MDC Cape Nature Center offers Dutch Oven Cooking program

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Because cold weather and warm food go hand-in-hand, the Missouri Department of Conservation's (MDC) Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center will host Dutch Oven Cooking Nov. 7, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This free beginner's course is designed to cover basic techniques for successful outdoor cooking using cast iron.

A Dutch oven is a cast iron cooking pot with a tight fitting lid that can sit directly over hot coals. Early American hero Paul Revere is credited with designing the lid of the pot which has a ridge along the outside to hold hot coals. He's also credited with the addition of legs to the pots.

"Not all Dutch ovens look the same," said Michelle Randecker, an MDC naturalist. "They must have a tight fitting lid, thick walls and be able to withstand great heat."

Although Dutch ovens originated in the Netherlands, they hold a solid role in America's outdoor culinary history. A Dutch oven was included in Lewis and Clark's gear on their journey and was almost always packed along in the chuck wagons of western cowboys. Today they're mostly enjoyed for outdoor cooking when camping.

Because of the design that allows for even heat and long, slow cooking, Dutch ovens are used to make roasts, stews, chili and casseroles, as well as desserts. An important part of the Dutch Oven Cooking program at the Cape Nature Center is the recipes.

"We'll learn use the Dutch oven as we try our hand at some delicious recipes," Randecker said, adding that she likes to tell people to think of the Dutch oven as an oven they would normally cook in.

"Pizza, roast chicken and cakes are all possible in a Dutch Oven," Randecker said.

To register or learn more information about the Dutch Oven Cooking program, call (573) 290-5218. For information on other programs at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center go online to