Sunday, August 3, 2014

Outdoor Cooking....Beyond the Pouch.

 I must confess that I am not an overly picky eater. I like good food but when it comes to preferences I have very few and that typically extends into the outdoors. I'm happy to have something to fill the void in my stomach, if it's hot and tastes good then those are bonuses. I have noticed a real tendency by outdoors folks toward dehydrated backpacking meals and on backpacking trips they are pretty good. They tend to be light and convenient and taste has improved remarkably over the last few years. But; as "unpicky" as I am- I still avoid the dehydrated stuff whenever I can because after a couple days of steady dehydrated meals my digestive tract rebels in a big way. That much salt and preservatives passing through can cause something of a reflex in some folks and dealing with it on a trip can be a regular hassle.

I just returned from a 3 day float trip and while some folks would be content to simply chow down on packets of rehydrated slump,  I decided to eat well and the raft's cargo carrying ability allowed me to do just that. As an experiment we tried a vacuum sealer in conjunction with some pre-cooking and freezing and the results were pretty spectacular for camp cooking. I hate to try to make camp cooking a  big production because time spent cooking is not time spent doing other stuff that I'm there to do in the first place.

For the first sample meal we took some breakfast sausage and fried it up at home, we drained it and let it cool. The we took some frozen bell peppers and onion pieces, added it to the sausage and vacuum sealed it in a two person portion. Into the freezer it went. The idea was to pull if from the cooler and reheat it in the skillet with a bit of olive oil and then crack a couple of eggs onto it for a quick and easy breakfast scramble. In execution is worked perfectly- in fact after a couple of days it was still a little frozen. Depending on your climate you should get this to make it at least a couple of days unless you're camping in death valley.

The next meal featured a helping of hash browns. Basically a shredded potato that we dried some excess moisture out of with some paper towels. This went into the vacuum bag with some more frozen peppers and onions and back into the freezer. I cut a kielbasa into pieces and put them into a vacuum bag and froze that. On day three we  took the hash browns out of the cooler (cold but not frozen anymore) and sautéed that with a liberal amount of olive oil in the skillet. When the potatoes were just starting to brown I tossed in the sausage and heated it. It was a hearty and filling meal of real food. After a couple of cold, rainy days on the river a good meal of real food was a big boon to our spirits. Perfect!

For snacks and lunches we took nuts, jerky and dried fruit and vacuum sealed it into serving size vacuum bags- it made grabbing a quick bite easy and convenient.


Should Fish More said...

Nice picture, the lake and tundra took me back to my time up there.

On similar trips, not necessarily rafting but similar in nature, I take some prepared stuff also. One of the favorite (we take a fairly large dutch oven) is pork tenderloin cut up and in a red chili sauce. Put rice in the dutch oven, a cup of so of rice, the pork and marinade......5 briquettes on top, 7 underneath. Ignore for a hour of's great. And the next morning put more briquettes underneath, mix 5 or 6 eggs in and warm some tortilla's on top at the end....breakfast burritoes.

Sonia Exkash said...
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