April showers brings May flowers! That is
true for the east coast this spring. Even with
the rain we shouldn't let it dampen our
spirits. Taking time for a planned trip in our
natural world is a great way to feel alive.
Leaving you're kitchen behind doesn't mean
that your health has to suffer though. The
best meals I've enjoyed have been sitting
around a fire with black bears feeding on
salmon a few hundred metres away or
serving breakfast on a remote beach with
gray whales dining in kelp beds out front.
Traveling in remote coastal and backcountry
environments takes planning! With a few
simple creative methods we can enjoy fresh
bread, chowders, burritos, mac and cheese,
curry or even marinated salmon steaks! On
relatively short trips (4 days or less) we can
take many fresh foods. Our pack will be a little
heavier initially, but we will have no waste to
pack out, we can eat a diet we're familiar with and fresh food tastes better! Potatoes, onions, carrots, peppers and cheese are all very easy to travel with and don't bruise or spoil easily. My favorite simple meal is a sweet potato and cheddar cheese chowder. Nothing warms me up in the cool damp spring weather then a hot bowl of chowder and fresh bread!
Sweet Potato and Cheddar Cheese Chowder
1 sweet potato per person
a few stalks of celery
1 small onion
1 cube of soup broth
grated cheddar cheese
Boiling water in your pot, we start to cook the thinly sliced potatoes. As the potatoes cook, we can
mash them with a fork and add our chopped onion, celery, broth, milk powder, pepper and parsley.
Turning the heat low on our stove we allow the chowder to simmer while we stir frequently. The open
flame will burn our meal if left unattended. Stir in the grated cheese and add a little parsley to garnish
and serve! A very simple meal idea that will have no waste afterward except a couple small ziploc
baggies we stored the cheese, milk powder and herbs in. The organic waste we can burn in our small
evening fire, leaving no trace of our presence there.
Baking bread in the backcountry is a fun art to master. While other campers around you may be eating
packaged meals they pick up at the local trail shop, you could be enjoying fresh flat bread with a little
brown sugar sprinkled on and a splash of lemon juice. We don't pack measuring cups and spoons while traveling light, instead we remember ratios. For bread, the ratio for flour to water is approximately 3:1.
Learn from others mistakes! We don't have access to more flour, so start with half of the amount water and flour, adding more in small increments.
Basic Backcountry Bread
1 Tbsp of sugar
1 Tbsp of yeast
1 ½ cups of multigrain flour (a ¼ – ½ c of extra flour doesn't hurt it and it weighs very little)
1 Tbsp oil
½ cup of warm water
Mixing the sugar and yeast together first, we then add a ¼ cup of warm water and half the flour.
Mixing this with a spoon, we will gradually add more flour until we get a slightly sticky dough ball.
Continue to knead for a a few minutes. Rub the outside with oil and then place in a plastic freezer bag,
seal the top and keep warm to let it rise. If we want fresh bread for morning we prepare the dough the
night before and take our dough baby to bed with us. Keeping it next to our body in the sleeping bag
will let it rise. If you choose to use the dough for pizza in the evening, it is best to make as soon as you
arrive in camp. Keeping the dough inside your jacket next to your body will let it rise in time for
The tricky part is the baking! Instead of putting our pan directly on the stove, we use the aluminum
windscreen that was supplied with our stove to elevate our pan off the flame with the heat turned as
low as it can go. Voila! I suggest being familiar with you're stove before you go. It's best to have a
practice run at home. No one likes being hungry or eating burnt food, and you won't be packing extra
groceries for a second attempt.
You can enjoy almost any normal meal you would serve at home while camping. Be creative and enjoy!
Backcountry Cooking: Eating Well While Camping
by Landon Brown – SKGABC Guide