Friday, July 12, 2019

Eleventh Dutch Oven Gathering

Some moments begin an unexpected train of events.

Soon after Ed and I married we went camping with friends, and they made a cherry pie in a dutch oven.

Ed caught cast-ironitis immediately. Soon he was making apple crisp and cornbread in his own dutch oven.

These dutch ovens are not the pans used in the kitchen. They are cast iron pots which sit on three short legs and have a flat lid with a lip for holding coals. These are the pots that traveled west on covered wagons, served food to gold miners, and were carried by cooks on cowboy chuck wagons.

Over the years Ed added more pots to his collection until he could make meals with four different recipes all cooked in his pots. He also read all he could on dutch oven cooking and wished he could attend a Dutch Oven Gathering (or DOG) to enjoy cooking with others, but they were all held out west. In 2006 he heard of a DOG to be held in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and planned a family vacation to coincide with the event. We enjoyed our vacation, but the DOG was canceled because of lack of participants.

Meanwhile, Ed kept cooking. He dragged his pots to family gatherings, picnics, and even to work. My brothers caught the bug and bought their own pots, as did several of Ed's friends. Finally in 2008 Ed decided to host his own DOG. We invited everyone we knew that owned a dutch oven to join us in a cook-off at our house. Everyone made their favorite dutch oven recipe, and we all voted on our favorite.

If you are a long-time reader to Home Joys, you know that it became a tradition. Each year we enjoyed a night of camaraderie and good-natured competition around hot coals. And every year we ate well. The variety of foods that could be baked, broiled, stewed, fried, and simmered in a dutch oven always amazed me.

It has been a few years since I've posted about our Dutch Oven Gatherings. In 2016 it rained and though we managed to hold the DOG with the help of the basement and a canopy, I didn't get many photos.

In 2017, soon after Ed's first brain surgery, my parents hosted the DOG at their house. Several people cooked keto food for Ed and proved that special diets can still have creative delicious food, but I never blogged about it. Last year, for the first time since it began, we didn't have a DOG. Between Ed's health and the constant rain, it just didn't happen.

This spring when I asked my sons if they wanted to host a DOG, they immediately started planning. I thought we could have it at our house and Ed could enjoy it from his wheelchair, going inside to rest as needed. Most of the DOGs have been held in the height of summer on the hottest day of the year and we thought May would be more comfortable. But Ed's quick decline meant that we never even set a date before we knew it would be impossible for him to attend.

But my boys didn't give up, and so we scheduled this year's DOG on the Saturday of Father's Day weekend. It is hard to do things like this without Ed, but I knew that Ed would be delighted that we were still carrying on a tradition he began.

So twelve years after the first, we held the eleventh Dutch Oven Gathering at our house.

And, except for missing Ed, it might have been the best yet. We had the largest number of participants cooking with 27 pots. Some of these folks had attended every DOG, some were here for the first time for the inaugural use of their brand-new pot. Some of these cooks weren't born when we hosted the first gathering. We even had our first female participant. (Though there is always quite a bit of female help behind the scenes.)


Again, the brick retaining wall was the perfect buffet line.

Then it was time to open the lids and dig in.

My brother's daughter and two sons rolled dough and made fry bread. 

It disappeared so quickly I only got a bite.

The competition was stiff, but those three won the DOG favorite for 2019.

You can also read about past dutch oven gatherings. 2015, 2014,  20132012201120102009


  1. What a fun wonderful tradition and memorial for Ed. I hope your family keeps it going over the years its a great way to remember him for your older children to teach the younger ones about something their dad was passionate about.


  2. Gina, thank you for sharing! My family also love to dutch oven it as often as possible. We are always looking for a good recipe book for dutch oven cooking...I am wondering if you had a thought about gathering those recipes and putting them into a dutch oven cookbook and dedicate it to Ed. I would buy it. Maybe the proceeds could be donated to brain cancer research...just thinking out load. Big hugs Gina. I hope you and your family are as okay as can be right now.


    1. What a wonderful idea! I'd buy one as well!

  3. Oh what a wonderful day full of memory making times. Although I didn't know him, I would think that Ed would be thrilled to know you are continuing the tradition.
    I don't think I would have been able to choose a favorite. All of that food looks absolutely wonderful. Thank you for sharing with us.

  4. Gina and family, What a beautiful day! I'm sure everyone received blessings for keeping the tradition going! Prayers to each of you!

  5. Any type of family gathering is a blessed event, but when it includes good home-cooked food, that's the best! Congratulations to the 3 kiddos who won the cook-off! I hope these events keep going on; they're a great family tradition! Ed would be so proud and happy! God bless you all!

  6. What a fun, unique tradition. I love it.

  7. I've never even cooked with an outdoor Dutch oven, but I was looking forward to this update - thank you for sharing it with us! The food looks delicious, and such variety. Ed had neat interests and shared them well. Congratulations to the 3 "next generation" winners ! - Suz

  8. Oh my, this looks delightful! Regan is getting us into Dutch oven cooking - I think it's going to be addictive! And the food on your pics looks so scrumptious.

  9. What a feast you all had! How wonderful for your family that you are carrying on the tradition. That food looks very yummy and it is great to see all those young people being involved with the cooking.

  10. I look forward to seeing the delicious foods that are made each year when you have a DOG competition, and this year is no exception! I know Ed would be so excited that his sons wanted to carry on this tradition!! Thanks for sharing, and continuing to pray for and think of you often!

  11. So happy that you are continuing the DOG tradition. All of the food looked so delicious, I would have eaten some of everything for sure! Congratulations to the 3 winners. :) I like the idea of a dutch oven cookbook suggested by a previous follower. I would definitely buy one and it would be a wonderful way to remember Ed. Have a blessed week!

  12. Dear Gina,
    What a wonderful time for everyone, I remember your previous posts. I'm still amazed to see what you can cook in the dutch ovens. Looks like a lot of fun for everyone.
    Blessings to you all
    shelley p
    from over the pond

  13. Oh my! So fun! And looks like it was thoroughly enjoyed by all. What a nice legacy for your husband to leave behind.

  14. What a fun day that looks to have been! It's very sweet that the tradition is being kept up, and I hope that you can do it many more times in the future. Looks like it was scrumptious!

  15. What a wonderful family legacy! Thanks for updating us. Many prayers being said for you and the children.

  16. I always enjoy the Dutch oven gathering stories, I've been following you long enough to read every one of them and I'm always surprised and amazed at the different kinds of food that you can cook on a Dutch oven. It's so nice to see how your children are enthusiastic about carrying traditions. God bless you

  17. lovely...I am dutch and a year ago I did not know what a dutch oven was, A lady of the site gdonna explained it to me.
    It looks like you are having a great time.
    ( I believe we cal the dutchoven a braadpan or a juspan, we use it to cook our meat in mostly, and then it usely is meat for two days. Or making hachee, cowmeat with a lot of onions.


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