Sunday, July 20, 2008

Backcountry Food

I have been thinking about my meals lately. I love to cook. I love to eat. For me, meals are best eaten with good company or while camping (that big, generic term that could mean anything from a monstrous- big RV in a non wilderness setting to an ultralight off trail backpacking trip). Hotdogs and cold spring water taste like the finest French cuisine when cooked on a willow stick over a fire.

But when you are in the backcountry, and what you carry is how you get your daily energy, taste moves down (just a little) on the list of importance, ease of cooking and weight move up. There is a delicate balance between caloric intake, physical weight of the food, amount of fuel needed to cook the food and taste.

On my bookshelf are several outdoor cookbooks. Much more than just gorp recipes, there is some really good tasting stuff, high in nutritional value, that are lightweight. Go check some out at your local library. I guarantee you'll find something you like. And as a side bonus, most of the time it will save you money over freeze dried foods.

And as for cooking the food, that's where quite a bit of my thoughts on this year's trips have gone. When I was in high school I bought a Coleman multifuel stove. It worked great. I was in love with the fact that it could burn just about anything. Jet fuel? Sure! Kerosene? You bet... white gas.... just about anything in a pinch. I envisioned myself trekking across the globe, using whatever fuel was local. Great stove, simple to operate, somewhat compact, but it was heavy. And you had to prime it.

And then I bought a MSR Whisperlight international. Also able to burn just about anything that is flammable, it was lighter weight. I still had to prime it, but it was more compact. The burner also detached from the fuel canister which was a little more flexible in terms of packing. A good stove that could simmer. It's drawbacks included being a bit too fussy for me.

Next came a small little stove that runs on butane canisters.... it fits in the palm of your hand, weighs very little, includes a piezo electric starter (no more matches, except for backup!).

But my newest stove is going to be one of these. A "penny stove." Simple to make. Extremely lightweight. No noise, which I REALLY like, all of the above stoves sound like a jet plane. Durability, which I value very highly, might not be as good, but as long as I am careful, I don't think it will be an issue.

They also have some recipes I am looking forward to trying.

Here are some more recipe links:
One Pan Wonders
Packing list and recipes
This one has some great ideas. Cooked in boiling water, freezer bag recipes.


Dicentra said...

Hey! Thanks for the mention!! Nice site you have here.


The Rabid Outdoorsman said...

The Penny Stove is a great link. Hmmm, wonder what I will be doing this weekend! :)

Kasey said...

I completely agree that food is best eaten and tastes the best no matter what when you are camping. I love eating on the trail.