Rick Black's Cabin Cookin' by Rick Black
165 pages; Softcover PhotographyNone
Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2007
Reviewed by, Chef John Vyhnanek, April 2007

The review---

That Rick Black, he's been at it againyet another cookbook! Cabin Cookin' is the latest of his creations. This book is dedicated to cooking for Dutch Ovens, Skillets and Grills. "The book is intended for the outdoorsman in you" as Rick states. A country boy who lives in Iowa, Rick spends most of his free time hunting and fishing and already has more than 16 cooking and hunting books to his credit.

Once upon a time my life was similar in that I loved to hunt and fish too. Yes, with my teenage friends, we would all hang out at camp, like our fathers, and enjoy the fruits of the hunt. I was most often the cookie, the cook, who stayed behind and worked while others chased the pheasant, rabbit and deer. As rustic camps go you'd be fortunate to have a propane gas stove, in most cases stoves were fueled with wood or coal. Yes, cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens were the tools of the trade. Not too far in the woods, electricity was even available so crock-pots or electric frying pans were even used.

There is what's called the first day of camp, usually a few days before hunting season, everyone arrives to clean and spruce the place up. After a hard day’s work an easy and popular chili is what most men want. Rick's Southwestern Chili fits the bill, but there is a twist, it's made with ground elk! Yup, elk! Darn tasty too, with accompaniments of tortilla chips, sour cream, avocado and cilantro! Some guys like cornbread and the Salt Lick Creek Cornbread would fit the bill because it isn't too sweet.

Getting up early means that "Cookie" is up before everyone else making coffee, bacon, sausage, home fries, pancakes and the like, maybe biscuits and sausage gravy too. Rick's Opening Day Breakfast Vittles, sort of a bread, sausage, cheese and eggs casserole fits the bill and might even be quicker than making a traditional breakfast, and it's tasty too.

Cooks never have fun? Well it's tough job and somebody has to do it! Since everyone's out early and on a hunt there might be time to relax, but they'll be back for lunch and then go out again in the afternoon. What could be quick and easy and satisfy a big hunger? Danny Roberts's Old Thrashers' Split Pea Soup it is! Easy to prepare and easy to cook and oh so fillin'. Forget the salad, just have plenty of soft rolls and "That's All, Campers" Grilled Ham Steaks and you've made everyone happy!

Let's get the party started after a successful hunt, the games been dressed and is hangin'. There must be a feast to celebrate this day! So Cabin Fever Squares, (garlic bread), Country Cabin Fried Deer Steak, Onion-Wrapped Taters and Maquoketa Caves Squash are on the menu with of course dessert, Squirrel Bark Cabin Applesanyone bring ice cream?

Amusingly humorous recipe titles make this a fun book. Not for the French chef but for the "outdoorsman in you", you will find this book entertaining and perhaps useful too! I had a lot of fun testing recipes and a lot of laughs because I haven't cooked like this in 35 years!

Recipes tested---

Maquoketa Caves Squash

6 sliced yellow squash
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
1teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the bacon drippings, and add the squash slices and onions in layers, sprinkling salt and
pepper between the layers. Cover the skillet, and cook over low heat. When the squash starts to become tender, mix
gently, and chop the squash to serving-sized pieces. Cook for about 20 minutes, and serve after rechecking the

Cabin Fever Squares

1loaf bread, unsliced
1/4 garlic clove, minced 1/4 cup butter, soft

Cut the loaf of bread into 2-inch cubes. Mix garlic and butter thoroughly. Spread the mixture on the outside of the
cubes, and heat in foil over hot coals.

Country Cabin Fried Deer Steak

1 large venison steak
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon bacon fat
1/2 cup water

Season the steak with salt and roll in flour. Brown the steak in bacon fat in a large skillet. Add the water, cover, and
simmer until the meat is tender. Use the drippings for great tasting gravy.

Onion-Wrapped Taters

4 large potatoes
1 12-ounce package dry onion soup mix
1 stick butter, sliced
1 teaspoon Accent
1teaspoon pepper

Wash, peel, and thinly slice the potatoes. Put a layer of potato slices on a large piece of heavy foil, top with butter
slices and half of the soup mix. Layer again with the remaining ingredients. Seal the potatoes tightly, and cook on
coals for about 15 minutes per side. Season cooked potatoes with Accent