The Joy of Cooking

11 Jun

Well, I am at T-minus-19 days until departure, and things are starting to get busy here. I’ve been busy shopping for lots of goodies, like hiking boots and anti-bacterial-underwear (that apparently does not need to be washed as frequently as regular underwear…we shall see about this though…).

More than shopping though, I have been preparing lots and lots of food. Many people have been asking me what I’m going to eat along the way. Although I usually reply “nuts, berries, and the odd bear or two,” this would be a lie. Food on the trail is kind of a tricky deal. Turns out I’ll be eating about twice as many calories as usual, but I am also trying to carry the least amount of weight as Low-weigh/high-caloric hiking foodpossible. So, a diet of Splenda and/or cans of beans are out of the question. Instead, I’ll be eating a backpacker’s diet, which consists of lots of high-calorie snacks and dehydrated foods.

A typical breakfast will be instant oatmeal, a handful of trail mix, fruit leather, granola, and lots of water. Lunch is pretty much more of the same, but minus the oatmeal and plus beef jerky and Hudson Bay Bread, a psuedo-granola bar whose main ingredient is butter. The DehydratorDinner is typically a dehydrated stew of some sort, like Caravan Stew, Beef Stew, or Jambalaya.

The neat thing is that I am actually making most of this food myself using my dehydrating machine (see left). For instance, to make beef jerkey, I marinate strips of steak overnight, and then toss them in the dehydrator. The machine blows hot air over the beef for 12 hours, and voilà, I have jerky. The dinners are a bit more complicated because they take so many more ingredients and preparations. Today I have been working on caravan stew, which has required me to cook and then dehydrate lentils, ground beef, and tomato sauce.

I only have about six or seven recipes for dinner meals, and their are only so many variations on beef jerky, so I can already tell I am going to be sick of the same ten foods by about two seconds after I get on the trail. Well, maybe not quite that soon. The recipes I am using are actually quite good and were passed down to me from my brother, my dad, and also my former Scoutmaster and backpacking-guru Robert Squyres. Mr. Squyres has taught me pretty much everything I know about how to survive in the woods. Even though he has got to be at least 70 years old (his actual age is hard to tell—many of us think he is timeless, like a tree), Cooking lentels and beef he still does annual week-long backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon and the Rockies, not to mention his winter snowshoeing/Igloo-building expeditions into the Utah backcountry. He’s really a remarkable man.

Anyways, once it’s all made, I’ll box it up into ten-day increments and have my parents mail them to me along the way. The trail passes through (or gets reasonably close to) a lot of small towns, so when I start running low on food I’ll call home and tell them to send Box #7 to Chester, Massachusetts. Then I’ll walk into the Post Office, and hopefully find a box of delicious lightweight-high-calorie food waiting for me. If the box doesn’t arrive on time, then I’ll just have to revert to my original plan: nuts, berries, and the occasional bear.

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One Response to “The Joy of Cooking”

  1. Monike June 11, 2009 at 11:22 pm #

    you…are so cool. i want to send you letters. i want to do something!

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