Dutch ovens: Dutch ovens have been a part of America since its beginning. In early colonial times, these cast iron cooking pots and pans were valued so much that many people, such as George Washington's mother, included their dutch ovens in their wills. Dutch ovens range in weight from 4 lbs. to 38 lbs. (show both of mine and how many pounds each one is) 3 points to consider in buying a dutch oven : 1. Make sure the lid fits snugly all the way around since it acts as a pressure cooker. 2. Check if the cast iron has a consistent thickness on the inside and outside and on the lid so that the food will cook evenly. 3. The inside should be smooth and flat, free of large metal runs. Equipment needed to use with the dutch oven are * Long handled tongs to be used only for handling the hot charcoal * Lid lifter. This gives you good control of your lid so you do not drop ashes from the coals into your food. (the claw of a hammer or pair of pliers will also work) * A charcoal chimney starter is great to have. Put 3-4 sheets of crumpled newspaper in the bottom under the grate, and charcoal on top of the grate and ignite the newspaper. Within 10-15 minutes you will have charcoal ready to use for cooking. * Leather gloves to protect your hands from the heat * Brush or small broom to get the ashes off the lid * A lid stand for placing lid on when working in the pot * To make carrying your oven easier, a carry bag is convenient but not necessary. A new dutch oven is coated with a food-grade wax that needs only a good washing in hot water to remove. Dry it completely, and it's ready to be seasoned. Before using your dutch oven, you need to season it to make a teflon like coating. Cast iron is a porous metal, and when seasoned, these pores are filled with oil to make it a non-stick surface as well as rust-free. Seasoning is best done on a cold day since it heats up your house. It also creates a metal-like smell inside your house for a couple days so you may not want to do any entertaining for awhile. Use only a good grade of olive or vegetable oil or vegetable shortening to season your oven. Do not use a spray oil. Spread the oil all over the inside and outside of the entire dutch oven, including the lid and legs. Place the lid and oven inside your kitchen range oven. Place the oven upside down and put aluminum foil on the rack beneath, so that any excess oil can drain onto it. Close the door, then turn it on and set the oven's temp. for 350 degrees and bake the dutch oven and lid for at least one hour. Turn the oven off and let everything cool back down to room temp. with oven door still closed. Your dutch oven is now seasoned and ready for use. I know that many of you are expert dutch oven cooks. I've asked John Johnson to share with us some of his secrets in cooking with a dutch oven and how to clean one afterwards. Also how to store it.