Saturday, December 24, 2016

Shortening a Rome Pie Iron

Pie Iron

If you've never experienced the deliciousness of food cooked with a pie iron you are missing out on one of the main reasons for having a campfire! These cast iron cookers fit together tightly to crimp/seal the edges of whatever bread or dough you've put in them turning whatever sandwich you put into it into some sort of Hostess fruit pie or stromboli type snack! They are a mainstay for family car-camping trips but they're too long for easy carry in a backpack. This ticks me off because I love cooking with them. But hey, I have a Dremel tool. ;-)

Standard Rome pie irons are nice but too long. I'm assuming this is for liability reasons.

Luckily, the Dremel tool cutting wheels sliced right through the stainless steel handle rods. I choose to use the square pie iron for this so I could use a single side as a skillet in the woods, too.
I stuffed up the handles with coarse-grit sandpaper to give the epoxy a place to grip when I reattached to wood grips.

Removing to wood grips from the cut handles required a lot of brute force. Lock the steel rod in a vice then twist the wooden grip off. You can see here the "wings" put onto the rod to hold the grips on. Twist and pull the grips so you don't crack them.
Pie Iron

I love JB Weld Extreme Heat repair paste for "gluing" together anything that'll be exposed to heat. It's good up to 2400 degrees F which is plenty for a campfire.

Smear the past on the rods, slide the rods back into the grips, then shape the paste over the tops of the grips if you want it to look nice. The paste takes 24 hours to set up properly.

Finished product next to a regular-length pie iron. After this picture I ended up sawing off three inches of the wood grips to make it even shorter.

Testing it out as a skillet to fry an egg. Season the cast iron as directed and you'll end up with a wonderful, non-stick surface!
Pie Iron

When out in the woods I like to use the Bisquick "just add water" mixes. I and the water to the pouch, stir it with a stick until it reaches the proper dough consistency, then squeeze it into the pie iron.
Pie Iron

Before cooking.
Pie Iron

Cooking on the coals of a small fire.
Pie Iron

End result using a 3-Cheese Bisquick packet.
Pie Iron

I also like making pizza-thingies with it.
Pie Iron

Pie Iron

There's a number of cookbooks and on-line recipes for use in these pie irons. Another favorite of mine involves Nutella and mini-marashamallows. I'd show you a picture but I ate it.

Adventure! Excitement! Food on Sticks!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Modifying a Cold Steel Kukri Machete and Sheath

There's endless debates over which is the best hatchet/tomahawk to take along bushcrafting. After years in the woods I've decided none of them is the best choice for Texas woods. I find machetes are much more useful, not to mention they weigh a bit less, too. Hand axe-style tools make sense up north where there's a lot more wood (and bigger pieces) needs cutting just because more fire is needed. Down here you should be able to get by with smaller fires, assuming you've made appropriate clothing choices.

Down here the big cutting will mainly be trimming branches into walking sticks or tarp pegs and for trail clearing. Something you can whip around quickly to cut through soft vines, thin branches, and young saplings. After trying many machetes I've settled on the Cold Steel Kukri Machete. Its weight to cutting power ratio is amazing. It's easy to sharpen. The wide blade also makes a pretty good shovel! In a pinch it'll also mess up a feral hog pretty well if needed. The down side is the handle, while practical and ergonomic, is ugly and the sheath, while designed well, lacks character. I'd been wanting to improve it but there was never enough time. So this weekend I finally made time!

Cold Steel Kukri Machete after a number of adventures. Great blade...boring package.

The synthetic-rubber handle sliced off easily revealing a sturdy tang.

My buddy Wildcat replaced the rubber handle with a custom epoxy/fabric blend made from the remnants of the first adventure shirt Misseswether made for me almost 20 years ago. I then wrapped the new handle with glow-in-the-dark paracord because I like knowing where it is in the dark plus extra cordage is always nice to have in the woods. Once the handle was completed it was time to do some leatherworking.

Cutting out the pieces.

Taking shape.

Finished product! I'm really pleased with it.

The sheath was rubbed down with mink oil to protect it from the elements. Now to get out into the elements and have some fun!

Adventure! Excitement! Sharp objects!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Return of Merriwether and Clark


*stumbles over some camping gear*

Damn, look at all this old stuff. Hey, there's my gassifier stove...and some knives. Good lord, what a lot of cooksets! My old backpack...

It's been a loooong time. Nobody's probably even out there. So be it. Sometimes it's good just to write for ones self. Record the good times so some day far in the future when the adventures stop I can at least read about the great times.

My plan today involved the couch and a Lord of the Rings movie marathon. But late last night I got a text from Clark. He needed some woodstime. Life was stressing him out and he just needed a break back like we used to do YEARS ago. The weather report for today was supposed to be rain and rather yucky but that never stopped us in the past. The answer was "YES! LET'S GO!"

Thankfully he wasn't interested in driving hours to someplace so Merriwether and Clark returned to where it all started, Spring Creek. As much time as we'd spent there years ago we hadn't explored every nook and cranny. We knew some secret ways in and so that's where we went, but instead of following the main trail we cut off into the woods on a deer trail and that made all the difference.

In the wild, tapping my inner Predator.

We walked through woods lacking signs of any fellow adventures. The only footprints were those of deer and feral hogs. The trees were beautiful, draped with vines and fall colors. We walked for several hours until finally coming out on a Spring Creek sandbar a mile from any "civilization". A fire was built and years were burned away. We must have past this sandbar the time we took Seeker's Fate from Kuykendahl to Riley Fuzzel but it seemed like no one had been that way since.

The pipe Clark is sitting on ended a few feet beyond the edge of this picture.

The week of rain trigger mushrooms like this massive Reishi.
Mushroom Reishi

The last time Clark and I were out, according to this blog, was January, 2012. Damnnn...almost 5 years ago. Back before the Wethergirls and Clarkettes were teenagers, back when we both had very different lives...

But you know what, when the campfire burns time goes backwards. If you let it it'll go all the way back to caveman times...but when you are with an old friend it goes back to old adventures. I sincerely hope anyone reading this has an old friend to sit by a fire and talk about life, family, and most of all, previous adventures...and you realize that it's time to start making new memories again!


Eventually it was time to cold-dead-out the fire and head home. Oddly, the numerous animal paths we followed in had disappeared and we ended up fighting through four miles of underbrush and thorny vines getting back. We ended up actually getting more lost and finally powered up a cell phone to get our bearings and realized just how far into the borderlands we had ended up. Not bad for guy's pushing 50 and 45. We finally got back to a real trail looking like survivors from a jungle airplane crash. Sadly, the wool pants Misseswether had made for me were tore wide open and my favorite adventure shirt had a sleeve torn off. In other words, a normal adventure for Clark and Merriwether!

Adventure! Excitement! Returned!