My twenty inch cast iron grill pan sees service at least once a week (when we’re home, that is) on Saturday mornings as a pancake making workstation.
For at least a decade our family tradition is a fresh batch of these simple breakfast treats.
1 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of white milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
The flour, sugar, and baking powder get mixed together in a medium bowl.
The egg is whisked in a 2 cup measuring cup, then I add the oil, vanilla and milk and mix again.
The wet and dry are combined, mixed lightly, populated with the chocolate chips, and let to sit for about 10 minutes to hydrate.
Batter is poured in 1/4 cup portions onto a hot cast iron grill pan and cooked to desired doneness.
We serve it all up with maple syrup and a hot cup of coffee.
Does anyone geocache anymore?
More than a decade ago I bought myself a little handheld GPS unit. The Garmin took a pair of AA batteries, warmed up for at least five minutes, and hung on a little lanyard. I would connect it to the computer after downloading a small selection of local cache coordinates, send them into the little device, and then trek out into the local river valley to hunt down the hidden containers.
The game required that I bring along some trinkets to trade, and a pencil to record my username. If after pinning down the location tracked to by my GPS I was able to find the box or capsule or plastic container hidden under a rock or between some cleverly placed natural camouflage, it was important to record that I had found it.
Eventually I ditched the GPS for a geocaching app on my phone. Convenient, yes, though it took some of the fun out of preparing to go out on a treasure-hunting adventure when I could just spontaneously load up the app and see if something happened to be nearby.
Then ultimately I got serious about distance running, traded my lanyard GPS for a wrist-watch version and couldn’t be bothered slow down to hunt for caches anymore.
Yet today I found myself thinking about this global hide-and-seek game.
Are people still fascinated by hiding mysterious containers in their local wilderness for others to find?
Do people feel safe during a pandemic opening boxes and canisters left in the woods by strangers?
Is there still a place for simple treasure hunting in an era of Pokémon-type GPS games that reward you a hundred times a day, rather than just once or twice?
I’m sure I’ve got my old Garmin in a drawer somewhere. And probably even some AA batteries. Maybe I should play again.
For Thursdays I was thinking about starting a regular feature called Tuck & Tech that would let me muse about gear, books, recipes, and other kit. I’m neither sponsored nor provided any of these things. I just find them interesting or useful.
A curious recipe book showed up in my stocking this past Christmas: Campfire Cuisine by Robin Donovan seems to be a hearty collection of tasty dishes that meet a couple basic criteria around food transportation and storage as well as ease of preparation over a hot campfire.
A lot could be said about the fact that the wife and I have already conversed about trying some of the collection of marinades, breakfasts, sandwiches, and main courses at home first. There is nothing necessitating a campout cook style for many of the dishes … which, I guess, means that the collection is a solid book of hearty dishes that also happens to be amenable to cooking and eating in the great outdoors.
It’s the middle of deep winter as I write this, and I did have a short campfire in the chilly backyard for New Year’s Eve, but we used it to symbolically torch the 2020 calendar and I wasn’t comfortable cooking on those flames afterwards. Our simple go-to would likely have been pulling out the marshmallows to make s’mores, after a round of grilled hot dogs.
Yet this book definitely seems to be more than one-dish meals or meats-on-sticks.
I re-read the introduction this morning again and it lit a feeling of kinship between myself and the author. There was a symmetry of philosophy in those words, even as I set off (it’s still my first week) to write a daily blog checking boxes that Donovan checked long before me, and in print to boot.
Living to eat well.
Travelling to taste and experience.
I’ve yet to try any of the recipes, and definitely not over a firepit, but for that synergy alone I’ll be pouring over the hundred-ish recipes in the book now (and as warmer tent camping weather approaches) to construct the menu for our next outbound excursion.
I am not a poet, but a friend has inspired me to read more of it and think more critically about its place in the constellation of my creative pursuits. Occasionally, I’d like to post a poem here when inspiration strikes.
demarcated by strict panels of hewn lumber
set against remnant forest
clinging to a river edge
traced between the trees
serpentine cut through snow-covered scrub
bracing a tizzy of birdsong
against a distant whir of highway traffic
muffled by branches reaching for sunlight
bare in the january chill
traced between the trees
packing a temporary record into the snow
recalling a moment or a hundred like it
inspired to ignore one more