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Some weekends are just better than others. This was one of the good ones.

I headed to the Country Throwdown -- a music festival originated by Willie Nelson -- with the boyfriend, my sister and her boyfriend. With a little foresight, I would have brought the DOs and had a tailgate bash. But alas, despite many, many things on the to-do list to prepare for the first camping trip of the year in two weeks, I rested until it was time to go to the show, completely disappointed when we arrived and noticed all the cooking (and beer drinking) in the parking lot. Beer drinking, not a problem, we brought plenty of that!

Lesson #1: whenever an outdoor event presents itself, do not forget that cast iron and hot coals make every party even better.

Side note: Bill and I both fell in love with the music of Corey Smith, a singer-songwriter out of Georgia. His music will provide a great soundtrack for the next camping trip.


Caleb, Mark Twain National Forest near Branson, MO

My first blog. Can you believe it? I've been involved with the internet for twenty years and even work in publishing, yet I've never put words out there for strangers and casual perusers of the web. I know many great writers  and feared that anything I wrote would pale (or absolutely suck) by comparison.

Why now?Because I've realized there's much more to blogging than the ability to write. It's about having a passion. I've been camping with my son for several years now,  teaching that city boy the beauty of falling asleep under a canopy of stars, waking to an avian symphony, eating fresh fish that didn't come from a produce department, playing in the dirt and exploring the joys and pitfalls of nature. I love that, I really do, love sharing it with him, but when it comes to outdoor ecstasy, my heart pounds most gleefully at the thought of cooking over an open fire. Our typical gear for a weekend usually consists of a small tent, a hundred pounds of cast iron, associated tools/gadgets/equipment, several grocery bags and an ample supply of adult beverages. I'm competent in my home kitchen; give me some hot coals, a dutch oven and a few simple ingredients and watch me awe the campers at the next site. It's a gift, it's an art form and in the end, it is very much a science. (Or maybe in the end I'm just too tired and tipsy to realize any differently!)

There are a lot of dutch oven websites on the internet and many campfire chefs with far more experience than I. Here's my hook -- I'm planning to spend the summer visiting some awesome state parks (and if you haven't been to Missouri, we have some of the BEST parks in the nation) while I prepare for my first ever dutch oven cook-off in September. I'll share with you our  "wilderness" adventures and recipes for  everything I cook along the way. Don't worry, the blogging won't be done once the competition is; after all, it's a learning experience. I see many cooking competitons in my future. Maybe someday you will take to the road too, forewarned and forearmed with what you learn here, prepared to call yourself a campfire gourmet.

Happy campfires!