Fare Well

camp pad thai, backcountry cooking

Making backcountry meals more flavorful.

We’ve all experienced it: the end of a long day out on the trail met with dried potatoes or instant ramen, leaving you unsatisfied and undernourished for the next day’s efforts. But it’s hard to imagine an alternative when you’re too pooped to prepare anything but instant meals. Well I’m happy to report that there is another way. With some planning and prep, you can eat like royalty up in the mountains, with minimal effort, and end each day satiated.

The first meal of the day provides energy for that long hike ahead, be it up a mountain or over a pass. On longer days, keep it quick with oatmeal, but don’t be afraid to get creative with ingredients—you’ll get higher nutritional value and more flavor. On shorter outings or layover days, try out a meal with a little more variety. Mixing it up in the backcountry is always a treat.

Hangdog Oatmeal (2-3 servings)
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup dried bananas
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Boil 4 cups of water. Turn off heat and stir in ingredients.

Cheesy Bacospuds Breakfast (3 servings)
2 1/4 cups instant potatoes
1/2 cup instant dry milk
1 packet butter buds
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried onions
salt & pepper
3/4 cup crumbled bacon bits
1 package dried cheese (mac-and-cheese flavoring works well)

Put all the ingredients into a quart-sized Ziploc. Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil and add to bag. Stir well.

Blueberry Hazelnut Rice-Flour Pancakes (3 servings)
1 1/4 cup rice flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/4 cup dried blueberries
2 Tbsp. oil

Heat oil in a frying pan. Mix all other ingredients together and pour 1/4 cup batter into pan for each pancake. Cook until browned to your liking on each side.

Big days on the trail lead to big appetites, and mustering up the energy to cook is the last thing you’ll want to do at the end of a long trek. But a little extra time before your trip goes a long way. You’ll have tasty meals ready to go without much extra effort. Give these recipes a whirl.

Pad Thai (2 servings)
6 oz. rice noodles
1/2 cup freeze-dried eggs
2 Tbsp. cilantro
4 packets soy sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 True Lime packets
2 green onions, chopped (substitute freeze-dried to go light)
2 Tbsp. roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp. oil
spice bag (freezer Ziploc): all spices (including onion and green onion if dried), freeze-dried egg
Toppings: peanuts, soy sauce

Boil water and add noodles to cook. Add water to spice bag, seal, and place in boiling water to cook. Once noodles are done, drain and stir in contents of spice bag topping with peanuts and soy sauce.

Red Lentil Soup over Quinoa (4 servings)
In a Ziploc bag, combine:
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt & pepper
pinch of chili powder
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup of red lentils
1 1/2 Tbsp. True Lemon packets
dried onion soup mix

Keep separate:
1 red pepper
2 garlic cloves
cilantro (to taste)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste (or leftover spaghetti sauce)
1 grated carrot
3 Tbsp. olive oil
6 cups water

Heat olive oil in pan. Chop red pepper and garlic, and sauté in hot oil until aromatic. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft. If you are using only dried ingredients, combine everything with the water and simmer until done.

Trail Cole Slaw (3 servings)
1 cabbage head (wrap in moistened paper towel and put in plastic bag, allowing air to get in to keep for up to a week)
2 mayo packets
2 mustard packets
2 Tbsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. dill
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
3/4 cup chopped nuts (cashews, peanuts, or slivered almonds)

Chop cabbage head into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients, stir together, and enjoy.

The cherry on top. Unnecessary? Certainly. Worth it? Always. There are many ways to get creative and have fun with desserts. Here are a few to add to the list.

Rocky Road Pudding (4 servings)
1 box instant chocolate pudding, 3 oz.
2/3 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup mini marshmallows

Add 2 cups water to pudding mix and stir. Top with fixings.

No-Bake Oreo Cheesecake (6 servings)
20 Oreos
2 Tbsp. oil
1 packet no-bake cheesecake mix*
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup powdered milk

Crumble Oreos and oil together in a bag. Put mixture in a pot, reserving a few crumbs for the top. Add cheesecake mix and water, then knead in a bag until custard-like. Let rest for 10 minutes, then spread on Oreo crust and use reserved crumbs to top. The instant cheesecake will firm up more quickly if you have a cold river to cool the outside of the bowl.

*Replace cheesecake mix with 1/4 cup instant chocolate pudding for variety.

Trail Tiramisu (3 servings)
1/3 cup hot water
2 tsp. instant espresso
2 Tbsp. Kahlua
1 package Hershey’s white chocolate instant pudding mix (3.4 oz.)
2 cups milk (from powdered)
16 lady fingers, or vanilla wafers (they can be smashed)
2 Tbsp. chocolate shavings

Combine hot water, instant expresso, and Kahlua. Make pudding with pudding mix and milk. Layer half the lady fingers or wafers in bottom of pot, drizzle with half the coffee mix, then half the pudding. Repeat. Top with chocolate shavings.