Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Planning for the weekend

Unless weekend plans spring up between now and Friday at 11:00AM, I will continue this summer with more wilderness adventure, probably in Lassen VNP.

I was planning on making tikka masala for the trip. I even did a test batch at home Sunday. It was good, so I ate it three days in a row. Two problems.
  • I don't really have a craving for it anymore
  • Too much food for one person
So here I am , thinking of something new. I don't want this blog to turn into fifty ways to cook rice, so lets make some rules for this dish.
  1. No rice, no beans, no lentils

  2. No dried meats

  3. No chili peppers
I think those three rules ought to be plenty to get the creativity flowing. I will tour the Berkeley Bowl for inspiration, and have my recipe online as soon as I have something.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yosemite - Tuolumne Meadows

Text up front, scroll down for pictures.

I'm back from the quick trip to yosemite. The Caribbean beans and rice were declared the best meal ever by the whole crew. On the trail, the flavors were robust, and the aroma greeted us with a firm tap on the nose. Each bite with jerky was a very special treat.

One problem, I missed the cooking time goal of the meal. We would have been eating crunchy beans if I brought the alcohol stove. Cook time was over 20 minutes, but I knew going in the beans were undercooked. I just didn't realize how raw they were.

We entered the wilderness via Tuolumne meadows

this yellow-bellied marmot entertained us for 10 minutes.

like a dragon's eye watching me

while I watch the deer

Mountains rise from the flats

Lunch was hummus with sun dried tomato and basil wraps,
served with a ray of light and mountain water.
(i think this is a better picture than a bowl of hummus)

My roomie was exhausted and stayed in camp

She enjoyed time alone to reflect and eat the gummies

Clark and I did six more miles, and scrambled off trail
to get a large view of the valley in the distance.

Here clark is seen viewing the valley vista

This was a multi-ridge bonus view we caught climbing down

Last light on the valley

Dinner was prepared in the dark, so look at my other postings
to see what the food is all about.

white balance is off, but here is the dish in preparation.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mango Chipotle Beef with Caribbean spiced beans

I don't send untested meals into the wilderness. I like to eat too much for that type of adventure, so I tried the dried dish for dinner last night. Honestly, it was much lighter on flavor after being dried, and if I made it again, I would make some fresh spice mix to toss onto the mixture right before it goes into the dryer. It was flavorful and tasty, but not as bold as I thought it should be. I would increase the cumin amount in the spice mix too.

I'm off to Yosemite, I'll let you know how the trip was when I get back, Cheers !

Enjoy some pictures while you are here :

Fresh out of the oven, the beans and two types of rice are visible. Nice bright green spots of cilantro.

A stick of mango jerky for the dish

chopped into little pieces,
added to the dried food in bowl

Which was tossed into this boiling water, (mix:Water 1:2)

removed from heat, and allowed to stand 10 minutes

here it is after the 10 minutes are up

I simmered it for two minutes, but really it needs to go 10 minutes. The beans were a little bit tough.

Put into the dish after simmering

and topped with some crushed nuts and parsley.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Caribbean Sauced Beans

I made this seasoning sauce to use with beans, lentils, or pasta. I have paired the sauce with black beans I made yesterday. I'll use the seasoned beans with the mango chipotle jerky and some smoked nuts on the trail. This sauce has a spice blend similar to what I would use in my dahl, but there are some notable differences. I avoided cardamon, fenugreek, and mustard seed to avoid tasting indian, and added Allspice, and lots of it, for more Caribbean flavor. Onion and garlic were left in big chunks to keep texture after rehydrating.
The tomatoes were sauteed to remove moisture and increase flavor before being put into the blender. Doing this step will improve the drying time of the sauce quite a bit. I probably cooked them for around ten minutes. I deglazed the dutch over with broth in which I had the black beans resting overnight.

The sauce was mixed with organic black beans I prepared from dry in beef broth. I soaked them in water for five hours, and simmered them in broth until almost done. They were chilled under running cold water, and then left to sit in cold beef broth until I prepared this seasoning sauce. The beans were drained and added to the sauce and simmered for ten minutes. A layer of organic brown basmati was spread on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. The beans were then layered on, and covered with white basmati rice. The food was dried in the oven, with repeated flipping and breaking up of chunks to ensure complete dehydration.

I ate this for dinner last night before assembling the drying apparatus. I really liked the way it explodes in the mouth with sweet, hot, and savory flavors. The cilantro and nuts finished off the dish with hints of citrus and smoke.

Here is the recipe, gratuitous pictures at bottom post.

Caribbean Beans Seasoning Sauce
  • 1/4c brown sugar
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp coriander seeds
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1tsp ginger
  • 2Tbls whole allspice
  • 1tsp whole cloves
  • fresh nutmeg
  • ground cinnamon (prefer whole, but was out)
  • 1Tbls paprika
  • 1 red habanero
  • some thick soy sauce / paste
  • 1 red fresno chili
  • onion
  • celery
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cilantro
  • smoked almonds

Prepare Spice Mixture
  • Toast coriander, cumin, allspice, and cloves over med-high heat till aromatic
  • grind to powder in mortar with pestle
  • set aside
Prepare Tomato Chili Blend
  • Core and Seed six tomatoes
  • dice two tomatoes and set aside for later
  • brown in dutch over over med-high heat, no oil
  • seed and rib habanero and red fresno chilies
  • puree tomatoes and chilies till no chunks remain
Build Seasoning Sauce
  • sautee chiopped onion and celery till well sweat (3-6 min)
  • add 3 cloves chopped garlic, cook 30 sec
  • add spice mixture, parika, and pinch of salt. Cook 30 sec
  • add tomato puree and diced tomatoes
  • adjust salt
  • add big palm full of brown sugar
  • add tamari, or thick soy sauce + worcestershire, to taste (~1/4 cup)
  • cook over med-low / low heat for ten minutes
  • grate fresh nutmeg, and add four-five cloves of chopped garlic
  • chill the sauce in the refridgerator until ready to mix with beans.

Monday, July 16, 2007

mango chipotle jerky

I got the dates wrong on the Yosemite trip. It's this weekend, not the following. As per the request of a group member, I will be preparing beef. We may be bringing a bigger stove, but regardless, I did pretty good to keep this close to instant. I think it will need to have boiling water added, let sit for 10 minutes, and then bring to a simmer for two or three more minutes.

Since beef is nearly synonymous with jerky on the trail, I made some at home for the trip. I wanted a tasty jerky for eating on the trail, and a sweet seasoned meat for cooking dinner. I settled on a onion, garlic, and red pepper for eating, and mango-chipotle for cooking. I am planning to make some black beans with caribbean spice to pair with the mango-chipotle beef. On the trail, I'll toast some crushed nuts for topping, or use toasted nuts, and finishing the dish.

Over the weekend I aquired a 3lb london broil and had it sliced 1/4" thick. Half of the meat was put into a mango-chipotle marinade, and half was placed into a garlic, onion, and pepper marinade. The meat was incubated over night in the refridgerator before being dried in my oven at the lowest setting with the door propped open.

I wish I would have taken pictures of the preparation, but I had already put the meat in the marinades before it occurred to me to go get my camera. I hope that as I continue this blog, I will become more familiar with using the camera to document the process.

The mango jerky is awesome in both texture and flavor. Nice chew, soft, an upfront sweetness countered by a soft smoky heat on the palate. If I was making this again, I would add some Cayenne or more chili to boost the heat slightly. I like the subtleness of the smoke flavor.
My roomies both liked it a lot, and appreciated the ginger, mango, and pepper flavors. I think we all found it shockingly good, and a nice start to a dinner this weekend.

I wasn't thinking that the different marinades would affect drying times that much. I had to throw the onion-garlic jerky in the trash. Apparently I managed to only check the mango jerky for dryness. I way over dried the other. I ate a few bites, and wasn't enjoying myself. I wouldn't want that experience on the trail, and I certainly wouldn't want to share that with my friends.

Mango-Chipotle Marinade
2 extra large mangos, diced
two palm fulls of turbinado sugar
4 chipotle cleaned of adobo sauce
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and rough chop
3tsp Salt
Crack black pepper
1/2 tsp fresh ground red chili
a healthy dose of minced ginger
--toss diced mango with sugar to coat
--collect sweet water that is released from the fruit
--add salt, black pepper, chipotle peppers to juice and puree
--add diced onion and garlic, ginger, cayenne and ground red chili

Onion-Garlic-Pepper marinade
two onions diced fine
8 cloves chopped garlic
3Tbls cracked black pepper
1Tbls crushed red pepper
1/2cup soy sauce
a good shaking of the worcestershire sauce
1tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp Salt (optional)

--Mix everything together

Here are some pictures of the jerky preparation

This is the mango-chipotle marinade with the beef in it.

Here is a close up shot of the marinated meat before drying

This is my own idea. By resting the over rack on cans, I can create enough space to dry hanging slices. I use toothpicks to hang the slices.

Here is the dried jerky

Friday, July 6, 2007

An Introduction

It's Thursday night, and I'm sitting at home thinking about dinner. I'm not thinking about dinner for tonight though. I'm thinking about what I would like to be serving on an upcoming trip to the Yosemite wilderness. Because the hiking will be exhausting, by design, I want the food to be easy to prepare. Our intentions are to go high, fast, and far, so I will be cooking with a pop can stove to save weight. I will design the meal to be as close to instant as possible, so I can carry less fuel. I'm aiming for 5 minutes or less of actual cook time. The closer to "add boiling water and wait" the better.

I'm starting this blog to share my passion for creating robustly flavored, lightweight backpacking food. I will use the next two weeks to develop a recipe for the yosemite trip.
I will detail the recipe creation and preparation, the dehydration process, and the final preparation of the dried food.

Bonus :

Because I have never tried to photograph food before, I will post these shots of a dish that was close, but not quite there. It is a grilled jambalaya, made with grilled garlic, onions, bell peppers, corn and tomatoes. Obviously, with a little garnish, this could be made to look a lot better, but I don't carry parsley on the trail. The flavor was a little softer than I would have liked, but I had solid heat from the red chilis, and robust sweet flavors from bell peppers and onion. This rice can be prepared in vegetable stock with dried veggies as a soup, or prepared with lentils as a dinner entree.

These are the first pictures of my food ever released anywhere. Clockwise from top left, we see the dehydrated state, immediately after adding boiling water, fully rehydrated, and served with black beluga lentils.