Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back Country Cooking

This summer try a back country hike & foraging excursion
There are so many good things to eat if you know where to look.  Maybe in your own backyard?  Back Country Cooking uses organic, wild foraged edibles and can really add interest to your next hike or camping trip.


Some plants are pretty obvious as weeds tend to be the most prolific and recognizable.  Weeds are a great place to start!  Did you know that young Dandelion, Clover and Lambsquarters greens make a delicious salad?  Also wild Mulberries are scrumptious eaten raw or added to a salad.  In my book, Nature's Weeds, Native Medicine - Lotus Press I explain that many such plants not only taste good but have great medicinal value as well.  Dandelion root tea for example, is rich in iron and acts as a liver detox.

To familiarize yourself with other more important plants I recommend the Edible & Poisonous Plant Cards from Camping Survival  You can take them for a little hike in your backyard to begin identifying and harvesting greens and edibles from clean, un-sprayed areas.  When you do this enough, you can take the card with you on your hiking or camping trip to find the same plants in the wild.  The card deck has full color photos on one side and detailed descriptions of the plants on the reverse.


Update: This summer, we rented a small cabin again in one of our state parks for a week.  I prepared nearly all of our meals on a simple Trangia Camp Stove.  Everything from eggs and bacon in the morning to more elaborate meals at night.  The Backcountry Cooking Deck gave me ideas on how to organize and carry in our meal ingredients.  We also had the addition of piping hot soups from Augie Foods!  These were easy to prepare and utterly delicious.  The Backcountry Cooking Deck by Dorcas S. Miller (Mountaineers Books) is a set of 50 large recipe cards for camp and trail.  Covering all sorts of easy meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner as well as snacks and dessert, these cards offer delicious variety and much needed nutrition for your campers.  

What I like about these cards is that they all include "At Home" pre-prep instructions to help make the meals easier to put together once you're out there.  One of the most versatile recipes from the deck is the Biscuit Mix.  It is very simple to throw together at home but transforms into pancakes, biscuits, pie dough, coffee cake or dumplings on the trail.
Backcountry Cooking Deck of 50 Recipes for Camp and Trail
The deck recipes include wholesome ingredients like wheat germ, whole wheat flour, quinoa, bulgar, nuts, vegetables and berries.  I can't say that I'm too sure about some of the tuna, salmon and mussels based recipes as fishy smells tend to attract all sorts of critters but the wide array of various ingredients will appeal to nearly everyone's palate.  The Hobo Dinner recipe uses Jerusalem Artichokes which are native to North American and relatively easy to find and harvest in the wild.

Light My Fire Outdoor Meal Kit
Augie Foods Cheddar Broccoli Soup in the Light My Fire Meal Kit

I like to bring along my SOL Origin Survival Kit  plus an Aurora Magnesium Fire StarterThe survival kit has fire starting and survival tools all in one and the Aurora Magnesium Fire Starter can even ignite your camp stove's gas burner.  It is always good to have a back up cooking / heating method when you take to the outback. 

TecX Inceptra with blue anodized aluminum handle makes quick work of kindling.

The same thing can be said for a camp knife.  The SOL Origin comes equipped with an AUS-8 blade folding knife with a light in the handle. This is good backup and you will need to sharpen it first but I would reserve it for emergencies. My primary knife for cleaning fish, preparing kindling, cutting rope, etc would be this TecX Inceptra folding knife from W.R.Case. It is much easier to open and use than the traditional Swiss Army knives. The 440 stainless steel blade and blue anodized aluminum handle equals a nearly indestructible knife you don't have to worry about. The stainless steel blade locks in place and the knife comes with a belt and key ring clip. The TecX Inceptra comes pre-sharpened and ready to go as you can see it made kindling very quickly in the photo above.  A definite must for all your camp cooking & fire starting needs.

Camp cooking eggs and sausage.  Trangia Camp Mess Kit & Stove

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