Archive for the 'Let’s Eat! It’s Alimentary, My Dear' Category

Sep 20 2014

Craving Fresh Bread in Camp? Try Bannock, Hot from the Skillet

Store-bought bread isn’t a great traveler under the best of circumstances, and the cramped confines of a pack or pannier are no substitute for a breadbox. But with a few basic ingredients you can make hot, fresh bread in camp, and you won’t even need an oven. You will need a mixing bowl (an aluminum cook pot will do) and a skillet with a lid, however. Cast iron works best, though you can use a nonstick skillet if you don’t let it get too hot. You’ll also need a camp stove or wood fire. That’s it. All that remains is to mix your ingredients and “bake” in the covered skillet. In less than half an hour you’ll be feasting on bannock.

What’s bannock, you ask? It’s an ancient Caledonian staple, brought to North America by the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Scottish “servants,” and it’s remained a camp treat ever since. Unlike the fur-trade favorite, though, modern bannock is a soda-leavened bread — it will make pan-loaves that are almost two inches thick. And when cut into triangles and slathered with butter, honey, or preserves, there’s nothing more delicious. Bannock dough can also be used to make journey cakes, individual or group bannock pizzas, sweet and savory stuffed bannocks, and sweet rolls. George Simpson never had it so good.

Want to try it? Here’s the recipe:



 

Basic Bannock
Makes one 9-inch bannock

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (NOT plain baking soda!)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water, more or less
  • Canola oil or other cooking oil

A single bannock will take no more than 25–30 minutes to prepare, including prep time.

Preheat your skillet over hot coals or a high flame. (Warning! Don’t let nonstick skillets get too hot. The plastic lining can be damaged.) While the pan is heating, mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Next, make a hollow in the center of the mix and pour in ½ cup of water. Stir, using a spoon, and add as much extra water as needed to form a stiff, easily-worked dough. (You may have to knead the dough with floured hands to make it relatively smooth.) When the dough is ready, remove it from the bowl and pat it into a round cake about one inch thick and eight inches in diameter.

Now drizzle enough canola oil into the preheated skillet to coat the base of the pan. When the oil is hot enough to make a pea-sized lump of dough sizzle, place the cake of bannock dough in the skillet, cover, and throttle back your stove to medium-high. (If you’re cooking over coals, just move the skillet to a cooler corner of the fire.) Bake till the bannock’s bottom is golden brown. This usually takes no more than five minutes or so. Test by lifting the edge of the cake with a spatula or fork, and don’t be alarmed if you see some dark flecks.

Next, turn the bannock over and lower the heat still further. (Push the hot coals apart if you’re using an open fire.) Cover the skillet again and bake till the bannock is done all the way through. Another five minutes should do the trick. You’ll know the bannock is ready when a sliver of wood inserted into the center comes out clean, with no sticky dough clinging to it.

After you’ve baked your bannock, remove the skillet from the heat and slice the bread into triangles before serving. If you want to keep it to eat later, however, be sure to take the bannock out of the skillet and allow it to cool completely before packing it away.

Ringing the Changes  If you’re hankering for something sweet, stir honey or sugar into the dry ingredients, or fold raisins or other chopped dried fruit into the dough after adding the water. You can also flavor the bannock with dried herbs or spices, mixing them into the dry ingredients before adding water. Experiment. Toujours l’audace! Be bold!

Bannock, YES



 

Further Reading

This recipe originally appeared, in somewhat different form, in “Our Daily Bread,” an In the Same Boat article published by Paddling.net on August 14, 2001.

Questions? Comments? Just click here!

Aug 21 2014

Candied Ginger — It’s Mal de Marvelous

Ginger Root

If you’re wondering what the rather odd‑looking object in the photo is, it’s a piece of fresh ginger root. To be stridently pedantic, the “root” is a rhizome, or underground stem, but since you’re not likely to find a label saying “ginger rhizome” on any bin in the HyperMart produce section, ginger root it is. And the smell is as distinctive as the appearance, a pungent but not unpleasant aroma attributed to a number of volatile oils, many of which have demonstrated physiologic properties.

Of course, most of us know ginger by taste, rather than smell. What would gingerbread or ginger cookies be without this versatile spice? But ginger is good for a lot more than just making gingerbread men. Sailors drink ginger tea to prevent or allay seasickness, and back in the day, Farwell found that chewing candied ginger root helped to settle his stomach during short but memorable forays in assault boats (aka “rubber duckies”). He also made use of the selfsame remedy when dinghy sailing on the Neuse River Inlet and Pamlico Sound, and he still keeps a supply on hand for times when the wind and the waves join forces to upset his internal equilibrium. That said, it would be neither wise nor prudent to assume ginger will work the same magic for you. A good summary of the relevant literature, including the evidence bearing on safety and efficacy, can be found in the Wikipedia article on ginger, but any specific questions or concerns should be referred to your doctor.

OK. Are you satisfied that nothing prevents you from taking your ginger straight? And does the doc agree? Good. Then you might want to give it a try, particularly if you often make long open‑water crossings — or like to engage in a bit of canoe or kayak sailing — and you sometimes find that the state of your stomach mirrors the state of the sea around you. You’ll find plenty of products to choose from in health‑food stores, food co‑ops, and “Oriental” (Asian) markets. But be sure you read the small print before you part with your money. All that glisters is not gold, and not all gingery nostrums contain appreciable amounts of real ginger.

There is another way of being sure you get what you pay for, however. Buy fresh ginger root and make your own candied ginger?… Read more…

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Jun 24 2014

A DIY Recovery Drink: Can You Say Naturally Refreshing?

I’m not a bike racer, and I don’t train to race, but hauling a load of groceries the 12 hilly miles back from town can still be a workout. So can long amphibious jaunts in the mountains, especially when the humidity keeps pace with the temperature. I snack and drink regularly while I’m on the road, but it’s not unusual for me to lose a few pounds in the course of a long day, a pretty sure indication that I’m a bit dehydrated. And when my sweat doesn’t taste salty, I know my intake of electrolytes (salts) has also been sub-par. I try to put this right ASAP. Most of the time this means drinking more water and eating some fresh fruit, or even having a light meal. But when time presses, I have another solution: I make a recovery drink.

That’s “make” and not “buy.” Yes, the local HyperMart has plenty of candidates on its shelves. But I’m a DIY type. And just as I prefer my homebrew Newt Nectar to commercial energy ‘ades, I find I like my DIY recovery drink better than any store-bought variety. I know exactly what goes into it, for one thing, and I can usually save a few pennies in the process. Want to give my Second Wind a try? All you need is a banana that’s a little past its prime and a splash of low-fat or skim milk, just to thin the drink a bit and to add some protein to the banana’s natural sugars and vitamins. A quick whirl in a food processor is all it takes.

Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t experiment with a few variations on the theme. Second Wind has many faces. In addition to the banana, I often include one or more of the following:

  • Cherries (pitted, of course)
  • Peach or Nectarine (I leave on the peel)
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Marmalade
  • Raspberry Jam
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Plain Yogurt
  • Low Fat or Skimmed Milk

Here’s a for-instance to get you started: Break one overripe banana into pieces and put them in a blender or small food processor. Add any of the additional ingredients that appeal to you (chop up larger fruit first), then toss in a splash of milk or a tablespoon or two of yogurt to thin the mash and blend until you have a thick drink. Add a couple of tablespoons of crushed ice if you want to cool things down, and give it another whirl in the blender. Then drink up! You’ll get your Second Wind in no time.

If I’m down to my last banana—with no other fruit in the house and only a few tablespoons of milk or yogurt left in the fridge, I throw in some jam or marmalade to add sweetness. Simple and good. Just what your body needs after a hard, hot day. Give it a try!

Refreshing and Fruity

This article was originally published in a slightly different form on July 24, 2010.

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