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Cinnamon Apple Trail Mix

December 13th, 2006 by Halli

This is so pretty! You can use it for extra energy along the trail, or as an attractive gift. And you can feel good about eating most of it, too! The recipe makes about 4 quarts.

2 c mini pretzels
2 c dry roasted peanuts
3 c Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
1 ½ c Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
1 ½ c Frosted Cheerios
1 ½ c yogurt covered raisins
¾ c apple-flavored green jelly beans
¾ c cinnamon red-hots, or red jelly beans
6-oz dry apple chips

Combine all ingredients in large container. Store in airtight container. Makes approximately 4 quarts.

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Delicious Peanut Butter Cookies (Flourless)

December 12th, 2006 by Halli

My neighbor, Marion, brought this recipe over, along with some of the wonderful cookies. You’ll never miss the flour, and if you have celiac disease, you’ll be delighted. Give them a try!

½ c margarine
½ c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
3 eggs
1 18-oz jar chunky peanut butter
¼ t vanilla
¾ t corn syrup

Combine the above ingredients. Stir in:

4 ½ c oatmeal (old fashioned is great)
2 t baking soda
¼ t salt
1 c chocolate chips or other variety
1 c additional nuts if desired

Drop by scoop or spoonful onto baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes.

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Rocky Road Brownies

December 5th, 2006 by Halli

These are yummy!

1 c butter
4 oz (4 squares) unsw baking chocolate
1 ½ c sugar
1 c flour
3 eggs
1 ½ t vanilla
½ c chopped salted peanuts

¼ c butter
1 3-oz pkg cream cheese
1 oz (1 square) unsw chocolate
¼ c milk
2 ¾ c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
2 c mini marshmallows
1 c salted peanuts

Brownies: Place butter and chocolate in saucepan and heat over medium burner until melted, stirring constantly. Mix in sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla, beating well. Stir in chopped peanuts. Spread in greased 9” X 13” pan. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes (brownies will begin to pull away from sides of pans when they’re done). Cool in pan

Topping: In saucepan, combine butter, cream cheese, chocolate and milk. Heat over medium burner until smooth, stirring occasionally. Remove from burner. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in mini marshmallows and peanuts. Immediately spread over cooled brownies. Finish cooling in pan. Cut into about four dozen bars, and if there are any left, store in refrigerator.

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Mom’s Best Pie Crust

November 13th, 2006 by Halli

This pie crust, prepared and baked by Mom, was actually taste-tested by a panel of discriminating women and compared to both lard pastry and shortening pastry. This oil recipe was voted tastiest and most tender.

2 c flour
1 t salt
Sift together. Add
1/2 c oil.
Stir with fork and mix thoroughly until all flour is mixed into oil. Add
4-5 T cold water
all at once and stir only until barely moistened. (Over-mixing will cause crust to be tough.) Use a rubber scraper to form into a ball. If there is much dry flour remaining, add a small additional amount of water.
Roll out to fit pie pan.
Makes 2 9″ pie shells, or 1 double crust pie shell.

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Pumpkin Pie Dessert

November 13th, 2006 by Halli

1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 c for topping)
1/2 c melted margarine or butter
1 egg
Combine and press into bottom of 9″ X 13″ pan, greased on bottom only.

1 large (2 pie) can pumpkin
1 lg can evaporated milk
1 c sugar
3/4 t salt
2 eggs
1 t pumpkin pie spice (or 2 t cinnamon and 2 t allspice)
Combine all and pour over crust.

1 c reserved dry cake mix
1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 c margarine or butter
Combine and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes or until set.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

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Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie

November 13th, 2006 by Halli

1 egg
¾ c brown sugar
2 T flour
½ t salt
1½ c pumpkin (fresh cooked or canned)
½ can evaporated milk
1 t cinnamon
1 t allspice

Combine all ingredients in blender. Pour into unbaked 9” pie shell. Bake at 425F for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325F and continue baking until set (approx. 35 minutes).

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Seasoning Your Dutch Oven

November 12th, 2006 by Halli

An aluminum Dutch oven usually does not require any initial treatment except washing in hot, soapy water. However, some brands may come with a factory-applied wax coating that must be removed. If the coating is very heavy, place the Dutch oven in a gas barbecue, upside down with the lid leaning against the pot, set the temperature to medium, and close the lid. If you must use an indoor electric oven, open your house doors and windows, and heat in a 350F oven. When the Dutch oven stops smoking, turn off the heat and allow to cool. Be sure to wash and dry before using.

When you bring home a cast iron Dutch oven, you will find it also coated with a layer of protective wax to prevent rusting. If the wax is so thick you can scrape it off with your fingernail, burn it off by the same method as described for the aluminum oven. If it is not extremely thick, scour the Dutch oven well with an abrasive pad, using soap and hot water. Then rinse and dry. Regardless of the method you used to remove the wax coating, now coat the Dutch oven inside and out with white Crisco shortening or vegetable oil. With an indoor electric oven, heat your Dutch oven to 400F for 30-45 minutes, or until it stops smoking. If you are able to use a gas barbecue, heat your Dutch oven on the medium setting for 20-30 minutes, or until the oven stops smoking. You can tell the oven is properly seasoned if it has turned dark amber to black, and has a satin sheen to it. If it still looks essentially as it did when you opened the box, repeat the process. If the Dutch oven feels sticky, reheat until it stops smoking.

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Miscellaneous Dutch Oven Tips

November 9th, 2006 by Halli

A Dutch oven is a very versatile cooking pot. You can turn over the lid, place it directly on the coals, and use it for a frying pan. You can heat oil in the oven and deep fry onion rings, scones, etc. And with both the pot and the lid, you can bake, roast, boil, brown, etc., etc.

To minimize the clean up, you can line your Dutch oven with heavy-duty, extra-wide aluminum foil. There will usually be some food that leaks onto the oven, but it will usually not be baked on, and clean up will be quick and easy.

When you can actually smell your dish as you walk near the hot oven, your dish is probably done, even if your watch or timer says it hasn’t been long enough. When you lift the lid to check for doneness or to stir, use care to keep coals and especially ash from falling off the lid onto the food. Though “activated charcoal” is reputed to aid digestion, it doesn’t look very tempting on top of the cobbler or chicken dish! Likewise, be careful where you set the lid while tending to the dish. It will pick up sand or dirt, which will be transferred to the food.

When you’ve finished the cooking stage and have served your guests, remove the food from the oven as soon as possible, and don’t store food in it, unless it is an aluminum oven. In a cast iron oven, the result will be rust. Do allow the oven to cool by itself, and never pour cold water in a hot oven, or hot water in a very cold oven, as the oven may crack.

Remember that if the weather outside prevents charcoal or gas cooker preparation, just pop your Dutch oven in your indoor electric oven. The Dutch oven legs will just fit between the rails of your oven racks. Set your temperature to 350F, or other specified temperature (you can use a similar conventional oven recipe for guidance) and bake for the appropriate length of time. There are both cast iron and aluminum Dutch ovens made specially for indoor ovens, which are minus the legs and the flange on the lid.

If you are into emergency preparedness, as I am, keep a Dutch oven, supplies and ingredients for easy meals handy. Even canned stew will taste great heated in a Dutch oven. Don’t forget to practice your skills during times of less stress!

I love to use mixes for cakes and corn bread, and to open cans for casseroles and cobblers, to minimize food prep time. For me, the fun comes in the cooking. However, many Dutch oven cooks are into gourmet cooking and love to concentrate on multiple courses and elegant presentation. Pick your style (or a combination suiting your taste) and have fun. And remember, for your own safety, never eat food prepared by a skinny Dutch oven cook!

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Other Dutch oven equipment

November 9th, 2006 by Halli

As with almost any popular pursuit, it is possible to spend a lot of money accessorizing your Dutch ovens. You really just need equipment that gets the job done, so if you have a pair of pliers around the house, and there is no safety issue, you probably don’t need an expensive lid-lifter. Many of these items can be found in a dollar store. Use your imagination! Here is a short list of items and/or functions you will need when you cook in a Dutch oven.

  • Matches
  • Charcoal chimney
  • Newspaper or other fire starter
  • Lid lifter/pliers
  • Heavy gloves
  • Lid stand
  • Long tongs
  • Metal table or other surface
  • Coal scraper, like a putty knife
  • The usual cooking utensils

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Briquettes and Heat Control for Dutch Ovens

November 9th, 2006 by Halli

If you’re not using your Dutch oven in an indoor electric oven, on a gas grill, or over wood coals from your campfire, you are probably using briquettes. There are many brands available, but most Dutch oven cooks agree that Kingsford makes the most consistent product that yields the best results.

Many if not most Dutch oven dishes are cooked at 350F. To achieve that temperature, use the “Rule of Two”, by taking the size in inches of your Dutch oven and subtracting 2 for the number of coals placed under the oven. Take the size of the oven and add 2 for the number of coals placed on the lid. In other words, for a 12” Dutch oven, you put 10 coals under the oven, and 14 on the top to achieve a temperature of 350F. For higher or lower temperatures, add or subtract coals. When in doubt, it is generally better to use too few briquettes than too many!

For baking breads, cakes, etc., you can use the “Rule of Four”. From the size of the Dutch oven subtract 4 to get the number of coals to place under the oven. Add 4 to the size of the oven to get the number of coals to place on the lid.

Briquettes can be started in a variety of ways. My favorite method is with a charcoal chimney. Just be sure you don’t buy one with a “drop-out” bottom. You generally are going to want to pour out the burning coals rather than leave them heaped in one location under the chimney. Just stuff 1-2 pages of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, place the desired number of briquettes (plus a few) in the top, and light the paper. It usually takes 15-20 minutes for the charcoal to start. You can tell it’s started if your hand placed a few inches over the top of the chimney can feel the heat. The briquettes will be gray or have gray patches on them when they are ready to use.

There are some variables that effect the heat provided by briquettes or coals. Even a moderate breeze
can reduce the heat somewhat and if one is blowing you may wish to use a windscreen of some kind. Humidity, shade, cold weather, high altitude and cooking on soft ground can also reduce the heat. Of course, hot weather and direct sun can also increase the heat of the briquettes.

It is possible to conserve heat and briquettes by stacking Dutch ovens, when you’re cooking multiple dishes. Just be sure to put the oven containing the dish that requires the longest cooking time and the least amount of attention on the bottom.

Many Dutch oven recipes require only an hour of cooking. If a longer time is required, such as for some roasts, you will need to start a new set of briquettes, clean off the ash from the first briquettes, and put on the new ones.

Remember that stews, soups, chili and other liquids require more heat, and thus more briquettes, on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Meat, vegetables and cobblers require an even distribution of heat. And cakes, breads, biscuits, cookies, etc., require most of the heat on the top of the Dutch oven, and just a little on the bottom.

A variety of surfaces can be used for cooking in a Dutch oven. The ovens can be placed on the ground, a flat metal surface of some kind, such as a garbage can lid, concrete (which may crack with the high temperatures) or almost anything non-flammable. For a few years I placed my Dutch ovens in a clean oil drain pan.

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