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by Ernest Thompson Seton 

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See Horace Kephart's Book of Camping and Woodcraft.

In most camps the staples are: cocoa, coffee (or tea), bacon, game, fish, and hardtack, bannocks or biscuit.

To make these take

bullet1 pint flour,
bullet1 teaspoonful of baking-powder,
bulletHalf as much salt,
bulletTwice as much grease ox lard,
bulletWith water enough to make into paste, say one half a pint.

When worked into smooth dough, shape it into wafers half an inch thick and three inches across. Set in a greased tin, which is tilted up near a steady fire. Watch and turn the tin till all are browned evenly.

For other and better but more elaborate methods of making bread, see Kephart's book as above.

For cooking fish and game the old, simple standbys are the fryng-pan and the stew-pan.

As a general rule, mix all batters, mush, etc., with cold water, and always cook with a slow fire.

When going into camp not far from home some think it a good plan to take a cold roast of beef with them.

Soup stock should be made the first days of every bit of bones and meat.

There is an old adage:

bulletHasty cooking is tasty cooking.
bulletFried meat is dried meat.
bulletBoiled meat is spoiled meat.
bulletRoast meat is best meat.

This reflects perhaps the castle kitchen rather than the camp, but it has its measure of truth, and the reason why roast meat is not more popular is because it takes so much time and trouble to make it a success.

Cooking Without Utensils

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We sometimes call it "hatchet cookery," because the cook is supposed to begin with nothing but a hatchet. To cook a good, toothsome meal with such a meager outfit is good proof of a skilled Woodcrafter. Let us assume that you have meat, fish, potatoes, flour, and baking-powder, in addition to your hatchet.

To Boil the Fish. Make a big fire and in it put twenty stones each as big as two fists. Near by, dig a hole a foot wide and two feet deep. Get a flat hardwood board, a foot long and six or eight inches wide. Clean and lash the fish onto this board, with a grass, rush, bark, or root--binding every inch or more; or else make a little basket lid of rushes, spruce roots, etc., lay that on the fish and bind all to the board. This is your plank. Do not use pine or any gummy wood for this, as it gives the fish a bad taste.

When the stones in the fire are red-hot, roll some into the hole till it is filled up eighteen inches. Then put in a layer of small cold stones, then a layer of grass; now lay your planked fish on this upside down, that is, with the fish under the board. Cover all with a wad of fresh grass and, lastly, with two or three inches of clay. Make a little hole at one side and pour into that about a bucket of water. Close up the hole, cover all tight and leave for half an hour to an hour. Open cautiously, carefully keeping the clay from the fish. Turn the plank and remove the binding. The fish will be found beautifully cooked.

Potatoes take three times as long to do in this way.

To Broil. To broil fish, game, or bacon is easy if one make a hot fire, then expose a level bed of coals, fan it once with a hat or board to remove the ashes from the top of the coals, then drop the meat to be cooked right on the coals. It will broil in a minute or two. Turn it over with a stick and the operation will be quickly completed.

Toasting is easily done if we cut a forked stick of strong green wood and hold the bread over the fire.

Roasting. A good meat roaster is made by hanging the meat in a green wood hook made with a broad wooden fan set in a split near the top and above that a heavy cord to hang it with. Thus the wind, striking the fan, turns the meat and twists the cord until it is tight; then it unwinds, but, owing to the weight of the meat, goes past the dead point and winds itself up the other way, and so on. This is an especially satisfactory roaster when there is wind.

Bread. The test of all is the making of good bread without utensils. Some make a hole in the ground for a bread pan and line it with a corner of a mackintosh. But most old timers use the top of the flour in the sack itself. Simply spread the mouth wide open and securely level and proceed as though it were a pan.

To make a small loaf of bread, put a teaspoonful of baking powder on about a pint of flour, add a lump of butter or grease as big as a walnut and a dash of salt. Mix them together, then add about a cupful of cold water, work it into the flour that has been prepared. It will not strike into the flour below. Thoroughly work up the mass of dough and now it is ready for treatment as bread twist, or as cakes.

Bread Twist. Cut a smooth, round stick two or three inches through and three feet long, point one end, drive it in the ground leaning toward the fire at a place just a little hotter than you can hold your hand. Work the dough into a long roll and twist it like a vine around the stick. After ten minutes, turn the stick around in the hole, so as to give the full heat to the other side, and so on; in half an hour, the bread should be brown and finished.

Cakes. Select a broad, flat, thin stone; heat it at the fire until it is too hot for your hand to touch; brush it clean, work the dough into cakes half an inch thick and three inches across, put them on the flat stone and prop it up near the fire as steeply as possible, so long as they do not fall off, and roast till pale brown all over.

Mud Baking. This is used for fish and game. Clean the food thoroughly, enclose it in a coat of mud at least an inch thick, bury it in the ashes of the fire and keep a brisk fire on it for thirty to sixty minutes, according to the size of the meat or fish to be roasted.

Potatoes can be baked in the ashes without any mud. They take much longer than meat.

See Also:

Woodcraft Council Fire

The Birch Bark Roll 

 

 

   

 

 


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Last modified: October 15, 2016.