Friday, May 27, 2016

Hobbits Go Camping, Part one the food.


Its time for a change of pace around here. Today we explore backcountry cooking. 
Over the May long weekend we completed our fourth backpacking camping trip, this was our first two night stay.   It was a trip to Manning Park,  it made a loop of the Whatcom and Dewdney trails, with a two night stay at Snass View camp in between. The journey through to Punch Bowl Pass and to camp is worthy of its own post.  On this occasion however I will be going over the food the Other Hobbit and I prepared to keep us going while camp at the the snow line. 

So to the food.  I will  attempt to break down major meals into something reproducible.  For this trip I made the two lunches, two dinners, and part of a third lunch.  For the majority of our meals we aim for simplest and most effiecnt cooking method we could find, add boiling water to stuff. The stuff in contained in a high quality freezer bag, which can resist the heat.  This cooking method has been enhanced by the creation of insulated pouches consisting of mylar and quilt batting. As a result we have warm if not hot food till the meal is done. 
Cooking with northing more than a one burner white gas stove, one pot, and a plastic bag creates restraints that I am still learning to work within.  In that light most of the meals prepared are still considered experiments and I am not yet stratified with the quality and number of meals I can produce. 

Recipes are for one portion, each meal was prepared in duplicate  
In the order they were eaten. 

Lunch one: pastrami sandwiches, on home made buns with mixed pickles.  This was eaten early in the hike, just before a steep switch back.  It was only worth packing because it's stay was so short. The bread could get its own post, and would be too much trouble do describe here. 

Dinner One: Couscous, dates and Machaca*. Eaten earlier in the trip than planned because it was the most filling of the meals and the pass demanded far more from us than we would care to admit.  
Couscous and Dates. Zatar in small bag
Machaca added later. 
  • 100 Grams Couscous.
  • 30 Grams chopped dates, mixed with couscous.
  • Pinch Salt. 
  • Shake of pepper.
  • Kiss of smoked ghost chilis. 
  • 50 Grams of Machaca.*

In a separate pouch a couple table spoons of Zatar. Zatar or Za’atar is a middle eastern blend of sumac, sesame and other herbs and spices. 

 *Machaca is a Sonoran preparation of dried beaf, differing from jerky in that it beef is raw when it is dried and not cooked till it is added to final dish.   The machaca was made the hard way for a earlier trip, and has proven to be a excellent.  All credit for the Machaca goes to the other hobbit. 

This meal lacked a centre, it was filling calorie rich, but not refined. 

Lunch Two: Curry with rice and cashews, enhanced with pork floss. 
Cashew curry. Yum.
  • 100 Grams Minute Rice
  • 40 Grams Cashews 
  • Pinch Salt, 
  • Shake pepper. 
  • Genrous spoon full of curry. I used the excellent Bombay Curry From Galloway’s fine foods in New Westminster 
  • Generous table spoon of Coconut milk powder. 

In a separate pouch a few pinches of pork floss, a shredded and dried meat, for a little extra protein.

This dish really worked. It was saucy flavourful filling.  The flavours were rich and balanced.  The core of this dish will be used again.

Dinner Two:  Rice with freeze dried mini shrimp, seaweed and sesame. 
Shrimpy Rice. Also Yum.
  • 100 grams of Minute Rice
  • 30 grams of freeze dried mini shrimp.  These are scarcely bigger than the rice. 
  • 30 grams dried seaweed* broken into short chunks. 
  • couple pinches of roast sesame seeds
  • pinch red pepper flakes. 
  • 1 tea spoon of potato starch
  • pinch salt. 
On the side, a couple teaspoons of rice seasoning, a mix of sesame, seaweed, bonito, and other things.  

This dish also worked.  The shrimps basically vanished into the mix, but they were never the centre piece.  The seaweed hydrated wonderfully adding an almost crisp pop to the dish.  This dish put to the test an ingredient that was purchased for this expedition, potato starch. The addition of that starch produced a light sauce and prevented the rice dish from becoming too dry.  Potato starch was chosen because of its ability to thicken a sauce without having to be brought to a boil, this quality made it ideal for the just add water method employed at our camp. 

*Seaweed. I don’t know what kind I have. Its dark green, long and skinny.  I have also had it in the house for years because its so perfectly dry 

Lunch Three: Partial contribution: Flat Bread. 
An ad hoc recipe that proved too thick to cook quickly and the recipe too random two recreate. However, it did demonstrate that a flat bread can fit in the prepare in bag category. It proved much neater to prepare than pancakes and will be fine tuned for future trips.  

Day Two: Couscous with whole egg powder.  The egg reconstituted well, it could have used more water but was filling. 
Day Three:  Pancakes. Premixed dry ingredients, as prepared by the other hobbit.  Oil and water added on site.  They cook well, however, they add several tools and mess that could be avoided with just about any other meal. They are being phased out. 

Other Foods: These are either the snacks or the contributions from the other Hobbit. Our food had benefited from their owning a food dehydrator, this tool opened up food experiments that we just could not have tried otherwise, including the Machaca, on one occasion a dehydrated chilli, and a few other things

So the other foods, 
  • Humus, dehydrated, water and oil added at site. Served with flat bread after a slippery off trail detour that cost far too much.  It was good and rich, garlicky without being potent, very filling.
  • Carrot sticks, backed because I really wanted something fresh damn the weight
  • Babaghanoush (rehydrated), never prepared. The second day of the adventure was lazy so the extra dish was ignored. 
  • Round Trip Cauliflower. To have been eaten with the Babaghanoush, it like the dip was never eaten. It survived the pass and the many stream crossings. 
  • Dried figs and dates proved a good source of energy. 
  • Beverages, Hot chocolate and instant mocha. The mocha was not good coffee, but it had sugar, caffeine and came in easy to manage paper packets. 

Notes on future meals. 
The shrimps will be phased out. Though they add protein, even freeze dried at low temperature they are too aromatic, not something I want in bear country any later in the year.  The rice an seaweed combo was a winner and warrants refinement.  As a way of creating a very simple sauce, or glaze potato starch is a winner, it will find use in my kitchen at home as well as in camp.  The flat bread and rehydrated dip combo will almost certainly feature again.    

All the Food.
The food I made