2016-04-27

Cooking, cast iron, and dutch ovens

A while back Angie and I we're talking about what gear we wanted for living in the truck, and we got in to cooking gear. Last time I used an aluminum dutch oven, which worked pretty well, but it's a little small for two. Also, Angie gets a little anemic sometimes and was really enjoying the dietary Iron she's been getting from cooking in cast iron all the time. So, we decided what we really wanted was a 5 quart cast iron dutch oven.

Angie let a friend know and not long after that friend contacted her with a photo of this pot she found at an auction for ~$25.0

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I couldn't believe it. It's an old Wagner... really old. It's light, and in basically perfect condition, and we've been using it as our primary pot since Angie got it.

Strictly speaking it's not a dutch-oven, since it lacks the flat lid with the lip on the edge, but it's plenty good enough and works very well for what we need. Even better than that, it's stable when you hang it from the bail, even when completely full of water, so it can used for cooking on a tripod. That's really rare in a cast-iron pot, and extremely useful. The antique ones are also far lighter than modern cast-iron, and smoother as well, making them really superior in every way for actually cooking in. I'd expected anything this good would've been way out of our price-range.

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We're also bringing my antique cast iron pan, as well as 2 old aluminum backpacking/camping pots. My dad got the smaller one when he was in college, already used, and found the older one later, so those act as soup-pots for things like oatmeal.

We've been using this set of dishes for a while, since well before we hit the road (since we'd already gotten rid of the rest of our pots), and find it to be more than sufficient for virtually everything we cook. Notice the metal spatula in the first picture... I learned the hard way that this is key to using cast-iron as you can keep things from sticking with this far better than a plastic or wooden spatula.

If you don't know the secret to dutch ovens, the neat thing is not only can this be used as a pot, and a frying pan, it can also be used like an oven. If you bury it in coals you can bake bread, pizza, finish pancake, or virtually anything else.

Anyway, if you have a pot like this, don't let it go... or better yet, give it to me :).

Finally on the road again

A bit over a week ago Angie and I loaded up the truck and headed out. First stop was "Carnival" weekend at my Alma-mater, Carnegie Mellon. After hanging out with some good folks we headed out again and south to Georgia for Rivercane Rondezvous.

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Our camp at Rivercane (we put up a tarp as an awning using treking poles and the truck later in the week)

Rivercane is a primitive skills gathering (or earth-skills as they call it). It's a week of hanging out and taking classes from some of the best herbalists, botanists, boyers, potters, tee-pee makers, trackers, flint knappers, birders, outdoors cooks, and survivalists anywhere.

This was Angie's first gathering, and she was a bit overwhelmed but had a blast. I ended up spending the week mostly going on plant walks and trying to learn more plants and trees. Though, I also picked up a bunch of tips for working buckskin and making centerseem moccasins, learned how to dig, dope, blend, and wedge clay for pottery (though I'm still a terrible potter), and took a couple of classes in improving my wilderness awareness. Angie took some of the basics like cordage and spent a lot of time on plants as well.

The classes on awareness really helped take me out of that super-focused mode I need for my work. On-call had made it very hard to really open up my full awareness, and it was great to finally get the chance. I was pretty high on it all week. I greated the sun with flute music many mornings and had a huge grin on my face.

The truck worked great for us. It drives wonderfully with the lift and 33" tires, and the roof-rack gives us enough space to have a few extra items, like fluids for the truck, and our climbing gear.

We just got back to Waynesboro for this trip day before yesterday. Although we'd packed the truck, we hadn't cleaned out the apartment, and the plan is to pull some other junk up to my parent's house on my trailer.

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Drop hitch so the trailer will be level enough to be safe, with the truck lift and high reciever

So, we spent the last 2 days packing the trailer and cleaning the house. We just finished cleaning the carpets with a rented cleaner, and ate lunch "in the park" (well, next to it... actually we were sitting in front of a chemical plant, because the park is closed... oh well). So now we're in a coffee shop... We're OFF!

The trailer is going to wait a couple of weeks 'cause we want to visit Angie's friends in PA, and then do some rock-climbing in VA before heading up to MA with the trailer to see my parents.