Backcountry Cooking

Eat what you like to eat at home

If you love mashed potatoes, have them! If you love spaghetti and tomato sauce, have that. Most of what we eat at home can be replicated in some form while camping. It all comes down to weight and prep time. If you want to be completely gourmet, and don’t mind a heavy pack (it’s worth it on a 2-3 day trip) bring fresh veggies, real cheese, and desserts. If you’re going to be out for a long time and can’t afford the weight, go with dehydrated and freeze-dried meals.

Think cooking basics

Onions, garlic, and fresh ginger will last several days on the trail. Bring a spice kit. Fresh ground pepper makes all the difference! Bring parmesan/romano cheese and olive oil — you can work wonders with pasta, cheese, spices, and olive oil. Add nuts to (almost) any meal for extra crunch and protein. Add packaged tuna, salmon, and canned chicken for protein and flavor. Use your leftover cooking water for hot drinks.

Look for favorite grocery brands

Fantastic Foods®, Spice Hunter®, and Near East® have great food selections. Check your local health food store and the natural foods aisle at your grocery store. Make a note of the food brands you like and don’t like.

Plan ahead

Be sure you bring enough food. Take into consideration where you’re going, for how long you’re traveling, and who you are traveling with. Remember that not everyone likes the same food. If you’re cooking for a group, find out what they absolutely won’t eat, before you hit the trail—especially important with kids.

Dehydrate your own camp food

If you’re bored with backpacker meals and can’t carry fresh ingredients, get a dehydrator. The instructions are easy to follow and the results are surprisingly good. (I bought a dehydrator last year and used it to make “spaghetti leather” and dried veggies.)

The camp beakfast is the easy meal

Start with hot drinks (tea, cocoa, instant coffee, flavored coffees, hot cider, etc.). Instant oatmeal or cream of wheat with a handful of dried fruit and/or granola is enough to get you started. Granola adds crunch, dried fruit adds flavor and sweetness. Add some dried milk to your cereal for protein. Not everyone likes oatmeal, so try couscous (cooks in just 5 minutes) or instant rice, then add milk, cinnamon, and sugar for a yummy morning meal.

Lunch on the trail starts when breakfast ends

Lunch is a fun meal because you have so many options. Vary your food selections and don’t let yourself lose interest in this important energy-boosting meal. Some hints:

Granola Bars – Fruit-filled bars, yogurt-covered bars, cereal bars, chocolate-covered bars. Check both the natural foods section and cereal aisle of your grocery store.

Energy Bars – Lots more calories and protein in these than in granola bars, and some are almost a whole meal. Check your grocery store, health food store, and outdoor shops like Eastern Mountain Sports. Find a couple favorites, stock up, and carry extras!

Snacks – Dried fruit, mixed-salted nuts, GORP, pretzels, cookies, goldfish. You want things that are sweet and/or salty, and not so delicate that they will get crushed in your pack. Fresh or canned fruit can also work well (depending on your hike and load).

Cheese – On day trips, bring your favorite soft cheese (cheddar or gouda), but don’t count on those for day three of a backpacking trip. Very hard, dry cheeses like parmesan or romano will last several days without refrigeration. You can also bring mozzarella string cheese or cheese sticks (each piece is wrapped separately).

Peanut Butter – It even comes in a tube! Spread on tortillas, bagels, biscuits, and more. You can also get jelly in a tube.

Meats – Carry salami, pepperoni, and summer sausage (highly processed and don’t need refrigeration) in smaller packaged sections, and try to finish them at one time so the rest doesn’t spoil. Prepackaged tuna or salmon is also convenient.

Breads – The options are endless. Some of my favorites are French bread, tortillas, bagels, pita bread, and tea biscuits. Eat bulky items (bagels) or delicate items (French bread, scones) on your first days out.

Start with a dinner appetizer

A first course takes off the hunger edge while you prepare the main meal. Think black bean dip, hummus, or cheese with pita bread, crackers, or tortillas. Ramen noodles or Cup-O-Soup makes a light starter for those cooler days. For something a bit more lively, try pesto/cheese or black bean/cheese quesadillas.

Dinner is down time

Dinner can be as simple as “backpacker meals” where you just add boiling water, or as involved as sautéed fresh veggies, couscous with feta cheese, and a dessert of fresh-baked carrot cake! Whatever your concoction, kick back and enjoy your evening. Here are some nutritious, energy-packed favorites:

Pasta with dehydrated spaghetti sauceDehydrate spaghetti sauce at home, and rehydrate the sauce on the trail with boiling water. Tastes just like the real thing. Add dehydrated or freeze-dried veggies for more nutrition, color, texture.

Couscous or rice w/mushrooms, sundried tomatoes & pine nuts

Black bean soup w/rice, salsa & cheeseIf you use dehydrated beans and salsa, this can be lightweight. I have used canned beans and salsa (very heavy and you have trash to carry out), but it tasted great on a rainy night!

Couscous w/sautéed veggies & cheeseOn the first day of a trip, I like to have fresh veggies like red and green peppers, zucchini, onions, and garlic sautéed in olive oil. Mix with couscous and feta cheese. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Instant mashed potatoes w/ veggies, meat, or cheeseBuy instant mashed potatoes, add dehydrated veggies, cut in meat or cheese for protein

Lipton noodles or rice w/veggiesAdd dehydrated or fresh veggies to any of your favorite noodle/rice dinners, and add a protein if needed.

Vegetarian chiliAll-in-one delicious with your favorite beans, onions, peppers, spices.

Don’t leave out dessert

Cookies, chocolate bars, brownies, instant pudding, no-bake cheesecake. Hot chocolate, flavored coffee, or hot tea. If you have a backpacker oven, make brownies, carrot cake, and other treats. Or sample some delicious prepackaged freeze-dried camping desserts.

 

 

Alpine Spaghetti

Categories: Trail, Main Dish, One Pot
Servings: 2

8 oz Spaghetti or Noodles
1 Tb Olive Oil
1 c Parmesan Cheese
3 ts Ground Sweet Basil
1 Tb Parsley Flakes
1 Garlic clove, minced
Water

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add spaghetti. Boil for 10 minutes and drain.
2. Add olive oil, toss, then add rest of ingredients and toss again until thoroughly mixed.

Chili

Categories: Trail, Main Dish, One Pot
Servings: 2

1 c Lentils
3 Tb Tomato Powder (optional)
2 Tb Masa or Corn Flour (optional)
1 Tb Chili Powder
1 Tb Onion Flakes
1 ts Cumin
1 ts Oregano
1 ts Salt
1 Clove Garlic
4 c Water

1. Combine all ingredients and simmer 30 to 45 minutes depending on altitude.
2. Put some cheese in your bowl and pour on some chili. Good with cornbread cakes on a cold night.

Sheppards Pie
Dehydrated beef
Store bought gravy mix – we like the International Green Pepper one
Store bought dehydrated mushrooms
Dehydrated peas, corn, onions
Store bought Betty Crocker dehydrated potatoes
Store bought dehydrated milk (4 tbs)

Rehydrate the beef, gravy mix, veggies and shoom together early. Add more water and heat – don’t add too much water. Make potatoes as directed. Pour mix in bowl and top with potatoes.

Dutch Oven Breakfast

Categories: Breakfast, Eggs
Servings: 12

24 Eggs
1 Loaf of Bread
2 lb Italian Sausage, hot & spicy
2 lb Mozzarella Cheese
1 Green Pepper
1 Onion
2 cn Mushrooms
Water
Shortening

1. Grease a No. 14 Dutch oven. Grease the lid if the oven is full enough that the contents might hit the top while cooking.
2. Break the loaf of bread into pieces, and place in the bottom of the oven.
3. Beat the eggs with some water (to add some “fluff” to the dish). Pour the eggs over the bread.
4. Brown the sausage and spread it on top of the eggs/bread.
5. Slice the cheese and lay it on top of the sausage.
6. Dice the pepper and onion, and spread on top of the cheese. Slice the mushrooms, and spread on top of the pepper/onion.
7. Cover and cook for 45 minutes in the usual Dutch oven way. (A 12 coals underneath, and a 18 on top works fine.)

Variations
a. Try adding some bacon to the dish.

 

Jambolie
Presidents Choice Byou rice box mix
Dehydrated peas, corn, onions
Sun dryed tomatoes (store bought)
Packaged bacon bits
Cured salami (available from a ethnic good deli)
Store bought dehydrated mushrooms (Costco has quite a variety of them)
Rehydrate rice and spice package with the peas corn onion and tomatoes
Fry salami and bacon bits then add rehydrated stuff. Add more water so the rice is softish but don’t make soup.

Spinach Cheese Casserole

1 1/4 c Brown Rice
1/2 c Dehydrated Spinach Flakes
1/4 c Dried Mushrooms, sliced thin, chopped fine
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 ts Salt
1 cn Shrimp, 6 1/2-ounce can,
or
1 c Dried Shrimp,
or
1/2 c Freeze-dried Shrimp
1/2 lb Cheddar Cheese, grated or chopped in small chunks
1 ts Oil
3 c Water

1. Combine all ingredients except cheese and shrimp, if you use canned or freeze-dried.
2. Bring to boil and simmer 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in cheese and canned or freeze-dried shrimp (unless you used dried).
3. Cover for 2 to 3 minutes, then serve hot.

Burritoes
Dehydrated Presidents choice refried beans – spread out on plastic wrap as thin as possible – it will just crumble when done
Dehydrated peas, corn, onions
Dehydrated salsa – I used a full jar for one supper because it is so concentrated don’t use ‘hot’ or it will be smoken!
Babybel mini cheese – small individual ones. Remove plastic wrap (but not the wax) – the wrap will stain everything if it gets wet
Store bought dehydrated mushrooms (Costco has quite a variety of them)
Flat bread tortilla – large

It doesn’t take long to rehydrate the beans, but the salsa takes a bit of time. Rehydrate the salsa and the veggies together. Heat the beans, salsa, corn, peas and onions on low heat – it will burn easily. Add only a little water you want it thick so it won’t spill out the tortilla. Cut up the cheese and put it on the tortilla – spoon on the mix and roll up.

   SMOKED-SALMON PASTA

SERVES 2

4 cloves garlic

2 shallots

Few sprigs basil, wrapped in paper towel

1 cube chicken bouillon

Parmesan cheese

Handful of slivered, sun-dried tomatoes

Smoked salmon in small bag (freeze overnight if possible)

8 ounces angel hair or spiral pasta

Olive oil

OPTIONAL:

1/4 cup capers

1 yellow or orange bell pepper, uncut

At camp: chop the garlic and shallots; saute with a little olive oil or butter. Add yellow pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup water and salmon. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add basil. Remove from heat and cover for at least 5 minutes.

Bring a separate pot of water to boil and cook pasta. When pasta is done, drain and then pour salmon mixture over. Top with Parmesan.

Grape nuts and instant oatmeal.
Super light and efficient breakfast food that provides energy all day long. Mixing the two is a simple way to make these basic food items more tolerable.
½ cup Grape nuts
1 envelop of flavored instant oatmeal
1-cup hot water
3-tablespoon milk powder
1 tsp butter (optional)

French Toast
Perfect for long breakfasts on rest or weather days. This delicacy requires a decent frying pan and the ability to control the simmer on your stove.
1 bag powdered eggs
10 pieces of cinnamon raisin bread
4 oz nalgene bottle with real maple syrup
1/4 cup butter
1 dash of cinnamon

CASHEW-GINGER CHICKEN AND RICESERVES 2

1/2 cup cashews (packed in separate bag)

1 cup instant brown rice

2/3 cup freeze-dried corn

1/2 cup dry shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup onion flakes

1 foil package of chicken (found at Safeway)

1 packet Thai Coconut Ginger Soup Mix paste.

On the trail: place dry ingredients, chicken and soup mix in pot and cover with water; mix well. Bring to a boil; simmer 5 minutes. Simmer 5 minutes more (adding more water as needed) or until done.

The Original Gorp
1 Part salted peanuts.
1 Part M&Ms.
1 Part raisins.
Mix and munch.
Breakfast Gorp
1 Cup cashews.
1 Cup flaked coconut.
1 Cup chocolate covered coffee beans.
Heartwise Gorp
1 Part almonds.
1 Part corn nuts.
1 Part dried bananas.
1 Part other dried fruit of choice.
1 Part wheat chex cereal or gold fish pretzels.
Gummy Gorp
1 Part chocolate chips.
1 Part mini M&Ms.
1 Part gummy bears.
1 Part candy corn.
1 Part broken kit-kat bars.
1 Part reese’s pieces.
1 Part cashews.
1 Part salted peanuts.
1 Part raisins.
Mix and munch.
Tangy Tuna with Lime Dressing
Seven ounces water-packed canned tuna.
Quarter cup water chestnuts, sliced.
Quarter teaspoon dried, crushed mint leaves.
One teaspoon dried parsley.
One tablespoon minced dried onion.
Quarter teaspoon celery seed.
One teaspoon lime or lemon juice.
Three tablespoons sour cream prepared from mix.
Dash of black pepper.
At home; Pack the mint leaves, parsley, onion, celery seed
and black pepper together and the other ingredients separately.
Place all packaged ingredients in a large self-sealing plastic bag
labeled with the recipe directions.
In Camp; Combine the tuna, water chestnuts and seasoning
mix. In a small container. Combine the lime or lemon juice
and sour cream. Stir into tuna mixture. Serve as a salad
or as a sandwich spread on crackers.
4 Servings.
Apple Pancakes.
One cup diced dried apples, peaches or pears.
Five tablespoons powdered eggs.
Half cup nonfat dry milk.
Two cups whole wheat flour.
Two tablespoons baking powder.
Two cups water.
One tablespoon oil.
Yogurt, maple syrup, or brown sugar optional.
At home; Combine the apples, eggs, milk, flour
and baking powder in a self-sealing plastic bag.
Label with recipe directions.
In camp; Add the water to the flour mixture,
just until combined. Bake the pancakes in a hot,
lightly oiled skillet, turning when bubbles appear
on the surface. Makes 4 large pancakes.
Hot Spiced Smoothie.
This concoction is not for the faint-hearted!
Take the edge off by reducing the amount
of ginger, cardamom and black pepper.
Guaranteed to warm you on the coldest
afternoon or prime your taste buds before
dinner.
Half cup powdered milk.
One tablespoon potato starch.
One tablespoon butter powder.
Two teaspoons sugar.
Half teaspoon ground ginger.
Half teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Three pinches ground cardamom.
Three pinches of black pepper.
At home combine all the ingredients in a zip lock
bag. On the trail place contents of bag into a mug,
and add 1 cup of boiling water, and stir well. Makes
one 8 – once serving.

Rich Trail Cocoa
Servings: 1

1 lb Instant Cocoa
6 oz Nondairy Coffee Creamer
1 pk Dry milk, 8 qt size
2/3 c Powdered Sugar

1. Mix ingredients together and store in a air-tight container.
2. Use 1/3 cup of mix in 1 cup hot water.

Variations
a. Try adding 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to mix.

Russian Tea
Servings: 1

2 c Sugar
1 c Tang orange powder
1/2 c Instant Tea
1/2 ts Cinnamon
1/2 ts Cloves
1 pk Leamonade mix, 1 qt size

Directions:
1. Mix ingredients together and store in a air-tight container.
2. Mix 2-3 Tbs with a cup of hot water, to taste.

Trail Shake
Servings: 1

2 c Dry Milk
1/2 c Malted Milk Powder
1/2 c flavoring: cocoa, instant coffee, berry syrup mix, jam, etc.

Directions:
1. Package each individual serving in a Ziplock plastic bag, 1/2 cup of mix.
2. To use add 1 cup of water to plastic bag, seal, and shake until mixed

Pasta with Mushrooms and Sun-dried
Tomatoes.
Ten large dried mushrooms.
Ten sun-dried tomatoes.
Two cups water.
One cup nonfat dry milk.
One pound of pasta of choice.
Quarter cup parmesan cheese. Optional.
At home package each ingredient individually.
Combine packages in a self- sealing plastic bag
and add recipe directions. On the trail, soak the
mushrooms for 30 minutes. Reserve quarter cup
of the soaking liquid. Cut the tomatoes into thin
slices. In a saucepan over medium- low heat,
bring the water and powdered milk to a boil. Add
the mushrooms, tomatoes and resevered liquid.
Simmer 5 min. Keep warm. Cook pasta in a pot
of boiling water until tender. Do not over cook.
Drain, and place in a large serving bowl. Pour
the mushroom sauce over pasta. Garnish with
parmesan. Serves 4.
Potato-Cheese Patties.
Four cups water.
One tablespoon salt or beef base.
Three tablespoons dried onions.
Three cups instant potatoes.
Half cup of milk [can use powdered].
Half cup biscuit mix
One cup of cheese chunks.
Pepper to taste.
Flour or cornmeal.
Margarine.
Boil water with salt and onions. Add potatoes and
mix. Set aside to cool. Mix in milk, biscuit mix, cheese
and pepper until it forms stiff dough. Form patties
and roll in flour or cornmeal. Fry in a quarter inch
of margarine. Serves 2.
Battered Trout Almondine.
One third cup flour.
One third cup cornmeal.
One half teaspoon salt.
One half teaspoon pepper.
One pinch of cinnamon.
Three tablespoons slivered almonds.
Two medium trout.
Two tablespoons reconstituted butter or
vegetable oil.
At Home: Combine the dry ingredients in a gallon
size zipper-lock bag.
At Camp: Toss your cleaned catch into the bag
and shake. Heat the butter or oil over a medium
hot stove, then lay the fish flesh- side down in
the pan. Fry them until deeply browned
[about 5 to 8 min. for a one pound trout],
then turn and fry just long enough to brown
the skin side. This recipe will coat two 1-pound
fish. Serves 2..
Fruit Cobbler; Life is short, eat dessert first!
12 oz. diced dried fruit of your choice.
Two teaspoons brown sugar
One quarter teaspoon cinnamon.
One and three quarter cups apple-cinnamon
pancake mix.
Three and a half cups of water.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in with the fruit.
Add the fruit mixture to 3 cups of water and bring
to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes
to soften the fruit. Add about half a cup of water
to the pancake mix and kneed the bag to create
a very stiff dumpling dough. Cut off the corner of
the bag and squeeze the dough onto the top of
the hot fruit. Cover and continue to simmer until
“dumplings” have cooked through, in about 5 min.
Serves four..
Orange Delight
One teaspoon orange-flavored instant drink mix.
One teaspoon dry milk.
Two teaspoons instant vanilla pudding mix.
Place mix in a 16 0z. mug,
add cold water, and stir.
Serves one.
Quick, easy, and tastes great.
Russian Spiced Tea
One lb. Orange drink mix.
Half cup instant tea.
One cup white sugar.
One tablespoon cinnamon.
Half tablespoon ground cloves.
Half tablespoon ginger.
Mix ingredients together. Use 2 spoonfuls for one
cup. Add boiling water. You can make this at home
ahead of time or scale it down and make up a pot
for an after-dinner drink.
Decadent Pudding
One package of instant pudding mix and
powdered milk per directions on box.
Quarter cup crushed peanuts.
Half cup of oreo cookies, crumbled.
Three ounces kahlua or rumplemintz.
Three ounces chocolate syrup.
While preparing your main meal, add the correct
amount of cold water to the pudding mix, add
liqueur, zip the bag it’s in closed, and shake well.
Put crumbled cookies into individual cups, pour
pudding mixture over the top, and allow to set.
Warm chocolate syrup bottle in the water being
heated for coffee or hot chocolate, then drizzle
syrup over the pudding. Top with nuts. Serves 4.
Ham and Noodle Toss
Two cups broccoli florets.
One and three quarters cups water.
One and a quarter cups cubed fully cooked
ham.
One tablespoon soy sauce.
Two packages oriental-flavored ramen noodles.
Sliced ripe olives, optional.
In a large pan, combine broccoli, water, ham, soy
sauce and one flavoring packet from the noodles
[ discard second packet or save for another use].
Break noodles into small pieces; add to pan.
Simmer, uncovered, for 6 to 8 minutes or until
noodles are tender, stirring frequently. Top with
olives if desired. Serves 4.
Best served on first night of trip.
Almond Rice Pilaf
Three quarters cup chopped onion.
Half cup slivered almonds.
One tablespoon butter or margarine.
Two cups chicken broth, or 2 chicken bouillon
cubes dissolved in water.
Two cups uncooked instant rice.
In pan, sauté onion and almonds in butter until
the onion is tender and the almonds are lightly
browned. Add broth; bring to a boil. Stir in rice
and cover. Remove from the heat. Let stand for
5 to 8 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
Serves 4.