to seal the roll. Set on a clean surface with the tail of the wrap on the bottom to prevent unrolling of the egg roll.

    In a wok, skillet or pan, cover the bottom with vegetable oil and bring up to temperature using medium high heat.

    Place the egg rolls in the hot oil with the wrap tail down until that surface is golden brown. Rotate the egg roll with tongs and brown all surfaces. Once browned remove from the hot oil and place on absorbent paper towels to remove excess oil.

    Serve hot.

    Ranch Dressing by itself makes a wonderful dipping sauce. If you want to ramp it up a bit stir in very small amounts of Sriracha Sauce, taste testing as you go, until you get your desired taste. (Remember many don't care for spicy hot).

    Though this recipe makes 12 Rolls. You will find 4 will be required per person if this is all you are serving. A side of seasoned rice and a nice salad may stretch this to 2 per person. But they are kind of addictive and I doubt 2 per person will be enough.

Recipe Notes

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Spanish Rice

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Print Recipe
Spanish Rice
Recipe courtesy of Rick Beach This is a great side dish. Or for use in other recipes that call for "Spanish Rice" Add an addition of 1lb ground beef (browned) to be used as a main dish. This recipe makes about 3 to 4 Cups of Spanish Rice.
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in deep skillet. Saute uncooked rice, onion, bell pepper, until rice is brown and onions tender. Add minced garlic toward the end. Stir in and don't burn the garlic.
  2. Stir in water, & tomatoes. Stir in all seasonings. Simmer for about 30 minutes covered. Or until rice is cooked and liquid absorbed.
Recipe Notes

To use the basic Spanish Rice recipe as a main dish.  Add 1 lb of browned ground beef, browned ground chicken, or browned ground turkey.

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Banana Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins


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Print Recipe
Banana Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins
Banana Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins (Recipe and Image courtesy: Rick Beach)
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 15 Minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 15 Minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In medium bowl combine the oats and milk and set aside to allow liquid to absorb.
  2. In large bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients and whisk to combine. The Nutmeg, Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Flour, Salt, and Cinnamon.
  3. Stir the melted butter and whisked egg into the milk and oats. Stir in the Smashed Bananas, then the Blueberries.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until well moistened.
  5. Line muffin pan with paper cupcake/muffin liners. Spray papers with spray oil such as Pam. Fill muffin cups 3/4 Full. Bake in preheated oven 425°F for 15 minutes and passes the toothpick test.
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WAFFLE DOG TIME

While many of you have been enjoying camping away the summer months, some of us have been getting “cabin fever”.

Most of the country gets “cabin fever” when cooped up during the winter months.  Ironically those of us that live and camp in the desert southwest mostly “hole” up the hot summer months.  Then start camping as the summer heat starts to wane into cooler temperature of the approaching Fall season.

So for some of us it is time to dust off the waffle dog maker, air out the sleeping bags and tents, and start prepping for prime camping season.

Does anyone have any tried and true recipes for use in a waffle dog maker?  I need one for Corn Dogs, and another for Waffle Sausages.

Email us at :  info@toponautic.com
We will list your recipe(s) and credit your name.

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DUTCH OVEN COOKING COMPETITION Sept 16 2017


It’s nearly that time of year again.  Camping and Dutch Oven Cooking Competition at Cathedral Gorge State Park near Panaca, Nevada.

Link to the official State Park information

Actual competition cooking is on Saturday September 16, 2017

A group of us camper/Dutch Oven cooks have been attending this event for years.  The rangers at this State Park make this the best cooking competition we have ever competed in.  Aside from the awesome prizes the rangers solicit from supporting businesses, they just make this plain fun.

This is not IDOS sanctioned and the rules are lax.  Just plain old fun!  Be prepared to come up against a lot of very good cooks.  The competition is tough!

Be prepared to arrive early and to stay until after dark.

Even if you don’t participate in cooking.  The whole day can be taken up hiking early in the morning, then wandering around watching the cooks prepare the food.  Judging and serving food to the public, is early evening.

Buy your raffles tickets and take a chance on winning prizes and supporting a great event.

Many of us start arriving Thursday and Friday to also spend a few days camping.  Sites are first come first served.  Though the rangers have always made room for everyone even if it means “dry camping” off the edge of the pavement near the picnic area.

This time of year expect warm days and cool nights.  The Milky-way will blanket you in the sky above.  The coyote’s will sing you to sleep at night.

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CORN STICK PAN verses CONVECTION

Las Vegas in the middle of summer is easily hitting 110°F daytime temperatures. For some that is not conducive for enjoying a hot bowl of Chili. Many reserve that cuisine for chilling winter days.

Not me. I enjoy Chili year round. Then Chili isn’t at it’s best, unless you have cornbread as a side to accompany it.

On a hot day outside I often drag out the crock-pot to make a batch without heating up the kitchen. While I am a cast iron connoisseur, I am certainly not firing up some charcoal and Dutch Oven cooking when it is a scorching +110°F outside either. Thinking about getting the kitchen oven up to 425°F for a batch of cornbread doesn’t sound too appealing either. That heats the whole house up.

This is where vintage Cast Iron meets the modern Counter-top Convection Oven. The combination works well together and doesn’t kick my air conditioner on more than normal.

Now I am sitting back enjoying a bowl of Chili. Dipping my hot buttered corn sticks in some maple syrup. What a killer combination. Both in the cooking technique, as well as the food paring.

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Chuck Box – Wood Box

Credits for this Chuck Box version go out to Paul Bridgewater.  Paul was kind enough to share his Chuck Box concept, and some photos.  I am kind of envious.  I wish I had the patience and the work space/shop to produce these.

Paul gives some insight on his design with the photos.  Also some dimensions that might prove helpful.

Paul says his first ones were 3/4 plywood construction.  His words “Too Heavy!”

He now builds these from 1/2 Birch Plywood.  The legs are 1x4x36 Oak.  These are custom made for the Scouts.

The legs are slotted to aid in leveling.  The box is 36″ Wide, 24″ tall, and 15 1/2″ Deep.

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CHUCK BOX 2

This is “Chuck Box V.2” for me.  My current upgrade, from previous Stanley “Fat Max” tool boxes that I used for several years.  My latest upgraded version uses these Rigid Brand Stackable and Wheeled tool totes, shown in this article..

Ever since covered wagons,  I would imagine the Chuck Box has been a common term.  Before that, I am sure migrating people had a simpler and smaller means of transporting some of their precious spice items.  Those items that were not easily obtained foraging natures surrounding supplies.

If you have camped many years you have probably changed out your own method of carrying your own staples.  Having your items with you, rather than being dependent on an inconvenient source to purchase (forage) your own items while camping.  I say this is version 2 for me, but that is version 2 in a recent sense.  In reality I have tried numerous configurations over  a  lifetime of camping.  All common containers many people use, such as Tupperware or plastic shoe boxes.

My current method is “Rigid” totes.  I hope people viewing the blog take the time to forward us photos of your own “tried and true” method. We want to add them to this article. So tell us a little about yours and about yourself.  Or what you think of ours?

Ours does not have the “coolness ” factor of a handcrafted wood Chuck Box, but they are highly functional.  The boxes have been along on multi-day trips, Dutch Oven Cooking events, and regular campground camping.  We have ours loaded so we are not wanting of anything.

We use 3 Stack-able and Wheeled totes made by Rigid.  Finding ours at Home Depot for about $130.  They seal well against rain, have latches to slow down critters, carrying handles, and side handles that also serve to latch all 3 together as one unit.

The totes are often left on the picnic table at all times (unless in bear country) and they have never had the critters get in them.  They also sit out, getting rained on at times.  When we return home from camping, the used items are replenished.  Everything is kept inside the house so the ingredients are always fresh and ready to go for the next trip.

Dry Ingredients such as flour, pancake mix, etc is rotated when we replenish.  We dump the unused portion out on foil. Refill the used portion from new supply in the house, then dump the older ingredient now on the foil, back in on top to fill our camp container.

 

The top box is all spices and several small containers of Crisco.  This box is equipped as well as my home kitchen.

 

 

The middle box is the dry ingredient box.  Larger containers of things like Flour, Sugar, and Coffee.  In in their own larger screw lid containers.  There is also extra room for cookbooks and bags of backup items.  A couple containers do double duty.

 

The largest box, on the bottom is also wheeled and has a telescoping handle to assist in wheeling all three boxes as a single unit.  This bottom box is my catch all for small cutting boards, utensils, knives, and silverware.

Here is a list of items in my three boxes.  I cook with large groups and can cook or bake anything with what I carry.  Adjust your items to suit your needs.

Top Box

(8) 1/4 Cup containers of Crisco
Spray oil
Salt
Pepper
Cilantro Flakes
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Italian Seasoning
Paprika
Corn Starch
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
Ginger ground/powder
Nutmeg ground/powder
Clove ground/powder
Burger Seasoning
Chili Powder
Cumin Powder
Vanilla Extract
Sage
Dry Milk
Cayenne Pepper
Bay Leaves
Vegetable Oil
Dry Yeast

Middle Box

Flour
Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Coffee
Brown Sugar
Vanilla Coffee Powder
Buttermilk powder
Oatmeal
Cornmeal
Pancake Mix
Cookbook(s)/Recipes

Bottom Box

Utensil Box
Mixing Bowl
Cutting Boards
Hand Mixer
Tongs
Serving Spoons
Several sets of Knife, Spoon, Fork
Oval Metal Plate
Butcher knife
Bread knife
Paring knife
Can opener
Wine/Bottle Opener
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
Whisk
Scissors
Pot holders
Ladles
Wooden Spoons
Spatula
Biscuit cutters
Rubber Batter Scrapers
Butane Lighter Sticks
Spare Lantern Mantels
Aluminum Foil
Plastic Wrap
Sifter
Small Vegetable Oil
Vinegar
Agave Syrup
Pancake Syrup

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BBQ Sauce

A couple of weeks ago I really nailed the taste on some homemade BBQ Sauce.  The trouble is I didn’t write any of the ingredient portions down.

A few days ago I attempted to duplicate the sauce.  While it wasn’t a total failure it did not match the home run from the previous batch.

That great batch was sweet and zesty for sure.  Some might call it a Southern style.  Or Carolina style.

So this is a work in progress recipe.  I have the ingredients jotted down.  They are here for you to experiment with.  I will keep adjusting, and updating the ingredients and portions until I get it right again to my taste at least.  Enjoy!

7/3/2017  Version 0.3

15 oz       Tomato Sauce
10 oz       Tomato Soup (Condensed/No water added)
1/4 Cup  Dark Molasses
1 Cup       Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup  Vinegar (Apple or Wine Vinegar)
3 Tbsp    Mustard (yellow French’s brand -Hot Dog style)
2 Tbsp    Cilantro Flakes
1 Tbsp     Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp     Onion Powder
1 tsp         Sage Powder
1/3 Cup   Agave Syrup (Start with none then adjust to desired sweetness)
1 Tbsp     Sriracha Sauce
1 Cup       Ketchup
1/16 tsp  Cayenne Pepper (See “Note” Warning below))
2 Tbsp    Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Cup   Liquid Smoke  (I use Hickory Flavor)
2 Tbsp     Lime Juice
3/4 tsp    Salt
1/4 tsp     Black Pepper
2 Tbsp     Corn Starch

Cooked down until thickened.   This can be brushed on meats being grilled.

Once thickened whisk in the Agave starting with small portion of the 1/3 cup.  You may not need to add any.  If you do add it slowly until you reach your desired sweetness.  For some the 1/3 cup Agave called for in this recipe may be too sweet.  So start adding slowly.  Combine thoroughly then taste

This recipe can be whisked together without cooking, and dumped over ribs to be slow cooked in a crock pot, or baked in a baking dish in the oven.

Note: Cayenne Pepper tends to increase in the “Hot” factor as it cooks, or sits mixed in with other ingredients.  In low doses it is a great food taste enhancer.  Do not increase the amount based on taste when first added.   Especially if you are the cook and like things “hot”!  This recipe is not what I would call “spicy hot”.  But for people that prefer mild spicy tastes, this might be just on the upper edge of the spicy scale, for their liking.   This recipe also gets some kick from the Sriracha Sauce.  You can easily push this over the edge from a food enhancer, to something many people would not prefer.

You can quickly ruin a big expensive batch of meat if you don’t heed this spice warning.  This above recipe is what I would say is the most popular level of ‘heat” when feeding a variety of people.  Better to serve hot pepper seeds, or hot sauce, “on the side” for those that enjoy the extreme.  Because most people, truth be known, do not enjoy extreme “spicy hot”.

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