Cooking with cornmeal dates back to the Native Americans, but cornbread as most modern people think of it is a European invention. It is a major part of the cooking tradition in those parts of the U.S. where wheat does not grow very well and must be imported, namely the South and Southwest. In the camping context, the most famous example of cornbread is found in the hoecakes made by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. As their rations often would consist of little more than cornmeal and a little pork fat, the food the Rebel trooper marched on was pan-fried cornbread, or hoecakes, cooked over a campfire.
The simplest cornbread recipe to make at camp is the humble hoecake. It can also be served as part of just about any meal. The batter can be made with cornmeal and water, and then fried with only a little lard or bacon grease. However, that is the least appetizing version of this Southern classic. Instead, mix 2 cups of cornmeal, 1 tsp. of baking soda, 1 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp. of sugar, 1 egg and 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk (milk if you do not have buttermilk, or water as a last resort). Heat enough oil or grease to coat the bottom of the cast iron skillet over your campfire or stove, then drop the batter on top as you would for a pancake. Fry it until the hoecake turns golden brown.
Hush puppies go very well alongside a camp fish fry. The recipe for the batter is the same as the one used for hoecakes but with a handful of additions. Chop up half an onion and add that to the batter. You must use milk or buttermilk for a hush puppy, but reduce the amount to 1 cup. Use 1 tsp. of Old Bay for extra seasoning. Add 1/4 cup of white flour. Form the batter into balls and fry them alongside the fish in the skillet.
This one requires an oven, so only RV campers or those in a cabin will be able to make it. Pour 3 cups of milk into the skillet, and heat it to bubbling. Rapidly stir in 1 cup of white cornmeal, and cook while continuing to stir until it becomes thick. Remove the skillet from the stove/campfire and let the mixture cool and harden. Mix in 3 eggs, 1 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp. of baking powder, and 2 tbsp. of melted butter, breaking up the hardened cornmeal as you go. Beat it until it is a thick, mixed liquid. Place the skillet in an oven set to 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.
This recipe also requires an oven. Put 2 or 3 tbsp. bacon grease into the skillet, then put the skillet into an oven heated to 400 degrees F. Let that heat while you mix up the same batter as that used for hoecakes. Take the skillet out and pour the grease into the batter. It will pop and spatter a bit. Stir it in, and then pour the batter into the skillet. Put the skillet in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.