How to make Whomp ‘Ems and Sticks – Campfire Biscuits!

Overheard: “This is a game changer. Womp ‘Ems are a camping game changer.”

There’s an exciting way to mix up your campfire routine, and we at Spinning Cook are amazed how few people know about it, and how wild they feel about it after their first experience. 

Finished and filled Womp 'Em

A finished Womp ‘Em with cherry pie filling.

The concept of cooking biscuits over the campfire has been around for ages, whether in a pan, using a reflective oven, or twisted around a skewer or stick. Womp ‘Ems take this to the next level by evenly toasting a biscuit which is shaped around a 1-1/4 inch dowel, then adding sweet or savory fillings. The sticks are quite easy to make at home, with instructions below! Womp ‘Ems are especially fun at multi-family camping trips, and may become a summer tradition as they certainly have for us.

To make Womp ‘Ems you’ll need a fire, a stick, uncooked biscuit dough, and fillings of your choice.

Womp Em getting started

Start by placing a biscuit on the wide dowel end of the stick.

Womp 'Em ready for roasting

Squeeze (don’t stretch) the biscuit to cover much of the wide dowel, at an even thickness.

Making Womp 'Ems (Ultimate Campfire Biscuits)
Cuisine: Camping
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 Womp 'Ems
  • One campfire which has died down to hot coals, allowing for easy roasting
  • One or more Womp 'Em sticks (as many as four can be used around a single campfire)
  • One roll of 8 uncooked biscuits (Pillsbury Grands Buttermilk Biscuits or Annie's Organic Flaky Biscuits)
  • Sweet or savory fillings (our favorites are various pie fillings with whipped cream as a dessert, or scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon/ham/sausage as breakfast)
  1. Place one uncooked biscuit on the wide end of the Womp 'Em stick. With clean hands or wearing kitchen gloves, press the biscuit into end of the stick, and then gradually squeeze it down the length of the wide stick. Squeezing tends to work better than pulling or stretching, and the end result should be an even thickness of dough extending most of the length of the wide dowel portion, about 4 inches of biscuit.
  2. Hold the stick out over the fire, rotating the biscuit regularly at a safe distance from the coals until it turns golden brown and is no longer gooey inside and out.
  3. When you think it's finished cooking, use a hot pad to gently grab the biscuit, and gently try pulling it off of the stick. If gooey biscuit dough still clings to the stick then put it back in place and continue roasting until it slides off cleanly.
  4. Allow the cooked biscuit to cool at least partially before eating. Once cool, invert it so the hole is facing up, and add fillings in layers according to your taste. Enjoy!

How to make Womp ‘Em Sticks (makes eight)

You will need:
Eight 3/8-inch diameter dowels for the handles (use one full-length dowel per Womp ’em stick)
One 1.25-inch diameter, 48-inch long dowel for the roasting ends
A saw (mitre saw works best) for cutting the wide dowel into sections
Two pieces of sandpaper, 60- and 100-grit
3/8 inch drill
Wood glue
Cooking spray or vegetable oil
  1. Cut the wide dowel into 6-inch sections. Sand each piece lightly to remove any sharp edges or rough spots, with the coarse 60-grit paper and then the 100-grit. 
  2. Carefully drill into one end of each section of wide dowel, drilling to a depth of 1-1/2 inches. Add a pea-sized amount of wood glue, and insert the 3/8 inch dowel, turning to cover the surface and wiping off any excess. Now wipe the stick clean with a damp cloth to remove any sawdust, and allow the glue to dry fully.
  3. Before first use, treat the wide dowel end with some cooking spray (Pam) or vegetable oil on a paper towel. 

Have you tried Womp ‘Ems, and why do you think they’re so popular? Have a great summer, everyone!

Posted in Breakfast, Dessert, DIY, Kid Friendly

Frozen Pizza Song: Key to Surviving World Chaos (Really)

Lying in a pool of Piña Colada wearing a wetsuit and diving mask, Will Forte’s character Tandy Miller (“The Last Man On Earth”) leads the other survivors in song as the microwave counts down: “Frozen pizza, frozen frozen pizza…” Years after a virus wiped nearly every person and animal from the planet, this misfit crew have discovered a fully self-sustaining building, with electricity and running water, complete with refrigeration, ice, blenders, and still-viable pizza (watch the clip, or the episode).

With so many losses and great unknowns, these characters center themselves around the simple joys of food and friends. Are we remembering to do that?

Last week with the country navigating through the chaos of an unexpected election result, my wife and I did the rational thing: escaped with the kids to a waterpark, on a trip which was planned months ago but in retrospect was very well-timed. With my phone unplugged and twitter disconnected…we laughed, we splashed, we joked, we sang, we smiled and relished a deep, pure, unspoilable family joy. Joy had not been the prevailing emotion before that point.

I find it easy to complicate, overthink, and obsess on dynamics over which I have no control. Tandy Miller does not have this problem, as he’s quite skilled at keeping things basic and fun. While this show is not appropriate for children, the frozen pizza song certainly is. My kids have learned it and they know the story line and what that song represents: in any circumstance, be ready to find your frozen pizza moment, and protect the joy that it gives you.

Deep dish pizza slice

Lou Malnati’s pizza in Portland!

In related news, 24 frozen deep dish pizzas just arrived from Chicago as part of a mega-order I placed to celebrate the Cubs winning the World Series. As much as I’d like to eat them all, they are mostly for friends wishing to savor this moment, enjoy that great city and its pie, and minimize shipping costs through sharing a large order. Shocking election results can’t change the Cubs’ championship, nor can it change the narrow loss by my other-hometown Cleveland Indians in one of the most epic World Series finishes in history. Life is complicated…being from both cities I enjoyed AMAZING baseball and am just going to focus on the pizza at this point, and savor the memories. As a family I hope we keep singing that goofy song for years, channeling Will Forte as an odd sort of spiritual guide.

Deep Dish Frozen Pizza

Gooey cheese, flaky crust, delicious tomatoes…and the Cubs have won the World Series. I must be dreaming.

The next four years will unfortunately highlight our divisions as a nation. Food (even frozen pizza) can be an amazing common ground, a common denominator which can be intensely shared, whether enjoying foods we’ve jointly loved for years, or learning new cuisines and cultures. Our friends LOVED cooking up their Lou Malnati’s pizzas, and it was a joy to hear how much it meant to them. I hope you’ll not only engage in self-care but share experiences with others, looking into people’s eyes not just at headlines and demographics. Get with your tribe, engage with others who aren’t in your usual circle, indulge a little, and throw in a little poorly-pitched group singing. We’ll all chew through this together.

NOTE: I haven’t posted in a while, and am considering getting back into a rhythm. If you’d like to see more posts, recipes, cooking demo’s, etc, please let me know and I may reach out to get more focused on what would be of most interest.

Posted in Family, Food Politics, Parenting, Philosophies, Sports Recipes

Brown Butter Popcorn: Must-See Live TV Edition

One of my earliest and simplest recipes published on the blog is still one of my very favorites. When I booked a show to demo my Brown Butter Popcorn recipe on AM Northwest this week (in a penguin suit no less, video below), I decided it was time to re-photograph and refresh this old hit (original post, circa 2011).

Like many other bloggers I’ve considered refreshing early recipes with my improved skills and knowledge. Food blogging involves many varied activities which professional media outlets and studios typically handle as a team of specialists. So very few of us bloggers start this journey as all-around pros. Confession: When I published my very first recipe on the blog, I was so accustomed to the newspaper photographing recipes for me, that I almost forgot the photo entirely. After tasting versions to perfect the instructions, I had almost no finished food left to photograph. Fail.

Brown Butter Popcorn Cups Landscape

I bought these slanted serving cups awhile back, not quite knowing what I’d serve in them. Perfect for popcorn!

So I’ve taken these new photos which seem to me like a vast improvement over the original, do you agree? Should I leave the original post as-is, or insert these there instead? I’m leaning towards the latter.

Brown Butter Popcorn

It’s hard to make brown butter visually pop out of a popcorn photo, especially with brown bits of the kernels creating a sort of blended camouflage. This tear-shaped dish gave me a chance to let the butter run away a little ways on its own. Pinterest fans: Portrait images pin the best – use this one!

For those of you who tuned in for the show or watched it afterwards, thanks for being a part of this. Thanks to AM Northwest for having me on, and to Mr. Formal, a great long-running local business who provided my promo tuxedo rental for the show so I could celebrate Oscars season in red-carpet style. Question: what other recipes (mine or otherwise) do you think would make for good TV in the future?


Posted in Kid Friendly, Recipes, Science, Snacks

Seattle Seahawks Fan Recipe: Miso-Rubbed Salmon with Sriracha Aioli

A dominant team deserves a dominant tailgating or couchgating recipe: one that is easy, delicious, and true to the team and city. To celebrate the Great Northwest I’ve been thinking like an actual sea hawk, which is technically an osprey. A true feast for this creature is fresh wild salmon. What osprey generally don’t know is that salmon is especially amazing when flavored with Miso.

Miso Salmon with Sriracha Aioli

The Sriracha Aioli lets your guests add as much spice as they like, and comes together quickly with three simple ingredients.


With very few ingredients and steps, this recipe is great for any fan whether you are tailgating (on the grill) or in your home kitchen.

Go ‘hawks!! And if the game seems a little closer than it needs to be in the 4th quarter, just take my advice:





Crushing Miso Soup Mix With Rolling Pin

Crushing the larger bits of a Miso soup mix creates a complex and flavorful rub from just one ingredient!

Seattle Seahawks Fan Favorite: Miso-Rubbed Salmon Recipe with Sriracha Aioli
4.0 from 1 reviews
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Simple ingredients and quick preparation make this perfect for game day. Make sure your "12th man" crew is well-fed, whether you're tailgating outside of CenturyLink field, or cheering from your living room.
  • For the sauce:
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Sriracha sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • For the salmon:
  • 2 pounds fresh Salmon fillets, with or without the skin
  • one (1 ounce) packet miso soup mix
  1. Prepare the sauce by whisking together the mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, and onion powder in a medium bowl.
  2. Crush the contents of the soup packet so that all large chunks are broken down as small as the dehydrated spices. This can be done while it's still in the bag, poking a hole to release the air, then pressing a rolling it against a flat surface with a rolling pin or beer bottle. Alternatively you can pour it out on a cutting board and flatten it with a rolling board. Spread the soup mix out on a plate.
  3. Lay the filet out on a cutting board, and slice it into portion-sized strips, about 1-1/2 inches wide. Press each piece of salmon onto the soup mix, coating the flesh side and the sides. If one side still has skin, I recommend leaving it on during cooking but it is up to you.
  4. To cook on a grill: Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium hot. Brush the grates with oil, then grill the salmon seasoned-side-down for 2 minutes, until there are clear grill marks. Flip the pieces over and continue grilling until just cooked through, about 2-4 minutes more depending on thickness.
  5. To cook on the stovetop: Heat a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, until the oil is shimmering but not smoking. Add the fish seasoned-side down, and cook until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the fish over with a spatula, and continue cooking until just cooked through, about 2-4 minutes more.
  6. To cook in the oven: Preheat the broiler on low. Place the salmon pieces seasoned-side-up on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Place the pan or sheet on the top rack of the oven under the broiler, with the door ajar. Broil the salmon while watching it carefully, until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the broil function, setting the oven instead to Bake at 375 degrees, and move the pan or sheet down to the lower part of the oven. Continue until the fish is just cooked through.


Posted in Fast, Recipes, Sports Recipes

Scientific Reasons Why GMOs Should Be Labeled

Oregon Measure 92

Some supporters of GMOs want to frame the labeling issue as a debate between science-minded types who want to move agriculture forward VS fearful non-scientific speculators who want to label foods without reason.

This is a deliberate deception and couldn’t be more wrong. According to the scientific facts, here are…

5 Important Scientific Reasons Why GMO Foods Should Be Labeled


1. Restrictions on Scientific Discovery & Funding

“In my 30 years as a public scientist, there’s been a dramatic erosion of public funding. And that makes science more dependent on private funding”. – Elson Shields (Entomologist/Scientist at Cornell University)


Objective scientific research is being extremely inhibited by legal provisions which lead to these foods being offered for sale without independent scientific testing. The testing of GMO foods is generally only permitted after the foods are fully approved for sale to consumers. So whatever knowledge we have about their safety is generally coming directly from the seed producers themselves, who have a clear conflict of interest in terms of seeking the truth about the real safety of their products for human consumption. While independent study at universities is increasingly permitted by manufacturers, their influence on our schools is powerful and growing. And their influence on government agencies has been widely chronicled; the data shows that the US FDA and USDA have approved 25 GMO varieties and counting, and I have been unable to find record of a single GMO food they have rejected.

2. Negative Impacts on Biodiversity Caused by GMOs


“Genetic diversity and farmers’ knowledge are the basis of farming; but as corporate seed and chemicals increasingly replace farmers’ own ingenuity, they are now seen as mere customers. What was once agriculture is increasingly becoming agribusiness ”. – Teresa Anderson (Gaia Foundation’s International Advocacy co-ordinator)

The need for genetic diversity in our ecosystem is well-established. Genetically-engineered crops are reducing overall biodiversity in at least three different ways:

  • By narrowing the diversity in crop lines by requiring each year’s seed to be provided by the seed-producing corporation, instead of allowing farmers to save and replant seeds;
  • By resisting resisting and allowing heavy and repeated herbicide applications, leaving fields generally clean other than the herbicide-resistant crops (this creates a homogeneous ecosystem which is less supportive of species such as the Monarch Butterfly which has seen drastic population declines and relies on the dramatically declining milkweed plant to support its eggs and caterpillars); and/or
  • By directing extensive use of chemicals which kill microorganisms in the plants’ environments (Glyphosate a.k.a. RoundUp (R) was originally patented as a chelator not an herbicide, which means it binds and restricts free minerals thus interfering with many different lifeforms not just plants; as a result many beneficial bacteria are susceptible to it).

3. Increased Environmental Exposure to Harmful Chemicals in Our Communities

“EWG has determined that 487 elementary schools across America are within 200 feet of a corn or soybean field. This finding is alarming because young children are especially vulnerable to the toxic herbicide 2,4-D in Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist DuoTM, a weed killer mixture that is awaiting governmental approval for widespread use on new varieties of genetically engineered corn and soybeans ”. – Soren Rundquist (Landscape and Remote Sensing Analyst at Environmental Work Group/EWG)

Our health is impacted not just by the food we eat but by farming practices in our communities. The Environmental Working Group published research stating that over 480 elementary schools are within 200 feet of corn and soybean fields. This is important because Dow Chemical states that its new herbicide mixture Enlist Duo TM can travel 200 feet beyond fields even when applied properly.

4. Growing Chemical Toxicity Causing Herbicide-Resistant Weeds


“Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops, and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent.” – Dr. Charles Benbrook (PhD)


The experiment of herbicide-resistant GMOs has proven to also create herbicide-resistant weeds, which in turn require stronger herbicides carrying additional uncertainty for our health. I spoke with retired senior EPA scientist Ray Seidler who explained that it used to be typical for just 2-3 chemical applications to be needed to get a crop to market, and now it is not uncommon to require 10-12 applications. The health effects of these chemicals are well known and have been extensively studied. The science basically supports minimizing our exposure both through the food we ingest and the farming practices around us. This makes the above statement about 487 elementary schools potentially being exposed to harmful chemicals even more concerning.


5. Enabling Study of Personal Hypotheses

Families who are experiencing health issues often need to form and test different hypotheses to find the root cause of health issues. To consider all options, a variety of elimination diets may be necessary, including removing GMO foods to observe the health effects of this change. The FDA reviews new GMO foods looking for possible allergens, but as explained in this National Geographic article, the process of altering DNA is very capable of introducing new allergens, which are impossible to fully predict, understand, and test.

Will You Support Mandatory Labeling of Genetically-Engineered Foods?


For those of us (the majority) who want to know which foods are made with genetically-modified organisms, there are valid scientific reasons why GMO foods are not the same as conventional foods, and why we have a right to know which foods these are. Let’s not throw out the window the millennia of agricultural and scientific study, in our haste to adopt new organisms and farming practices which, relative to traditional agriculture, are largely unproven.

I urge voters to support labeling of genetically modified foods, and to prove that no amount of advertising funds can sway an educated public from the information we demand for our health and the health of our planet.


Knowledge is Power: Corporations Against GMO Labeling

Having the ability to know exactly what is in our food and how it is grown, gives us the power to choose healthier/safer food for our families to consume. It also gives us the ability as parents to instill better eating habits in our kids.

To me, some extremely compelling data on this issue are the records of campaign donations, documented here by the Oregonian in a map format together with line-item detail. At the time of publishing this post, corporations opposed to Oregon’s Measure 92 have donated over 18 million dollars to their campaign (a state record), while individuals supporting that same side have contributed just $785, which is 0.0% of the total.

Oregon Measure 92

I strongly support Oregon Measure 92, which would give us the right to know which foods contain genetically-engineered ingredients.

Thank you for reading, and for being a thoughtful science-minded voter. I welcome your comments.

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Posted in Food Articles, Food Politics, Science


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