Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Cast Iron …… that was the original concept to explore, but then it is confining for my presently fragmented thoughts. Still there are other aspects of life that now call to me. Returning to clay and building organic ware, an artistic outlet that is necessary to my life. As children, we made mud pies and share them with our families. Now, we sink our hands into the clay and let it take us to wonderful creations to serve or display the foods from our cast iron pots. Can’t believe I am able to rationalize almost anything with food. That is just a little sad.

Nonetheless, not particularly interested in throwing …… oh, yes, I did give it a go …….. and, what I discovered about me, I really do not enjoy the repetitiveness of throwing. I do, however, enjoy the discovery of where the next piece of clay will go and how it works with the body. Loving textures and glazes that break, run, interact, and I find most happy accidents are just that. Corn is giving me the greatest feel of accomplishment. Wish the pieces could be seen. Perhaps you might feel the same. Amazingly, for whatever reason, think with every layer of the shuck something wonderful is about to be revealed. Brownstone Clay, simple pleasures of being wrist deep in it and the tables of food that can be served on it. WOW, what’s for dinner?

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I rarely write in the first person. It sounds so pompous and arrogant. As a little wrinkle in my personality, I am advised to get past it. Therefore, I’m taking a stab at it today.

There are many cooks, chefs, gourmets and others out here with specific opinions as to how to prepare and present food. Maybe I am coming at this from a place that is more accepting ….. wife, mother, hunter, fisherman, backpacker, recreational shooter since 1965….. BSA volunteer and caterer came a bit later. Without professional training, I learned to cook the hard way with heaps of errors, but learning did occur. For some years when I would travel with my husband, he would begin the trip with the gift of a cookbook which I read like a novel. I possess a considerable library and learning did take place.

When he wasn’t having much success teaching his troop to cook, it dawned on me that whatever was cooked at home could be cooked at a camp site. His approach was stews, pot roast and Cobbler. BORING!! This is when I began giving lessons to my husband on Pizza, Shepherd’s Pie, Lasagna, Real Pound Cake, yeast bread and, oh my goodness, vegetables boys wanted to eat. I put this together in a small cooking guide, Feast Ya’ll, for the troop. I understand it has been copied many times and shared all over the country. That is a nice compliment.

The idea was sound. My conundrum was how many coals equaled what temperature and do they go on top, under the bottom or both. The other was what period of time was the life of a charcoal. Time, trial and error seemed to be our educator and learning did occur. Actually, as in most things, we had many ah ha moments. It’s an OVEN; so, treat it that way. To bake, heat must be all the way around … more coals top than under the bottom. Also, the inside contents need to leave a minimum of 1 inch clear air space to the lid. Today, it hardly matters whether I’m cooking with electricity or charcoals. The adjustments are only relative to the weather conditions …. Hot, cold, wet, dry, windy or calm. Heavy duty aluminum foil is an indispensible tool.

As I write, I’m wondering if anyone will actually read and appreciate or am I just talking to myself. The reality, I suppose, is that this is a skill that I have enjoyed sharing over the years. Perhaps this is a reinvention of sharing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cast Iron [Black Pot] Cooking Issues Indoors and Out

The absurd thought that this utensil must be babied is ludicrous. It’s IRON for goodness sake. Agreed, it will crack if, while hot, is shoved into cold water; and can warp with excessive high heat. Yes, tomatoes are acid and will clean most metal pots. That doesn’t mean they cannot be an ingredient. After all, when the pot is washed and dried, just wipe the inside with a paper towel dipped in some vegetable oil.

Have you met that person who feels their 8 inch fry pan is the “sacred” cornbread pan? What is amazing is the thought that it is useful for only one thing. Wish folks realized that the more cast iron is used, the better it becomes. In my kitchen, there are only 2 metals used for cooking ….. Copper and cast iron. Oh, they are washed in hot soapy water dried and stored for the next day’s use. My grandmother gave me my first skillet and Dutch oven in 1965 for a wedding gift. My mother only owned cast iron skillets. I was fortunate to have discovered its secrets from childhood. No Teflon for me.

For ten years, demonstrated cooking with camp stoves [the pots with legs and flanged lids and charcoal, if you were thinking of something else] for a premier manufacturer. Also, for twenty years, taught many folks and campers the art of indoor and outdoor cast iron cooking. This is a cooking utensil not the Holy Grail.

In THE WOODS WOMAN’S POT, the recipes are workable for the kitchen, the camp or the yard.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The smell of the pot

I have a big ole kettle and it smells. What does it smell like? It smells like onions, garlic and money.