Story and Photos By Tara Alan
A few years ago, my husband Tyler and I were cycling through Europe. After pedaling up the Alps through expensive-but-gorgeous Switzerland, we coasted down the mountains and entered a paradise for hungry, food-loving touring cyclists like us: Italy.
Besides taking breaks each day for gelato and cappuccinos, we often stopped at the market, where we picked out groceries to cook for supper. One afternoon, during a long, gorgeous ride through the regal Italian lake district, we stopped at a discount supermarket and bought a bag of spinach and ricotta-filled pasta, a few kinds of meat and cheese we’d never heard of, and a bottle of cheap red wine.
Just a few miles down the road, we grew hungry, and were unable to resist our curiosity about the meat we’d just purchased. So, we busted into our grocery stash, pulling the brown hunk of plastic-wrapped cured meat out of our snack pannier. This was “speck,” a juniper-seasoned smoked prosciutto. We couldn’t quite figure out how to eat it, and thus ended up gnawing on it, cave-man-style. The sweet, salty, smoky meat was our instant favorite. Read More →
Story and Photos By Laurel Miller
Shoulder season may be over, but whatever outdoor pursuits you’re currently enjoying, you still need to eat.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional trail/slope snacks: I love jerky, GORP, and energy bars just as much as the next person. But sometimes, when you’re really busting your ass out there, it’s nice to up the ante a little bit and treat yourself- and others- to something special. Read More →
Story and Photos By Tara Alan
A few years ago, my husband Tyler and I were bicycle touring in Romania. We’d just pedaled through the gypsy village of Glod when we decided to free-camp for the night, stopping to set up our tent in an idyllic, secluded forest on a hilltop high above the town.
Tall trees towered above us as we made our home for the night. Tyler got a fire going, while I set about making a tasty supper to satisfy our ravenous appetites. Despite the fact that we were deep in the heart of Eastern Europe and I should have been craving cabbage rolls and hearty Romanian soups, all I wanted was food like I’d find in a Chinese restaurant back home. And thus, I decided to concoct an Asian-style meal of rice noodles with stir-fried eggplant and broccoli in a dark, savory, sweet and sour sauce. Read More →
Photo: Laurel Miller
Raise your hand if you’ve ever prepared Top Ramen on a camping trip. Raise both hands if you’ve ever been so famished that you’ve eaten them uncooked.
We’ve all been there. And with all due respect to the ubiquitous fried noodles, there are other, healthier options available—ones that won’t crumble to dust in your pack or add a heaping dose of MSG to your dinner. If you’re willing to allow for the additional prep and cooking time, you can throw together a pot of soba noodles dressed with a fiery peanut sauce in just 10 minutes.
These slender Japanese noodles are named after their main ingredient, buckwheat, which is a fruit seed related to rhubarb, rather than a cereal grain. Buckwheat is a good choice after an intense workout, as it’s high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and iron, and contains all nine essential amino acids, as well as the bioflavonoid rutin. Read More →
By Ryan Hayter
As children Mom told us to “join the clean plate club” in order to avoid wasting food. Considering today’s generous portions that may not be such a good idea unless you’re in a backcountry environment where eating all the food on your plate is one of the most basic steps toward reducing food waste and human impact on the environment. Creative cooking over a stove is one of the joys of outdoor adventure. What to do with the leftovers, food waste and dirty dishes – the gray water – is a different matter. “The key thing to keep in mind is to smartly plan your meals in advance to reduce waste and minimize clean up,” said Ben Lawhon, education director for The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. The LNT center is the leading organization promoting responsible enjoyment of the outdoors, and an MSR partner that provides science-based techniques for minimizing visitor impact on parks and protected areas. “Pre-planning such as cooking with one pot instead of using three pots for meals and preparing the right portion sizes will reduce waste and reduce the amount of dishes that need to be cleaned.” Dirty dishes are often unavoidable so when it’s time for KP, Leave No Trace recommends using methods that are appropriate for the environment you’re visiting in order to protect water sources and minimize the chance of providing food rewards to local wildlife that may alter their natural habits. Tips for cleaning dishes in the backcountry: You’re in the backcountry. You’ve eaten a meal. There’s a dirty bowl, a dirty spoon, and a dirty pot. Now what do you do? Read More →
Story and Photos By Tara Alan, Avid cyclist, adventurer, camp cook, and Writer of Bike Camp Cook and of the award winning website goingslowly.com
A few years ago, my husband Tyler and I were bicycle touring on Kerkennah, a desert island famed to be Kirke’s isle in Homer’s The Odyssey.
It was there, just off the coast of Tunisia, that we first tried the dish lablabi. This satisfying soup was vaguely reminiscent of the chili I grew up eating in North America, but it was far simpler, made of yesterday’s baguette, a scoop of hearty chickpeas, and an ample amount of spicy chili-garlic paste. Though the dish didn’t win any awards for beauty, the hearty meal was humble, delectable, and inexpensive. Read More →
Photo: David Katz
Story By Laurel Miller
Bacon makes everything better. This is hardly news. What causes some confusion, however, is how best to pack your meaty treats into the backcountry. Food safety, while perhaps not of highest concern to those of us who live the dirtbag lifestyle, is still important. Raw or cured/aged/preserved protein products such as meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs can cause serious food-borne illness, so choosing the right products and packing them properly is key before heading out on an adventure.
I spoke with David Katz, chef, salumi-maker, and owner of Napa’s Salumeria Sub Rosa, about what safety precautions hikers should follow when taking cured meat products on the trail. Despite the fact that frontiersmen have been packing bacon for centuries, “If it’s not a shelf-stable product, unlike most salami (or the ubiquitous Summer Sausage), prosciutto, and other dry-cured meats, which are ready-to-eat (RTE), cook the heck out of it,” Katz advises. Read More →
Story and Photos By Tara Alan
A few years ago, my husband and I embarked on a two year journey across Europe and Asia. We spent most of the adventure on a pair of touring bicycles, with everything we owned packed in our panniers.
After returning, I set about writing a cookbook for other two-wheeled wanderers. Bike. Camp. Cook. is the result of my labor. Despite its obvious focus on cycling, the book is a beautiful, informative, food-centric journey for anyone to enjoy.
In the cookbook, I show you the tools and techniques you’ll need for cooking on the road. Then, I provide a delicious collection of gourmet recipes that you’ll love making at camp. Read More →
Steeped coffee tastes great and is easy to make in the backcountry. The equipment is among the lightest and most compact available, and the finished brew is a step above any of the instant coffees. In fact, many coffee aficionados believe this method produces one of the richest cups you can make. The key to success is choosing a good coffee and following the steps carefully.
The Coffee: You’ll need about one ounce of coffee per finished cup. It should be ground at a coarse to medium setting and stored in an air-tight container. Look for a coffee from Kenya, Guatemala or El Salvador. Any coffee will make a decent cup, but these tend to be the best.
The Water: Use clear, filtered water from a stream or lake. The taste-free water you find in the backcountry can make great coffee.
- Start heating the water in a pot. You’ll need a little more than a half liter per cup with this method, so measure according to the number of cups you’re making.
- Put one ounce of ground coffee in the filter and place it in the cup. (One ounce fills close to half the filter.)
Read More →
Story and photos by Ben Kunz
High in the Andean regions of Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru grows an amazing plant known as quinoa. And what better time to eat quinoa than 2013, the “International Year of Quinoa” as declared by the United Nations!
Quinoa contains all the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs and thus is one of the rare plant-based foods that is a complete protein. It’s a great choice for vegetarians and vegans, not to mention that it’s gluten-free!
Quinoa can be found in most conventional supermarkets (often in the health or organic section) and in natural food stores. A cost-savings tip: buying quinoa in bulk often leads to significant savings on this wonder food.
For a reasonably sized backcountry meal for two:
Add one cup rinsed quinoa to two cups water, bring to a boil and let cook on lower heat. It will take several minutes for the seeds to become translucent and the germ of the seed to separate. While the quinoa is cooking and before it separates, add cumin, salt, raisins and almonds. Once the quinoa has separated, let it sit and soak up any remaining water.
• 1 cup of quinoa
• Pinch of salt, or more if you need to replenish salts from heavy exercise!
• 1 tbsp of cumin
• ½ cup of raisins
• ¼ cup of almonds (chopped or whole)
• Optional: add cilantro as garnish to enhance flavor and appearance
This versatile recipe can be augmented with tofu, chicken or tuna for a protein-rich backcountry meal!