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Campfire and Dutch oven recipes

Survival recipes: Tips and techniques for better-tasting biscuits

Survival recipes: Tips and techniques for better-tasting biscuits

 

Baking great-tasting biscuits is not rocket science. Here are a few simple tips that can  help turn that mundane biscuit into  a taste treat.

by Leon Pantenburg

Biscuits and gravy are comfort food for me, and a good biscuit is generally the sign of a good place to eat breakfast.

Crowd the biscuits into a tall skillet so the dough will rise upward. There were originally four biscuits in this batch, but they looked and smelled so good, I ate two for breakfast!

Crowd the biscuits into a tall skillet so the dough will rise upward. There were originally four biscuits in this batch, but they looked and smelled so good, I ate two for breakfast!

But some of the best biscuits I’ve ever eaten were from the late Jean Jennings’ kitchen in Mountain View, Arkansas. Jean was legendary for her delicious breakfasts, and her biscuits were tall as a tea cup and light as a feather.

The recipe wasn’t important, she said, and any simple biscuit recipe will do, with any kind of flour you prefer.

Jean’s secret was in how the biscuits were cooked.

Jean used a cast iron skillet, with tall sides, heating it to be very, very hot with bacon drippings covering the bottom. Each biscuit placed in the skillet was immediately turned over, so it had bacon grease on both sides.

The heat of the tall skillet helped the biscuits to rise. Butter, gravy or some kind of jam made a breakfast at her house memorable.

My friend Gordon A. Cotton, of Vicksburg, MS published this technique in his historical cookbook “The Past…and Repast, Recipes, Old Photographs and Bits of Vicksburg’s History.”

And here is a great biscuit recipe from that book.

Cheese Biscuits

1 cup sifted flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp butter

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup grated cheese

3/8 cup milk or water

Sift flour once, add baking powder and salt, and sift again. Cut in butter and cheese, add liquid gradually until soft dough is formed. Roll 1/3-inch thick on slightly floured board. Cut with small floured biscuit cutter. Bake in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.

This recipe appeared in a cookbook published in Vicksburg in 1937 by the home demonstration agent, Mrs. Judson Purvis, with recipes contributed by Home Demonstration Club members.

Leon Pantenburg is an avid Dutch oven cook, judge, teacher and a charter member of the Central Oregon Dutch Oven Society. Along with team mates Linda Stephenson and Michael Pantenburg, he has been a two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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Campfire and Dutch oven recipes

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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