Archive for June, 2011

Product Review: Bisquick Shake ‘n Pour

Yummy Pancakes

If you’re anything like me then pancakes are a must-have camping breakfast staple. There’s just something about sitting on a cold cement picnic table in the early morning snarffing down hot, fluffy pancakes that is just perfection.

Of course, I’ve always found the MAKING of pancakes in camp to be messy and difficult! If you’re talented in the kitchen you can always make them from scratch OR even bring a powdered mix and add the wet ingredients. The issue is then having a big enough bowl for mixing, bringing a wire whisk so the attempt is made to have the pancakes fluffy, a large spoon to scoop the batter. And then the cleanup!

And if you don’t deal with pancake batter right away… Well let’s just say that it can do a pretty good job of FIXING that cement picnic table after it dries in the bottom of the bowl!

Enter: Bisquick Shake ‘n Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix

Bisquick Shake 'n Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix
I had seen it in the stores but was certain that it wouldn’t live up to the reputation: light, fluffy pancakes with no mixing mess. It couldn’t be THAT good, right?

Ha! It was better!

Code Wolf & I had the 10.6 oz container which promised 12-15 4-inch pancakes. All we needed was some cold water, shake and ta-dah! (Of course, I forgot my measuring cup so I estimated with a water bottle…)

It did take some shaking and tapping to get all the batter mixed in so make sure that you have somebody really shake the jar hard. I was impressed that the lid didn’t pop off the container or have any leakage AT ALL.

pancake batter
Then pour a dab of batter into a hot, greased skillet and INSTANT fluffy pancakes!

There was no way that just two of us could use a whole bottle of batter in just one sitting. But the left-over batter is good for up to 3 days refrigerated. So I just popped it back into the ice chest and we had pancakes the next morning too.

And as for the 12-15 pancakes, we ended up with 17 between the two breakfasts. If I had gotten really aggressive with the bit of batter left in the bottle, I think I could have made one more.

Browning pancakes

The only thing that is a bit of a negative is the price: $2.99. I expect to pay a bit more for the convenience for when I’m cooking outside. You’d need multiple bottles to feed a larger family or a whole host of kids. But the trade-off in easy: that’s priceless!

Readers Weigh In:

Links are to my Amazon.com affiliate account.

7 Steps to Perfect S’mores

The Perfect S’mores Technique

The Perfect Smore

S’mores are a quintessential part of any camping trip. And they seem really easy to make right? Toast a marshmallow and smash it between two graham crackers and a half of a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

While that is the basic theory, the reality is so much more!

And, as I learned on last weekend’s camping trip with Code Wolf, writing a whole article about the best way to prepare a s’more really isn’t an unneeded topic. Code Wolf is a camping newbie so it’s really been instrumental to figure out how to fill in the gaps in his outdoor-life knowledge. And s’mores… well, let’s just say that he took to making s’mores like he’s been doing it all his life.

Personally, I think it’s because he had a great teacher!

Do me a favor and FORGET thinking you can make s’mores in a microwave or over a gas stove.

THEY ARE NOT THE SAME!

Give it up: Go camping! Get dirty! Make s’mores like a Princess: over the fire!

 

Fake Smore

Do you see any melted chocolate? No? Then it's NOT a s'more!

 

 

Step 1: The fire.
You’ll want an established fire that isn’t too smoky. I like to have it going for at least twenty minutes before I try to make my s’more. That way, the coals are nice and hot and you’ve progressed past the burning kindling and newspaper stage. (Very gross-tasting smoke!)

Step 2: Lower the grate.
This is why I LOVE making s’mores in a campground’s fire ring: the grate! I like it so it’s about 3-4 inches above the top of the flames. I lower the grate early so it starts to get hot.

Step 3: Prepare the toasting boat.
Make a “boat” out of tin foil. I take about a foot-long piece, fold it in half and then fold up the edges. I want a flat-bottom boat that is a bit rigid.

Step 4: The s’more bases
You’ll want a full half of a graham cracker. The closer you get to a complete half, the easier it is to assemble the s’more later.

And do yourself a favor: get the good ones! Please, PLEASE don’t settle for the tasteless store brand! Just like you wouldn’t make a steak with a cheap cut of meat, make your s’mores with the best ingredients!

S'more Boat

Top each base with 1/4 to 1/2 of the Hershey’s chocolate bar. I prefer to use 1/4 (that’s 1 row of 3 pieces) because then the whole s’more isn’t so sticky sweet.

Step 5: Melt the chocolate
With the bases in the boat, you’ll place the boat on the heated grate. I like them close to the flames but not directly OVER. I’m trying to get it so my chocolate is a bit melted at the time the marshmallow is toasted.

S'more boat over fire.

Step 6: Toast the marshmallow
I know there are people who like their marshmallows burnt black. And while I do enjoy a turn-your-teeth-black, make-every-dentist-in-the-world-cringe charred marshmallow occasionally, that isn’t how I like my marshmallow for a s’more.

Toasting Marshmallows

I toast mine until they’re evenly browned.

Here’s the trick:

  • no more than 1 marshmallow on the stick at a time
  • keep it moving (rotating)
  • keep it just above the flames so it’s HEAT not FIRE that does the cooking

My friends Les & Kathy gave me a set of Mallow Masters by Barr Brothers. These things are GREAT! The plastic keeps your hands from getting hot and the double tines (retractable) keep the marshmallow in place. Heat doesn’t seem to travel up the prongs. Get Mallow Masters from Amazon.com! (Affiliate link)

Perfect Color

See how these marshmallows are the perfect COLOR? But how do you get just one into a s'more? It's better to toast them one at a time!

Step 7: Assembly
This is where it can get tricky because everything is hot and melting and sticky. It’s okay to ask for help here because you don’t want to get a sugar burn from anything — they’re VERY painful and can be really dangerous!

Transfer the foil boat to a paper plate or picnic table to make life easier!

Place the roasted marshmallow on top of the chocolate and top with the other half of a graham cracker. While gently squeezing the two halves together, slide the stick out of the marshmallow.

This is where the plate comes in handy so when the chocolate oozes out it doesn’t get onto clothes, hands, or the dog!

Let cool just a bit (a burnt tongue interferes with eating a s’more!) and enjoy!

 

Readers Weigh In:

  • What’s you s’more making technique?
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