A surprise is a good thing every now and then. Shannon and I hosted cooking school this last week and it is a lot of work, but very rewarding at times. I may not be the best teacher,but I have had a lot of practice cooking in Dutch ovens over the last 21 years.
I try to teach folks the basics about Dutch oven cooking, and all the students we have had in the past eight years have always told me that they sure got tired of cooking bread and dessert! But you see, if you can master bread and dessert in cast iron- you can cook anything else. Anybody can fry meat and boil coffee but bread and dessert take skill.
Now I have always tried to relay some kind of lesson, not only in cooking but in life as well. This semester was no different, but I came away with a lesson taught to me as well.
We had a feller from down around Dallas, named Rod and our first overseas student from London, a sweet young lady named Anna, Shannon’s sister B Honey who returned for her Masters degree and David and his wife Jill who are working on their PhD.
As everyone settled in on Wednesday you could just tell this class was special and it was going to be a good time for all. Class started bright and early Thursday morning and we started cooking bread around 6:oo AM.
Have you ever met someone you felt like you had known for years and they made you feel very comfortable just being around them? Now that has happened to me several times in my travels around with that ole wagon. There is a lot of visiting time around ole Bertha after supper every evening, and she can really bring out the true meaning of friendship especially when its a bit cold. She will warm your feet but a particular student, he would warm your soul.
A very sincere feller Rod Lake is, he mastered the art of Dutch oven cooking. He’s a man who loves his mashed potatoes and gravy! Rod is that kind of feller who goes the extra mile in everything he does. A great personality and a great sense of humor, someone you want to be a friend with. We had a session around ole Bertha, when everyone was gone to take a shower and folks, this man has life figured out! He is a man I am honored to call a friend. He and Anna made class easy for me and a joy to teach. They were students who learned quickly and made it look very easy.
I heard people talk about the fireside chats that President Roosevelt used to talk about on the radio and how much better a person felt after he was finished. Now I ain’t no President. I aint even got no degree or been to any fancy cooking school, but folks I am here to tell you that there is something special about being around a fire. When the weather is right, the night sky so full of stars and the evenings seem to just bring peace. To have some one you love by your side and good friends gathered around…that is a great recipe for happiness.
The students did graduate as fine culinary artists of Dutch oven cooking. They learned the recipes for sourdough and the art of not burning something even if the wind is blowing enough to turn a piece of cast iron into a microwave.
But as the teacher, I learned a lesson two as well. You see, I was reminded that in a world of hurry up and wait there is a time to just sit and listen to the people around you who warm your soul. Ole Bertha has warmed me up for years. She has run people out of the kitchen in the summer months and brought people closer in the winter.
So I guess it is safe for me to say that I prepared, I taught, and most of all I learned. There are a lot of recipes for cooking in cast iron, but I think the recipe for life is simple. The ingredients are: a true love, one good hot fire, a cold night, and a bunch of good people. Stir well and let simmer. The result is life long friends and a warm heart.