Riege: Coleman Cooking Challenge ’11

Published 8:59 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2011


In the fall of each year the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers meet in a chosen location to have their annual conference. This year our location was Honey Creek Resort in Moravia, IA. Honey Creek Resort sits on the bank of Rathbun Lake (a.k.a. Iowa’s Ocean). This resort is a 5 star jewel in South Central Iowa. Check out all the amenities Honey Creek has to offer at; www.honeycreekresort.com

One of the many events that take place at our annual conference is the Coleman Cooking Challenge. Two individuals or two teams compete against each other using the latest Coleman products to produce a meal for judges, in two hours. Think of it as Iron Chef in the outdoors, or Throw Down with Bob and Ginny Riege.

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Although unlike the Iron Chef there are no secret ingredients, but there is a theme. This year’s theme was Iowa, fair food, German and Irish dishes of Southeastern Iowa. This theme wasn’t revealed to us until about one month before the challenge.

Ginny and I volunteered to be one of the challengers last year after the Coleman Cook-Off at Ashland, Wisconsin. Our opponents were Brent Lawrence from the National Wild Turkey Federation and Kristen Monroe from Outdoor News. Brent had been a previous winner of the Cook-Off. So, being the challengers we decided to present our meal second for the judging.

Each team had the same Coleman equipment to use: Road Trip Grill LXE, Family Cookset, Portable Instastart Coffeemaker/Stainless Steel Carafe, 36 Qt. Extreme Cooler, Frywell (deep fryer) Road Trip Portable Propane Cooker (slow cooker) 24- Piece Enamelware Dishset/Flatware, and a two burner tabletop propane camp stove. www.coleman.com.

Before cooking could begin we set up our equipment, and we had a menu planned in advance. Our menu consisted on the following:

For an Appetizer we served apple hickory smoked bacon wrapped walleye accompanied with Walleye Chop Beer. We selected this to start out with because we were on the shores of Lake Rathbun that teams with walleye and of course one of the foods of Iowa is pork. Walleye Chop, a new beer that came out this year with the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener inspired our drink, it is bottled by Cold Spring brewery here in Minnesota, and so it was fitting for an appetizer.

The 2011 AGLOW Coleman Cooking Challenge Champions Bob and Ginny Riege with their Coleman equipment and cooking ingredients. -- Photo provided by P.J. Perea NWTF

Our next course was a Soup, inspired by growing up in Ottumwa, IA with German heritage. Creamy German potato/ham soup with corn muffins, served with sweet tea. The soup is a cream base with ham, potatoes, celery, onions and German dumplings. The corn muffins actually became corn pancakes for lack of an oven, but the judges liked the innovation and corn as an ingredient. The corn pancakes were served with a straw of honey. (More on the importance of honey later) The sweet tea is a staple of Southern Iowa and South.

Our Entrée was pan seared pheasant and wild turkey with a creamy chicken and sour cream sauce and venison tenderloin medallions. Served with wild rice infused with pork sausage, apples and onions topped with slivered toasted almonds. This recipe comes from hunting and harvesting wild game in the great state of Iowa. The introduction of dairy and pork along with apples are again part of the “foods of Iowa.”

Last course was Dessert. We decided on a simpler preparation for the dessert. We didn’t want to over power the judges with a lot more food. We served apple crumble with coffee and honey brandy. The apple crumble is easy to make with brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and f butter. It was spread on top of hot Dutch apple pie filling. Served with dark rich coffee and honey brandy. The rich coffee is also a staple of many desserts from Iowa. The honey brandy was served because September is national honey month and we are at Honey Creek Resort so why not have a little honey brandy with the dessert?

During the course of preparing our meal we also decided to use the Coleman Frywell with a new product that Clam Outdoors has introduced this year. We dusted walleye fillets with Goose Antler Lodge Fishbatter in the zesty lemon dill recipe. These walleye fillets were distributed not to the judges, but the audience that had gathered around to watch the Cook-Off and judging. For more information on these products and others view them at www.clamoutdoors.com

The Coleman Cooking Challenge began at 2:30 on September 22nd and contestants had to stop cooking at 4:30 and present their meals to the judges. The challenge of this contest was to assemble all the parts of the meal to be served within minutes of each other, wind, sun and of course our competitors came up with a pretty good menu as well.

Needless to say, at the end of the day we were singing the 1977 Queen song.

We Are The Champions