So I follow a FB page called “Knowledge Weighs Nothing”, which has some handy tips for anything from surviving the zombie alpacalypse to raising bees to wiring up solar panels in your reclaimed-wood yurt or earthen dugout to blacksmithing and the best ways to filter water and set up a solar water heater. Interesting stuff, and the couple that I’ve tried (fire-starters made by thoroughly smooshing Vaseline into a cotton ball WILL burn hot and steady for 5 minutes. We tried this, timed it, and now have a small vitamin jar full of these goopy suckers each, plus one or two extra containers just in case) have worked fairly well, surprisingly enough. So, when I saw a link to their “Survival Bread” (yes….this is not to their actual site….KWN usually posts links to other sites’ articles, giving full credit to those who did the work, and allowing folks to find some awesome sites with a very wide variety of resources), it sorta stuck in my head. So what else am I going to do on a drizzly Saturday evening, but give this a try?
The recipe is available on the link above, I’m not going to re-post it here…yes, I’m evil….click the link, read it for yourself, and then browse the site. I will, however, post my after-action report and the one pic I took prior to baking this beast.
1. When they say the mixture turns into a thick, sticky mess, TRUST THEM. 3tsp honey and a pack of Jello mix, boiled down, and with only 3tsp water to help thin the mixture? I’ve mixed mortar while laying ceramic tile that was runnier than this! A metal spoon will probably bend if you tried to use one to stir. I’m not sure our home mixer would have a strong enough motor. This stuff is robust!!!
2. They say to add a tsp of water as needed if the dry isn’t fully meshing with the wet. I ended up adding 3, although I probably could have gotten away with 2, maybe 2.5. The loaf held together when I managed to pry it out of the bowl, but seemed a tad soggy inside after baking for 20 minutes. However, as it cooled, it also firmed up (hmmm…brick repair application here, maybe?).
3. ProTip: when trying to coax the glutenous mass out of the mixing bowl and onto the cookie sheet, either have someone (strong) hold the pan while someone (strong) scrapes, or just use your hand (you DO wash your hands while cooking, right?). If you go the solo route, stop to rest if/when your arm gets tired. Do not switch which hand is scraping and which is holding onto the pot handle. This will result in nothing more than the handle now becoming stickier than a 3-year-old in a cotton-candy factory.
4. A little bit goes a long way. Based on the photos on the original site linked above, I cut the final product (use a stout knife. Or machete. Industrial-grade metal-cutting tools would not be amiss, either.) into a strip about 1″ in width. That amount is more than enough to carry a person through a day of normal activity (provided you’re not John Rambo or anything). This is, for all intents and purposes, a very dense Jello-flavored oatmeal cookie using ingredients with long shelf-lives (honey is immortal, after all), has about the same consistency/texture as an oatmeal cookie with an orange flavor (random choice, we picked the orange Jello), and sits like a lump in your gut about the same way a thick bowl of hot oatmeal does. Try it yourself, experiment, see how much is enough for you.
5. They say this will keep “indefinitely”. While I somehow don’t think that it will keep *quite* that long, based on the ingredients (oats, powdered milk, water, honey, jello mix. Period.), I would guess that it has a fairly lengthy shelf-life. Hopefully I can get Serenity and Kaybug back into hiking/camping/kayaking/canoeing as the weather starts to cool off a bit, and I can see making a loaf each month and just bringing a couple of strips along as we hit the trails or lakes (kayaking is an insane upper-body workout, hitting not only your arms/shoulders/pecs, but your abs and back as well). One little foil-wrapped bar, lots of carbs (or whatever the good energy-building stuff is), very little trash to pack out. I may even get *really* scientificy and portion out a loaf, then write dates on each portion out to 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Y’all can thank me later (if I survive).
6. In conclusion, after having performed rigorous testing whilst sitting on the sofa at home, I proclaim this recipe a keeper. Its quick and insanely easy to do, tasty (there’s also a hardtack recipe to be found on KWN for the more adventurous souls….or those who have very little sense of taste to begin with), and I like the simplicity and longevity of the ingredients used, which leads me to believe that this may, indeed, have a fairly long shelf-life. This one’s a keeper!Some photos:
Yup. Thick. I’m betting that King Arthur had an easier time getting his blade unstuck than I did with this one.
After cooking. its starting to cool off, and getting harder to cut (yet, not quite as sticky). Not sure if the crumbs are due to the serrated bread-knife or not, but I may try cutting a few slices with just a regular straight blade.
Before cooking. This is sitting on the counter, waiting for the oven to preheat, next to the still-warm burner used to heat up the wet ingredients. I sorta expected a bit of wilting, like a stick of butter would do in the same situation, but nope, the dough was a trooper and held its shape.
I was tempted to play a bit, and make a bunny out of it, but I refrained. You know. Cuz….science.
(ETA: not sure why the photos posted in reverse order, but I’ve found that when that happens, its easier to just leave them as they are than it is to try to get the captions to format correctly when moving things around. Sorry.)