Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hardee Lakes and the DOG

RV forum friend Vicki and her husband, Dave, belong to a Dutch Oven Group. They had a DOG (Dutch Oven Gathering) planned at Hardee Lakes County Park and Vicki invited our women's RV group to join them for a Get-Together in late February.
It sounded like a great idea to many of us, and so we came, in spite of the fact that most of us had never cooked in a Dutch Oven.  
Diana and Carolyn came all the way from Texas and Louisiana. 
Tina is here from Ohio. 
There's Sarah from Alabama. 
Soos came over from her winter spot in St. Cloud. And yay! She brought her Hornbeck boat. 
Carol, Dell, Donna, Claudia, Linda and Sandy, and Dale came later, so didn't get a photo of their arrival. All of our sites were pull-through facing the lake.
Sarah, Carol, and Tina with some of the pups.
Donna and her Maggie.
There was time for a dog walk along one of the trails before Vicki and Dave came. 
Vicki and Dave gave us all a Dutch Oven 101 class that evening. 
The charcoal starter chimneys and the Dutch Oven cooking table. 
Various sizes of Dutch Ovens. Vicki and Dave have accumulated several over the years. 
For the demo, Dave is cooking a pork roast and sweet potatoes. 
Counting out the coals below and above to achieve the correct temperature. 
Vicki is preparing a pineapple upside-down cake…which is why you may need more than one Dutch Oven. 
She is using a liner for the cake…easier clean-up. 
Dave demonstrates how to rotate the oven and the lid for even cooking. 
Stacking the ovens while he places the coals for the 2nd DO. 
Now they're cookin'! 
Vicki and Dave are downsizing their inventory in preparation for full-time RVing, so they had a drawing for one of their Dutch Ovens. Guess who was the lucky winner? 
The pork roast and sweet potatoes are done…yum! 
Flip the cake on the DO lid to serve. 
The next morning Thistle and I walked around the lake to do some birding.
Common Moorhens 
This Great Egret is in his high-breeding plumage with lime green facial skin.
This Little Blue Heron is also a breeding adult. 
Fishermen like the lakes (There are 4 lakes), but all boats must be kept at idle speed. 
Two Common Terns and a Gull 
To their left is a chick... 
 I believe it is a tern chick.
A magnificent Tri-colored Heron in his breeding plumage.
Note his crest of white plumes.

The morning sun shines through this female Anhinga's feathers. 
Later there was another walk with friends and fur-friends around another lake.  
Sand Hill Crane 
Tina and Dale with her Greyhound rescue dog. 
 Claudia and her Papillon, Howdy, lead the pack.
There are snakes here, but this is the only one we saw. I wonder why it wasn't eaten…and the skeleton is so perfectly preserved? 
Wood Stork 
A flotilla of White Pelicans and Cormorants 
On Friday we took a field trip to Pioneer Park in Wauchula. They were having a Pioneer Days special event.
A prominent local citizen in history.
 More history.
Who knew lye soap could do so many things? 
Inside the museum this wall was lined with old cameras. 
Some natural history…an 11-foot alligator skin. 
 An article with more information about Bone Mizelle.
Outside were antique cars and bicycles, 
An assortment of motors all in running order... 
Click on the video to watch and hear them. 
Old tractors...
This group drove separately, but I knew where to find them. Claudia, Carolyn, Diana and Dale.
Remember VW Campers? 
It was cold that day, but this dog was ready. 
A vender of purple glassware. 
 The cold turned to rain, so we left. 

Then it was Saturday, the day of the DOG! Thistle was not sure he approved.
That morning we had a pot-luck breakfast. The Dutch Oven group had the best offerings. Notice it was still cold. 
 Pot luck breakfast.
The contestants of the Dutch Oven Cook-off started setting up to cook.
Time to register…non-competitors got to join in the pot-luck dinner after the judging. 
Looks like they've got their coals going. 
Time to try out my new DO. I've assembled the ingredients for New England Indian Pudding…a throwback to my childhood. If it turns out ok, I'll bring it to the pot luck. Otherwise, I have a back-up dish to bring. 
Scalding the mild and adding corn meal and molasses to thicken. Then mix in other ingredients. 
It was so cold and windy I had trouble getting the coals hot, but finally they were ready. 
And I no sooner got things cooking but it started to rain…had to make a foil tent to keep the coals from going out. Got more coals started to keep the heat going for 2 and a half hours. 
The rain kept coming... 
And coming! 
In spite of the rain, I had a great support team encouraging me. Carold and her husband came over from Sarasota, but the rain chased them away before dinnertime. 
While my dish was cooking, during a break in the rain, I walked over to watch the judging. There were 3 categories…dessert, breads, and main course. They started with dessert. 
These cooks had the benefit of a little shelter from the rain. 
Looks like wash tubs for cleaning utensils. 
 Another cooking team.
 Everyone was busy.
The line-up of desserts. 
I think this was from the bread judging. 
 Meanwhile, my Indian Pudding is doing fine…notice the puddle beside the firepit.
Judging the main course…almost time for dinner. 
Time to wade out to my fire pit and take my Dutch Oven over to the dinner. 
Pot luck dinner 
Everyone was taking pictures of the food. 
The Indian Pudding was ok, I guess. 
And the rain stopped in time so we could sit outside. 
Sunday, no rain predicted, and 3 of us wanted to kayak. Unfortunately Tina had to leave, so missed out. Soos and I launched here near her site. 
Sandy drove her kayak down to launch at the boat ramp. 
Soos in her 20+ year-old Hornbeck…similar to mine, but made of kevlar…and still going strong. 
Soos and Sandy 
Tale of two Hornbecks 

 After lunch I drove out to Lake 3 to kayak again. The water was clear and glassy.
And had wildlife. 
Boat-tailed Grackle 
Coots, Widgeons, and Ring-necked Ducks 

And on Monday, I flew away too…about 15 miles south to the Peace River. More about that in the next post, but meanwhile…some of the gals are staying at Hardee Lakes another week. Who can blame them?

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