Survival Gear Review: Back Packer’s Pantry Multigrain Buttermilk Hotcakes

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1_featured_shtfblog-survival-cache-best-survival-backpackers-pantry-multigrain-buttermilk-hotcakes-pancakes-spatula-organic

2_shtfblog-survival-cache-best-survival-backpackers-pantry-multigrain-buttermilk-hotcakes-pancakes-spatula-organic-lodge-cast-ironThis past weekend, I had a bit of cabin fever – I needed to get out of the house, tromp around in the woods, start a fire in the snow. So I bundled up my 3-year-old boy, filled a backpack with a thermos of hot chocolate, a small container of olive oil, a Lodge 12” cast iron skillet, a liter bottle of water, a spatula, a bit of Maine real maple syrup, and the coup de grace – a package of Backpacker’s Pantry Multigrain Buttermilk Hotcakes. We gathered up the dog and stomped out into the woods, leaving Mrs. Drew to enjoy a few minutes of precious peace and quiet, sipping her coffee.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

I’ve been starting my lil’ dude on making fires in the woods (never too early!) so I had him find a birch tree and peel some bark while I collected dry twigs and branches from the myriad white pine trees in the area; I scored and found a recently fallen small sugar maple to get some nice hardwood coals in the fire for cooking.

We set up the birch bark and dry twigs, and I showed my son how to scrape a firesteel for a small pile of ferrocerium shavings, and with one healthy blast on the Firesteel GobSpark Armageddon, we had a toasty little fire going. Once the fire was healthy and happy, I let him poke around in the coals with a long stick – an irresistible fireside hobby that comes to us while we’re young, apparently. The fire danced and snapped, my son slurped hot chocolate, my dog searched for squirrels, and I started looking into breakfast.

Pancakes in a bag?

I dug the package of Backpacker’s Pantry Multigrain Buttermilk Hotcakes out of my pack, and set to reading the instructions. Pretty simple: open the pouch, dump in ¾ cup of cold water, seal the bag up, shake until mixed. I could handle that. Probably.

3_shtfblog-survival-cache-best-survival-backpackers-pantry-multigrain-buttermilk-hotcakes-pancakes-organic-hemp-add-waterI opened the resealable bag of mix, and looked inside. First order of business was to locate the little oxygen absorber packet so it didn’t accidentally become hotcake ingredients and then remove all the oxygen from my stomach through a probably very unappealing chemical process. I dug around through the mix and located the errant hitchhiker, then poured my approximation of ¾ cup of cold water in the bag. I sealed the bag up, folded it over, and shook the shit out of the package. For good measure, I let my son shake it up, too. You can never be too careful.

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I opened up the bag and peered inside at its goopy contents. It looked pretty runny to me even after a couple good hearty shakings, so I used my spatula to mix things up a bit, scraping the sides of the bag to make sure I got all the mix. No improvement: I came to the conclusion that either my water-measurement eyeballing skills were far below par, or the mix was a little on the soupy side when properly made. No worries, though – I was committed at this point, and lil’ dude was giving me toddler hell about not having pancakes, so I oiled up the cast iron skillet and let it sit over the two wrist-sized hardwood logs I’d placed atop the campfire cooking coals we’d cultivated and poked at. In a few minutes, a sprinkle of water danced on the surface of the skillet, so I knew it was game time.

The Magic Of Campfire Cooking

Ahh, the beauty of a fire in the woods – pine smoke, crackling branches, clothes that retain that sweet smoky eau de campfire scent that drives the women crazy. However, when it comes to cooking pancakes on cast iron, that campfire becomes an evil beast that makes one jump to grab the spatula like a man who just sat on a rattlesnake that’s having a bad day.

4_shtfblog-survival-cache-best-survival-backpackers-pantry-multigrain-buttermilk-hotcakes-pancakes-spatula-organic-lodge-cast-ironI poured the batter from the pouch onto the oiled, heated cast iron skillet, and the batter practically baked on the spot; bubbles (a sure sign that pancakes are done) burst from below in seconds, shocking the hell out of me and ensuring that breakfast would be a bit quicker than intended. I lunged for the spatula, shook off the residual batter left from stirring, and hastily scraped the poor scorched hotcakes from the pan. A quick flip for the two pancakes I’d made, and I let the pancakes sit another fifteen seconds or so before popping them off the skillet onto a paper plate. Round one went to the skillet.

I pulled the skillet back off the volcano to let it cool, and thankfully the next round of pancakes was a little bit easier on me. I was a nice dad and gave the better-looking pair of hotcakes to my son, lest he hate campfire cooking for the rest of his life. I’m sure he’ll thank me for it later when he’s burning bacon and eggs over campfires for years to come.

I drizzled on some real maple syrup (that fake Mrs. Butterworth stuff is for commies) and gave the Multigrain Buttermilk Hotcakes a whirl.

The Verdict Is In

I know it’s hard to make something taste bad when it’s covered in the delectable nectar that is Maine maple syrup, but these Hotcakes were actually pretty damned good. They tasted very similar to whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes (if any of you have ventured into that territory), very rich and a little dense. These hotcakes were meant to provide a bunch of protein for the backpacker or camper, and they taste the part. They weren’t like scratch-made griddle cakes like grandma used to make, but considering they will give you honest long-lasting energy (plus a nice sugar boost if you put syrup, honey, or jam on them), with four 4-inch pancakes providing 15 grams of protein.

Related: Making Maple Syrup

My three-year-old son requested seconds, so I happily obliged. The hotcakes were pretty filling, and we sat in the sun next to the fire, recovering happily from the unexpected need to make fast food and sipping hot chocolate. The hotcakes were winners.

The Company

5_backpackers_pantry_logo_smBackpacker’s Pantry – just so you know – pride themselves in offering organic foods to their customers, and these hotcakes were no different. The ingredient list is comprised of all food, no preservatives or chemicals. The spelt flour, evaporated cane juice, baking powder, and cornstarch are all listed as being from organic sources. A good FYI for people with allergies: These hotcakes include milk,  eggs, wheat, and gluten – so keep an eye out. Nobody likes dealing with food allergies, especially out on the trail.

I wouldn’t throw this hotcake mix in a Bug-Out Bag or emergency bag – the hassle of needing large cookware and a spatula would be too much. However, keeping a couple packages of Backpacker’s Pantry Multigrain Buttermilk Hotcakes in a Bug-out camper, or in your house pantry in case you need a just-add-water breakfast, would be a great idea, especially if you have kids and need some calming comfort food. While I didn’t try it, the addition of berries or nuts would be a fantastic locally-sourced addition. Baking this mix in a dutch oven probably wouldn’t yield bad results either…I’ll have to try it out, now that I think about it. The Backpacker’s Pantry Multigrain Buttermilk Hotcakes are definitely a welcome addition to anyone who might want a kick-start to their day but not carry around the whole refrigerator.

The Smokeless & Easy-To-Build Off-Grid Cooking Stove

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The Smokeless & Easy-To-Build Off-Grid Cooking Stove

Outdoor cooking is a major part of my off-grid experience, and so a reliable outdoor stove was a must-have. And with many options of wood-burning stoves out there, fuel-efficiency and minimal smoke were at the top of my list.

After much research, the rocket stove because our outdoor stove of choice. In this article, I will share with you the concept of the rocket stove, how we built two of them, and its advantages and disadvantages.

oven-1A wood-burning smokeless stove sounds impossible, right? Let me explain it this way. Smoke is un-burned fuel. The rocket stove makes use of all the fuel. Everything gets burned in the combustion chamber before leaving the chimney. This concept is also seen in the Dakota fire pit.

The rocket stove, when fired up, sounds similar to that of a rocket taking off – hence, its name.

Here’s how we built our concrete rocket stove:

  1. My husband made a wooden mold for shaping the inner cavity — a 6-inch-by-6-inch hollow plywood “L”. He added 2 parallel sticks, ½ inch by ½ inch, on the lower front of the “L,” 1 inch from the floor, to create a groove for the shelf.
  2. Then he built a 10-inch-by-10-inch hollow “L” around the first one, creating a 2-inch cavity for pouring the concrete.
  3. The steel was then put in place. We left 1 inch of steel exposed at the top to be used as the pot support.
  4. He poured the concrete in the 2-inch gap, making the walls of the rocket stove 2 inches thick.

Our rocket stove has a footprint of 10 inches by 15 inches. From the floor to the top of the chimney is 22 inches. From the floor to the top of the fuel chamber is 10 inches. The combustion chamber or chimney is 6 inches by 6 inches.

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We allowed it to cure for four weeks indoors, wetting every day during the first week to prevent the concrete from drying too quickly and cracking. We fired up the rocket stove to burn out the mold.

oven-2In our family, clay is play. So when it came to making the clay rocket stove measurements, looks took a backseat. Our material list was simple:

  • Two metal plates. One about 10 inches by 10 inches for the shelf, and the second 19 inches by 12 inches for the top of the fuel chamber.
  • Two round pipes 10 inches long and about 1 inches thick
  • Five big stones
  • Clay

Advantages of a Rocket Stove

  • It is easy to maintain. Push the wood inside, add more when it’s done, and pull the shelf out to remove the ash build-up after you’re done.
  • It is well-insulated. The fire is contained, making it safe to work around. I can touch the rocket stove while it’s fired up.
  • It is smokeless. This was the main advantage for me because I can do all of my prep work right next to it and not be chased away by smoke.
  • It cooks food quickly. The rocket stove can reach very high temperatures. We use dry coconut shells to increase the temperature. To lower the temperature, we pull out some of wood.
  • It is efficient. The rocket stove uses less fuel than every open flame outdoor cooking fires. It is great for getting rid of scrap wood and sticks around your homestead.

oven-3Disadvantages of a Rocket Stove

  • It makes pans black. This is usually the case with outdoor cooking, so we have separate pans for our indoor and outdoor cooking.
  • It needs monitored. The L-shape rocket stove design means that wood can burn out and fall off the fuel chamber. This can be a hazard. The J-shaped design solves this, as the wood slides into the fuel chamber on its own.
  • It might have smoke at first. I recommend starting the fire on the shelf outside the rocket stove, and then sliding the tray in when you have a flame.

Of the many outdoor cooking options we’ve explored — we’ve gone through a lot — the rocket stove meets and surpasses our off-grid cooking needs. From cooking to grilling to roasting, the rocket stove does it all.

What advice would you add on building and using a rocket stove? Share your tips in the section below:

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Cooking pizza in your outdoor pizza oven

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Pizza OvenThere are many people who would want to reconnect with their traditional roots by preparing food the same way that their ancestors used to. This especially applies to people who come from families that have a long history of cooking pizzas in outdoor pizza ovens. These outdoor pizza ovens are markedly different from the modern oven machines that we get to see every day in restaurants and in superbly furnished kitchens. While it is not wrong to own a modern oven machine, it just does not compare with the taste and superior quality that an outdoor pizza oven is capable of giving you.

The first thing you should know about using an outdoor pizza oven is the fact that the oven will give your pizza a superior taste and crunchy feel that is difficult to replicate with any other kind of oven. It will give the pizza the same quality that die hard food enthusiasts have been looking for all their lives. It will give the pizza the same authentic feel that traditional pizzas cooked in native Italy have.

The outdoor pizza oven also boasts of having higher temperatures than the modern cooking ovens that are very popular in urban areas and in the suburbs. The higher temperatures translate to faster cooking times for those who have many pizzas to prepare within a short amount of time. This can lead to better economical savings and save a lot of time which can be used to perform other more important tasks. As such, if you are in a hurry and time is of the essence, you would be better served to have an outdoor pizza oven instead of any other kind of oven.

It is also important to note that the outdoor pizza oven gives you the chance to interact with your guests if you are having a get together in your home. If it is only you and your loved ones together with a few friends, then you will also get the chance to mingle and talk as you prepare. This is quite different from having to stay in the kitchen throughout as you watch the pizzas while everyone else is out in the garden having a good time. With an outdoor oven, you do not have to miss out on anything.

There are two ways of owning an outdoor pizza oven. You could buy one from a reputable seller, or you could make it on your own. The choice that you make will depend on your budget and your preferences. There are people who would like to build the oven from scratch, so as to ensure that everything, from the oven to the pizza, is homegrown. There are other people who simply do not have the time or the skill to build the oven from scratch. For these people, buying a new outdoor oven is the best option available.

Either way, owning an outdoor pizza oven for cooking pizza will do you a lot of good and lead to the creation of many beautiful memories with your friends and family.

 

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Survival Basics: How to Build a Fire in a Rocket Stove

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Rocket Stove with Pot of Food

By Gaye Levy – Backdoor Survival

There comes a time when every prepper will say enough with all of the food and enough with all of the gear. Preparing a survival pantry, first aid kit and bug-out-bag are all important tasks but at some point we need to take a break from gathering stuff and move on to some of the basic skills needed to to insure our comfort in an emergency situation.

One of those skills is the ability to cook food outdoors.  Sure, we all know how to fire up the barbie and grill burgers.  But what if the backyard barbeque was not available?

Continue reading at Backdoor Survival: Survival Basics: How to Build a Fire in a Rocket Stove

About the author:

Gaye Levy started Backdoor Survival so that she could share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. On Backdoor Survival you will find survival and preparedness tools and tips for creating a self-reliant lifestyle through thoughtful prepping and optimism.

To read more from Gaye, visit her website, Backdoor Survival. You can also follow Gaye on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest or purchase her eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage on Amazon.com.

Filed under: Emergency Survival Tips, Prepping

My Two Favorite Powerless Cooking Tools

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Chances are you cook something most every day in your family, am I right?  And if I had to guess, I’d say it is pretty likely that you use electricity to do so. * Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commissionContinue Reading …

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Keep your power out supplies together: A 10 min prep project

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Here is a little fictional story that may seem familiar to some of you… You come home after dark (around 5:30 pm in the winter) to find the power is out. Darn!  WHERE did you put those flashlights? No problem, you’ll just use the light on your phone to look for them. Oh, these candleContinue Reading …

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