Meal: Tuna Casserole
1/2 cup dried or instant rice
1/4 cup dried tuna
1/4 cup dried peas
1/4 cup powdered cream of mushroom soup mix
1/4 cup cheddar cheese powder(optional)
You can use more soup mix to make it more creamy. By the way, the soup mix is great as a winter lunch too! It was an amazing meal, if you don’t have a dehydrator, then you can use foil pouch tuna, but it adds weight.
Tips and Tricks
The peas can take a longer time to rehydrate then other vegetables. I have been using a simmer ring on my alcohol stove lately to increase the heated time, but you could just as easy keep your meal in the cozy for longer too, if you are patient enough.
We needed a bear canister for our trip into the Olympic National Park and instead of renting one, I decided to look for light weight options. The Lighter1 cam out on top for us. Not only was it the lightest bear canister I could find that was certified for use in Yosemite, but it also uses a metal lid that can double as a cooking pot. It is a great system and it worked perfectly for us. If you are in the market, check it out!
Meal of the week: Curry Chicken and Rice with Broccoli
Want curry in the backcountry? No problem! I will even show you how to make your own curry powder that tastes great. It is really simple. Add all the following ingredients into a bowl and mix well. A whisk or morter and pestle is best as it really mixes the spices well, but I have used a spoon before and it works fine.
One great way to reduce your fuel usage and keep food from burning on the bottom of your pot is to use a pot cozy. A pot cozy is an insulated cover for your pot or zip lock freezer bag. I make them out of Reflectix (foil covered bubble wrap). You can find it at your local hardware store. You can also use the reflective windshield screens that are usually used on hot summer days. In the video below you can see how I make my double walled version. It keeps food incredibly hot. I have had food in the cozy for 30 minutes and it is still too hot to eat! As you eat, you leave the bottom cozy part on and it keeps the food warm.
Tips and Tricks
Meal of the week: Cream of Mushroom Soup
trailfood.com. It has a lot of great food ideas for the backpacker. What got me most excited about the site is that it has a section devoted to dry mixes and sauces! This is exactly what I wanted. She has come up with recipes for your own broth powder, cream of mushroom soup, Salsa, cheese sauce, pesto and a few others.
Flat Cat Gear and is the best alcohol stove I have ever used. First off, the Flat Cat stove is not a pressurized stove, so there is no prime time. You pour the alcohol in, you light the stove and put the pot over it. Done. It is much more similar to a canister stove in that way. Second, the stove can be used with any windscreen, but Jon has a windscreen/pot support system that is heavy duty and lightweight at the same time. It folds down small and will fit in small diameter pots. My lightest system so far uses a simmer cat stove and a piece of hardware cloth as a pot support(10.2 oz). The Flat Cat stove system is 11.8 with simmer ring and 11.2 without, but with all the advantages, I like it way better. It is worth the extra oz. In addition, you save that amount of weight in fuel alone if you are going on a two night trip. The simmer cat works great, but you can not put out the stove once lit. You have to wait for it to burn out of fuel. With the Flat Cat, you can place your pot right on top of the stove and it goes out quickly. Bobcat system as I always go out with my family of three, and I need the larger volume pot (1.6 L Toaks titanium pot). Jon also sells some smaller systems for solo hikers.
Tips and Tricks
What about using an alcohol stove in the snow? Alcohol stoves don’t work well in cold temperatures right? In general that is true. You don’t have a pressurized container pushing the fuel through the system. You need the heat of the stove to do the work. In addition, alcohol stoves do not burn as hot in general, and are influenced by the outside temperature a lot. I was surprised to find out the Flat Cat stove, had very little issue with the cold. All that was required was to put some kind of insulation between the snow and the stove. I put a piece of carbon felt on the snow, then put my heat shield on top of that, then my stove. Carbon felt(you can buy this on amazon, or at any local hardware store that sells plumbing supplies) is a high temperature material that plumbers use when working with copper in a house. The flame can touch the felt, but it will not burn. Great stuff for stoves. The carbon felt did the trick and the stove stayed hot during the burn and the water boiled without any issues. It was just as hot as during the summer. This was my first test out in the snow, but the temperature had dropped to 11 degrees Ferinheight overnight, so it was plenty cold to test the low temperature abilities of this stove. No excuses now, you can use your alcohol stove in the snow, so get out there and enjoy some great meals during those winter treks. I am particularly looking forward to some hot cream of mushroom soup when I go out on my cross country skiing trips! Enjoy! Dustin
Meal of the week: Inca Stew
The view from the top of Scott mountain was pretty smoky due to the fires in Ashland, but that did not effect the flavor of our wonderful Inca Stew! Once again, my cooking guru Chef Glenn has posted a new recipe that is outstanding. Find the recipe here!
I also did some research on sweet potatoes. I have never really understood the difference between sweet potatoes and yams. In the US, yams you buy at the super market are really orange sweet potatoes. The white and orange sweet potatoes are really just two different varieties. True yams are from Africa and Asia. They are only found in asian markets in the US. So for this recipe, the orange “yams” you find at the store are really sweet potatoes so go ahead and use them. I personally prefer the orange. I think the white is a bit more starchy.
Check it out here at the brasslite stove site.
Tips and Tricks
This is an add-on to one of my earlier tricks for you alcohol stove users. I mentioned before that to save knuckle hair when lighting your stove, you can light a stick then use the stick to light the stove. This works great when you have really thin dry material. However, I had a few trips where either the wood was really wet, or I had nothing thin enough to light easily with the lighter. The easy fix is to dip the stick in your alcohol first. Now you are lighting the small amount of fuel on the stick and it lights really easy. It does not burn hot or stay lit for long, so there is no fire danger unless you throw the lit stick into the dry grass (don’t do that!).
Enjoy your next trip and don’t forget to eat well!
Meal of the Week: Pesto Knots
Outback Oven by Backpackers Pantry. While it certainly does not fit in to the Ultralight system(9.5oz in addition to the rest of your pot and stove kit), it is very light weight and works very well. I am currently working on a lighter version of the Outback Oven
Backing with three tea light candles, just did not work. It got hot enough to create a great environment to rise the dough, but not hot enough to bake. I switched over to a tea light alcohol stove with only 1/4 oz of alcohol. I burned that off, then let the whole set up sit for 5 minutes to keep baking. Then I pulled everything apart and put another 1/4 oz of fuel in the stove and cooked again. In the end it did work, but the stove still got too hot and started burning the “oven” a bit. I have some modifications in mind to try and make this system work, so I will report back in a few weeks and let you know what progress I made.
Tip of the Week
Often you want small ziplock bags for yeast or sugar or spices. To make small ziplock bags at home, take a snack size ziplock and cut it in half. I use packing tape to seal up the cut end and now I have a small ziplock!
Enjoy your time out on the trail!
We may be creating World peas, but if your not careful, you may lose some knuckle hair in the process! I certainly did this week when lighting my new alcohol stove. Those mini bic lighters get you close to the action!
Meal of the Week
See Glenn’s website for more information about making bark. Then you add whatever type of protein and some veggies and you are ready to go! It rehydrated very easily and tasted fantastic. Give it a try! I get all my TVP from Harmony House Foods.
In the Gear Corner
Super Cat stove from a fancy feast can in the past, but that was way too hot for my little compact system. I decided to try the slower cooking Simmer Cat design with only one row of holes and it worked perfect! It takes about 9 minutes to boil 3 cups of water. This gives the food a long slow cook time. The stove only weighs 0.25 oz. Twice that of the tea light stove, but still so light that you barely notice the thing. The whole stove system with pot support, reflector, stove, windscreen and cozy weighs in at only 3.3 oz! If I add my pot and ultralight lid I get up to 9oz. Not bad at all for 2 people cooking dinner. You still need to add fuel of course, but that will depend on how long you are out for. It burned really well for my meal this week and was super easy to use.
Tips and Tricks
For my tip and trick this week I am going to save some of the knuckle hair you love so dearly. When lighting an alcohol stove with a small lighter, you end up putting your hand right over the stove. To keep your hand at a distance, use your lighter to light an eight inch long stick that is 1/16 inch in diameter and use that to light your stove. We all know how attractive that knuckle hair is, so be careful!
Have a great week everyone and remember to keep cook’n!
I have been working to lighten my load for the last few years now. I have realized that I enjoy my back county excursions so much more with a lighter pack. Don’t get me wrong, I still carry all kinds of photo gear! In addition, I have been trying out new recipes for my new backcountry cuisine course that I will be teaching next fall. So with that in mind, and with the encouragement of my friends and wife, I am going to use this blog to record my discoveries, both good and bad.
Check out his website. He has a lot of his recipes for free online, not to mention the stove design that I am currently trying out. But I strongly encourage you to get the book. It is by far the best cookbook I have ever owned. Not the fastest meals to prepare before the trip(though he does have some quick meal ideas), but the best tasting and lightest weight options. Scrambled eggs was something I thought I would never have in the back country! I have eaten the freeze dried eggs and found them unpleasant. But these eggs are great! The basic concept is to cook the eggs in the oven with polenta until the eggs are set. Then dehydrate them and add other veggies and proteins to make a complete meal. I added chicken flavored TVP from Harmony House Foods and dried tomatoes. It was a fantastic way to have a break from taking photos of the wildflowers. It had fantastic flavor and texture and it was super easy to rehydrate. Add the water, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes while you set up the stove. Heat to a boil and cook for a minute, move to a pot cozy. Wait 10 minutes and you are ready to eat! If you don’t have a pot cozy, simmer for a few extra minutes on your stove stirring often. Make sure you don’t let it go too long or it will stick to the bottom of the pot!
Tea light (0.02 oz), pot stand (0.87 oz), heat shield and homemade ultralight lid (0.56 oz), windscreen (0.7 oz), pot without lid (5.5 oz), pot cozy (1.23 oz), 2 oz of alcohol in a bottle and ziplock bag (2.83 oz).
The little tea light does not hold much alcohol, but it is enough to get a cup and a half of water to boil. If you are making a larger meal, you just fill the cup up again and keep going. It does not boil water as fast as a canister or petroleum fuel stove, but that is an advantage for rehydrating food. You want the food to cook longer, but not scorch on the bottom. When I was done with my meal, it was a snap to clean up!
Great day, great flowers, great food! Enjoy your time out there!