Archive for the 'Let’s Eat! It’s Alimentary, My Dear' Category

Feb 20 2014

Frozen Vegetables as Camping Fare

Frozen Assets

After three days on a little river that was forever winding its way between steep, wooded hills, my friend Roxy and I were rewarded by a broad vista of open water just ahead. But our rapture was somewhat modified when we saw the whitecaps on the lake. We’d been out of the Old Woman‘s reach when we were on the river, but now we’d have no protection from her wrath. And sure enough, for the next few hours we paddled for all we were worth, pausing only to bail whenever the water sloshing around in the bilge of our canoe threatened to roll us over.

Happily, our luck held, and at long last we found shelter on a public beach in the lee of a sandy spit. Another hour would bring us to the campsite where my Jeep was parked, but we were both too exhausted to continue. We needed a break before we’d be ready to push on. And we needed something for dinner. Our pantry was nearly bare. We still had one can of beef stew, but we were tired of mushy tinned stuff. We wanted something we could get our teeth into. We wanted vegetables — firm, fresh‑tasting vegetables. So while Roxy stayed behind to keep an eye on our boat and gear, I laced up my boots and hiked into the nearby hamlet, hoping to find a store.

Luck still hadn’t deserted us. There was a general store in the little town, and it sold more than the usual tourist fodder of hot dogs, beer, and Cheetos, though there wasn’t much in the way of fresh vegetables. I did find a head of iceberg lettuce and an onion, however. And when I saw the freezer, with its treasure trove of frozen peas, mixed vegetables, and french fries, I didn’t hesitate. I grabbed a waxed carton of peas — bagged vegetables were still a rarity outside big‑city supermarkets in those days — and headed for the cash register, stopping just long enough to pluck a half‑dozen eggs from an adjacent cooler.

By the time I’d retraced my steps to our landing place on the beach, Roxy was rested and ready to go. And wonder of wonders, the Old Woman had moved on. The whitecaps had subsided into ripples. So there wasn’t a minute to be lost. Into the boat we went, and in less than an hour my Jeep came into view. Now it was time to make supper. I sautéed chopped onion in a skillet with melted butter, then added the by now partially thawed peas, and when these were hot, I scrambled two eggs in the same pan. (I saved the four remaining eggs for breakfast.) We ate right out of the skillet, wrapping our egg‑and‑pea “omelets” in leaves torn from the head of iceberg lettuce. With hunger as our sauce, it was the most successful meal of the trip.

I learned a lesson that day, too: frozen vegetables do have a place in Trekkers’ menus… Read more…

Send a Comment

Jan 23 2014

Homemade Instant Oatmeal

Breaking My Fast

I like to get an early start on the day, but it’s still hard to forsake a warm bed and brave the chill morning air. Coffee is my principal weapon in this never‑ending struggle against indolence. Which is why I welcomed the arrival of the camping cafetière. Now my riverbank java is every bit as good as the joe I drink at home. And I look forward to it just as much.

I can’t say the same thing about breakfast. I eat it, to be sure. No trekker can go far without fuel for her engine. But eating breakfast is a duty, not a pleasure. This isn’t a new thing, either. My indifference to breakfast fare was a constant thorn in my mother‘s side. Feeding a houseful of kids on a tight budget was difficult enough without the added burden of having to coax a reluctant eater to clean her plate.

It’s still a chore, and Farwell has now taken on the job of goading me to start my day right. (Farwell thinks breakfast is the best meal of the day, and he makes the most of it, eating his way through multiple courses. Left to his own devices, he’d eat breakfast morning, noon, and night.) Notwithstanding Farwell’s valiant efforts, however, coffee is the anodyne that makes breakfast bearable. That and oatmeal. It isn’t that I’m especially fond of oatmeal. I’m not. But oatmeal is easy to prepare. And it sticks with me. I’ve even learned to like the flavor, though I can’t bring spoon to mouth without thinking of Samuel (“Dictionary”) Johnson’s famous definition:

Oats. … A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.

Well, I’m fond of horses — Gulliver’s sojourn among the Houyhnhnms is the best part of Swift’s classic, I think — and I admire the Scots, so Johnson’s would‑be putdown constitutes no less than a ringing endorsement in my eyes. In short, oatmeal is my breakfast of choice. But there’s still the time‑and‑trouble aspect. It’s only easy to prepare if you use instant oatmeal. And while I think that the stuff is palatable — just — Farwell does not. He also finds the standard serving size too small. For a while he ate two packets, but this left him with less appetite for the remaining 99 courses of his usual breakfast, and that worried him.

The bottom line? Extrapolating from an admittedly limited sample, I’ve concluded that not every paddler will warm to instant oatmeal, and some (many?) will find portion sizes either too small or too big. Is there a solution to this problem? You bet there is. So let’s go in search of bulk instant oatmeal… Read more…

Send a Comment

Jan 02 2014

More Food for Thought

Truth to tell, we find it hard to think of January 1 as the start of a new year. Our new year really begins when winter’s icy grip on our home waters shows signs of loosening, which makes Lady Day — the New Year of the old Julian calendar, this ancient feast falls on March 25 — much closer to the mark.

Of course, things are different for our southern hemisphere readers. While paddlers in the northern latitudes confront a landscape whose familiar features are hidden under an icy mantle, and we often find ourselves switching on our desk lamps in mid‑afternoon, paddlers who live far to the south of the equator are reveling in long days and midsummer heat. Yet to all things, and all paddlers, there is a season. The wheel of the year keeps turning. Come Lady Day or thereabouts, we’ll hear the thrum of surging water under rotting ice, and we’ll know that winter’s lease will soon have run its course.

In the meantime, we northerners do the best we can to keep our spirits up, helped along in no small measure by the holidays that cluster around the midwinter solstice. This is no accident. If the roads, trails, rivers and ponds are frozen over, and the sun has forsaken the land, you might as well stay indoors and party. So, like countless generations before us, we hang mistletoe, light Yule logs, and decorate our homes with glittering baubles. And we eat. Which is why this latest edition of “Our Readers Write” is given over entirely to food, a favorite subject of trekkers in every season. That’s no surprise. On the bike or in the boat or not, our engines need regular refueling, and food is our fuel.

On a more pragmatic note, winteris a good time to make menu plans for summer trips to come. This includes trying out new dishes to see if they’re both appetizing and easy to prepare. It’s a thankless job, to be sure, but someone has to do it. Cyclists and paddlers have always shown themselves more than equal to the challenge. Who’s to say we shouldn’t also take advantage of others’ efforts, however? That being the case, why not pour yourself a glass of eggnog or grab a mug of cocoa and spend a few minutes finding out what your fellow (and sister) trekkers have been up to in their own kitchens?

Today’s subject is food. And we promise that you won’t go hungry.… Read more…

Have a Cup

Send a Comment

« Newer Articles - Older Articles »