Since my wife and I have written a number of cookbooks (one of them, The Remington Cookbook, has a section on backcountry meals), I'm keenly interested in this subject. Also, those of you who know me in person might be tempted to say my profile suggests I've done plenty of primary research on the subject.
Let me add some thoughts, beginning with a statement that trout all dressed up for a feast in cornmeal dinner jackets, and accompanied by a salad of "kilt" branch lettuce and ramps (if you don't know what "kilt" is, it refers to using hot bacon grease and bits of fried bacon as a dressing for the salad), makes might fine fixings.
I personally think the weight of fresh potatoes and onions worth the effort. Cook the potatoes until they are almost done in a microwave before leaving home, then slice and fry them and you can have crusty hash browns in a hurry.
A grand dessert, and here the weight factor is low, can be made from dried apricots, dried cherries, dried peaches, or dried apples. Put them in water to soak before heading out for a day of fishing. They will be nicely rehydrated by suppertime. Place in a frying pan, dot with butter or margarine, cover with some crumbled brown sugar, add Ritz cracker crumbs, and heat until bubbling. At that point add a few dollops of dark rum, gently stir, and serve. Guaranteed to bring tears of pure joy to a glass eye!
After the first night, which usually features a frozen steak or chop, as others suggest, I lean toward fried fish at night. Maybe one night will be a slumgullion featuring noodles in a fettucine sauce with a can of tuna or chicken added, along with dried green peas which have had all day to rehydrate.
Breakfasts are usually grits or oatmeal along with blueberry pancakes and fresh egs (as with taters, I think the eggs worth the weight and trouble, and the same is true for a pound of bacon).
Lunch is gorp, dried fruit, PBJ, summer sausage, or most anything which is high energy. Someone else mentioned Pita bread. It packs far better than sandwich bread, is not as prone to crushing, and tastes every bit as good.
I've got lots of other recipes/approaches and generally plan out a full menu before the trip.
Pretty basic for me. Oatmeal and freeze dried meals, lots of instant coffee, and some snack crackers and cookies.
Wild troutin, blue linin, fly flingin, camo wearin, redneckin elitist.
I am like Jim C. in that a little extra weight cannot diminish the taste of fresh food early and late....most of my backcountry trips are not long hikes so the little extra effort pays off...my buddy and I used to do a lot more camping than now...like Jim I love fresh eggs and bacon in the morning and fried fish at night...we would build a weir or mini spring house in the stream to keep the food cool...would cover the rock base with a large flat stone....only problem we ever had was one year a mink got into the butter and eggs and once it started to rain one evening before we could cook and stashed our trout in the "fridge"...rained all night and when we got up our food was under three feet of new water....mother nature has a way.
We tried the freeze dried stuff and it wasn't that bad. My wife is in charge of the backcountry meal planing. We usually have blueberry pancakes and pre cooked bacon in the mornings. For lunch I prefer trout but if that's not an option I'm not too picky. Dinners usually consist of some flavor of soup followed by Zatarain's Jambalaya with Tyson's chicken in a pouch or enchilada's with the chicken.
jasonkelkins at yahoo dot com
I have a 1.3 liter pot and it has a pot cozy some reflective bubble wrap I fry keilbasa sausage the night before a trip and freeze it and I carry a pack of Zatarans red beans and rice I boil the beans and ride slowly for about 8 minutes then add the sausage keep simmering for another 3-4 mins and then I set the pot in the cozy for 15 mins and it finishes cooking and it's very very yummy! I also taken a ribeye before wrapped in some foil and I pre fry it a bit at home then add some butter to keep juicy then freeze til the next morning then I usually toss it on top of my beers which the small cube of dry ice keep cold. Yes I take 4-6 can beers in a softside cooler. I also take a piece Texas toast wrapped in foil as well. Toss some canned corn in ziplock doubled up and you have a gourmet dinner.
But on the way home, its a double Whopper and fries!! Those taste so good after 3 or 4 days in the backcountry.
I usually rely on MREs as they are filled with calories. They are a bit heavy, but they are great for less than 4 day excursions. They also have toliet tissue, coffee and some other interesting items in each pack. In addition to the MRes, I will take some dried fruit and beef jerky and instant oatmeal.
Flavored instant mash potatoes
beans and rice
mac and cheese
pancakes, regular and potato
hard salami or pepperoni
pre cooked bacon
Peanut butter and honey
foil pack of tuna and chicken
dry soup mixes
bull's eyes, jelly nuggets, and a big bag of oreo cookies
If I'm lucky, a few rainbows
I really don't want to do much cooking. Most trips I take now days I only spent 2 or 3 nights out anyway.
Last edited by flyman; 01-16-2011 at 04:35 AM. Reason: genetics have been cruel to me
"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
Good stuff Steve. Those items don't weigh too much and yet they are very hardy. I guess it is all up to how much the person is willing to carry. I intend to try incorporating some of the instant mashed potatoes into my backpacking menus this year.
For me, I'm pretty lazy about carrying extra lbs, so I like to go on the lighter side. My staples usually include grits, re-fried (dehydrated) pinto beans, rice, and some sort of tortillas or bagels. The beans and rice together are really hearty and a few trout on the side will have you stuffed. If you want, you can use the leftover beans and rice to make some burritos that work great for a mid stream lunch the next day.
I always include a few special items that are worth the weight as a special treat (for me this means an avacado, maybe some bananas, and some almond or peanut butter. If its colder I might take some yogurt and plenty of real butter for my grits).
And most importantly I always take plenty of gourmet dark chocolate (dark snicker bars work pretty well too).
PS: you can take this light weight stuff as far as you want. My brother and I met a guy on the AT eating TVP and rice couscous hydrated together in cold water in a Ziploc bag! That would get old.