It is thought the name "Dutch Oven" probably came from Dutch traders selling their wares. This cast iron cookware had an important role in our country's history, according to the journals of cowboys, explorers and early American settlers.
Joe Farnsworth of Chino Valley learned about Dutch oven cooking from his father.
"My dad always cooked in Dutch ovens when we went hunting when I was little," said Joe.
Joe and his wife, Sherry, and their children moved to this area 20 years ago. Son Casey teaches Agriculture at Chino Valley High School, Marty lives in Anthem, and daughter, Tory, resides in Oregon.
"About 15 years ago I really got into Dutch oven cooking. You can cook anything in a Dutch oven that you can on your stove. I make everything from cakes, to chicken, pulled pork, brisket and cobblers," Joe said.
"I own 15 Dutch Ovens that range from a size 3 to size 24 and I have cooked full meals in them, stacking the ovens with dessert on the bottom, baked potatoes next, pulled pork on top, which takes approximately 1-4 hours, depending on the meat.
"I use charcoal for cooking (each piece of charcoal equals 25 degrees) and you put one third of the coals under the oven and two thirds of the coals on top," he explained.
Joe, along with some friends, just did a big cook-out for the Prescott Frontier Days Trail Ride where he used his Dutch Ovens and his chuckwagon to prepare both breakfast and dinner.
"I cooked for 50 people at breakfast and 70 people for dinner. Although this is just a hobby for me, I like cooking this way because I feel I was born way too late in life. I think I should have been born in the Old West, because I love the old cowboy music, which I play at all my events, and I dress the old cowboy way, too," said Joe.
Having the opportunity to cook and dress the way the pioneers did is very fulfilling to Joe.
"When people come up to me at these dinners and tell me this is some of the best food they've eaten and how much they enjoyed the old cowboy atmosphere, it gives me such a feeling of great satisfaction that I was able to portray this 'Old West' ambiance and take them back to a time that was so much simpler," Joe smiled.
The public will be able to sample some of Joe's Dutch oven cooking on Sept. 29 at the Chino Valley FFA Annual Dutch Oven Cook-off at CAC Farm, 455 W. Center. Food sampling begins at 4 p.m.