“You wanna do what?!”
I’ve been hearing that and similar phrases since I was little. I’ve heard it from my parents, friends and coworkers. I’ve heard it from Connie Lou and even from my kids. It seems that every now and then I get the itch to do something that just isn’t along the same line that most other folks think and do. Now I’m not talking about doing anything really off the wall like naked bungee jumping or eating chicken fried fire ants, just something a little different. For instance, I was flyfishing long before ‘the movie’ came out and everyone wanted to be just like Brad Pitt. But sure enough, I recall one day when one of my hardware chunkin’ classmates in school asked “Why do you wanna do that?” I also remember telling another friend that I was planning to go to Young Harris College after high school. Of course, that drew a ‘You wanna go where?!” So I suppose it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise when I asked for a food dehydrator for my birthday last week to be able to dehydrate my own meals to take hiking or backpacking and Connie Lou said “You wanna do what?!”
Here’s the deal, I love the outdoors and I like to spend my spare time out fishing and hunting and hiking and camping and such and I like to eat well when I’m outside. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘foodie’ but Connie Lou will tell you I’m not exactly bragging when I say I’m a pretty good camp cook. Give me a propane stove, a couple of pots and frying pans and a Dutch oven or three I can make just about anything that can be made in the kitchen at home and more often than not I can do a better job of it.
You may remember in a few previous posts that I’ve been getting back into hiking and backpacking. Eating out on the trail, whether its a day hike and we’re only carrying lunch or on a multi-day trip and carrying three meals a day, is vastly different than eating while car camping. The weight of one’s food and cooking gear comes into play in a very big way.
Now coming up with a lightweight cook kit isn’t all that difficult and doesn’t have to be too expensive. My basic cook kit weighs less than a pound with fuel and cost about twenty bucks to put together.
Food itself is a bit of a challenge just because food tends to weigh a lot for its size. Freeze dried or dehydrated food helps solve this problem in a big way…when you take out the water you take out most of the weight. There are quite a few brands of freeze dried and/or dehydrated foods available but nearly all have one thing in common…they lack flavor. They just don’t taste as good as what you make at home at base camp.
Not too long ago, while reading various posts on HammockForums.net, I ran across a link to a website called ‘The Hungry Hammock Hanger‘ by a guy who goes by Babelfish5 on the HammockForums. B5, for short, has put together a series of videos containing recipes for trail foods with instructions for how to cook each recipe and how to dehydrate it yourself in a home food dehydrator and I just had to give it a try. I’ve dehydrated fruits and made jerky in the past but I’ve never done recipes for meals.
Well, last week when my birthday came around I asked for a dehydrator and sure enough, when I woke up that morning and went downstairs there was a shiny new Nesco dehydrator waiting for me under the birthday tree. What? You don’t have a birthday tree? You’ve never heard of a birthday tree? Me neither, I just threw that in to make sure you’re still with me here. Lets move on.
I watched most of B5’s videos over the past week and finally settled on red beans and rice to try first. I’ve made red beans and rice a few times before so I knew I shouldn’t have any problems. I chopped the veggies and sausage last night and got up early this morning to get it cooked and in the dehydrator before we headed off to church.
Cooking went off without a hitch…
By mid-morning the red beans were finished, the dehydrator trays were loaded and our house was smellin’ really good.
According to B5 the red beans and rice need to dehydrate for about 12 hours and since a fruit roll try was used, they should be flipped at the half way point to allow both sides to dry evenly.
After 12 hours were up the beans were dry and brittle and it was time to package the red beans up with some instant rice (yes, instant rice, get over it) and store it in the freezer to be eaten down the road.
So…by now I suspect you may be asking just what the heck do you do with the dehydrated stuff to be able to eat it? Simple, you rehydrate it. You just add water…boiling water. Just put the dried food into a cook pot, add water, bring it to a boil. Then put the pot into an insulated cozy for 25 to 30 minutes. Once your food is rehydrated…dig in!! The process is the same using freezer bag cooking methods (which I’m set up for).
Give it a try. It sure beats Beanie Weenies, Vienna Sausages or sardines and crackers on the trail!
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