Pans are great for cooking on, of course, but just say “griddle” out loud. Simply speaking the word calls to mind cattle drives and nights around a campfire with nothing but your friends, a harmonica, and billions of stars for company. I’ve never been on a cattle drive, actually, but I do like hot, tasty food eaten in the great outdoors.
Griddle food sticks to your ribs. Griddle food just tastes different. Griddle food is camping food.
Part of the allure of a griddle is its size. The vast expanse of cooking surface is just begging for a dozen eggs to be cracked over it, a side of bacon to be pulled apart into strips and laid out, instantly sizzling and sending up little spatters of grease like fireworks.
With a griddle, you can cook for a whole campsite, not merely churning out a measly one or two portions at a time.
There are a lot of meals you can cook on a griddle, but today I wanted to share a recipe from a friend—a recipe I had the fortune of being able to try this summer. My friend Martha, who handles a considerable chunk of the administrative end of a more-than-25-person multi-day camping excursion each year, prepared the ingredients for this, her sister Rachel’s recipe, ahead of time, then rolled the dough and cut it into circles (the fun part) once in the mountains.
She shared the hand-written recipe with me, and I believe I read the cursive correctly in my attempts to transcribe it and share it with you here:
Raisin Griddle Cookies
What you need:
• 3 1/2 cups sifted flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp nutmeg
• 1 cup shortening
• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup milk
• 1 1/4 cup raisins
• 1/2 tsp soda
• cooking oil
a griddle (of course)
Sift the dry ingredients and cut in the shortening until it’s mealy. In a separate container, beat the egg, add milk, and blend. Add this mixture to the raisins, flour, and other dry ingredients. Stir until the dough holds together.
At this point, the dough can be refrigerated, then packed in an ice chest to take camping. Once at your site, it can be rolled out to 1/4-inch thickness on a flour-covered surface and cut with a 2-inch cookie cutter. Another alternative is to cut the circles at home, freeze them, and thaw them when it’s time to cook them up.
Once you’re ready, lightly oil the griddle and get it hot. Place the dough circles onto the surface, and turn each cookie after the top becomes brown and puffy.
I must say, these cookies look a lot like pancakes—probably because they’re A) not being baked in the oven like most cookies, but are B) being cooked on the griddle where pancakes usually live. They’re denser than pancakes, though, and the nutmeg gives them a hint of flavor not usually found in a camping breakfast.
The recipe yields somewhere around four dozen cookies, which can be eaten as is, or topped with whatever you feel like bringing with you: fresh fruit, whipped cream, powdered sugar, or butter and maple syrup. We topped ours with cinnamon and sugar.
When I called Martha to clarify a couple of points before sharing this recipe with you, she said she tried these cookies at another time, when people ate them quite a while after they’d been cooked.
“They’re best eaten warm,” she said, “straight from the griddle.”
See? “Griddle.” Everyone likes to say it.