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RoguePaddler

The Paddler's Pantry

The Art of Cooking

Backcountry cooking is an art. Many wilderness travelers and expedition paddlers find it extremely difficult to achieve a satisfying balance of flavor, weight, packability, nutrition, and calories in the meals they pack. Many standard foods seem impossible to preserve without refrigeration. Many dehydrated meals taste like cardboard or gym socks. Some meals (especially canned foods) take up too much space and weight to be worth the hassle. Investing in specialized equipment—especially a food dehydrator and a vaccuum food sealer—may significantly expand your menu options, but putting together a complete, satisfying menu can be a real challenge.

Here, in The Paddler's Pantry, you will find an assortment of quick, easy backcountry recipes contributed by RoguePaddler readers. Because taste is subjective, these recipes are intended only as a starting point to inspire budding backcountry chefs. Feel free to substitute alternative ingredients, inject creative flavors, and try alternative preparation methods. The real joy of backcountry cooking lies in the fun of culinary experimentation. Of course, since delicious food is vital to trip morale, it would be wise to do most of your experimentation before you set out on a long journey.

This cookbook will continue to grow, so check back often. Also, please consider contributing your own favorite camp recipes to The Paddler's Pantry. Happy cooking!


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Food Tips

Here are some useful tips to help guide your menu decisions:

  • strive for a diet of varied flavors and meals; you might like granola and beef jerky now, but you won't after you've had them for four days in a row
  • a food dehydrator and vaccuum-sealer are the two most useful devices a wilderness chef can own
  • harder cheeses (like extra-sharp cheddar) keep longer than softer cheeses
  • cheese keeps best in brick form; use a potato peeler or knife to shred or slice the block as needed
  • vaccuum-sealed cheeses, beef jerky, and ground meats keep very well if kept out of the sun
  • non-refrigerated microwaveable bacon can be repackaged with a vaccuum-sealer into smaller, 3- or 4-slice packets, that will keep for weeks; it cooks in a skillet like regular bacon
  • bricks of ramen noodles are light, easy to pack, and packaged in waterproof wrappers
  • canned or sealed foil pouch chicken or tuna keeps indefinitely, and tastes fresh
  • brown farm fresh eggs keep better than white eggs
  • powdered milk or canned/boxed "shelf-stable" milk can be substituted for perishable milk in recipes
  • packets of condiments from fast-food restaurants (ketchup, mayo, syrup, etc.) keep very well
  • instant gravy can add excellent flavors to meats and potatoes
  • bagels are more packable and crush-resistant than softer breads
  • an assortment of simple spices (salt, pepper, garlic, lemon-pepper, etc.) can rescue bland foods
  • breads, bagels, pancakes, and instant mashed potatoes make excellent stomach-fillers


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Camp Donuts

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Bisquick mix
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 egg (fresh, powdered, or liquid substitute)
  • 1/4 cup milk (fresh, powdered, or boxed/canned "shelf-stable")
  • about 2 to 3 cups of olive oil
  • ziplock bag (gallon size, filled 1/4 full with powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, and/or 1/4 tsp. nutmeg)

Preparation:

  • Mix all ingredients (except for the oil) to form a loose dough
  • Knead or roll the dough into desired donut shapes
  • Heat the oil in a skillet
  • Fry the donuts in the hot oil until golden brown
  • Remove donut from oil and place immediately into the ziplock bag (filled with powdered sugar and cinnamon)
  • Seal the bag and shake vigorously to coat each donut
  • Take out the donut and enjoy

Notes:

  • In lieu of making your own batter, you can use 1 or 2 cans of biscuits (the pop-open cylinders from the grocery store)
  • Pack along a small squeeze bottle of Hershey's chocolate syrup to make chocolate donuts


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Good Morning Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • instant pancake batter mix (the kind that only requires water, not eggs or milk)
  • ziplock bag (quart or gallon size)
  • small tin of blueberries (or another topping: chocolate chips, peaches, etc.)
  • small bottle or package of syrup

Preparation:

  • Mix the pancake batter, blueberries (or other topping), and appropriate amount of water in the ziplock bag
  • Coat a hot skillet lightly with olive oil or cooking spray
  • Pour pancake batter into the skillet (avoid making pancakes too thick)
  • Flip pancake when small bubbles begin to rise to the top of the batter
  • Cook until nicely golden
  • Remove from heat, add syrup, and enjoy

Notes:

  • Small, disposable syrup packets can be found at McDonald's, or you can repackage bottled syrup in small plastic containers
  • Pancakes are an excellent "morale-builder"; they can lift your spirits before (or after) a long day of paddling
  • Pancakes provide long-term carb energy, while the syrup offers an immediate sugar boost


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Oatmeal Porridge

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of instant oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup fruit
  • 2 Tbsp powdered milk
  • 1 cup water

Preparation:

  • Add all of the ingredients together
  • Boil until thickened (approximately 1 minute)
  • Remove from heat and enjoy

Notes:

  • All of the ingredients (minus the water) can be stored together in a ziplock bag for easy preparation


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Breakfast Bannock

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbl. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • olive oil (or other cooking oil)
  • 1 cup water

Preparation:

  • Add ingredients together and knead or mix thoroughly
  • Heat a small amount of oil in a fry pan
  • Add the bannock batter and spread it out to the edges of the pan
  • Cook on low heat until the bottom is lightly browned
  • Turn to brown the other side, then enjoy

Notes:

  • All of the ingredients (minus the water and oil) can be stored together in a ziplock bag for easy preparation


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Southwest Roll-Ups

Ingredients:

  • small white flour tortillas (soft shell)
  • canned or packaged red beans and rice (non-refrigerated)
  • disposable packets of taco sauce
  • small brick of extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • light olive oil

Preparation:

  • Place a few spoonfulls of red beans and rice on a flour tortilla
  • Add thin slices of cheddar cheese
  • Add taco sauce for a little "zest" (to taste)
  • Fold the flour tortilla up like a taco or burrito
  • Lightly coat a skillet with olive oil
  • Add the roll-up to the coated skillet
  • Heat on both sides until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is lightly browned

Notes:

  • Can also be eaten cold, though not recommended
  • The olive oil helps to crispen the tortilla for a satisfying crunchy texture
  • Add rehydrated ground beef, canned chicken, or slices of bacon for a meatier meal


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Cheeseburger Macaroni

Ingredients:

  • dehydrated ground beef (about 2 lbs. before dehydration)
  • two packages of velveeta shells and cheese

Preparation:

  • Add ground beef and macaroni to boiling water
  • Boil until fully rehydrated
  • Add a pinch of salt (to taste)
  • Drain
  • Add cheese and mix

Notes:

  • Pairs well with garlic bread/toast


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Bear Slop

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 to 3 cups water
  • dehydrated ground beef (about 1 lb. before dehydration)
  • dehydrated canned kernel sweet corn (about 1 cup before dehydration)
  • one 4 oz. envelope of Idahoan (or other) instant mashed potatoes

Preparation:

  • Rehydrate the ground beef and corn in the water
  • Wait until corn is fully rehydrated (may take awhile)
  • Drain (or add) water so that just enough is left over to hydrate the potatoes (usually 2 cups; see directions on package)
  • Add the instant potatoes and stir thoroughly

Notes:

  • The name may sound unappealing, but this is a good, quick, filling meal with lightweight ingredients
  • Make sure the brand of instant potatoes you choose only requires water; otherwise, you may need to add powdered milk to make this dish
  • If space and weight do not concern you, you could use an 8 oz. can of sweet kernel corn instead of the dehydrated kind


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Pita Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • dehydrated jar of pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce
  • pita bread
  • a few individually-wrapped pieces of string cheese (mozarella)
  • pepperoni slices (or other toppings)
  • olive oil, cooking spray, or other non-stick coating
  • water (as needed)

Preparation:

  • Rehydrate the pizza/spaghetti sauce to desired consistency (not too runny)
  • Coat frying pan with oil and heat over stove
  • Heat the pita bread in the pan until warmed and barely toasted
  • Flip over the pita and immediately add sauce, pepperoni slices (or other toppings), and finely broken-up string cheese
  • Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the hot pan and cover with a lid (the water creates steam, which helps to melt the cheese)
  • When sufficiently heated and melted, remove pita from pan and eat

Notes:

  • Dried or fresh oregano can be added to the sauce when rehydrating (add to taste)


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Camp Sketti

Ingredients:

  • dehydrated ground beef (about 1/2 lb. before dehydration)
  • dehydrated ground sausage (about 1/2 lb. before dehydration)
  • jar of dehydrated spaghetti sauce
  • 4 pkgs. ramen noodles (without flavor packets)
  • dried oregano (or other spices)

Preparation:

  • Cook the ramen noodles
  • Add ground beef, sausage, sauce, and spices (and more water, if needed)
  • Cook until everything is rehydrated and hot

Notes:

  • Ramen noodles pack nicely, but regular spaghetti will also work for this recipe


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Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas

Ingredients:

  • about 7 to 10 oz. of premium chunk white chicken (canned or sealed foil pouch)
  • about 6 to 8 oz. of favorite buffalo wing sauce, (disposable packets OR repackaged in small plastic squeeze bottle)
  • 2 soft taco shells
  • about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • about 1 Tbl. all-purpose flour
  • olive oil, margarine, or cooking spray

Preparation:

  • Drain the chicken, then combine it with the buffalo sauce in a small pot
  • Heat thoroughly at a low simmer, mashing the large chunks of chicken while it cooks
  • Add all-purpose flour (as needed) and stir in to thicken the sauce
  • Coat a skillet with oil, margarine, or spray and heat over a stove
  • Place a soft taco shell to the skillet
  • Add the cooked chicken and the shredded cheddar cheese on top of the shell, then lay the remaining soft taco shell on the top
  • Flip the whole "sandwich" when the bottom shell begins to brown and crispen
  • Cook until the other shell also browns and crispens, and until the cheese is fully melted
  • Remove from heat, cut into pie-shaped wedges, and enjoy

Notes:

  • These ingredients are very packable and they keep for a long time
  • Do not shred the cheddar cheese until you're ready to make the recipe; block cheese keeps better
  • Use a potato peeler or knife to shred the cheese (much more packable than carrying a cheese grater)
  • Packets of buffalo wing sauce can be obtained from Chick-Fil-A or Burger King; alternatively, you can repackage buffalo sauce into a small squeeze bottle


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Sausage (or Bacon) Burrito Scramblers

Ingredients:

  • pancake batter mix
  • dehydrated ground sausage OR vaccuum-sealed microwaveable bacon
  • eggs (fresh, powdered, or Egg Beaters mix)
  • pancake syrup

Preparation:

  • Rehydrate the ground sausage in boiling water and drain OR cook bacon in skillet
  • Mix up pancake batter (per package instructions) and mix in the ground sausage or slices of bacon
  • Cook the batter to form a pancake patty
  • Scramble the eggs and cook in skillet
  • place the eggs on the pancake and roll the pancake up like a burrito
  • Dip in syrup and enjoy

Notes:

  • If you use Egg Beaters (or another liquid egg substitute), you can freeze it before your trip; it should keep for a couple of days in frozen form
  • To avoid dirtying your skillet and to ensure nicely cooked eggs, you can scramble the eggs inside a ziplock bag and place the bag in boiling water until the eggs are cooked (add air to make sure the bag floats and doesn't touch the bottom of the pan)
  • These are great for breakfast, but can be had for dinner, too


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Chicken & Rice with Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • about 9 oz. of premium white chunk chicken (canned or sealed foil pouch)
  • 1 pkt. instant rice, chicken-flavored
  • 1 cup dehydrated broccoli

Preparation:

  • Rehydrate the broccoli in boiling water (enough water for the rice plus an extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  • Add the chicken and rice to the broccoli in the pot
  • Cook until rice is done and liquid is mostly absorbed
  • Drain excess liquid if desired, then enjoy

Notes:

  • This is a very simple meal, ideal for when you don't have time to cook a more elaborate dinner
  • Add a layer of crumbled ritz or saltine crackers on top to make a kind of casserole


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© 2007, Wesley Kisting


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