Boots here to extol the virtues of Dutch ovens, S’mores, Guatemalan coffee beans . . . and to warn against the vice of imbibing too much Hooch and then finding yourself way out of your league when it comes to campfire games!
What you need for this twist on a campfire classic: A good fire? Check. Dutch oven? Check. Campfire coals? Perfect. S’mores ingredients? Check. Time to make some Dutch Oven S’mores!
This is a whole different take on making S’mores. I know that 1) poking the fire with a stick is a whole lot of fun and 2) tempting the flames with a marshmallow at the end of a stick is even more fun. Will it toast up buckskin tan or will it incinerate into a lump of carbon?
This Dutch oven recipe takes the wondering out of the equation. And everyone can enjoy their S’mores at the same time once you lift the oven’s lid. Also, making the S’mores this way eliminates that marshmallow-eating Chubby Bunny contest (a campfire game for amateurs, at best) that has a tendency to heat up between competitive cousins and liquored-up uncles. [Spoken by the wrangler who has seen too many campfire scenes that cannot be unseen.]
This way, while your treats are baking away in the Dutch oven, you all can turn your attention to telling ghost stories or to playing a rousing game of Shoeking! instead and see who just might end up hiking back down the trail the next day in his stocking feet. [Note: Now this game of balancing your boot on your toes and flipping it back over your head and not into the fire actually is more fun with liquored-up uncles.]
I’ll never forget the summer I watched a whole troop of good ol’ boys — all of whom looked to be bearing the Divine Punishment — leaving camp The Morning After with most of them missing at least one shoe. All I could think was Those damned fools were playing Shoeking! There was something about seeing their hangdog expressions and the dust cloud that followed their shuffling sock-footed procession that still makes me bust a gut.
This shoe-less band of travelers, clearly having partaken in a goodly portion of Hooch the night before, was in such rough shape when they doddered past the cabin that they hired me on the spot to saddle up Eagle to carry the heavier items from their camp down the hill. I sympathized. Of course I did. But there was a part of me that was thinking that there was going to be a whole lot of footsore at the end of the trail along with all of the blame and cussing that I was sure to bear witness to. One buckaroo kept saying over and over, “My Gawd, my Gawd.” Whether he was intervening for his sole-less foot or for his soul-less quaff from the night before, I couldn’t tell. The other guys kept telling him to Zip It, Chet! — knowing that maintaining low morale wasn’t going to help a single one of them get down the trail any sooner.
Chet couldn’t refrain from his mantra of misery, so the rest of the boys started to call Chet “Mr. Tenderfoot” and other such insulting monikers with additional colorful embroideries. I tried not to crack up and just kept Eagle steered down the trail ahead of the shoe-less pack, thinking that there are some stories in life that you just can’t make up. This was one of those stories.
I just don’t know. Life is funny and it is strange. And thank God for stories that entertain the Disbelieving Parts that dwell within. I can’t really say that participating in this experience enriched my life in any way, but I did file it away in my mental folder labeled “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.” You know the stories. The Fact-is-stranger-than-Fiction stuff. The stories that cling to our memories’ heels through time for no apparent reason. I would like to think that the things I carry with me have some edifying value from time past, but this particular tale? It simply makes me laugh my ass off when I think back to that day.
Truth: laughter is its own medicine and these boys had given me a goodly dose as a result of their misguided and high-spirited Shoeking! folly.
But sorry stories aside, let’s get back to stuff that really matters like coffee, chocolate, and campfires . . . My coffee pairing recommendation for the sweet side of S’mores? I am thinking a Guatemalan coffee for this particular sweet. There is nothing like Guatemalan coffee paired with chocolate . . . although Arabian mocha beans are pretty great, too. Check out this single origin Guatemalan coffee after you have stocked up on the S’more goodies. You deserve good coffee with your campfire treat. And what a cute bag that comes with it!
Or how about this certified organic, whole bean, single-country-origin bean from Guatemala?
- 1 package (14-1/2 ounces) whole graham crackers, crushed
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup butterscotch chips
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- Prepare grill or campfire for low heat, using 16-18 charcoal briquettes or large wood chips.
- Line a Dutch oven with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Combine cracker crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of the pan. Pour milk over crust and sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips. Top with marshmallows.
- Cover Dutch oven. When briquettes or wood chips are covered with white ash, place Dutch oven directly on top of six of them. Using long-handled tongs, place remaining briquettes on pan cover.
- Cook for 15 minutes or until chips are melted. To check for doneness, use the tongs to carefully lift the cover. Yield: 12 servings.
It really is worth buying a Dutch oven. You can make so many different recipes that benefit from its even heat. You can use it hanging above the fire, in the coals, and in your oven at home. I love this homely old cast iron pot that eloquently says, “Good Cooking!” You won’t be sorry that you made the investment in something that is so versatile.
Boots, signing off and keeping my bootlaces tight! xox
Happy trails, good people!