Sunday, February 16, 2014

Backpack food

Yeah, there's a lot of chemicals in processed foods.  However, we cut ourself a lot of slack when we are backpacking.
Every camper has her or his own ideas about camp food. Every backpacker has their own ideas about the food they carry.  Camping and backpacker meals are like snowflakes. No two camper's or backpacker's meals are the same.  Sure, some meals may be similar but they are always slightly different--just like snowflakes.

And so it is that we have begun to dredge up our long lost backpacking recipes.  If we are car camping, weight and space are rarely an issue.  The more food the merrier.  We often take twice as much food as we need just so we can change our menu on a whim when we feel like it.

Well, backpackers don't generally have such a luxury.  Backpackers need to run a tight ship, make a lean and mean menu and stick to it.  No whimsy for them!

It's been years since we hefted on a backpack and took off down the trail.  Luckily, we learned a lesson long, long ago.  All you need to do is walk S-L-O-W-L-Y through some stores and stop and stare at stuff.  Look very closely.  Read labels and directions.  Buy stuff.  Take it home.  Experiment.  Play around with recipes.  Why, it's easy peezy.
A Surprise Find--Dried Okra!

So, that's what we've been doing lately...taking trips down memory lanes (AKA: Grocery Aisles).  Sure enough, just like riding a bicycle, it all comes back.  It didn't take us long to remember all our old staple foods and meals for backpacking.  Once that knowledge is branded into the synapses, that knowledge never leaves.

Right now as we are writing this it's 3:30 pm on a Sunday.  And we're eating grits....and lovin' it.  We forgot all about instant grits.  And we sure forgot just how danged good they taste, even at 3:30 pm on a Sunday!

Why, you just need to boil and hap cup of water, turn off the flame and pour in the grits and let 'em sit.  We remembered the grits while prowling the aisles of a big box grocery in Phoenix today.  Heck, throw in  some oil, some chopped walnuts, chopped apricots, raw sugar, and top it all off with some coconut flakes and we've got a great breakfast going.  After eating it, boil a coup of water to clean the pot, make some hot chocolate and we're good to go.
Sugar, bulgar & fresh peanut butter

Next item I flat forgot is just like the grit, only better and more versatile--Bulgar.  You don't even have to heat water to hydrate bulgar--just put it in the pot the night before and it will be all re-hydrated by morning.  You can pretty much do anything to bulgar, the possibilities are endless.

Another great breakfast staple is powdered potatoes.  The now come in a bewildering array of flavors and our favorite Idahoan brand is made right in our summer home town, Idaho Falls.  In fact, a Dear Neighbor actually helps to make them!

We're going to put some pre-cooked bacon into a pot of those taters and then do a second pot of scrambled eggs made from powered eggs.

Small corn and small wheat tortillas are great for a short backpacking trip.  In recent years, bakeries pioneered stuff called "Sandwich thins."  Sandwich thins are basically a low rent kinda, sorta bagel.  Interestingly, one half a sandwich thin is lighter in weight than most tortillas but is better suited to hold peanut butter.  Peanut Butter is probably the Number One Staple of campers and backpackers worldwide.

Who knows, you might even get a Ticket from the Backpack Police if you left home without peanut butter.
Anyway, we forgot all about sandwich thins until we were walking slowly around the store staring at stuff.  We're going to take maybe two of them on this trip just for the peanut butter.
From top-clockwise-dried apricots, honey-roasted sunflower seeds
Cajun seasoning, dehydrated refried beans and walnut halves.

Then there's instant rice, cous-cous, dehydrated refried beans and Stove Top Stuffing.  Each of these four yummy food simply requires soaking in hot water to come to life.  No fuel-wasting boiling is necessary.

Today we found some dehydrated shrimp, dehydrated okra, edeame beans, sun-dried tomatoes, crystallized ginger and other similar goodies.  Tuna and salmon now come in foil packs that don't have to be drained.  There's there the staple salami and hard cheeses. We might even carry a small can of chicken, too.  They come in such small cans now the empty can surely can't weigh hardly anything.

So many choices, such a short hike!  It sure is fun messing with backpacking food again!

And now we close this post by eating some refried beans, freshly re-hydrated just for this occasion.  Oh, Man, YUM--they are good!

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