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Be Kind To Your Hands
I have a pet peeve (well maybe more than one) that jumps to the forefront when I go to a nice restaurant and the silverware is so chinsey it hurts my fingers to use. It is hard to enjoy a nice steak dinner when the fork is so thin it is uncomfortable to hold.
Good silverware is not that much more expensive yet it is much more enjoyable to use. It is also used three times a day: so like a bed, get a good one. Why settle for the cheap stuff. When we were sorting out which pieces to put in the Dandy Camp Kitchen comfort and functionality were at the top our list. We looked at several different brands and sizes. I was amazed at the different types available. I was more amazed at the ridiculously thin utensils available. They are no good for using when you are miles from home and need everything to be dependable. When I can easily bend a fork with my arthritic hands it is a pretty sorry product. It did not take us long to recognize and appreciate high quality knives, forks and spoons. We picked nice and solid utensils for our box. Each time we use them I am glad that we did.
I feel the same way about the Dandy Saw. There are so many saws that are absolutely uncomfortable to use. I am especially adverse to the saws that expect you to cut down a tree of any size with a bar between my fingers. YIKES, I have had a few blisters from those designs where you should not have blisters. It is difficult to add extra pressure with the other hand when using these poor designs. It is also difficult to use at different angles. I am also opposed to using saws that have a top bar. That absolutely limits what you are able to work on. Their use is very restricted.
I prefer to have silverware and saws that will be comfortable in my hand and
do the job they were meant to do without bending or breaking.
The Right Gear
I have been cooking in the mountains since I was a child. I have had a lot of great food and I have had some epic fails. There is a lot of thought and experience that comes into play when you have that amazing trip with great food. If you do not have great food it is hard to have an amazing trip.
Epic fails are always very disheartening. My most memorable happened when I was in college taking a survival class. We were on a weekend class and our assignment was to prepare food that would be ready when we returned from our hike. I was totally on it. I had prepared many meals in a dutch oven over the years camping in the Beartooths with my family so I was not prepared for my epic fail. I had decided to prepare apple crisp. A very simple, straight forward dish to prepare and bake. I prepared my pit with nice coals placed my dutch oven down into it and covered it slightly. I was ready to go have a great time on the mountain. We were in central Utah where there is a lot of unusual hiking trails. We were to be gone about an hour. I was excited to return and share my apple goodness with my team. I was so shocked when I returned to find my Dutch oven had totally melted down. Truly, it was a mass of metal. So , note to self, do not use ALUMINUM Dutch ovens for serious cooking in the mountains. I had rented it from the college and boy, were they surprised when I returned it. THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT IS EVERYTHING WHEN PLANNING FOR SUCCESS.
Brian would often cook for Elk Hunts with an outfitter friend of ours. Deer creek pass in the Absaroka Mountains is a very long way from anything but extremely rugged country in the high country next to Yellowstone. On his first trip as cook John explained to him the first rule of thumb was to have hot coffee ready when the hunters crawled out of bed. After that they are a little forgiving with how things go. He learned to plan meals that are fast and filling in the morning so the folks can be out on the hunt. In order to accommodate them he would need good thick iron griddles and pans. The nice super light pans of today do not hold up and burn just about everything. Our outfitter was always trying to improve his camp and lighten the loads of the horses. A lot of the new fangled materials and ideas may be good for a week or two but for weeks in high country the old stand bys are the best; Cast iron Dutch ovens for baking pork chops, chicken, breads, cobblers etc. A good heavy griddle and fry pan helps with all the rest.
As we put together our Dandy Camp Kitchen we took all this into account and included high quality and reliable cooking equipment that will keep you cooking no matter where you are. It is so frustrating to have equipment break. In the middle of a storm when you are trying to get wood gathered is no time to break a saw blade. If you are looking at buying a saw that gives you “an extra blade”. That is a bad sign. That means the manufacturer knows you are going to break the blade and be in trouble so at the get go they give you an extra one. We always take a Dandy Saw. It has a life time guarantee and we have never had one break. We use the Rocky Mountain griddle because it is solid and able to stand up to rough wear and tear. It is thick enough to provide even and constant cooking. All our other choices and made to last, not melt or tear or fall apart. Always choose good equipment if you want great food regardless of where you are cooking.
Our focus has always been on providing you with quality gear that will hold up in very rugged conditions. When it came to propane camp stoves the COOK PARTNER is the way to go. This stove is constructed of aluminum with beautiful welds (We would know). We love that it is easily cleaned. The burner assembly and the grate are removable and make it easy to scrub without damaging or plugging any parts. The ability to remove the parts make them replaceable. These parts are available and make it so the stove can be serviced if something does go wrong. The size we use with our Dandy Camp Kitchen is 23” x 12” x 31/2.” This size fits perfectly in our box and is large enough to feed a crowd. The 10,000 BTU burners provide enough heat to get the job done. When paired with our Rocky Mountain griddle and heavy bottom Magma Pots cooking becomes a pleasure.
I am often asked, “What is the difference between your Dandy Camp Kitchen and your kitchen panniers. WOW, where to start. It will be easier to start with the items that are the same.
The material used in construction of both boxes is the same -.080 aircraft aluminum. The size of the basic box is the same, 24.5” wide, 13” deep and 19” high. The unique bear resistant latching system is the same. This latching system, along with very tight tolerances, are the main factors in both boxes being IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Coalition) bear resistant approved. Both box sets have one shelf in one pannier and two shelves in the other. This allows for the storage of many different sized items from spice boxes and propane camp stoves to pot and pans. This is where the similarities end and the differences begin. The kitchen panniers were designed for folks that pack horses into the backcountry. Being bear resistant, they are used just about everywhere. They keep out everything from raccoons to bears. They are a favorite for those in Rocky Mountains. Because of their rugged construction they tolerate an extreme amount of abuse and being metal they are repairable. These boxes come with two table leaves that pack on top of each box, but when in camp they form a great work space that is 52” x 24.5”that is up out of the dirt. They also come with eight legs that easily slide out to pack inside the box. These legs raise the panniers up twelve inches making them a great cooking height. The boxes weigh about 26.5 pounds each.
The Dandy Camp Kitchen is designed for car camping, tailgate campers and just about anyone that wants to cook outside without the hassle. These boxes take down to about the same size as the panniers and in fact we have outfitters that use them to pack into the high country on horseback. However, they are very mobile! They come with handles and wheels so they go from stored boxes to “suitcase” mode in about one minute. This allows them to be towed wherever you want to go. Set up by the lake or the creek or the tent site. You are not tied to your vehicle. When you arrive at your location they are easily transformed into a table with racks to hold your silverware, knives, cooking utensils, lantern and dish drying bag. There is a second shelf underneath to keep your other items handy. A paper towel bungee fits underneath the top table to keep them out of the rain and keep the wind from unwinding them. When set up they are still very sturdy and can be moved about without having to take them down . They are a great set up for jeeping, boating, camping, RVing, getting out in your razor etc.
The Dandy Camp Kitchen comes with four options: one- just the basic box, two-
basic box powder-coated, three-fully loaded box and four- fully loaded box powder-
coated. So that brings us to “fully loaded”. I have been camping since I was born.
Early pictures show me riding in a pannier on the side of horse as my dad took my
family into Boulder creek camping. I must have been about two. After a lifetime of
camping I have a lot of experience as to what to take and what to leave home. Leave
home the plastic meltable and breakable items. In time they just give you a lot of grief.
Leave home the saws that come with the “extra blade”. They give you that because they
know the first one will break and you will be torqued and in trouble. Do bring dependable stainless steel items that can take the abuse dished out camping.
This is my list of acceptable and usable items that we include in the “fully equipped" boxes:
We love to go fishing. Many years ago we decided to take the day off and head for Dead Indian to go fishing. We had with us our three daughters and Granddad. Our daughters were ages 12 through 15 and Granddad was in his early eighties. (This information comes into play.) We had determined to head into a very inaccessible part of Dead Indian Creek which is only arrived at if one knows where to get off the beaten path and head down through the split in the cliffs. It is not a trail for beginners: actually it is not a trail at all.
We began our day at dark-thirty so we would have plenty of time to get the best fishing. Our hike down into the canyon was uneventful and quite fun as we slid over boulders and hung onto tree branches as we made our descent into the canyon. Once there our reward was immediate for even the girls were catching fish. The rose hips were abundant and the wild raspberries scattered here and there. It was exactly the getaway we had hoped for …until that fateful moment when Brian’s foot caught under a hidden root while going down a very soft dirt bank to the creek. As one foot kept sliding the other was pulled back . He clearly heard the snap of his ankle bone. Word quickly spread up and down the creek that Dad had broken his ankle. We gathered to assess our situation. The closest flat place to get him to was a large flat rock in the middle of the creek. Once there we determined indeed the bone was broken and we would need to head home immediately. Jan had just returned from girls camp and having had a class in first aid She was totally prepared to help out. She had aspirin in her pack and a large bandana. We quickly rounded up sticks to make a splint to stabilize the ankle as much as possible as we began our trek out of the canyon. Granddad figured his best help would be to just get himself out as it was such a difficult trail. Marie was chosen to take all the packs and fishing gear back to the truck as fast as she was able.then return to help us with Brian. (A daunting task for a 14 year old to do alone in the rugged Wyoming wilderness.) The rest of us would begin the task to get Brian out of the canyon.
Because of the steep terrain and absence of a trail we found only one could assist him at a time. Christy was too small to help by herself so she would try and clear a path for us to follow . Jan and I took turns being his crutch on one side with a stick for the other side. This hopping along was brutally painful because of the constant jarring to the ankle. Brian soon found the easiest on his ankle was to crawl!
So we began doing a rotation of Brian crawling until he could not , then Jan and I would support him to hop along. The secret rift in the cliffs went from being a way to keep the rest of the world out to keeping us in. We slowly made our way up it . However, it was very narrow . Only one person would fit. Brian was on his own. We all were in tears as we watched him drag himself through the remains of a winter- kill elk carcass that filled the gap. The big boulders we happily slid down coming in became a major challenge as well. The hanging tree branches were our saving grace . Jan would keep him steady from above and I would steady his foot hold from below. Inch by inch we kept moving forward and upward. The minutes turned into hours. Nearly totally exhausted, we finally reached the top of the canyon where the terrain was much flatter and there was a trail.
Marie returned to tell us Granddad was getting close to the truck and was ok. (That also was a nagging worry). We took a break and ate a little lunch that we had kept with us. We located a strong branch that we could have Brian sit on and we would carry him. It sounded like a good plan, so , after resting and having Marie to help we began our new strategy. Most of the time there was enough room for the four of us to carry Brian at the same time, two on each end of the log, Brian in the middle. We would carry him as far as we could then he would crawl. By now his hands and knees were bleeding even though we had wrapped them with a torn up shirt. He would crawl until he collapsed then we would put him on the log again and carry him until we could not, always moving forward. This plan worked ok until the horrible instant the log broke and dropped Brian completely on the ankle. He let out a cry of agony and for an instant time stopped as we processed what had happened.
We knew we needed a green branch that would not break. Therefore we needed the Dandy Saw that was in the truck. Again, we knew Marie was the best choice to again run to the trailhead to retrieve the saw. By now we were within a couple of miles so it would not be as bad as before. The rest of us continued the hobbling crutch,/ crawling routine as we knew we had to keep moving. Upon Marie’s return we cut a good sized green branch that would hold my 6’2'' husband. By alternating carrying and crawling we eventually made it to the truck. An hour trip back to town soon found Brian in surgery with several pins in his ankle.
Moral of the story: Always take the Dandy Saw!
The Best Camping Gear! Any body who spends time in the outdoors, or away from the comfort of their home kitchen, appreciates the value of having everything a cook needs at their fingertips. This portable kitchen is designed to travel anywhere with easy and comes fully loaded with a completely outfitted kitchen including a top-of-the-line partner stove. This kitchen is designed and built to have you cooking in 10 minutes or less where every you are. Check back soon to find some of our favorite camp side recipes and meals. In this video we Marie from Our Rocky Adventures is cooking up some Philly cheese steak sandwiches. They were delicious.
First Camping Trip of the Year
First weekend out and we are making fajitas! Marie from "Our Rocky Adventures" joined us for lunch to try out the new Dandy Camp Kitchen from Robertson Enterprises. She shares her thoughts about the experience on her blog here!
It's a Dandy
HuntForever.org had a few words to share about the Dandy Saw. Durwood Hollis shared the following on their site.
"This is one bone and wood handsaw that gets the job done without all the effort of other small saws."