Flap Jack – Outdoor Skills
Flap Jack – Outdoor Skills
I have never been able to get much help from cook-books, or the scores of receipts published in various works on out-door sport. Take, for example, Frank Forester's "Fish and Fishing." He has more than seventy receipts for cooking fish, over forty of which contain terms or names in French. I dare say they are good—for a first-class hotel. I neither cook or converse in French, and I have come to know that the plainest cooking is the best, so that it be well done and wholesome. In making up the rations for camping out, the first thing usually attended to is bread. And if this be light well-made bread, enough may be taken along to last four or five days, and this may be eked out with Boston crackers, or the best hard-tack, for a couple or three days more, without the least hardship. Also, there are few camps in which some one is not going out to the clearings every few days for mail, small stores, etc., and a supply of bread can be arranged for, with less trouble than it can be made. There are times, however when this is not feasible, and there are men who prefer warm bread all the time. In this case the usual resort, from Maine to Alaska, is the universal flapjack. I do not like it; I seldom make it; it is not good. But it may be eaten, with maple syrup or sugar and butter. I prefer a plain water Johnnycake, made as follows; Put a little more than a pint of water in your kettle and bring it to a sharp boil, adding a small teaspoonful of salt, and two of sugar. Stir in slowly enough good corn meal to make a rather stiff mush, let it cook a few minutes, and set it off the fire; then grease your largest tin dish and put the mush in it, smoothing it on top. Set the dish on the out-door range described in the previous chapter, with a lively bed of coals beneath—but no blaze. Invert the second sized tin over the cake, and cover the dish with bright live coals, that bottom and top may bake evenly, and give it from thirty-five to forty minutes for baking. It makes wholesome, palatable bread, which gains on the taste with use.
Those who prefer wheat bread can make a passable article by using the best wheat flour with baking powders, mixing three tablespoonfuls of the powders to a quart of flour. Mix and knead thoroughly with warm water to a rather thin dough, and bake as above. Use the same proportions for pancake batter. When stopping in a permanent camp with plenty of time to cook, excellent light bread may be made by using National yeast cakes, though it is not necessary to "set" the sponge as directed on the papers. Scrape and dissolve half a cake of the yeast in a gill of warm water, and mix it with the flour. Add warm water enough to make it pliable, and not too stiff; set in a warm place until it rises sufficiently, and bake as directed above. It takes several hours to rise.
I am afraid I shall discount my credit on camp cooking when I admit that—if I must use fine flour —I prefer unleavened bread; what my friends irreverently call "club bread." Not that it was ever made or endorsed by any club of men that I know of, but because it is baked on a veritable club, of sassafras or black birch. This is how to make it: Cut a club two feet long and three inches thick at the broadest end; peel or shave off the bark smoothly, and sharpen the smaller end neatly. Then stick the sharpened end in the ground near the fire, leaning the broad end toward a bed of live coals, where it will get screeching hot. While it is heating, mix rather more than a half pint of best Minnesota flour with enough warm water to make a dough. Add a half teaspoonful of salt, and a teaspoonful of sugar, and mould and pull the dough until it becomes lively. Now, work it into a ribbon two inches wide and half an inch thick, wind the ribbon spirally around the broad end of the club, stick the latter in front of the fire so that the bread will bake evenly and quickly to a light brown, and turn frequently until done, which will be in about thirty minutes. When done take it from the fire, stand the club firmly upright, and pick the bread off in pieces as you want it to eat. It will keep hot a long time, and one soon becomes fond of it.
Sears, George Washington. Woodcraft. New York: Forest and Stream Publishing, 1884.
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