21 June 2010

My Grandfathers Bannock Recipe

I was browsing through my Grandfather's cookbook last night and came across a recipe for a bread I had no experience with. So, I figured a little homework was in order. Now, for our friends in Canada this will probably be old news because, as I understand it, Bannock has been is a well known recipe for quite some time.

After a little Internet work and perusing a couple old cookbooks here's what I came up with. First, based on the info from the Internet it was clear that this is an excellent bread for the campsite and can be done in a Dutch oven (It's a bread recipe so, Duh! of course it can be done in a DO) or prepared and cooked in a cast iron skillet over an open camp fire. Since this is my first attempt at this recipe I tried it in my indoor kitchen first.

The following is from an old cookbook I have, Flatbreads & Flavors, A baker's Atlas, Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid, 1995, William Morrow and Company, New York.
"The original Bannock was a Scottish bread baked on a griddle and made from oatmeal, barley, or wheat. It probably came to North America, with the Hudson's Bay Company, as the company was the first to introduce wheat flour to the Northern parts of Canada. As flour sold by the company's trading posts gradually became a part of the local diet, so to did Bannock, but in a form not necessarily resembling it's plain Scottish ancestor (Scottish Oatcakes, similar but with slightly different ingredients and different cooking method - RNB). When berries were available, they went into the Bannock batter.When there was meat or fish, it was chopped up and included."

"Bannock is now made all across the north of Canada, in households and in hunting and fishing camps, by native peoples and newcomers alike.It's a quick and fuel efficient way to make bread, and almost foolproof, even when made over a campfire."

Well, for ol' Splatterdab, it was the "foolproof" part that intrigued me. In addition, although I have no specific evidence, my theory is that a recipe this simple and quick must have been a go-to bread for the chuck wagon coussies in the late 19th century. I'll keep looking for any chuck wagon versions of`the recipe.

So, here's the recipe and for this version I decided to add apricots rather than berries.

Apricot Bannock
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
1 cup dried apricots - diced
1-1/2 cup water

Bring oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease skillet or DO. In bowel, mix dry ingredients, Add diced apricots. Make well in middle of dry ingredients, pour in water and stir quickly until mixed. Dough should be stiff but moist. transfer to DO and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.

To bake over campfires or bottom heat source, use a cast iron skillet and cook over a medium heat, covered, for 10 minutes or until brown on bottom. Slide onto lid, flip over and bake until browned on other side. Remove and cool.

Where the cowboy coffee is always hot.

20 June 2010

Venture Outdoors Festival at Millcreek Township 19 JUN 2010

It was a great Saturday with weather that couldn't be better for some serious Dutch oven cooking. And, that's what was happenin' at Millcreek Park. I was representing IDOS and the Storm Mountain Dutch oven Chapter with Debbie Hair, the IDOS President, and one of our newest members, David Smith, a fellow Veteran. We did demos during the day and I gave a demo later that afternoon in the St. Marks Hospital Demo tent.

The Venture Outdoors Festival is a celebration of outdoor recreation. This unique festival is designed to increase awareness, participation, and appreciation for the many recreational opportunities available in Utah. This annual, free, family-friendly event features live music, recreation clinics, guest speakers, giveaways, creative children's activities, and great food all day long. The U.S. Army band was there playing some great music and they also set up a couple of rock climbing walls. And of course, dutch oven cookin' with ol' splatterdab.

In my demo I did a couple of things. First, I talked about how easy it is to get started with Dutch oven cooking by using gear that's inexpensive and readily available. And second, I demo'd an age old favorite among Dutch oven cooks - the Mountain Man Breakfast. I haven't met many DO cooks that haven't received rave reviews on whatever their version of the recipe is. In fact, from pot-to-pot my recipe will frequently change on the fly.

So, here's this post's recipe:

Mountain Man Breakfast for a 12” Dutch Oven
This variation on the Mountain Breakfast is from my friend Gary House, “The Outdoor Cook”
His web site is at: http://www.cooking-outdoors.com/

1 sausage log (I like Jimmy Deans Sage - RNB)
1 onion (chopped)
2-3 stalks green onion (chopped)
2-3 garlic cloves (chopped}
8-12 eggs (scrambled)
Several mushrooms (sliced)
1 bag shredded hash browns
1 bag “Sharp” chedder cheese (12oz)
Garlic salt
Parsley (dried)

Fry up sausage and onion. Add chopped garlic. Cook till sausage is almost done. Drain.
At this point you could fry up the potatoes till browned. Or throw in some pre-cooked red potatoes.
Add all of the other ingredients (Except cheese) and mix up real good. Cook for about 40 minutes until egg is done.
Rotate lid and pot in opposite directions every 10 minutes or so to eliminate hot spots (there are differing opinions on whether you need to rotate the lid and pot. Your call - RB).
Last 5 minutes add cheese to top to melt.

I use a 12″ Dutch oven with 8 coals on bottom and about 16 on top. You will use a lot more on bottom to fry up sausage so just dump the total amount on bottom to start then adjust to bake.

Where the cowboy coffee is always hot

15 June 2010

150th Anniversary of the Pony Express

Wow! Its been a while. I would like to say that there was some cataclysmic event that prevented me from posting but I suggest that you take a look at the clause in my blog title - "when I get around to it". OK, OK, I know laziness ain't no excuse but I've been busy with my new German Shorthaired  Pointer, and constant companion that I rescued, Homer, the chuck wagon wonder dog.

He and I wound up cooking, well he spent most of the time sunning himself and barking at other passing mutts, with some good friends - Waly, Debbie, and Cheesy Cindy (there's a story there so stand by). We were very happy that we were able to support the Sandy, Utah Museum and the Pony Express Association.

So, here's the deal. The riders from the Pony Express Association started out in Sacramento, CA and are retracing the Pony Express route on to St. Jo, MO. At several relay stations along the way are celebrations honoring and recalling the history of the Pony Express.

Ol' Splatterdab setup the chuck wagon, with the help of Waly, across the street from the museum. The fare for the public and the riders was Cowboy Beans, Dutch Oven Taters, thanks to Debbie, rolls, and varieties of dump cakes, thanks to Debbie and Cindy. So, what did Ol' Splatterdab do? Well, supervised of course. Can't leave women in the kitchen alone ya know (boy, am I gonna catch it for that one).

So, let's get to this blog post's recipe which is a variation on the beer bread recipe. This also brings us back to my explanation of my introduction of Cheesy Cindy. So, beer bread is a wet bread and the recipe is simple:
3 cups self rising flour
1 Tbs sugar
12 oz beer (not light)

Mix the ingredients well and pour into a greased 10" Dutch oven. Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Now, Cindy had not made a beer bread before so I handed her the recipe to work from and I suggested that she could get creative and use an additional ingredient such as red crushed pepper, garlic or other spices. I think she made a batch of beer bread using those and others. Mind you, I encourage creativity but Cindy asked me a question about an ingredient I didn't expect. She said, "Where's the cheese". Now, have you ever heard of a chuck wagon cook carrying cheese. Ol' Splatterdab gave her a look like she had just asked me a question in some foreign language. "No, thar ain't no cheese in this camp. What aire ya thinkin'?" Well, Cindy bein' the creative creature she is found some cheese. I'm thinkin' she stole it from somewhere but anyway she put it in a batch that was near done that was made up using a brown ale from the Wasatch Brewery.  You can use a regular beer like Bud or Coors. But, the brown ale turned out a bread with a very interesting character and darker color. And I will admit, it was pretty dad-gum good. Thanks Cheesy Cindy.

All-in-all, it was a very good day. We all worked pretty hard and I really want to thank Debbie, Cindy, and Wally for their volunteering to help me and the Sandy Museum. A very special thanks to Colleen Sloan, Skip and Audrey, Will Ward and his son (apologize - can't remember the young man's name) for helping me break camp and getting me on the trail home.

Where the cowboy coffee is always hot.