What's for dinner? Crepes and pancakes!
By Anne L. Desjardins
Nothing beats pancakes when it comes to filling a big appetite thatís been sharpened by the great outdoors. And nothing travels more easily in Ziploc bags than a homemade pancake mix (or, even better, two or threeÖ) for a kayak camping trip. The only thing you have to consider is to make the best of it nutritionally. Which is very easy too: just add powdered milk, powdered eggs, good quality oil, nuts, a bit of salami or cheese, dry fruit, or even peanut butter; voilŗ! You end up with a nutritious and complete meal in no time. Pancakes are perfect for a paddler who travels on longer expeditions because they are lightweight and versatile. Whether you have a sweet tooth, love brunches or prefer a robust dinner, thereís a crepe thatís perfect for you!
In Medieval Brittany, crepes, or galettes, were loaded with religious significance, such as purity. They were also considered a solar symbol because of their flat and round shape. With that symbol also came the obligation of making them with the wheat harvested the previous fall, which was supposed to bring good luck for the next crop. People loved to eat them stacked on their plate as another symbol of the abundance to come, especially at the end of winter. Many religious celebrations throughout Europe and the Christian world have been associated with crepes to this day. Not to mention that no lumber jack meal would be complete without either a stack of pancakes loaded with maple syrup or buckwheat pancakes laced with molasses.
Today, there are many types of crepes: American pancakes, buckwheat galette, very thin and large crepes (called crÍpes bretonnes in France) from Brittany, Russian blinis (tiny crepes served with smoked fish, a dollop of sour cream and caviar), Mexican corn crepes; even the latke (made with grated potatoes) can be considered a relative of crepes.
As a paddler, you donít want to miss the simple pleasure of waking up in the morning, the air filled with the aroma of pancakes sizzling on the griddle along with some bacon and a good cup of coffee. But why not make crepes a fancy dinner too with a bit of imagination? Here are a few recipes to inspire you.
First, you have to make your own pancake mix at home before the trip. Since all the basic ingredients are dry, nothingís easier. Then, you mix dry ingredients with eggs, water, fruits, cheese or vegetables, you pour in a hot pan or griddle and you cook.
For a classic salted pancake (makes 12 pancakes)
Once at the campground, mix thoroughly with one egg and 1 1 ? 4 cup of water. Add 2 tablespoons of canola or olive oil. The mixture should not be too runny.
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cup of dry milk powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- A pinch of pepper
To make a sweet version thatís perfect for dessert or breakfast, just cut the salt by half in the basic recipe and add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
For a classic salted crepe (thin version, from France, makes 12-15 pancakes)
When ready to cook the crepes, add one cup of water, 3 large eggs, 2 tablespoons canola or olive oil and mix well. The mixture should be very runny and the crepes will be very thin once cooked. To cook them, proceed as you would for the pancakes.
- 1/2 cup all-purposed unbleached flour
- 1/4 cup dry milk
- 1 pinch of salt
To cook the crepes or the pancakes: put the griddle (or the pan) over medium heat. The pan is hot enough when a few drops of water dance 2 to 3 seconds before evaporating. Then, pour a bit of the pancake recipe (a ladle) into the pan and turn it to cover the pan evenly (if itís not a non-stick pan, add a bit of oil with a paper towel to prevent the pancake from sticking to the pan before pouring the mixture. Cook on one side until it is bubbling. Flip over and cook 3 more minutes over medium heat.
Different versions of the basic pancake mix
- Muesli pancake mix for breakfast
Replace the whole wheat flour of the basic pancake recipe with one cup of quick oatmeal. Replace dry milk powder and water with the same amount of vanilla flavored soy milk (vacuum packed). Add 8 dates thinly sliced, 8 tbsp slivered almonds, 8 tbsp dry blueberries, 8 tbsp cranberries, 2 tbsp sunflower seeds. Once at the camp and the pancakes are cooked, add 2 tbsp of strawberry jam and roll.
- The meat lover version
Replace the traditional pancake mix whole wheat flour with buckwheat flour. At the camp prepare the pancake as specified previously plus add to the mixture 6 tbsp of real bacon bits (vacuum packed, such as Hormel) 6 tbsp of dry salami sausage thinly sliced, plus one Granny Smith apple thinly diced. Once you flip the pancake, sprinkle with 2 tbsp of Swiss cheese. Serve with a generous portion of real maple syrup.
- Mediterranean French crepes version
Once ready to cook the crepes, prepare the mix, then add slices of black unpitted olives, one grated onion, mix with a few pieces of dried tomatoes, a mix of dried parsley and oregano. Cook the crepes. When you flip them, crumble 2 tbsp of Feta cheese on each.
- Mushroom and shrimp version
Sautť in another pan or a large pot a few cups of thinly sliced mushrooms with a bit of olive oil and one thinly sliced onion. Fresh garlic is good too. Cook five minutes over medium-high heat until nicely browned. Add some salt and pepper, pour in a can of Nordic shrimps, rinsed and drained. Add some finely grated cheddar. Fill the crepes with this mixture. If you want, you can prepare in a separate pot a pouch of Bearnaise or cheese sauce (to which you just add water and reheat). Once the sauce is hot and bubbling, simply drizzle over the crepe. Itís delicious with mushrooms, leek, ham or seafood.
- Dessert version
To the classic French crepe version, add 8 tbsp chocolate chips, 4 tbsp maple sugar bits, 2 large dry pears thinly sliced, 2 to 3 slices of dry apples, thinly sliced, 4 tbsp of crushed pecans. Once at the camp, replace 4 tbsp of water with the same quantity of Orange liquor (such as Grand Marnier or Triple sec) to the liquid ingredients. Cook the crepes one by one. If you have access to a cooler, you can even add some whipped garniture or vanilla yogurt.