This 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.
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.
I 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.
Read Also: The KISS AR – 15
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.
I 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.
Backpacker’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.