RECIPES, TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BACKCOUNTRY OFF TRAIL KITCHEN Meals for the intrepid cooked over a camp stove. BACKPACK ALASKA Introduction Food for walking. Let’s start with the basics as we see them. Commercially produced I dehydrated meals are pricey, have a month’s worth of sodium packed into each pouch and can wreak havoc on your gut. Additionally some of us can’t find what we’re looking for or have dietary issues (you’re not alone if you have a list of foods to avoid). But those packets are ready to go and can save you time, energy and fuel in the backcountry which makes them so enticing. Food prep for the backcountry doesn’t have to take ninja level dehydrating skills, a commercial vacuum sealer or trained culinary acumen to execute. Does it taste good? Do you feel good after eating it? That’s our criteria. If “no”, add salt. If still “no” hike more, then try again. Delicious, quick to prepare and cook, affordable, and dare I say fun, customizable options do exist. Here’s a few of our easy-to-make favorites at Backpack Alaska. First we will start with some tips and tricks, talk about our standard kitchen kit, and then get into the recipes at the end. A Note on how we view food These recipes were created or modified over the last few years working in the cool climate of Alaska. It is also based on the best practices of our trips; we go heavy and slow. Because our trips are far from civilization, rely on an airplane for access, and definitive medical care is delayed we don’t count ounces. Our trips generally have more food than we plan to eat, including a day of “bonus food” because of the real possibility we won’t be able to leave on our scheduled date and the consequences of the environment. With all that said, we do not claim to be experts but merely students that have stumbled on a few tips and tricks the hard way. So here are a few recipes that we can always get down the hatch, no matter how tired and not hungry we end up being at the end of a hard day. Extras / Pantry Items Bullion for EVERYTHING, adds flavor to dishes and is also be a great pre- dinner drink Cocoa...duh Sundried tomatoes work to spice up any meal We love to use lots of butter and oil, fats are great for dinner time. Anecdotally, these provide a lot of long burning calories to help you sleep warmer Chocolate, because everyone appreciates a sweet treat Dried fruit great snack before dinner Powdered coconut milk great dairy substitute Hot crystal light / tang, don't knock it till you try it Honey packets or nalgene storage containers Hot sauce packets or nalgene storage containers Fresh jalepenos weigh nothing but add a massive amount of flavor to meals Shakers of salt, pepper, garlic powder and, (add your favorite here) to spice things up Soups are ideal for an appetizer, they help with hydration and warm you up while you cook Miso Lipton soup packets have variety Bullion cubes with mix medley of dehydrated veggies Tips and Tricks Tortillas pack better and are scientifically proven to be impossible to smoosh (note: I have yet to find any GF versions that respond well to folding, rolling, or any movement without being heated up first, if you know otherwise PLEASE TELL US). At this juncture we find plastic bags a necessary evil on occasion and recommend using freezer bags only. They are much sturdier, so they tear less and can be used again for another purpose many times (like putting your feet in after putting dry socks on to protect them from wet boots). Chia seeds and flax seeds contain a good amount of protein and calories and can be added to nearly every meal Bullion (veggie or meat based) can and SHOULD be added to every meal to increase flavor index and make you WANT those calories you need Butter is a food group Salami for the meat eaters out there, has a high protein and fat content, keeps well, and can be cubbed and added to any dinner Smoked Salmon keeps well and contains some serious energy for your adventures Chicken as well as tuna can be found in foil packets. For the love of the outdoors save yourself the weight of carrying canned anything into the wilderness Instant pudding is light and adds some after dinner fun Dates, packed with calories and are also smoosh proof TVP - textured vegetable protein and works as a great ground meat style substitute. Can often be found in the bulk section of the grocery store Extra firm tofu or tempe contain less water than other varieties of soy products so they're a little lighter to carry Nuts are a great way to add nutritious calories to meals (ie. pine nuts for the pesto and walnuts for the curry) Butter, did we already mention that? Tomato paste is a great lightweight substitute for pizza or pasta sauce Crack a few eggs the morning you leave and they will last a day or so for a breakfast of fresh real eggs Food for thought : Backpacking trips are not the time to attempt a caffeine hiatus. Plan your coffee routine accordingly (we use real grounds to make real coffee but you do you) Staples Dehydrated Potatoes - Hungry Jack Real Potato (GF) Instant Potatoes - Idahoan Instant Potatoes (GF) Julienne Tomatoes - Nuts.com Dehydrated Mushrooms - Nuts.com (generally a great source for backpacking ingredients) LonoLife Bone Broth Thai Kitchen Instant Rice Noodle Soup (GF) Native Forest Coconut Milk Powder (V, GF) Barilla Gluten Free Pasta (this is the best widely available option for GF I’ve tried) Ancient Harvest POW GF Pasta (easier to overcook than Barilla but contains more protein) Auguston Farms for all things dehydrated (fruits, veggies, even meat if you’re adventurous). Consider getting a few fruit and veggie options to keep on hand when making your meals, they last for ages. Kitchen Equipment On our trips we use a backpacking stove and lightweight set of pots. Here’s the foundation of our company kit. Stove - MSR Dragonfly Pots - GSI Halulite Pots Dip cup - for transferring coffee, boiling water, etc from pots Personal bowls - GSI Fairshare Mug Utensils - Any old spork does the job Knife - Always carry a pocket knife that doubles as a kitchen knife Storage - Nalgene Storage containers in every available size - reusable, virtually indestructible Water bottles - Nalgene half liter bottle for my hot drinks, doubles as a crotch warmer (I’ve never understood insulated mugs/bottles in the backcountry they don’t keep your hands warm and they are heavy) Nalgene liter bottle for H2O (just to be clear, we’re not in cahoots with Nalgene, its just what hasn’t leaked caper and olive juice all over my bear barrels) Notes / Holes in our kit: Still searching for the perfect spatula (plastic ones do not work well for the perfectly browned hashbrowns BA strives for) Meal Options: quick and dirty BREAKFAST Eggs cracked and double ziplock freezer bags for first morning Leftovers (the fareshare mug keeps food overnight well) Bars for those that are antsy to hit the trail and don’t want to cook Coffee is a breakfast right? WRONG Chia pudding Crowd Favorites - bagels (or tortillas) with peanut butter Precooked bacon goes with everything Dressed up granola - add some extra seeds, dried fruit, coconut milk powder, nuts and brown sugar LUNCH Like many hikers we usually snack hard throughout the day instead of stopping for a specific lunch time. Here's some of what we munch on through the day fruit leathers bars (candy, protein, breakfast...) dried fruit nuts corn nuts single serving cheese (has a long shelf life even when not refrigerated) meat sticks (Epic bars are some of our favorites) Salami and cheese Hard candy DINNER Soup and some trail mix (check out Bear Creek Soups) Ramen (Thai Kitchen are GF) dressed up with jerky and fresh jalepenos Instant rice packets with tuna packets Mac & Cheese Couscous with dehydrated veggie mix Breakfast Pizza GF, Vegetarian, Vegan Friendly Ingredients Hashbrowns Dehydrated Refried Beans Jalepenos Dehydrated peppers Cheese (optional) Lots of oil (works better than butter for browning) Home Prep: Budget about 1cup of potatoes per person and add to its own bag. One bag of Santa Fe Refried beans will feed about 3-4 people (7.5 oz). Throw your desired toppings into their own bag and you're good to go. Field Prep: Pour the potatoes and beans into their own Fairshare mugs. Boil some water and fill the mugs with boiling water and put the top on. Potatoes and beans should be rehydrated in 10min. Heat up some oil in a pan and when hot pour in the potatoes. Let them cook with the top on for about 5min. Flip the potatoes and restrain yourself from stirring them around too much! After another 5 min add the beans to the top and the remainder of the toppings you choose. Let that cheese melt all over everything and you'll have a beautiful layered masterpiece to cut slices from for the group. This is a great meal to mix in leftovers from the night before if you have them. Pancakes GF friendly , Vegitarian, Vegan Friendly Ingredients Pancake Mix (GF available) Powdered Maple Syurp Topping Ideas Tropical variety shredded coconut sliced up dried mango Bacon Berries Bacon Bits dehydrated (or foraged) blueberries, raspberries, strawberries Peanut butter Home Prep: Budget about 1cup of mix per person and add to its own bag. Throw your desired toppings into their own bag and you're good to go. Field Prep: Keep your stove on low and be sure to add a little butter/oil between each pancake. Deep cleaning a pan in the wilderness is not anyone's idea of fun. Wait for some bubbles in the middle and flip it. Slather with toppings and enjoy! Great option for a shorter day or to wait out bad weather. Pad Thai (sort of) GF, Vegitarian, Vegan Friendly Ingredients Rice Noodles Chunky peanut butter Chopped Roasted Peanuts GF Soy Sauce or Coconut Aminos Chili Paste Shredded Coconut Fish Sauce (optional) Tofu / TVP (optional) Home Prep: Budget about 4oz of pasta per person., if you know how much you eat, even better. Put that in a bag. Next create the sauce. Take about 2tbs of peanut butter, half a tsp. of chili paste (or to taste), 1 tbs of soy sauce, and a small handful of shredded coconut, per person. Add a dash of fish sauce if you like, this stuff goes a long way. Use sparingly. Sometimes I'll add coconut milk powder to make it creamier. Field Prep: Boil pasta according to directions. (I usually just boil it and try it periodically and stop when it's to my liking). Drain the water INTO A CLEAN POT. Add sauce mixture and begin to sir. Add some of the pasta water bit by bit to evenly coat the noodles with the sauce. Throw in some tofu and chopped up roasted peanuts and you got yourself a real meal. Carbonara GF, Vegitarian Friendly Ingredients Penne Pasta Dehydrated Peas Butter/Oil 1 packet Alfredo sauce per two people (optional) Parmesan Bacon bits (optional) Dehydrated mushrooms (optional) Home Prep: Budget 4oz of pasta per person., if you know how much you eat, even better. Put that in a bag. Add about a quarter cup of peas per person to the same bag. Next, in another bag add 1/4 cup parmesan per person and bacon if you want it. I budget 1 tbs of butter per person for this recipe that I store in a Nalgene container. Field Prep: Boil pasta according to directions. (I usually just boil it and try it periodically and stop when it's to my liking). Careful to not overcook the GF pasta! Drain the water INTO A CLEAN POT. Add alfredo powder and begin to sir. Add some of the pasta water bit by bit to evenly coat the noodles with the sauce, we're not making a soup here tho. Go easy. When it is clump free add the butter. Finally add the cheese and any other toppings you desire. Eat it hot! Pesto GF, Vegetarian, Vegan Friendly Ingredients Penne Pasta Basil Flakes Pine Nuts Butter/Oil Garlic Powder Sun Dried Tomatoes Home Prep: Budget 4oz of pasta per person., if you know how much you eat, even better. Put that in a bag. Next, in another bag add 1/4 cup basil per person and all the garlic powder you can find (or a more reasonable 1 Tsp per person). I budget 2 Tbs of butter/oil per person for this recipe that I store in a Nalgene container. Pine nuts and tomatoes can live in their own bags. Field Prep: Boil pasta according to directions. (I usually just boil it and try it periodically and stop when it's to my liking). Drain the water INTO A CLEAN POT. Add basil and begin to sir. Add some of the pasta water bit by bit if necessary to evenly coat the noodles with the spices. Next, add your fat and stir again. Last, add the cheese and top with your favorites! Note: The order of adding ingredients on this one is more crucial than others. With that said I'd like to thank some former clients that graciously ate the congealed basil goo that I fed them, with nary a complaint. Curry Lentils GF, Vegetarian, Vegan Friendly Ingredients Red Lentils Instant Brown Rice Dried Cranberries Chopped Walnuts Fresh apple / onion for those of you that don't bitch about fresh food in the wilderness Butter/Oil Curry powder mix, make your own or get a ready made mix from the store, you choose. The follow recipe will work for 3-4 people. 1 Tbsp ground coriander seeds 1 ½ tsp cumin 1 tsp turmeric (great for inflammation, hello knees) ½ tsp ground black pepper ½ tsp chili powder ½ tsp ground ginger Home Prep: Budget 1/2 to 3/4 cup instant rice per person. Put that in a bag with a couple bullion cubes. Next, measure a small 3/4 cup lentils per person and dried cranberries (as many as you want to carry) to the same bag. In a seperate bag create the spice mix. You know the deal with butter/oil, store in a separate container. Field Prep: Tip; when you get to camp put lentils in water to soak so they cook faster later. Get oil/butter hot in the pan and add spice mix, careful not to burn the spices. Swirl it around till it becomes a beautiful, fragrant paste in the pot. At that point add the lentils and some water, stir. I check it periodically and add water as necessary. When lentils are at your desired softness add instant rice and more water. Of course you can cook rice in a separate pot, but why? Add all the extras your heart desires. Should take about 25 min to complete!