Monday, June 27, 2011


If you are looking for a treat to make while camping that can fill you up, warm your body, and make your taste buds thank you, look no further. Bannock. Simple bread that has been eaten by the First Nations, explorers, and adventurers for centuries. This bread originated in Scotland, possibly taught to the Aboriginals by early settlers. It is a favorite now to backpackers and canoeist looking for fresh treat on the trail. When I make it I typically make enough for two in one zip top bag, all ingredients (except water) ready to go. You can cook it on a lightly oiled pan or pot, on a hot rock against the fire, or my favorite is wrapped around a green stick and held about 8" above the fire. The first time I had bannock was a trip up to Moose Factory, at the bottom of James bay. It was cooked by a very old Aboriginal woman in a tipi, and it had raisins in it. I will never forget the setting and the smell of the smoke in the tipi!

Here is my recipe for two bannock loafs

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp of baking powder
2 heaped tbsp of fat
1/4 tsp of salt

a handful of raisins
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp of brown sugar

Mix together the flour , salt, and baking powder and pour into a large zip top bag.
Cut the fat into the mixture. The fat used can be any fat source and is what gives the bannock its tasty calorie kick. Lard is a popular and traditional source but you could also use unsalted butter, vegetable oil or margarine. Cut the fat in till well blended, press out the extra air and seal the zip top bag.

When ready to make the bannock, pour small amounts of water at a time into the zip top bag and knead well...keep adding water till the flour mixture forms into a dough consistency, its a good idea to practice this at home to get a feel for how much water to add. Then cook any way you like it... Typically wait till its brown on one side till you flip it, usually to cook the whole bannock is 12-15 min. Remember to play aroudn with the recipe, add blueberries, or fruit, make a bannock grilled cheese, or pizza! Try it if you haven't, I can guarantee you will love it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Coghlan's Camping Accessories.

The "old green and yellow", the impulse buys of beginner campers. Call it whatever you want, but Coghlan's has been a family staple for camping accessories for decades. We have all used something made by them, some stuff is good while others is not worthy of any space in a pack. Founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1959 as Coghlan's Gas Appliances. Norm Coghlan also sold camping equipment in his store on the side. When campers began bringing their camp stoves and lanterns seeking parts and repairs, he gradually expanded his product line. In the 60s Mr. Couglan bought the entire inventory of a U.S. company Manufacturing camp toasters after finding out that they were going to be discontinued, Had it shipped to a rented storage facility and this began Coghlan's distribution of camping accessories. The Camp Stove Toaster has been made in Winnipeg, Manitoba since the mid-60s. Coghlan's has assembled and packaged over 7 million 504D Toasters. Since then it has grown to over 450 products and is the largest producer of camping accessories in Canada and the United States.

Three of my favorite items that are in my current rotation are:

-The egg keeper. It really does keep eggs safe!
-The refillable squeeze tube. Have been using them since I was 5.
-The 504D toaster, not for wilderness tripping, but great when car camping. When car camping a fork in the bagel held over the flame is perfect!

What are your favorites?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Als Ik Kan.

Three simple words. Three simple words that would be nice to see more people hold true. Basically translating to "If I can, all I can". Adapted in the middle ages, when craftsman would use a device or legend that would he would display on every piece of his work to identify that the piece was genuinely his. Kind of like a modern trademark. the "Als ich kanne" motto was originally used by a 14th century Flemish painter Ian Eyck to identify his work. Several hundred years later William Morris used the term but in french, "Si je puis", to identify his products. Morris as you may or may not know was a very important figure in English arts and crafts movement. The Morris Chair of American arts and crafts fame gets its name from his company, that was the original producer of such chairs in the 1860's. Gustav Stickley is the founder of the American arts and crafts movement. He took many key pieces from the english movement and made them his own. As such he adopted the motto, in modern Flemish (dutch) "als ik kan" along with the joiners compass and his signature to identify his work. The American arts and crafts style and its school of though was to incorporated your own handmade or locally handcrafted wood, glass, and metal work creating objects that are/were both simple and elegant for the home. These Items were to be carefully made to uphold the highest quality avalible. Quite an idea to press for in today's worlds of Ikea and Wally's world.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gränsfors Bruks AB

When heading out on a canoe trip or backpacking trip a fine trustworthy companion is a Gränsfors Bruks axe. Gränsfors Bruks is a small Swedish familiy operated company formed in 1902. Known worldwide for their finely crafted axes that have been stripped of paint, labels and extra hardware. These axes have been showcased on the very popular TV series "Bushcraft" by Ray Mears and touted by the man himself. The head are proudly marked with the makers initals, some people will only but items made by certain people. I have been carrying the "Small FOrest Axe" on my adventures for about 5 years now, and everyone whom I have let try it (FYI - quickest way to loose a friend is to let them use your axe or knife) has been wickedly impressed. It cuts through wood like a razor blade. It really is incredible! So if you are in the market for a new axe, I suggest you go out to your local Lee Valley store or Canadian Outdoor Equipment and pick one that suits your needs.

VIDEO - Ray Mears - Choosing and Using an Axe.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Enjoying The Outdoors - Part Five.

Here are some photographs of America enjoying the outdoors. These are from my personal collection. (Click pic to see a larger high resolution version!)

Friday, June 3, 2011

L.L. Bean Lounger Boots.

My newest acquisition! FYI... L.L. Bean is releasing strapless versions this Fall.