Making bread over the campfire

Why does food taste so much better when cooked – and savored
– outside? The American part of my soul loves camping, for the outdoors, the beauty
of nature, the escape from civilization. But also because of the food.

Camping is one of the rare times I indulge in bacon…
French toast and fried egg…

Somehow when camping, life becomes
simple again. Life slows down. For a couple of days, life becomes about
sleeping, eating, enjoying and savoring the moment, absorbing the surroundings,
being in touch with nature. The basics of life, really. The things that make
you feel grounded, and tend to get diminished by the rat race of 21st
century life. Perhaps it is because we are (willingly) forced into this contemplative state
that our senses are enhanced and we can enjoy the food, the process of cooking
and enjoying it, so much more, it seems.

These are the things I was so excited
to share with Pablo on this camping trip to the SequoiaNational Forest,
and he had a wonderful time, though it is the natural state of a toddler:
being in the moment, absorbing the surroundings, his life being about sleeping,
eating and enjoying. Is this what the essence of childhood is?  I suppose it
makes sense he was a natural at camping then… He was probably thinking of me all
frantic to get organized and packed and in
a hurry to go slow down
in the woods, thinking to himself, “Of course that’s
what life is about.” We have so much to learn from our children. We are forced to outgrow this state, to then grow to seek
and rediscover it. Life is all about cycles, isn’t it?

This longing to “get back to the basics”, to the
simplicities of life, must explain why I was so excited when our dear friend D
mentioned she and her ex-husband used to make
bread while camping. Making bread. Just
saying it makes me feel grounded. Over the campfire!  The pioneers from the Lewis & Clark expedition come to mind. I feel the
dough in my fingers. I smell the smoke and heat from the fire.

Food
has a way of connecting and reconnecting people, and it’s exactly what it did
here. D contacted her estranged ex-husband to obtain the bread recipe, and they
were able to reminisce about the good memories around that bread and find
closure in acknowledging these happy times together. I love how food touches
our lives this way, as a symbol, as a token, as the companion to the ups and
downs of life. When Pablo gets a bit older, I will love telling him that story,
it’ll make the bread taste that much better. That’s one part of the education of
taste: to us, that bread will always have a tinge of healing and joy in its
flavor. Recipes get passed from lives to lives, like happy ghosts
of nostalgia, carrying our journeys, spreading them like ashes, feeding the soil for new growth.

For a simple and nutritional lunch open-faced sandwich
(called “tartine” in French), I used a wonderful Tomato Jam made last week, some
mozzarella and avocado…

Even if you don’t go camping, you can make this bread over a
fire on the beach, or on the barbecue at the park! It tastes like a scrumptious
American biscuit, and a bite out of it might just make you feel like the pioneers
who helped build this country – à propos for a July 4th!

Tomato, mozzarella & avocado tartine, on Bannock
camp-cooked bread

Bread recipe from Bradford Angier

Age: 12 months and up – because the tomato jam contains
honey, mostly. Note that the kids can help mix the dough with the water in the
plastic bag, always fun and sensory! It’s a balanced lunch sandwich with
vegetables (tomatoes, onions), starch (bread), dairy and protein (mozzarella),
and good fats (avocado)!

Makes 4 servings

2 cups of organic flour

2 tsp of double action baking powder

½ tsp of salt

6 tbsp of butter

4 tbsp of dry milk

Water, as necessary to obtain desired consistency

At home, mix in bowl the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut
up the softened butter and mix it in with the dry ingredients – the easiest for
me was to do this with my hands, until you get a coarse meal. Then add the dry
milk.  Pour the mix in a plastic bag.

In camp, stir mix lightly, and add water, a little bit at a
time, to obtain a dough that’s not too liquid. Put in a greased pan, cover with
foil and cook over campfire over low to moderate heat. It took ours about 1
hour.  Check it often, turn it over when
the bottom part is golden brown. Either eat right away, or if you intend to
keep it for the next day, store it in a plastic bag.

Avocado

Fresh mozzarella

Salt & pepper to taste

Melt the mozzarella in a pan. Spread some avocado on the
bread, add some tomato jam, and pour the mozzarella on top. You can add some
more tomato jam if you’d like. Enjoy!

PS: Just added “Bread” to the food sign list, check it out!

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