Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between? | High Sierra Topix  

Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Have a favorite trail recipe or technique you'd like to share? Please do! We also like reviews of various trail food products out there. The Backcountry Food Topix forum is the place to discuss all things related to food and nourishment while in the Sierra wilderness (as well as favorite trail head eateries).
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby cahiker » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:18 pm

I aim for easy/quick to fix food that I think I will enjoy. This means things like cocktails, snacks, chocolate, Packit Gourmet's banana puddin', and also packaged food I liked in my youth, but don't usually eat at home any more like mac n cheese or instant potatoes.

I used to spend more time cooking on the trail, but lately I prefer to not be locked into a complex or time consuming meal when the mosquitoes are swarming (they love me!), it's getting dark, or I have a headache because I didn't acclimate enough to the altitude. And then there was the time I was mixing a sauce and it exploded all over a rock. Do bears like soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, lime and red pepper?

I like bringing a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables on the trail, the bear canister limits them to shorter trips or the first day on long trips.

I'm thinking of getting a dehydrator and experimenting with some of my favorite meals at home, but I guess that will only get to the level of "in between", not gourmet.



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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:00 pm

Sustanance with variety. I also like hot drinks. My food is simple, from grocery store dry food, but I hate eating the same thing day after day. So breakfasts are one-pot cooked cereal - oatmeal, Malt-o-Meal, rolled barley, grits, or any other odd grain found in the Whole Food bins. Coffee is a must. Lunch is munch - nuts and raisins, cheese stick, jerkey, hummus on crackers. Dinner is again a one-pot meal, but different each night -potatoes, beans and rice, noodles of all shapes and sizes, fd. vegs, garnished with cheese. Always a treat - a couple pieces of coffee hard candy. Tea or cocoa. I also take a big spice kit and flavor everything different every night. The reason I do not like FD package meals, is that they all taste the same to me. I also take real cheese and real margarine or butter or olive oil. Lots of nuts - all kinds - walnuts, cashews, almonds, hazlenuts - thank goodness for Trader Joes! Lots of dried friut- apples, cranaisns, pears, peaches, apricots, mango. I do spend the money to get fd tomatoes, pineapple, strawberries and mixed fruit to mix with my cereal. I like to really cook stuff - not too long,about 2-5 min, not just pour hot water over dry food. I take 1.5 pounds dry per day - cut to 1.2 pounds per day if I fish.
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby Shawn » Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:29 pm

Pure sustenance for me.....
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby bheiser1 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:30 pm

If I'm car camping, I'll often splurge and make some really tasty meals. But I've yet to actually 'cook' while backpacking. It's all about boiled water, freeze dried this, and "add water" to that :).

Partly it's about the weight of "real" food. Partly it's that the "good stuff" (like a nice steak :D ) needs refrigeration, or close proximity to a store. Partly it's because I'm even more sensitive when backpacking, than I am when car camping, to anything that might be a bear attractant...

So I guess for me it's "sustenance"...
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby rlown » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:56 pm

bheiser1 wrote:If I'm car camping, I'll often splurge and make some really tasty meals. But I've yet to actually 'cook' while backpacking. It's all about boiled water, freeze dried this, and "add water" to that :).

Partly it's about the weight of "real" food. Partly it's that the "good stuff" (like a nice steak :D ) needs refrigeration, or close proximity to a store. Partly it's because I'm even more sensitive when backpacking, than I am when car camping, to anything that might be a bear attractant...

So I guess for me it's "sustenance"...


Wow. Even backpacking.. esp if you're going to use it the first day, never be afraid of going Gourmet. Bears aren't that much of an issue if you're not where masses of humans stay.
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby rayfound » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:57 am

Sustinence. I'm sticking with the JetBoil and cook in bag meals because its the least possible hassle. The pot is wiped dry and put away long before I ever start eating.

I love to cook at home, but backpacking, for me, is about the simplicity and relaxation of the wilderness. Plus, I want to fish until sunset and not have to worry about cooking in the dark.
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby markskor » Wed Aug 11, 2010 5:57 pm

"I want to fish until sunset and not have to worry about cooking in the dark."

For me it all depends on the day and how far traveled. Agree that after a long trail-mile day, who wants to cook...thus perhaps a freeze dried amalgamation (any packaged pouch) will then suffice. However, it is getting to the point that I cannot swallow many of the Mountain House type meals. I would rather quick sauté some onions and garlic, maybe add some real meat (real chicken or tuna in a pouch), some spices, and throw it all over pasta or rice. It does take a few minutes but...It is not that hard to actually cook up something edible.
BTW, I try hit a selected camp (read lake holding trout) by 4:00, cook my main meal around 5:00, clean up, and then fish (usually/mostly C&R) until dark.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby cvr » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:42 pm

In between I guess.

For me, breakfasts (except good coffee) and lunches are no-cook. I find it makes packing up and getting moving in the AMs much quicker and I don't usually want to deal with a stove during lunch. Breakfast is a Cliff Bar and some dried fruit. The fruit is heavier than other options, but it seems more "real"/not processed and has other gastrointestinal benefits. :) Lunch is any combination of tuna/chicken packets with tortillas, granola bars, jerky, fruit roll-ups, almonds, etc.

I agree with Markskor that the distance travelled has a lot to do with how much effort I am willing to put into dinner. On a hard day, a simple freeze dried meal is just fine...after some chili paste, fresh cracked pepper, fresh herbs, spices, sesame seeds, pine nuts or whatever may be appropriate is added. I always bring olive oil, fresh garlic and herbs, dried onion and various spices. They weigh next to nothing and can make a freeze dried meal tolerable. On an easy day, it is kind of fun to whip something up. Maybe some paella-esque dish or some meat packet over noodles/rice, again with the fresh herbs and garlic. The only fresh vegatables I have ever packed are red bell pepper and serranos. Both are relatively light and pack very well.

As many on this site will agree, eating trout for dinner is often desired. The same olive oil, herbs and spices again come in handy, along with some lemon juice packets from Coffee Bean or the like. A really delicious and easy (and light weight) side dish can be made by sauteeing up some almond slivers in butter (preferably) or oil and then adding them to some already rehydrated Mountain House green beans along with some salt. Fresh, pan-sauteed, herb trout with green beans almondine at 11K' will make anyone feel gourmet. Its a high-reward to limited effort meal. It's not neccessary, but on trips with my wife, I bring along a little Chardonnay accompaniment. Again, high-reward to limited effort! :wink:
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby rayfound » Thu Aug 12, 2010 3:59 pm

cvr wrote:On a hard day, a simple freeze dried meal is just fine...after some chili paste, fresh cracked pepper, fresh herbs, spices, sesame seeds, pine nuts or whatever may be appropriate is added.



I pretty much add chipotle powder to all of them. I plan on bringing some pine nuts next trip too.
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby TehipiteTom » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:56 pm

The solo vs. group split dave54 mentions is a key factor for me as well. I've done much more interesting meals when I was leading groups than I do when I'm solo.

That said, I always enjoy the challenge of developing backcountry meals that are a) reasonably lightweight, b) easy to fix, and c) really tasty. On my northern Yosemite trip last week I had my Puttanesca Pesto for dinner every night, and it was great. On group trips, I've made very creditable backcountry versions of Chicken Mole and Tom Kha Gai, among other exotic dishes.
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby randy77 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 7:56 pm

I'm new to the forum, but here's my 2 cents: soup makes a good breakfast. Never at home, but for some reason it tastes great early in the AM before the sun warms me up. A packet of TJ's Miso with a 1/2 cup of roasted brown rice (Japanese markets carry this) thrown on it, a mug of hot tea w/honey, and I'm good for a while. Raw almonds, TJ's flattened bananas, and maybe a Stinger PB protein bar for lunch. More tea w/honey. On a hard climb day I like a "recovery" shake made of two scoops Carbo-Pro, 2 scoops Designer Whey protein, and a teaspoon of L-Glutamine. It all gets shaken with cold water in a wide mouth Nalgene. It seems to help.

I OD'ed on freeze-dried entres some time back. I can't even smell a Chili Mac ProPak without gaging now. Jerky doesn't taste so good to me anymore, either. Back in the '70's, they used to make a meat protein bar we'd crumble into mac and cheese. Can't find those anymore.

Honestly, I could do with just the Miso and roasted brown rice for dinner, too. Knorr soups make a lot and I guess they'd be fine.
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Re: Sustenance, Gourmet, or In Between?

Postby Oubliet » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:55 am

I like to be able to enjoy my meals, especially in the evening after a day of hiking with a pack.

So, I usually cook something. It might be simple, but it's something that I'll definitely enjoy savoring.
If I bring the ingredients dried and/or powdered, it keeps the weight light.

Meals that I've prepared have included Thai curries, thick vegetable soups (a la minestrone), and soy sesame sauce based dishes. I will include a protein (egg, dried meat of some kind) some vegetables and a starch(couscous, noodles, boil-in-bag rice, or quinoa)

Asian supermarkets like Ranch 99 are great places for ingredients like powdered coconut milk, chili curry paste,and the like.

(I've found that I can successfully make these dishes over a simple alcohol burner stove, too!)
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