Q: Zimo, you use a cast-iron pot in your camping.
How do you clean it? I badly scorched mine (inside) slow cooking pork with a sugary sauce.
I can't soak it off, can't scrub it off and can't boil it off.
JOHANNA SMITH, email
A: There's nothing more beautiful than a cooking-oil-polished black Dutch oven just waiting for the next camp meal.
Getting your Dutch back into shape takes some elbow grease.
I recently had to bring a 14-inch Dutch oven back to life that had been sitting around a while in a shed. It was so rusted that it was heartbreaking. It also had some goop burned into it that couldn't be cleaned out easily.
Basically, it was a mess and looked like one of those old, rusted Dutch ovens you see used for planters in the garden.
It has been in the family for more than 80 years and passed down three generations, so I went to work on it.
I started off by putting the oven in the gas patio grill and turning the burners on high. I closed the lid and hoped that the heat would turn the old grease build-up into ash.
It did burn some of the crud off but some build-up and the rust remained. I knew I'd have to start scrubbing.
I tried scrubbing the cooled Dutch with a Brillo pad but that was pointless. I finally had to get out the electric drill with a wire brush on the end and take the Dutch down to bare metal.
I hated to do it with all that cooking history ladened in the metal but it was the only way to get rid of the rust and crud. It also took some course sandpaper to clean out the creases in the bottom of the Dutch and on the edges. It was an afternoon's work.
When I finally got it totally cleaned up, I washed and rinsed it well and dried it immediately to prevent rust from coming back.
My wife, Julie, took over and started the re-seasoning process.
She rubbed the Dutch inside and out with a high-temperature cooking oil. Some recommend Crisco, vegetable oil or peanut oil. I've used olive oil in the past.
Use a very, very light covering of oil and wipe the oil out. You don't want puddling anywhere because it will leave a glob of gunk.
Polish it with the oil and then put it on the heat. We got the grill back up to around 350 degrees and started the baking process for about an hour.
All in all, we put on three coats of oil and baked them in each time.
This gave us the beautiful polished black look you want.
I use heavy duty camp cooking gloves when handling the Dutch for each coating of oil. It's hot work.
But it was worth it because the next meal in the old-time oven was perfect and cleanup was a snap because of the seasoning.
Footnote: I checked out another source for seasoning a Dutch. It was at dutchovendude.com.
I also got a note back from Johanna who tried a different method. She wrote back:
"You will be horrified at my solution. I used Oven Off - yuk, eh? Two applications (done outdoors) and pot is like new. No scour pads, scraping or drills!"
"Now have it oiled and curing. Tell Julie I found this solution at Ask.com."
FLOATING BELOW BLISS
Q: Do you know of a source of good information regarding the Snake River from Bliss to King Hill?
I have an itch to float that stretch but I prefer simple to stupid. Anything that raises safety issues beyond the normal would be useful.
DAVID "OWYHEE MUD" STECHER, via email
A: This was a tough question because there is not much talk about this stretch of the Snake River among the boating community.
I got with some experts at Idaho Power Company who know the river and found out that floating the stretch below the Bliss Power Plant is not all bliss.
The stretch contains some rapids and hazards. According to the route tool on my computer topo map program, it's about 14 miles, which can be a long day trip.
I've seen the stretch from the Interstate 84 bridge crossing the Snake River, just east of Glenns Ferry, and you can see some of the rapids. It's also in a canyon.
The rapids are mostly Class II, however, about a mile below the boat launch, Pegleg Rapids can be quite hazardous, particularly in low water like this summer, according to Idaho Power experts. It turns more into Class III to IV.
And adding to the problem is that the rapid is not visible from the road so you can't road scout it.
Castle Rock is another obstacle, about halfway to King Hill. It has some significant drops and can be pretty intimidating.
Depending on the river runner's experience level, the stretch is best done in an inflatable raft or kayak. Idaho Power's river people don't recommend canoes.
Castle Rock and some of the other rapids can also pose issues for jet boats at low water, they said.
Pete Zimowsky: 377-6445, Twitter: @Zimosoutdoors