Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Milk Can Dinner

 Louise Oberlie and Debbie Johnson peel and prepare carrots.
Notice the potatoes on the table are already cleaned and ready for the can.
All of the photos on this post were taken in 1983.
Frequently, the Wind River Education Association would host a Milk Can Dinner for its members, the administration, and the school board. It was a chance to socialize and have a good meal.
Kris Nelson sat in the garage and prepared the corn.
Corn frozen on the cob can also be used.
Kris Nelson and Louise Oberlie pack the milk can.
The last few sausages must be forced into the can.
Chuck and Renee Gomendi prepare the fire while visiting with Rich Stearns. 
Chuck Gomendi sets the can on the cinder blocks and adds the needed moisture.
We liked it prepared with beer, but water works, too. 
It's time to remove the cans from the fire and empty into bowls.
Watching the process are Ethel and John Rowland, Michelle Goldsmith,
Chuck Gomendi, Louise Oberlie, and Ron Hines.
Chuck Gomendi and Ron Hines carefully empty the can's
hot contents into bowls with Louise Oberlie's help.
Make sure everyone brings an appetite because this is seriously good.

Here's the recipe from a Vocational Advisor's Cookbook, edited by Ike Strayer.

Milk Can Dinner

Select a clean, rust-free milk can with lid
The following recipe fills a 10-gallon milk can and will feed 25 people

Place the following ingredients in the can, in the order given:

25 pounds of potatoes, washed but unpeeled
 3  pounds of carrots, peeled
 4  heads of cabbage, quarter and remove heart
25 ears of corn (use frozen corn on the cob, if desired)
 6  medium onions, peeled and quartered
50 pre-cooked sausages, they may have to be forced and packed into the can
1 1/2 quarts of water or beer

Prepare a hot fire between two cinder blocks or something similar that will hold can above and close to the fire. If the wind is blowing, prepare something to protect the fire. Set the can on the blocks and tend the fire as the meal steams and cooks, approximately 1 1/2 hours. On a cold day, it will take longer to cook.

Remove the can from the fire and carefully remove the lid. Two individuals, wearing insulated gloves, should then pour the can's contents into waiting large bowls. Add serving spoons and have guests serve themselves.

Note: milk cans in good condition and rust-free are hard to find. If you want to purchase a new can (they are expensive), Lehman's is a good place to begin your search. Several years ago, I accompanied my sister and brother-in-law to Ohio, and we stopped at Lehman's, located in Kidron, Ohio, an Amish community. It is a wonderful store, filled with all kinds of non-electric appliances and devices.


  1. Yum, that looks delicious! I've never heard of this type of meal before. So interesting.

  2. That's neat!! I hadn't heard of it either, and my mother's side has a lot of dairy farmers.

  3. Never heard of this but I bet it is wonderful..wonder where the tradition came from.....

  4. Amazing!! It's new to me but I would love to take part in preparing and sharing a wonderful meal in such an unusual way. I will keep your recipe in case the opportunity arises! Thanks so much.

  5. Now that is really neat and does look delicious!

  6. Really? What fun but I don't think I'm going to buy a milk can to do this!

  7. This looks like so much fun! I already sent the link to my brothers in the hopes that we can all do this :)


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