A pie iron, pudgy pie iron, sandwich toaster, jaffle iron, or Toastie iron, is a cooking appliance that consists of two hinged concave, round or square, metal plates on long handles.
I love camping in all its glorious forms; from car camping, back country camping, one night camping, six month camping to our own unique version of glamping. Glamping is a newish term used to define a style of luxury camping usually associated with staying in a posh tree house or hipster yurt that you drive to and do nothing but be pampered all weekend. Our style is slightly different, kind of the gourmand’s version – maybe call it Gourping. We still camp in the old fashioned way, with a tent staked to the bare earth, devoid of all modern luxuries like toilets and running water. The big exception is our fare; that might be more closely associated with the good life and fine dining than the usual dehydrated hiker meals. Not to say anything is wrong with stereotypical camp food; and after hiking 2,167.2 miles in one direction along the Appalachian Trail you quickly become a sort of Macgyver chef with the various incarnations of Kraft mac and cheese, Lipton dried noodle and various packets of condiments you squirrel away along the route. Oh I have seen miracles appear right before my eyes in the woods. For instance, my hiking buddy, known affectionately as Guerilla Pete, had a great hiker dish he dubbed “Bad Hunter” that was concocted from dried ramen noodles mixed with Velveeta cheese sauce packets – bright orange + no meat = bad hunter.
About midnight the sky cleared and stars shone as clear as gems on jet black velvet. A cold wind swept the mountain, and I shivered in spite of fire. Such a night is guaranteed to install profound respect for the power of nature and the vastness of the universe.
Earl V. Schaffer
It has been important to share this experience with my six year old son Beau, sort of a right of passage to manhood. Children need to get outside and learn that there exists an alternate world, one devoid of electronics and fueled by imagination. Camping is truly a magical family time, a place where kids have to listen to dad’s bad jokes, build enormous fires, roast marshmallows and actually talk with their parents for an extended amount of time. Gag. It really is a phenomenal time to bond. Think of it, your child is helpless, isolated, no tablet to play games on. They will get a little grit into their system, stare extreme boredom straight in the eye and will eventually have to play with you because there just is no other option.
Last week we drove 5 hours north to Marblemount, Washington to commune with the trees and introduce Beaumont to the glorious world of pudgy pies, campfires and blood thirsty mosquitos hell bent on sucking you dry. I hadn’t realized how few people grew up tossing a pie iron crammed full of nutella and bananas into a bed of hot coals till I mentioned the experience to our Portland friends. Everyone asked if this was some new sexual phrase they hadn’t heard of. I wondered, are pudgy pies really a Midwest phenomena? For full disclosure, I did grow up in the midwest and I spent many a happy summer near Rhinelander, Wisconsin at Camp Highlands living the good life tossing pie irons into camp fires.
Pudgy pies are fun and easy to make. You take two pieces of buttered bread, whatever filling you like and squeeze them into your pie irons then throw them in a hot fire for five minutes and voila, dinner is served. The combinations are limitless.
Here are five of my favorite combinations:
1: The ham and cheese. Let your imagination flow, any type of ham or cheese works. You could do smoked Virginia ham with cheddar or prosciutto and goat cheese with sun dried tomatoes.
2: The pizza. Use tomato sauce, mozzarella and your favorite pizza toppings.
3: The reuben. I am a sucker for a good reuben; bring pastrami, Russian dressing, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.
4: The caramel apple. Here is one that is a bit more complex and requires advanced planning. You need to make a simple caramel sauce at home and bring it in a jar. Dice apples, toss with chopped nuts and a spoonful of salted caramel and enjoy one of life’s great combinations.
5: The nutella and banana. Where the caramel apple requires thought this one pleases on an animalistic level. A solid spoonful of nutella with slices of banana and that is all.
If you make some pudgy pies, snap a picture and hashtag it #pistou – we love to see your creations on social media!