FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Combine a blustery day at an Interior Alaska campground with a few dozen hungry people, a pile of Dutch ovens and a table full of Alaska-grown produce and you get a recipe for some truly creative, and tasty, dishes.
Arts in the Park at Red Squirrel Campground, 43 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road in the Chena River State Recreation Area on Aug. 25 attracted a variety of plein-air artists, kids and others who came for what was billed as a day of art and a Dutch oven cookoff.
The cookoff never materialized — every dish was eaten almost as fast as it was cooked. Bruce Campbell, who frequently teaches classes on Dutch oven cooking, and Ed Fogels, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, spearheaded the cooking effort.
A shopping expedition to the Tanana Valley Farmers Market yielded a huge pile of colorful fruits and vegetables that formed the foundation for most of the dishes.
Campbell brought several copies of his Dutch oven cookbook, but almost no one used it except as a general guide. “That’s all it was ever intended for,” he said cheerfully. Instead, cooks gathered vegetables and herbs, added fresh salmon or Alaska-made sausage, cheese and seasonings and made up the dish as they went along.
Dishes included a salad made of fresh tomatoes, endive, onions, mozzarella and herbs; a savory vegetable and salmon potpie; calzones with a crust made with Delta barley flour; grilled corn; bread made with oatmeal stout beer and spicy sausage; and apple cake.
And there was more. Loaves of yeast bread. Sausage and red cabbage. Pot roast. Baked potatoes and onions seasoned with truffle oil. Zucchini. Berry cobbler. All Alaska-grown
Campbell’s cookbook is available online at http://russia-alaska.com/campfire.html
Although most of the cooking was free-lance, here is one of “recipes” featured, courtesy of Renee Loustalot
Dutch oven berry cobbler
5 cups chopped rhubarb
3 cups raspberries
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons tapioca
1/2-1 cup sugar to taste
1 box white cake mix
1 can lemon-lime soda
(Sprite, Sierra Mist, 7-Up)
2 tablespoons butter, thinly sliced
Combine filling ingredients and pour into bottom of a Dutch oven. Combine cake mix with lemon-lime soda and spread over filling. Top with thinly sliced butter. Sprinkle with sugar if desired. Cook until topping is brown and berries are bubbly, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Add coals to heat to the equivalent of a 350 degree oven, see the chart at russia-alaska.com/campfire.html if you’re cooking with coals.
Where to find locally grown fruits, vegetables and meats in Fairbanks:
Tanana Valley Farmers Market
2600 College Road
Wed. and Sun. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sat. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Scheduled to be open until Sept. 23
Golden Heart Plaza, downtown Fairbanks
Mondays 4-8 p.m.
3568 Geraghty Ave.
beef, pork, chicken, sausages
Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sun. Noon - 5 p.m.