Blue Ribbon Winning

Whew! August went FAST! It was filled with the Iowa State Fair, family germ sharing (flu, anyone?), working, training for Hood to Coast and finally vacation (by far the best part!)! With all these activities something had to be neglected, and unfortunately, it was Aunt GiGi’s Craft Corner. But don’t worry, my fall schedule is jam-packed with creative goodness! I’ve got YARDS of fabric to sew, BOXES of plastic bags to fuse and lots of ideas for Christmas presents… It’s going to be a fun ride!

[This is a very long entry!]

Let me just start off with a big CONGRATS to Daniel Ray for sweeping the Dutch Oven Cooking contest at the 2009 Iowa State Fair! [Read the official press release] He entered the two dutch oven categories, main dish and dessert and won first place for both! This was his first year entering anything at the fair; a few months ago I had to remind and convince him that he wanted to enter 🙂

For the main dish, he entered Italian Sausage and Vegetables. The judges LOVED it, especially how spicy it was.

Dutch Oven Itallian Sausage And Vegetables

Dutch Oven Italian Sausage And Vegetables


  • 2        Large Onions, 1/4” slices 
  • 4        Potatoes, 1” cubed 
  • 1       lb Carrots, cut to 1” lengths, or baby carrots, 3 cups 
  • 1 1/2 lb Italian Sausage Links
  • 1/2     Bell Pepper, Julianne
  • 1/4     lb Mushrooms
  • 1/2     Cup White Wine
  • 1        Can (6 oz) Tomato Paste with Italian seasoning
  • 1        Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 12-15 oz Water to cover
  • 1        Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste 

How to Prepare:

  1.  Brown sausage links in a 4 Qt. Dutch Oven in the vegetable oil with 16 coals underneath and 8 on top.  Remove and set aside.
  2. Preheat the same 4 Qt. Dutch Oven to 350° with 10-12 coals on top and 16-20 coals underneath.  You will have to add coals later to keep it cooking.  Slice onions and arrange to cover bottom of Dutch oven. Cube potatoes and layer them, carrots, peppers, and mushrooms on top of onions and cover with wine, tomato paste, and some water.  Salt and pepper it to taste.
  3. Cover and place on coals until liquid starts to simmer. When liquid is simmering, add sausage and juice and return to heat. Add coals to top.  Simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender.  About 1 hour. 

 Next Up: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

At this time, the judge was admitting that he could not find anything wrong with the cake, but desperately tried to.

Dad with his cake

Dad with his blue ribbon winning cake

Dutch Oven Easy Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Briquettes: 24 | Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 to 35 minutes | Yield: 8 servings 


  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1    Cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1    Can (20 oz) Dole Pineapple Slices, in 100% pineapple juice
  • 22 Maraschino Cherries, approximately, (10 oz Jar)
  • 1    Pkg. (18.25 oz) Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme Cake Mix
  • 3    Eggs
  • Juice from Pineapple Slices plus enough water to make 1 1/3 Cups for cake mix 

How to Prepare:

  1. Line a 6 quart, 12-inch cast-iron camp oven with non-stick tin foil. Melt the butter over 24 hot coals. Sprinkle the melted butter with the brown sugar.  Let it simmer for a couple of minutes. Place the pineapple slices over the brown sugar and reserve the juice. (There should be room for 8 slices, 1 in the center and 7 around the outside.) Place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. I also place a cherry at the intersection everywhere three pineapple slices intersect and around the outside.  More is better.  Let simmer for about 5 more minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, and reserved juice and water. Stir for 2 minutes. Spoon batter over pineapple slices and cherries.
  3. Cook over 6 coals, transferring 18 coals to the lid, for 25-30 minutes. (35 minutes for me.) This is 350°F in a regular oven.
  4. When done, a toothpick inserted in the cake’s center will come out clean.  Remove the lid, remove the camp oven from the coals, and let it stand for 5 minutes.  Use heavy cooking mitts or heavy cooking gloves and place the cast iron pot on one hand.  Place a large cookie sheet on top.  Place your other hand centered on the cookie sheet and carefully but quickly turn it over. 
  5. Carefully remove the non-stick foil.  Replace any pineapple slices that may have stuck to foil. Serve warm. 

Note:  As delicious as the cake is itself, the best part of the pineapple upside-down cake is the topping: brown sugar, butter, maraschino cherries and pineapple.  To get a topping that’s slightly caramel-y and not mushy, let the topping cook just a bit being careful not to burn it, until just before you add the batter.  (I start the topping and while it is starting to cook I prepare the cake batter.) 

Congrats Dad! These ribbons are well deserved. I think you should start practicing for next years contest NOW! Im hungry!

Congrats Dad! These ribbons are well deserved. I think you should start practicing for next year's contest NOW! I'm hungry!


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