Tortellini

Tortellini Ready to Go

Tortellini Ready to Go

One of my favorite dinners on the trail is also one of the easiest. Tortellini can be served in a variety of ways, so even if you have it twice in a five day trip, it won’t be boring. It is relatively light, though might be considered a bit bulky by some. What I consider the best way to be served is to boil the tortellini for about five minutes and set aside. While it is boiling, mix a packet made at home of basil, garlic powder, parsley and a little oregano with olive oil to make a pesto in your bowl. Drain the tortellini and mix into the pesto. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Perfection! If you only have the one pot, just add the oil, seasonings and cheese. Really, there is no way I have tried that didn’t taste amazing.

Tortellini One Pot Style

Tortellini One Pot Style

To answer some questions you may be asking yourself, yes, this can be done by rehydrating the tortellini in a freezer bag. However, the best results I’ve received across the board, no matter which brand of pasta I use is to boil in the pot and setting aside.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

If you like a red sauce, you can fix this by cooking the pasta and then, after it has cooked completely thru, pour the hot water into a Ziploc freezer bag where you have dehydrated pasta sauce leather. Using a cozy is best for this, so you aren’t scalding your hands and it keeps the water hot longer. Kneed until the sauce is reconstituted and add the tortellini. This minimizes the clean up as the sauce never touches the pot.

Another wonderful thing about this meal is you can easily put it together, using whatever cheese you prefer, adding seasonings commonly are already in the kitchen, and if you have a small bottle, you can even take your own oil. Not a bunch of specialty items here.  However, if you like the individual oil and parmesan packets, you can purchase them at http://www.minimus.biz/.

Carbon River

Carbon River

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Pocket Shots Review

Vodka Pocket Shot

Vodka Pocket Shot

 

Recently my friend Carol and I were in the small township of Darrington, Washington dropping off our husbands at the Suiattle trailhead so they could jump back on the PCT. It may be generous calling it a town, but it is the closest thing to it and it does have an IGS grocery store. Hoosierdaddy, Carol’s husband, got all excited because he had spotted these single serve pouches of alcohol called Pocket Shots.  The store carried Tequila, Whiskey, and Vodka and was selling them at $1.99 a piece.  I could see why he was excited and quickly followed him back in the store to go check it out. Here was my answer to what I was going to take on my road trip with my daughter to Yellowstone.  I’m sure that wasn’t foremost in Hoosierdaddy’s thoughts as he scooped up several of the tequila and whiskey pouches for his backpacking trip, but I went straight for the triple distilled vodka.

The data I found on these is located on their website http://pocketshot.com/about-us.php , which is obviously marketed towards a young, male demographic, not that I blame them. There isn’t a whole lot of liquor companies marketing towards a sports oriented female crowd, but we are here.  Once I waded thru the half naked, young (I’m sure they are intelligent and quite nice) ladies to find my information, it turns out they are based out of San Jose, California and that these have been around since 2000. Where have I been? Apparently not in Darrington, which is the only place in Washington State I have found these.  The Pocket Shots come in several types, Whiskey, Tequila, Rum, Spiced Rum, Gin, Brandy and Vodka. This makes it easy to create several different types of drinks on the trail without having to carry the extra weight of a flask for each.

So, what did I do with my Pocket Shot of Vodka? I went for flavor and weight, even though weight wasn’t an issue car camping.  I wanted to see if these had a future in my backpacking and that meant testing appropriately.

Pocket Shot Gimlet

Pocket Shot Gimlet

 

Two packets of sugar, a packet of liquid lemon juice and one Pocket Shot of vodka created a gimlet of sorts.  It took a little stirring to get the sugar to dissolve, but the bottom line? I liked it and would definitely carry it, if we had some here I could buy at our local store.  I can see grabbing a few to keep on hand to take out on an overnight or to be able to add variety.  Normally I carry a collapsible flask of whiskey, if I feel the need, but being able to add a gimlet at the end of a particularly hot, grueling day in the woods would be oh, so nice.

 

Old Faithful

Old Faithful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canning Pineapple

Pineapple Cut and Ready

Pineapple Cut and Ready

Did you know that you can sometimes find pineapple for a dollar a piece? I found this out last year when we were living closer to the big stores and Fred Meyer was having a sale. At the time, 20 pineapples didn’t seem like too much. I did learn that sometimes they don’t ripen; they rot instead and I lost a few to that. Canning ensued and I was pleased with the results. I have never cared for the taste of store bought cans of pineapple, but $3.99 or more is out of my “sensible” price range, so I would fall back on the bland stuff and save the sweet, fresh, flavorful stuff for potlucks or holidays.

Chutney Happily Cooking Away

Chutney Happily Cooking Away

This year, we are back to being further afield from the normal run of big stores to chose from, but Albertsons did have a $1.00 a pineapple sale for about two minutes and I snagged a rain check. Yes, I had her write it for 10 pineapples. When I cashed it in, they were going for $3.99. Never in my life could I imagine canning it at that cost! I had planned my weekend, made sure I had my ingredients, drove home and promptly made chutney.  It cans up nicely in the tiny jars for a single serving for two.

Jars of Chutney Happiness

Jars of Chutney Happiness

I figured there would be some attrition as some pineapples don’t survive long enough to make it to the jars. As it stood, 2 went to chutney, 2 went to the bellies, and 6 got canned.  We came out ahead with 10 pints of pineapple that will taste amazing, and 2 half pints plus 5 of the tiny jars of chutney.  $10.00 isn’t bad for the happiness this will bring in the dead of winter!

Sand Point

Sand Point

 

 

 

 

The Backpacker’s Pantry: The Ingredients, Part 1

Packaging Sausage Crumbles

Packaging Sausage Crumbles

I eat fairly healthy, but admit to having foods along on my trips that I don’t normally eat at home. Some of these foods I am trying to modify into healthier, less processed versions of their former selves and you will see the process here as that is half of what this blog is about; experiments. The “what” of my pantry is a mix of bulk and store bought items. They must be fuel efficient, light, and tasty. I pack for the trip, so what is fuel efficient and light enough for an overnight may not be for a longer trip. The pantry allows for those adjustments. Here we go…

Getting to the Meat of it:

Freeze Dried Chicken

Freeze Dried Chicken

Provident Pantry cooked freeze dried chicken:  It comes in a 1lb 6oz #10 can and will last 20 years if you don’t open it.  I usually go thru one and a half cans per season, using about ¼ cup per person in my meals. That would equal 45 meals in one can for one person, but it is just an estimate. Some meals I add more and rarely do I go less. Actual serving recommendations are ¾ cup, but I only use that amount for a couple of recipes that are mainly chicken and not much else.  Chicken does go in the bulk of our meals, so I go thru a lot of it. It is an easy source of protein and in its basic form, bland as can be, which makes it perfect to add to anything. It rehydrates with hot or cold water, but you want to be careful adding it to other foods that hydrate quickly, like mashed potatoes or stuffing.  It’s best to add the other items after it’s had a few moments hydrating alone in the freezer bag otherwise you could end up with crunchy chicken and not in a good way.

One Breakfast Ready

One Breakfast Ready

Provident Pantry cooked freeze dried pork sausage crumbles: This comes in a 2.40lb #10 can, and like the chicken, is meant to last a long time if left unopened. We use the recommended ½ cup in each serving for every recipe and even though I can’t eat most meats with high fat content, I seem to be able to endure small quantities of this. We use the same amount whether it’s the whole family, just the two of us, or just Richard by himself.  You are getting 30g of fat in each serving and 310 calories and that makes it a great way to fuel up for a day of activity. Like the chicken, it’s better to let it hydrate a little first before adding other ingredients, though the fat in it leaves it
softer than the chicken and under hydrating it just leaves it chewy rather than crunchy. Because of the fat, you don’t want to leave an opened can sitting around. We vacuum pack the individual servings and they can be stored in the freezer to keep even longer.

Tuna Wrap

Tuna Wrap

Starkist Chunk Light Tuna: Sold at your favorite grocery store in 2.6oz foil pouches, getting these on sale is a great way to stock your pantry without having to do anything special.  Low fat and high in protein at 18g per packet, they are perfect for easy, cold lunches.  The down side is you are left with the fishy foil packet afterwards, which is why I don’t take these on longer backpacks, but they are awesome on an overnight and for the purpose of being able to grab food in a jiffy, they are ideal.

Spicy Beef

Spicy Beef

Libby’s spicy seasoned beef crumbles : This is a recent find, but I can see it easily being a regular in our pantry.  I can’t eat this at all, but it’s not always about me and my tummy. Richard finds it yummy, and, like the tuna, it is easy to find on the grocery shelves.  See my review for further information on this product.

On the Subject of Jerky…

We don’t keep jerky around the house regularly.  This is something Richard takes on his longer hikes when he goes without me, but it is hard to hide jerky and it would get eaten down to the last crumb if I found it, stomach issues or not.  I’m not proud, I admit my failings and jerky is one of them. So, while he uses it backpacking, it’s not kept in the pantry and hence, not addressed here.

Where to buy Provident Pantry products: www.BePrepared.com

High Divide

High Divide

The Backpacker’s Pantry: Why Have One

Some Basic Pantry Items

Some Basic Pantry Items

Back in the day, when I was a young sprout, before I went out on any backpacking trip, I would head to the store. And then go back to the store. And then stop at the store on the way to the trail.  I got wiser, and while I still will stop at the store on the way out, most often it is to just grab another cup of coffee and maybe a loaf of something sweet if the drive is long.  It is a choice to stop there, rather than a need. I keep a pantry now, mind you it is rather small, for my backpacking needs.  I will be referencing my pantry often in my blog and in recipes, so I will be giving you an outline as to what is in it, how it is set up, and some ideas on how to set up or augment your own.  First, I will give you the “why” I even have a separate pantry just for backpacking.

Of course, there is the ease of having everything at your fingertips and not having to go look for certain items amongst the rest of your daily food offerings. I am also rather frugal and by storing items together, I can keep it mind what I need for the next trip and purchase it on sale. When I am headed out, my meals are not dependent on whether I have the money that paycheck to go buy food not in my monthly budget because it’s already added into the budget.

There are items I like to have on hand that take time to arrive, like my freeze dried chicken and certain condiments.  There has been many a time when I decided the night before to go on an overnight and I needed to work with what was in the pantry. I can throw together good meals and concentrate more on gear and trail selection and less on hunting down something to eat.

Lastly, I go out a lot. Not always, but at times, I will head out every weekend until I get tired of coming home to a chore list piling up. This last spring it took about 7 weekends including a trip of six days before I stayed home on a weekend. That’s a ton of meals, a bunch of planning, and with a career and a life outside of backpacking, not a lot time to do meal prep in. The pantry is my system. It saves me money, time, and sanity.  The first two I am always looking to save more of. The last is just nicer to have.

Hoh River Trail

Hoh River Trail

Canning Corn

 

Messy work
Let me tell you, my canning isn’t always planned. If I just bought boxes of fruit and veggies at the local produce stand, maybe I could plan it better, but I don’t often do it that way. I usually can around what I find at the best price of free or darn close. Take my find last weekend of $2.00 boxes of corn. Listed as seconds, it was still in good shape, but needed some culling. Buying 2 boxes for $4.00 is in my price range and capabilities of sourcing. Yes, it took a whole day to process, with an early afternoon break to run to town and drop off some urgent mail, but this was so worthwhile. We had fresh corn on the cob for breakfast, I now have 20 pints of corn for the winter, 6 half pints of corn relish, and we had another meal with fresh corn on the cob. Not counting the fresh corn, that came to $0.17 a pint and oh, the taste! This stuff is local, from Sunny Farms own fields, and will be gracing our tables for the high holiday season.
Corn Cobs

So, if your local grocery or produce stand has a spot that they will set out seconds, be sure to check it frequently. Be picky and make sure it will be cost effective. It doesn’t do you any good if the cost per pint ends up being the same as firsts since you would be getting the same output but also using up your precious time. Feel free to haggle. If they have a lot of something that is worthwhile, see if they will take even more off if you take all of it. It never, ever hurts to ask!

Finished Corn