Hi jezzme. This is a favorite subject of mine. Though I use plenty of freeze-dried choke-it-down-with-purified-water-if-you-can pre-packaged backpacking food, I always supplement with my own treats. I like to take single servings of mezze; like hummus and muhammara with pita and grape leaves, or go european with slices of hearty bread, brie, dried figs or other fruit.
Though I worry about the stinky cheese when I'm in bear countr, I've never had an incident. Just keep the ground clean and be sure you adhere to the triangle rule - eat, sleep and hang your food 200 ft apart.
And don't forget the Tazo tea, Passion's great for summer and Refresh goes anytime.
I recently discovered very thin spaghetti, which take only 3 minutes to cook, which is nice. So when I don't feel like cooking too much I mostly make spaghetti aglio e olio (olive oil, garlic and chile pepper, and some fresh parsley as well as parmesan cheese or pecorio).
Another favorite is some kind of tomato salad (tomatoes and mozzarella diced finely, basil leaves, some garlic, capers, sometimes olives, salt and pepper). just let it sit for a while and then toss with the hot pasta (this is tasty hot, warm and cold).
Rice is useful as well because you can bring it to the boil with the lid on and then even place the pot in between some blankets to keep the heat until done to reduce the actual cooking time ( the bottom of the pot might be sooty and I think I wouldn't do this in case of bears strolling around). This is tasty e.g. combined with curry powder, veggies and a little cream. Just cook the veggies first (with water, spices and cream), then increase the water level, depending on how much rice you'd like to cook, adjust the seasoning, scatter in the rice, bring to the boil and then leave at lower heat until done.
1. I pack some basic ingredients which keep well (s&p, olive oil, intense and versatile dried herbs/spices like thyme and curry powder (useful to jazz up bland canned food for days I absolutely don't feel like cooking), a lemon, a chunk of parmesan cheese, chili powder, rice, stock cubes, a small jar of pesto ...)
2. add some fresh stuff which has to be used up soon (fresh basil, mozzarella cheese, créme fraîche, ...).
These ingredients I combine with
3. whatever local products I run across on the journey and which don't need a long cooking time (fresh or smoked fish, local vegetables, ...).
I simply love this little whiff of coincidence and experimentalizing in 3., because it leads to quite memorable dishes and, of course, some anecdotes Of course this not that suitable for wilderness.
I just got back from a canoe-camping trip in Algonquin Park, and here is what we ate:
-guacamole (on the first night so that Mr Avocado wouldn't get too squished)
-fresh corn wrapped in tin foil and pretty much just throw into the campfire since we didn't bring a heat source of any kind.
-couscous (fantastic, all you need to do is bring the water to a boil, pour it onto the couscous and wait 5min!) mixed with chopped sundried tomatoes, green onion and a can of tuna.
-Yummy bread and spreads are always a good idea for lunch and snacking.
-I also made some granola for breakfast and easy paddling snack food.
-Another tasy breakfast: oatmeal with chunks of banana and peanut butter.
What about camping staples such as hot dogs (or tofu dogs) and sausages? Those can be cooked over an open fire. If you have a camping grill (or even a camp stove on a frying pan) you can make hamburgers (veggie burgers), chicken, anything you want. Because we usually go for a week or so and I don't want to eat pb&j every day, I premake a lot of food. For example, you can fry up some breaded eggplant (like you would do for eggplant parm) and the slices keep really well. Serve those in rolls with some pasta sauce and cheese and you have an amazing eggplant parm sub roll in the woods! Pre-make potato salads. Bring cans of tuna. But most importantly, don't forget tin foil, apples, sugar, and cinamon. Carve out the core, fill with sugar and cinamon, wrap in tinfoil, and put at bottom of fire pit before building your fire. Hot apples for dessert - yum!
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