4-H Outdoor Cooking Workshop–Beef Stew in a Dutch Oven

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We were able to teach 2 4-H workshops about outdoor cooking.  It was great!

We got there early to set up and get the fire and coals going.  We chose to use liners for the Dutch Ovens, to help us clean up.  Rob ordered them from Amazon, but feels he could have probably purchased them at some place like Cabelo’s.  We just were not going near any of those kinds of stores.  The event was held 1 hour from our house, and we needed to take every single thing we needed except water.  So, we spent the week making sure we had what we needed, and loaded it up into the van, a little each evening.

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Rob got a good fire going in the portable fire pit and we spent the next 2 hours making sure it did not get too big, or go out.  He also got the charcoal going on his Dutch oven table, in the metal charcoal starters he uses.  We had to be very careful to keep everything contained, and very safe.

The kids came, and the first thing we had them do was listen to Rob tell them how to be safe with fires and how to build them. Then, they rolled 10 cotton balls in 2 spoonfuls of petroleum jelly (squished in a baggie) for fire starters, and we also gave them some fire starters in a box.  They put that all in their big Ziplock, with instructions about fire building and recipes they could try at home.  We figured they could provide their own matches:)

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We had 10 in one session, and 11 in the other.  We gave everyone a job on the stew we were making.  Some browned the meat, someone else opened the can of tomatoes, a couple cut the carrots, and everyone who ran out of jobs peeled potatoes.  I had a simple recipe for them to follow, but we let them put in more potatoes.  For some of them, it was their first time peeling potatoes.  For others, they obviously had had practice before.

1-2 cups beef (either raw and browned, or cooked, leftover)

2 cups beef broth (either homemade, or 1 14-oz can)

2 cups baby carrots

1 onion, chopped

4 potatoes (they used more)

1-14 oz can tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Brown the meat if it is raw, in a little bit of oil.  Put the ingredients in the pot.  Put coals under the pot and on top of the pot once the lid is put on.  We were not careful to count them.  Cook for about 30-45 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

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It came out great.  I made one batch at home, which we warmed up for class #1 to eat.  Class #1 made the stew again, and it was cooked for class #2 to eat.  Class #2 made a batch and we took it home, uncooked, because by that time, we wanted the coals and fire to die out so we could transport our equipment safely.  While they ate their stew, Rob told them how to properly take care of cast iron properly.

After they enjoyed their stew, we roasted Peeps in honor of Easter, and then moved on to regular marshmallows.  They loved that part, of course!  Rob made sure they knew that the sugar on the Peeps would get super hot, so they needed to be careful to not burn themselves.  They did great.  These were supposed to be 4th-6th graders, but we could tell that a few younger ones had slipped in, so we wanted to be extra careful with them.

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It was an awesome day.  The sun came out, which made it even better, and the kids were receptive, polite, and eager.  Our daughters, Ja’Ana and Patsy helped, as did our niece, Alissa.  Part of the idea was for the older 4H members to help with the younger ones, and that’s what they did. At the end of the day, we felt like the kids had learned something, and had a great time doing it.  We heard many nice compliments, and one little girl said the stew was her favorite, which surprised me!  It was good, I’ll have to admit!

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