Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cooking without electicity - My favorite backcountry meals

camp cooking
Cooking without electricity
As I prepared for Hurricane Sandy, I realized that being an avid backpacker, I had some of the tools, skills, and experience to cook comfortably without the use of power.  I packed up my MSR Whisperlite stove, fuel bottle, extra fuel, and stocked up on a bunch of backcountry friendly foods in case I lost power for a week or more.

As it was, we were very lucky in my neck of the woods and I never had to rely on my back-country cooking.  My heart goes out to those without power, water, and major losses from this storm.  For those of you looking for delicious cooked meals that don't require regular refrigeration,  here are my favorite backcountry meals...

*Note: A backpacking stove should never be used indoors nor in a tent.  You should always cook in a well-ventilated outdoor space.  

Favorite Backcountry Meals

1.  Stir Fry - This dish proves that just because you aren't in your home kitchen, it doesn't mean you can't have a healthy and well-balanced meal.

- Stove (I use a MSR Whisperlite)
- Fry pan/Wok
- Sauce pan/pot for rice
stir fry on a whisperlite stove.
Healthy Stir Fry
- Spatula, knife, cutting board

- Tempeh (protein that's packaged and can go days without refrigeration.  Find it near tofu/vegetarian aisle.) Cut into 1 cm cubes.
- Veggies - You can use peppers, onion, garlic, canned beans, mushrooms, carrots or broccoli (fresh or frozen), etc - Cut them up!
- A seasoning sauce (Soy, Teriyaki, Stir Fry dressing)
- Boil-in-Bag brown rice (takes less time and no measuring required)
- Oil

Prep time: 20 min.  Cook time: 20 min.
- Marinate Tempeh with garlic and a little bit of sauce (Soy, Teriyaki, Stir Fry dressing)
- Brown Tempeh, sauce, and garlic in oil.
- Stir Fry veggies.  Add cooked Tempeh and more sauce and cook together.
- Boil water in sauce pan/pot (on second stove if you have it, otherwise do this after you make veg)
- Cook boil in bag rice as directions instruct
- Put rice in serving dish and stir fry over it.  Add more dressing if needed.
- Enjoy!

2.  Mac and Cheese Melody - This is a way to add flavor and nutrients to your typical mac n cheese dinner.

brocolli and onion
Add cooked broccoli and onion to your mac n cheese.
- Stove (I use a MSR Whisperlite)
- Fry pan
- Sauce pan
- Spatula, knife, cutting board

- Box of Mac n Cheese (I like either Kraft or Annies)
- Broccoli (fresh or frozen cut up),  Onion diced
- Oil
- Pepperoni Stick - cut into bite sized pieces
- Butter

Prep time: 8 min.  Cook time: 15 min.
- In fry pan, cook up broccoli and onion in a little oil. Set aside.
- Boil water in sauce pan.  Cook Mac n cheese as directed on box.  Instead of milk, leave a little extra water in noodles and add a little extra butter (if you don't have butter, you can use oil).
- Stir in cooked broccoli, onion. 
- Stir in cut- up pepperoni.
- Enjoy!

3. Pita Pizzas - These are fun and everyone can make their own. Great for kids and teens!

- Stove (I use a MSR Whisperlite)
- Fry pan with lid
- Spatula, knife, cutting board

- Pitas
- Cheese - shredded
- Can of tomato sauce
- Oil
- Toppings for pizza - pepperoni stick, veggies, olives, canned pineapple, etc

Prep time: 5 min.  Cook time: 5-10 min per pizza.
- Place pita in warm fry pan with a little bit of oil.  Flip pita after one side cooks.
- While in pan, add sauce cheese, and toppings to upright warmed side of pita.
- Turn heat to low and cover pan.  Monitor pizza so it doesn't burn.
- Remove from heat and enjoy!
*If you fold the pita you make a calazone- type pocket and this often helps the cheese to melt easier.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and use them on your camping adventures!  Please leave comments or questions below.  

backcountry cooking
Backcountry Cooking