Even though I’m one of the people who the author of these recipes so aptly puts it “could not boil water without burning it,” I still take a keen interest in the camp recipes that I come across. I’ve found interesting recipes this summer, including those for slumgullion and snits and knepp, but these recipes for spider-cake, apple slump and pudding sauce come from “Camping and Camp Cooking” by Frank A. Bates (Matasiso), 1909
The author, Frank A. Bates, qualifies himself by saying his book “is the result of an experience of over twenty years, during which the writer has spent many months in the woods, and fitted out many other parties for their summer vacations. Over the camp fire, while discussing methods with other campers, or instructing the learner “how to do it,” he has been asked many times to put his ideas into shape for publication… it is his hope that everyone who takes this little book with him to camp, may enjoy himself to the limit.”
I found this quote from the introduction of Bates’ book amusing.
“We can live without Love – what is passion but pining? But where is the man who can live without dining?”
The following are interesting portions of the introduction to the book followed up by the recipes for spider-cake, apple slump and pudding sauce. Enjoy!
There is a favorite saying in camp, that “the Lord sends grub, but the devil sends cooks.” This expression is old and homely, but it is apt, and many times, when it is the turn of the greenest man in camp to get dinner, we find reason to consider it true. We have seen an old woodsman toss together a few ingredients and turn out a meal that would cause our stomachs to cry, “Encore, encore,” and we have most of us experienced the sad results from guides who pretended to be finished cooks and had the whole party homesick before they had been in camp three days. The best supplied camp cuisine in the world would not keep off “blue horrors” when in the hands of such bunglers.
Of course, everyone must first learn the how and do it, and equally of course some fail to ever learn. The latter could not boil water without burning it. I well remember my own first experience, and I remember too, the experiences with some of the boys that I have tried to teach to cook.
The genuine camper is, certainly, the man who, taking but little food with him, lives upon the spoils of his rod and gun. This is, in most cases, impracticable to the ordinary camper. In the first place, it takes some experience to do it. In the second place, but few desire to do so, and there is no reason why they should. A party can live just as well in camp as they can at home, if they wish to, and can afford it. And also a party can live on a dollar a week apiece, if they choose; and live well, too.
Mix 1 pint wheat flour, 1 teaspoonful salt and 2 of baking powder. Add water to make a thick batter. Grease the fry pan, and turn in the batter; bake very slowly over the fire. As soon as the crust forms on the bottom, so that it can be moved without breaking, loosen it in the pan with a thin knife, and shake it occasionally to keep it from scorching. When baked on one side, turn it over and bake the other side. (This is not called spider-cake on account of the insects that might fall into it, while in the process of cooking, but because in olden times the fry pan was called a spider.)
Fill the kettle half full of sliced and cored apples; sprinkle on a little spice, one cup of sugar or molasses; cover over and cook for a few minutes. Prepare a crust the same as for bread or biscuits, stirring ½ teaspoonful of salt and two of baking powder into a pint of flour, and wetting with milk or water till it makes a stiff dough. Lay this dough over the top of the apples, cover and steam till the crust rises and you can thrust a sliver into the crust without the dough sticking to it. Set off the fire and keep covered till needed. Serve with pudding sauce, or with milk and sugar.
One pint of water in the stew pan; mix three tablespoonfuls of flour in a little cold water and rub it to a smooth paste: when the water boils, put in a small lump of butter, a cup of sugar, a little spice, and when the sugar is dissolved stir in the flour paste. If the water is boiling when the flour is put in, it will thicken up into a jelly. Just before serving stir in a little lemon juice or extract. If this flavor is put in too soon, the savor will evaporate. This sauce may be made of milk if you have it. If condensed milk is used, dilute it with water, and do not use so much sugar.