We got a Dutch oven for our wedding, and naturally, we were too excited to wait for a camping trip to use it. Fortunately, we have a fireplace in our apartment (jealous?), so within a month of being married, we started cooking in our own fireplace.
It. Was. So delicious. Pork ribs and potatoes. Peach cobbler. Pork ribs and more potatoes. Peach and pineapple cobbler. More pork ribs.
Okay, so maybe we don’t really have the variety part down yet, but we’re too poor to buy fancy shmancy meat. But in the meantime, we’re getting really good at making pork ribs and potatoes.
And by “we,” I mean that Ethan is really good at making pork ribs and potatoes. Because for the most part, all this fireplace cooking has been his arena. I mean, I can light a fire – you give me matches, I can light just about anything on fire – but I think Ethan’s got good reason not to trust me with matches. And Ethan is really good at fire-building. And Ethan already knows how to cook in a Dutch oven. Excuses, excuses, and I don’t have to do the cooking.
But this week, I finally put my foot down and told myself I had to learn how to use this thing. I mean, it cooks delicious food. Why would this ever be a bad skill to master? Never, I tell you.
So I told Ethan that I was going to cook dinner in the Dutch oven. “Do you want me to show you how to use it?” he asked.
“Do you want my help building a fire?”
“…Do you want any tips on how to build a good fire before you start?”
“Nope.” I’m stubborn. Ethan is a teacher at heart, and I could see him deliberately biting his tongue. I think he really wanted to share all the cool stuff he knows about fire-building. I also think he wanted to make sure that dinner didn’t end in blackened, inedible barbecue sauce and tears. But I was stubborn, and he was patient; he told me how to oil the oven so it didn’t burn everything, and from that point, he left me to my own devices.
I brought in some firewood and sat in front of the fireplace for a minute, kind of trying to map out a good fire. I thought back to girls’ camp when I was a teenager. And some family camp-outs. And that one month I crashed Cub Scouts, because my dad was a Scoutmaster and I was a tomboy. I put together something like a “log cabin” with a “lean-to” on top of it. (I think that’s what they’re called.) Then I stuffed some crumpled paper underneath and lit it.
And it totally worked! I had a good fire in only one try! Ethan looked impressed, and a little relieved. I put together some barbecue/sweet-and-sour sauce from one of my mom’s recipes, changed the measurements to make it a little thicker, and put some chicken drumsticks in the Dutch oven covered in spicy goodness. Took some coals out of the fire. Tried my best to imitate Ethan when he cooks in the fireplace. Made some rice on the stove in the meantime.
And guess what! I didn’t burn the house down. And I didn’t burn the chicken. And I only filled the living room with smoke twice. And I managed to cook some pretty darn good chicken, first try, no fatalities. I’m so impressed with myself!
Those Cub Scout days must’ve paid off. Either that, or I’ve got a guardian angel watching over my dinner table. Either way, I’m crazy proud of myself. ♦