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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I wish I could take credit for this idea, or even the name someone pegged this with.  Both were found floating around on Facebook.  The one I happened to see only had a photo and no recipe.  So I set off to try and produce the pie.  I also wanted my own photo of the trophy…dish… in this case.  Blueberries were used to create the desired contrast for the photo.  Any fruit pie would work.

The one I saw, I assume had used blueberries for the eyes.  I happened to have a partial left over jar of Maraschino Cherries.  The remainder of a jar left over from baking a Pineapple upside down cake in a Dutch Oven.   The recipe I provide here was baked in a Dutch Oven as well.

This pie was baked in a glass 9 inch pie dish, raised up off the bottom of a 14 inch,  Lodge Cast Iron Dutch oven, via a trivet (an inverted second pie tin works).   Several layers of aluminum foil is placed in on top of the trivet/pie tin, prior to placing the glass pie plate containing the raw pie.  The foil left long enough to go up the sides.  The foil  can be folded over in case the top starts browning too fast, but is mostly to assist in lifting out the pie once baking is complete.  Enough coals to create 400° heat.  Using the “3 uppy-down rule” for heat management.  All coals arranged at the far perimeter of the bottom, and the lid.

2   Pie Crusts (prepared for at least a 9 inch pie)
2   21oz Cans Blueberry Pie Filling (Or 4 cups of homemade prepared filling)
1   Small jar Maraschino Cherries (Could also use fresh uncooked Blueberries
6 oz of Fresh Blueberries (washed and stems removed)
1   egg white
¼   cup milk

Mix egg white and milk together (set aside)

Pre-heat Dutch Oven or Kitchen Oven to 400°

Brush both sides of one uncooked pie crust with the egg mixture.  Lightly grease Pie plate.  Place the one Pie crust in the pie plate, up the sides, and trim off excess.  (Save all trimmed pieces)

Spread the Pie filling evenly over the bottom crust.  Next spread the fresh blueberries over the filling (remember to save back 2 for the eyes, and about 10 for the brains 🙁 .  If you are using Cherries for the eyes and brains, spread all the fresh blueberries on the filling.
Brush both sides of the second uncooked pie crust and lay out on cutting board.  Cut an upper main body with short tentacles.  Cut a 2nd main body without tentacles.  Using these dough 2 parts, sandwich cherries (or some of the fresh blueberries) to in effect become brains, as well as creating fill to form a raised 3D head.   Seal the bottom dough to the top dough around the edge using the egg white solution.  The tentacle half, is the top.  Save back 2 cherries or 2 fresh blueberries to create the eyes.  With a circle of dough larger than the cherry/blueberry fold the dough over the berry and lightly pinch to create an eye.   Use egg wash to attach these eyes to the head.   Keep this whole head/eye unit on the cutting board.

Using other dough scraps, cut long tentacles, and snip along one long side (Or use pinking shears).  Arrange these with a twist to make interesting looking Octopus tentacles that start somewhere in the, to be, head area.  Extend them down to the very edge of the pie surface.  Once those legs are in place use a spatula to gently lift head unit off the cutting board and into position on the pie.  The head should cover the upper ends of the in place tentacles.

Bake at 400° for 30 minutes and then check the browning.  Cover with foil if excessive browning of the upper crust is occurring.  Then bake another 10 minutes for a total bake time of 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.  Oh yeah!!

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How Many Coals Should I use?

Copied back from my FB page. Low quality file

This is perhaps one of the most common of the questions asked by people that are new to Dutch Oven Cooking.  While there are endless methods.  There are actually apps available for those newfangled digital devices.  Why not use the old fashioned brain?  It goes well with old fashioned cast iron cooking.

Please hop on over to more of the details of heat management and a couple of the most popular ways of judging how many coals you need to properly cook or bake.

How Many Coals Should I use?  Plus the science behind heat management.

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Sept 16, 2017
Cathedral Gorge State Park
Panaca, Nevada

This year’s Cathedral Gorge State Park Cook Off is the 3rd Saturday  of September 3pm – 7pm.

Last year several members of our local Las Vegas Dutch Oven group participated in the event and had a great time. This is a friendly non sanctioned event.

For those wishing to socialize with the Las Vegas group please contact us through:
Las Vegas Dutch Oven Enthusiasts
The Dutch Oven Cook

Official Contacts for the State Park or for Competition Rules and Sign up:
Cathedral Gorge Park Contact info:
Cathedral Gorge State Park Facebook Page

The actual cook-off is on Saturday. Many of us go up and start camping Thursday then leave Sunday mid-day. The Cook-off is in the group area in the campgrounds.

For those camping: Campsites do have power. But sites are limited and first come first served. You can not reserve sites. For this weekend the rangers normally work with everyone and allow overflow camping in the parking area’s near the “Group Area”. But if that is where you end up it is totally dry camping.  The camp sites and bathroom/showers have been the cleanest I have ever seen.

There is a centrally located Bath/Shower house. This is a small campground so expect to wait if you shower at a popular time of day.

Sites do have power but no sewer or water hook ups. Great for those needing power to run air conditioners and appliances. There is water located at faucets scattered around the campground but that means you have to have a container and carry it to your site. No hose connections allowed.

Sites are very clean. Gravel surface RV spots that are nice and level.

There is a dump station for draining your RV/Trailer Black/Gray tanks. But it is down the road within the park quite a ways on the entrance road. It is kind of inconvenient if you have to drive your RV/Trailer down there to dump while camping. Conserve and use the camp showers if need be. The dump station is even kind of far to tow a portable tank that doesn’t have a real heavy duty set of wheels and a hefty axle. You will trash it easily. So conserve if you are staying a few days. It is conveniently located for dumping when you first enter the park, or as you leave on departure day.

Most tent campers for this cooking event tend to group up around the west end of the Group picnic area. An area that normally is not used for camping.

Many sites are out in the open with no shade from tree’s. The sites with shade go first. Each site does have a picnic table that has a metal shade cover over it.

Each site has a lantern pole out away from the picnic table and shelter. If you want to hang a lantern under the shelter bring s section of light chain and some “S” hooks.

Each site has a metal fire pit, and a raised charcoal BBQ grill. Fires are normally allowed. It is wise if you bring your own shade/EZ up. The sun can still be hot in Nevada’s September weather.  Also walls or some type of wind break is advisable.

Firewood is normally available for purchase…and normally far more reasonable than buying it in Vegas at a grocery store. Buy it here and help support the park.

There is a small market within a short driving distance (Panaca). They are stocked really well with almost anything you might need, though it might be in smaller packages and a bit higher in price than you are used to.

If you are entering in the cook-off you will want your EZ up, prep & cook tables, water container, 3 station dish washing, and perhaps a wagon/cart of some sort to shuttle your gear to the cooking area.

There are endless hiking trails. I like taking my mountain bike and either trail ride, or ride the paved roads within the park. Just north of the campground is the caves area. Accessible by a trail from the campground or driving over on the road. Within the caves area there are enough eroded passageways to spend the weekend just exploring these. The early morning and evening sunsets are spectacular. The caves area’s could just as well be on another planet. The whole landscape transports your imagination into a science fiction tale.

We usually are sung to sleep by the coyote songs. So be sure to but your trash up at night. This also means keeping your pets close too you so they don’t wander off and become part of the food chain. They are lower in the chain out there. Coyotes are used to hunting as a group. They are quick and silent. Don’t let your small fido out for a morning run unleashed and unattended while you are distracted doing something else.

The cooking event is a fun day. But expect a long day too. Cooking, judging, eating, raffling, prize awards, and clean-up. Bring your cart/wagon and flashlight.

Much of the cooking space is in full sun. If you plan to participate be sure to bring your own shade, Prep tables, water containers, and dish washing pans.

The Park normally supplies cook tables and the charcoal. You may want to bring both of these for yourself though. Last year we starting prepping and cooking before they started handing out charcoal. If you have to start cooking early for long prep items, you might run into trouble if you rely on their charcoal.

They do not provide food prep tables. You also may want to bring tables to serve from? Or do double duty with your tables. You need to bring your own tables for these purposes. The picnic tables around the area normally fill up with people showing up to eat and are not to be used by those cooking. Don’t set up in such a way that you use the pavilion tables.

You will want to also have your own way of having hot water for cleaning hands etc. Plus any other requirements to practice safe food handling. You own trash container avoids having to run it to one of the parks receptacles that might not be handy while prepping and cooking.

The Cooking Competition area is enough of a distance from vehicle parking or drop off, that you might want to bring some type of wheeled device to shuttle your tables, gear, and food. Several of us use the folding type 4 wheeled wagons.

The judging, eating, raffle, and prize awards goes on until after dark. So be sure to bring lighting/flashlight/lanterns to aid in breaking down gear and cleaning up your cooking area.

As with all of our outings. You are responsible for you and your families Reservations, Payment, Security, Safety & Well being. In addition you are responsible for any damage you, family members, or invited guests, may cause. No other members, this group as a whole, nor trip organizers, accept any responsibility or liability other than for their own individual actions.


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DOG Spring Rendezvous Wolf Creek SP Illinois


May 20, 2017
Spring Rendezvous
Wolf Creek State Park
Windsor, Illinois

Gathering begins @ 9:00 AM, eating begins @ 12:00!

What to expect between 9 and noon
Before lunch, cookers and Spring Rendezvous participants will drift around the area asking questions, discussing recipes, tips and techniques, checking out all the neat ‘tools’ that other cookers use in their outdoor kitchens.  Cookers and visitors contribute the Dutch oven dish of their choice. ALL DUTCH OVEN COOKS ARE WELCOME!

If anyone wishes to offer a lecture or formal demonstration for the Spring Rendezvous participants during the DOG or later in the day, please contact Eric Davidson at

What should I bring?
Dutch oven cooking pots and cooking tools, the entrees, side dishes, and deserts you plan to prepare, non-alcoholic beverages, serving utensils/tools, table service for those in your party, copies of recipes, charcoal, charcoal tools, ice, etc.  The area the event will be held in is in a primitive group campsite area – there will be no electricity available.

Dutch Oven Competition
Later in the day the Spring Rendezvous Event will have a dutch oven cooking competition. We are in need of individuals to assist with judging.  DOG participants are encouraged to stay and either assist with judging or participate!  For more information, visit:

Where is Wolf Creek?
The address to the state park is 1837 N Wolf Creek Rd, Windsor, IL 45669.  The state park is located at Lake Shelbyville, east of Findlay, south of Sullivan, and north of Windsor.

What is Spring Rendezvous?
An annual camporee is held in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Links to the Future Youth Festival.  Scouts and the public have an opportunity to o learn about the great outdoors and the many hobbies available to the outdoorsman such as trap shooting, BB gun shooting, archery, and fishing. For more information visit:

Camping Accommodations
Those interested in staying at Wolf Creek for the weekend should visit to reserve a campsite within the regular campground.

Additional questions/RSVP’s should be directed to Eric Davidson at or 217/549-4354

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What wonderful weather for mid-March today (March 18, 2017).  Temps hit 90°F with clear blue skies in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I was happy to come away with a first place win in the “Main Dish” category.  Serving up BBQ Pulled Pork, to take home a trophy Plaque and a free annual pass to Nevada State Parks for the year.  That pass will certainly have some mileage put on it.


A group of us have competed in this annual cook-off for 3 or 4 years now.  We saw attendance go way up this year.  I came with 144 sandwich buns to serve the pulled pork on.  (12lbs of Pulled Pork).  I remember buying the buns and thinking I was practicing “over kill”.  When I saw the eating line start to form I started cutting buns in half.  Right before show time I started changing to 1/4 bun per serving.  I as well as many of the other cooks were wiped out.

The unofficial report I got this evening from someone connected with the fort put the headcount at 300.  A far cry from the 25-50 we had seen in previous years.

I had about 10lbs of coleslaw that never made it to the end.  It was just a bonus side dish to go with the BBQ.  Gone before the line finished passing the first time.

I also entered the dessert category with a double batch Cherry Chocolate Cake.  It didn’t even place with all the competition and great cooks.  Though it too was wiped out and only crumbs left.

I am hoping others that attended email me their photos for use on this site.  Also the winners for each category and the dish they served up.  Its tough when you cook, to find the time to take some photos or even sample all the great food.

I didn’t even have the time to enjoy the live music and fiddle players that were just out of ear shot.  Below is a portion of the cook set-ups.

Thanks goes out to Kathleen & Dave LeBlanc for serving up a Mountain Man breakfast for us early birds that were setting up at 7:30am.

Also thanks to those at the Fort that put this all together, then their task to get their park back to normal for the next business day.    There is lots of behind the scenes work and effort going into this event people never see.

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I refer to “Finding Wild Cast Iron” as something the is not store bought.   At least not bought in a store by me.  Those precious finds at a Garage Sale, Estate Sale, Flea Market, etc.  Just like stumbling into wild succulent mushrooms while out hiking in the woods.

People that are new to using cast iron often ask “Where do I buy”, and What should I buy?  That is a difficult question to answer with no other input provided.

I collect cast iron and have way too many stacked away here and there.  But I really enjoy vintage cookware.   Much of the vintage pieces are far superior to modern day cast iron.  Modern day foundries tend to produce “rougher” finishes.  I assume it is to reduce production costs to remain competitive?  Lodge is one of the leaders of USA made, and currently a cookware producing modern day foundry.

If you are patient and look in the right places you can save lots of money.  If you are new to cooking with cast iron you may find the “In the Wild” option a better way to go in case you decide using cast iron is not for you.   Someone will always buy a used piece for what you paid for it…..if you find the bargains out there.

Today’s image in this article, is a garage sale find this morning.  I paid $15.  This is a Lodge 12 inch “Camp” or “Outdoor” Style Dutch Oven.  I say “Outdoor” because it has feet and the raised ridge lid for containing coals.   On the low cost end this would retail around $60 when new.  This Dutch Oven came in the original box, never used, never seasoned, even had the original paperwork.  It looks brand new.

Dutch Ovens made for use in your regular kitchen oven normally have no legs,  just a smooth bottom.  The kitchen version lid is more domed shaped with no raise ridge since retaining coals is not a requirement.

While you may not find “wild cast iron” with the original box, and in this condition, finding some of the older vintage cookware is an even more gratifying score.  Cast Iron Fever (Collecting) can develop into something hard to control.

For someone starting out I generally first recommend starting with a 10 inch “camp” style Dutch Oven.  My second recommendation would be for the same in the 12 inch size.  Most recipes work equally well in either of these two without adjustments to ingredients or temperature.  They are both great for Casseroles,  Meats, Chili, Cakes, Cobblers, Mountain Man Breakfasts, and so much more.


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