Friday, June 14, 2013

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) cheat sheet to convert cooking times for a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Generally speaking - this is an approximate conversion

Slow Cooker / Dutch Oven
12 hours/Low = 3 hours/325° F
10 hours/Low = 2 1/2 hours/325° F
8 hours/Low = 2 hours/325° F
6 hours/Low = 1 1/2 hours/325° F
5 hours/Low = 1 hour, 15 min./325° F
4 hours/Low = 1 hour/325° F
4 hours/High = 2 hours/325° F
3 hours/Low = 45 min./325° F
3 hours/High = 1 1/2 hours/325° F
2 hours/Low =30 min./325° F
2 hours/High =1 hour/325° F
1 hour/Low = 15 min./325° F
1 hour/High = 30 min./325° F

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How to load an overhead camper, onto a truck, that has no engine............

We have this huge overhead camper...that we loved......

Back when the truck was still running.
But the truck died :( & we bought a new truck, that unfortunately has a 6.5 foot box.  This camper is a whopping 16 feet long - it has a 2.5 foot overhang, the 8 feet on the box, & 6 feet over the cab!  It weighs 3000lbs loaded.  Very comfortable to sleep in, but not practical with todays trucks.  We had the camper parked here for about a year.  In my parents yard in the country, so we could sleep in it while we visited.

Here is the problem, see that rock in the background with the picnic table on it?  In 3 weeks my Brother will be getting married on that rock!  The camper must be
Here is where the hillbilly came out in my Dad & my Husband...First they towed the truck to just in front of the camper (see the cable attached to the tractor with the blue bucket at the extreme right of the photo?)

The cable goes from the tractor, to a pulley (attached to 2 trees) under the camper, under the saw horses holding the camper up, and attached to the truck.  As my Father backs up the tractor, it pulls the truck back & hopefully under the camper.

Not that I don't trust these guys...but I seriously had horrible visions of the camper toppling over, and crushing someone...or the dogs.  The cable did rub on the saw horses a bit, but the guys just put a block of wood on the cable to weigh it down.  They were eventually successful at loading it.

Now we just had to move the truck & camper to its new destination......

For some reason My dad felt the need to go 60mph across the yard....

Then door flew open, and neither of them were the wiser....

My Dad drove up the driveway, & gunned it!  Then turned sharp while my Hubby slammed the brakes when we got to the bush.  My palms were so sweaty from the whole ordeal...but they did it! (i forgot to take a photo of its new home)

Here is the "rock" ready for the wedding!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Maple Syrup

Canadian Gold.....

Hands down the sweetest, tastiest all natural treat that exists.
The "Sugar Shack"

To make Maple syrup we "tap" sugar maple, black maple, or red maple trees.  When I refer to "tapping" the trees, I mean drilling a hole into the tree (which does not harm the trees at all) and inserting a "spile" (spout) with a pail below to catch the liquid that will drip out.  This is called "sap".  The sap is clear & tasteless and needs to be processed into syrup.  To make the syrup we boil the sap to evaporate the water.  Generally speaking it takes about 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.  Now you know why it can have such a high price tag.
Real maple syrup is high in maganese, contains zinc, and has only 34 calories in 2tsp.  It is a great substitute for sugar.  It is good for your heart, excellent for your immune system, and is beneficial to mens reproductive health!

Besides all of this, it tastes GREAT!  Our family is so spoiled that we don't like the fake table syrup at all.  YouIt is used for more than pancakes & waffles...we use it for baking, cooking, a replacement for any sugar,  & we make "Dunns Valley Shooters" (1/2 Whiskey & 1/2 Maple Syrup)

My family has made maple syrup since the 1980's.  We started by manually drilling the trees, and collecting the sap by pails with the help of a sled.  We had an open bonfire pit, with a giant cast iron kettle hanging over the fire for days.  It was a really fun time with some GREAT memories.

We have evolved over the past few decades, my Father purchased a professional type of boiler a couple of years ago, he has built a "sugar shack" around it, and there are some trees with blue tubing running to the big barrels.  The yield is larger, but the work is harder and longer too.
This year my Husband and kids spent the whole spring break there boiling the sap.  I made sure that they tapped some trees the "old" way so my kids would not loose the simplicity of it all.

Awesome weather this year for making Syrup.  Lots of snow means the spring will be better for the trees.

The beautiful view from the camp onto the small lake

I am sure we have created some great memories and traditions for our kids to pass along to their children.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Smelt/Fish Batter

This post is not Vegetarian or Vegan Friendly!
Does anyone know what "smelts" are?  Has anyone gone "smelting" before?  Well, there is a GREAT Northern tradition, and it is not a Canada thing, it is specifically more like a Northern Ontario thing.  Every spring, as soon as the ice is off of the Great Lakes, swarms of these little fish, called "smelts", leave the lake, and swim upstream.  This is when the "Great Northern Smelt Hunter" appears, equipped with big rubber boots or hip waders, a net, a flashlight, and a pail, to catch these little fish.  No fishing rod required!  You just scoop them into your net!!  The only trick is to swoop your net in the same direction as the water is flowing!

It is very important to have the proper equipment:

Oh, also, these "Great White Hunters" must hunt these fish in the wee hours of the night, like midnight or later.  The smelts are shy, and like to "run" at night. There are bon fires along the shores of the rivers, and people everywhere.  They usually arrive early in the evening, and "await" the arrival of the smelts.

Here we all are!  My "Great Smelt Hunters!" (and me)

We didn't stay late or long, but we got our "feed".  EEEEEeeeeeeewwwwwwww!

OKOK, time for the Smelt Fry!  A lot of local restaurants have "smelt frys" during "smelt season", so if you ever get up here in April....give it a try!

Fish Batter:

2 cups of flour
4 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups of water

This is also the only time of year I make fresh cut fries!  I like to fry them up on the BBQ, in a big cast iron pan, so we don't stink up the inside of our house!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Roast Chicken in the Dutch Oven - Our First meal!!

Roast Chicken & Potatoes

For Mothers Day I requested a cast iron Dutch Oven.  I am a simple girl, & I love to cook.  Mr.Canadian and the kids ordered one online for me from L.L.Bean.  Amazingly enough, it was free shipping - even here, to Canada!   About 10 days later it had arrived, and we could hardly contain ourselves.  We decided on a whole chicken to start because the kids are kinda picky, but chicken is family friendly.

The Rub:
1/4 cup parsley
2 tsp. dry salsa spices (I used Epicure Selections)
1 tsp. hot pepper chunks in oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
fresh ground pepper

Light 28 coals for a deep 12", 8 quart Dutch oven.
Meanwhile:  Mix together & rub over the chicken with your bare hands, making sure to get it into the crevaces of the chicken.

  • Cut up 1 medium onion in chunks.
  • Slice 6-8 potatoes, in thick slices.
  • Slice 8 carrots in thick slices.
  • Make 4 cups of creamy chicken soup broth:  ~Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 2-3 Tbsp. of powdered soup base, dissolve & add 2 cups of milk.  Simmer over medium/high heat.

Warm up the Dutch Oven with about 2 Tbsp. of good oil in the bottom.  Use about 16 coals, in the bottom only for now, and when the oil is hot add the onions.  Keep stirring.  When the onions are opaque, add the chicken and brown on all sides to seal in the juices.

Then add the vegetables and pour the thick broth over the vegetables.

Put about 9 coals on the bottom, and 19 on the lid.  Normally for a regular (not deep dish) 12" dutch oven you would use 24 coals  to reach 350 degrees, but we want to be above 350 degrees, and we want some browning on top, so we will put a few extra coals on top.  Hoping to reach about 425 degrees.

We cooked this for about 1 hour & 45 minutes.  At about at the 30 minute mark, we made about 20 more coals, because they generally only last about 45 minutes total.

The result of our first ever Dutch Oven recipe was...FaNtAsTiC!!  It was, hands down, the most moist chicken I have ever had!  We had company for dinner,
& there was not a morsal left! - Success!

Lodge Logic, 8 Quart, Deep Dutch oven


My Mothers Day present was an 8 quart, 12" deep Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven.  

We have never cooked outside with a Dutch Oven, so this should be pretty cool!
It comes pre-seasoned & ready to use.

We are excited to give this method of cooking a shot!  
The question is, what should we make first??