Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dehydrating...when is it done?

Here's a quick tip for when dehydrating pretty much anything.  You want to remove all moisture so it doesn't turn rancid or collect mold.  So, if you think it's about done place a piece of or a spoon full of whatever it is you're dehydrating into a ziploc bag and seal.  Wait for a minute or two and see if moisture collects on the bag.  If so, it aint done yet.

That's it.  I like simple things!

I'm getting ready to start prepping for my next trip.  So, I will try and put together my process for making some turkey jerky (with pictures!), which could be applied to beef or whatever meat you prefer.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Paleo Joe Recipe

Ok, so a lot of people have asked for the Paleo Joe recipe (the dehydrated meal in my previous post).  All credit goes to Dana Carpender's "500 Paleo Recipes" book.  There are some gems in this title but some people complain because there are no pictures.  Funny, I don't remember Grandma's recipe box having any pictures either yet I managed to eat just fine.  I know in this day and age people have to have photos before trying something but whatever...get the book, it's cheap with a ton of ideas.  Ironically I don't have any elegant photos of this meal other than me chowing on it in my other post.

So, let's get to it.  Here's what you need:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 Lbs Ground Beef
  • 4 oz Mushrooms (Rough chop)
  • 1 Medium Onion (Chopped)
  • 1/3 Cup Sundried Tomatoes (Chopped)
  • 3 Garlic Cloves Crushed
  • 10oz. Spinach
  • 5 Eggs (Whisked)
  • Salt and Pepper
Note: For the spinach I get frozen because, well, it's already 10oz and I don't have to wait for it to cook down.  Just thaw it prior and wring out the juice in a cheese cloth or clean tea towel.  If you'd prefer Kale or Collards I'm sure both would work just as well.  In fact, this recipe for Sukuma Wiki from The Domestic Man (which uses collards) would make for a perfect dehydrated meal as well with some slight adjustments.

Directions:

  1.  I change things up a little from the book's recipe.  I always cook onions first.  So get a dollop of your favorite fat (bacon grease, lard, butter, coconut oil etc.) over medium high heat and get your onions cooking in your cast iron skillet.  I usually cook them down a bit until they're translucent.
  2.  Add in your garlic and give it a quick saute (careful not to burn it) 
  3.  Add in your beef and start breaking it down with your spatula and getting the onions worked in.  I always season my meat as I go so, add salt and pepper here.
  4. When the meat is nearly browned, add in your mushrooms and they'll absorb the fat and the flavor.
  5. One the mushrooms begin to break down a bit, and all meat is no longer pink, add in your tomatoes and spinach.  Get all of the ingredients worked in real well.
  6. Now take your whisked eggs and pour them over the mixture.  Keep stirring until the eggs begin to set.  
  7. Add a little more salt and pepper at this point to taste.
Now we have our vat of yumminess.  If it's time for a meal, go ahead and grab a bowl and enjoy.  It's also a good gauge to see how much you might eat on the trail.  Once you are ready for the next step, scoop out a portion for your trail meal and add a little extra to it.  You just hiked 20 miles, you deserve an extra bite, right?!

Now, dehydrate what you have until all moisture is removed.  When you're ready to rehydrate, just add about a cup of boiling water and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.  The burger may have a little crunch if you're impatient like me but it didn't stop me from gobbling this down.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

PaleoMealsToGo.com


I have a sample from PaleoMealsToGo that I will be reviewing in the very near future.  I have gotten behind on updating this blog (which is of no surprise to me) and thus my review of the product.  I am an IT guy in my professional life so it overshadows my hobbies and extracurricular activities more often than not.  If I had it my way I would spend my days promoting Paleo to everyone, hiking, and doing fun things but money rules our society and we kind of need it to survive and work prevails.  So, I update when I can or rather when I am thinking about it.


I am usually a DIY type when it comes to preparing my own meals for the trail but if this dehydrated meal works out then you better believe I will use it quite often.  There are a handful of positive reviews already and I hope to add my own to the stack.  If you're not one to create your own meals and don't wish to eat the other junk from REI or your local outfitter (which I can't blame you) then this will be a good place to visit in the future.  I am also all for small start-ups when they're trying their best to do the right thing with nutrition.  I will gladly pay extra for a quality product that matches my needs.

Anyway, have a look at their wares and I will be back with a review of the product as soon as I am able.

Coconutter Squares

Ok, so I am not very good at food photography and in fact I am terrible but you get the idea of what this should look like.  I also lied, saying I wold have this out before last weekend.  Life has a funny way of distracting your best intentions though.

So, let's make some Coconutter Squares for your next trip! This thing is a fat bomb as it is almost completely Coconut Butter/Manna.  This recipe is totally free-form but it will give you an idea on how to modify it on your own as you see fit.  You'll need some Coconut Butter, a trail mix of your choosing, and some cinnamon.

Scoop out about a half a cup of coconut butter and toss it in a small sauce pan.  Heat it on low and keep an eye on things as it heats up.  You just want to melt it without burning it so be patient.  Add some cinnamon along the way as you stir and melt.  I have no measurement for this but I do like a lot of cinnamon personally.

Once your coconut butter is fully melted, add a little trail mix at a time until there is a decent ratio of mix to coconut.  Add as little or as much as you want.  I liked a trail mix with just a little dried fruit mixed in.  The coconut butter is naturally sweet to me so it doesn't take much to make it super sweet.

After you get everything mixed together, pour it into a mold of your choosing.  I have some little glass dishes for storage that I use (hence the shape in the photo).  If you're worried about it sticking, just line your mold with a little wax paper.  Just be mindful of folds in the wax paper as it will get stuck easily and you may be munching on wax paper on the trail  (Yes this has happened to me).

So, that's it!  It's a very simple creation and can be modified as needed.  Heck, add some vanilla or even some clean chocolate chips if you dare.  If you've ever eaten coconut butter from the jar you know it's a little dry but its super yummy and satiating.  It forces you to drink some extra water which is never a bad thing on the trail anyway.

If you want a printable version of this I have it on my other website

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2lbs of Paleo meals for a weekend

The awesomeness that I consumed on the trail
I had meant to write up an entry before I went on this hike but my trip was delayed due to my hiking buddy succumbing to a most serious injury...from tether ball with his daughter!  Yeah, seriously.  So we delayed our trip for a month and I soon forgot I even had a blog pertaining to Backpacking or Paleo or whatever it is that I write about.  Nonsense mostly!

So, anyway I just wanted to share what I had on the trail.  We headed out to the lower Nantahala National Forest in NC and tried out the Standing Indian Loop trail  I had heard great things about this trial so it was on my to-do list.  Since we're late in the season I wanted to make sure I had at least one warm meal for Saturday since I knew it would be a long day.  The early weather forecasts had called for highs in the 40's and lows in the 20's, which then switched to highs in the mid 60's and lows in the upper 40's.  That sounded much better but what we got was something completely different.  We ended up with a persistant fog, wind, and moisture that must have added about 10 lbs of weight to my back.  The fog destroyed any chance for any type of scenic view but I was content getting on the trail.

Alright, so, yeah I was talking about my meals.  Since I actually planned this for October and not November I had my meals sitting in a freezer until it was time to go. I ended up weighing the pouch before leaving and realized it was still a little hefty at 2lbs but I'll work on cutting weight in the future.  I was happy with what I had so I can complain and it sure beat the typical freeze dried crap or tasteless oatmeal that I used to eat long ago and crashed halfway through the morning.

Friday night I just had some cashews and some clean chocolate chips.  We were starting after dark so I made sure I had dinner in me beforehand.  I also gulped down a coconut water before I got to the trailhead to ensure hydration and boost the potassium.

Saturday morning I had 3 pickled eggs and some pre-cooked bacon and my infamous coconutter squares.  I also enjoyed a nice hot black tea.  The vinegar in the eggs is a real boost in the mornings!

Saturday lunch I had dehydrated some sweet potatoes (see previous post) which turned pretty much into chips (or could be reconstituted into mash potatoes if you wanted), some Applegate Farms Salami slices, some homemade jerky, and another chunk of coconutter.  I munched on my cashew/chip mix throughout the day to keep some fats rolling and replenish the salt that steadily dripped off of me.

Saturday dinner was a new recipe straight from my dehydrator.  I used a recipe called Paleo Joe from Dana Carpender's 500 Paleo Recipes.  It consisted of ground beef, spinach, eggs, garlic, onion, sundried tomatoes, salt and pepper.  I might be missing a couple of other items but if anyone wants to know the full process for this, just let me know and I'll add an entry on it.  So I made a huge batch for this back in October, scooped out a portion for a king after a long day hike, and added it to the dehydrator for a few hours until it was nice and crispy.  I then vac sealed it and tossed it in the freezer to make sure it kept well until my trip.  When it came time to eat I just added about a cup of boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes.  I was too impatient and started eating and a few morsels were crunchy but it tasted great.

I also wanted to have a little desert.  So, I grabbed one of those organic baby food pouches.  Yeah it may be a little hefty for the Ultralight crowd but it tasted great.  Sometimes I will allow the extra weight for a little comfort.  That's why I have a pack pillow.  I survived for years on ziploc bags crammed with clothes but I am a big boy now and I carry a pillow.  Shut up.  Yeah I eat baby food too!  Giggle all you want they're really tasty and I use them all the time on my day hikes.

Of course Sunday morning I stuck by my old standby with pickled eggs and bacon and whatever else I hadn't consumed already.  There's nothing like an empty pack on the way out of the trail especially when your ankles and calves are banged up from the previous days, any load off the back is worthwhile.

I don't really keep tabs on who or what reads this blog.  If anyone finds it useful let me know.  Or, if you want to know my process for things or recipes....I'd be more than happy to oblige.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dehydrated Sweet Potatoes

For my next outing I wanted to add a little more carbs to the trip so I have created some simple dehydrated sweet potatoes.  One site called it Sweet Potato Bark but it added cinnamon and sugar and a bunch of junk I don't need.  I wanted a more savory flavor with a hint of natural sweetness from the sweet potato.  Once created one could eat these as "chips" or smash them up and reconstitute them with some boiling water as a side dish.

For this little project you'll need a dehydrator or dehydrate in your oven at its lowest temperature

Making a Paste

 

I didn't want to waste a lot on this one so I only used one potato to experiment.  I was impressed how well it came out and its similar to a fruit roll up but crispier.  So, what you want to do is roughly chop up a potato and toss it in some water with a little salt and boil away.  Keep an eye on things until the sweet potato softens up real well and them remove from the burner.  Don't pour off the water just yet.

I pulled out my trusty ninja for the task but any blender or food processor should do just fine.  I scooped out the potatoes into the blender and pulsed it a few times and then drizzled some water in to make it into a paste.  You want the consistency similar to baby food so it can be spread well.  Mine was a little thick yet but still came out quite well.  It may take a little longer to dry though if it's too thick.

Dehydrate


I setup the dehydrator and cut out some parchment paper to fit the trays and spread the mixture as evenly as possible across the paper.  I then added a little salt and pepper to punch up the taste a bit.  Once complete just fire up the dehydrator.  I ran mine around 135 degrees for about 12 hours but time may vary depending on the equipment used and the humidity in the air.  If you're doing this in the oven you may have a temperature of around 150-170 degrees so it may take less time.  Keep it doing until it turns crispy or if you want more of a veggie leather, go with less time.

I admit this comes out a little weird and it's akin to eating salty candy as it tends to stick in my teeth.  That said, it's very tasty and extremely light so it will make a great snack or addition to my lunch on the trail.  I am thinking it may pair well with some roasted coconut flakes.  I'm sure there are other combinations of seasoning to try like cumin/chili powder for a more latin flair or you could still do the cinnamon but ditch the sugar for a breakfast type addition.

Next up I will be prepping a dehydrated dinner for my next trip in a couple weeks.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Planning Paleo Meals for the Trail

I know I haven't spent much time here writing out things as much as I thought I would.  So, I will try to stay the course but I have so many projects bouncing around in my head it sometimes becomes difficult to focus on one task for very long.

Regardless, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to plan out my meals on the trail.  I have experimented with a lot of different things with what I had available at the time.  Some of those items worked and others not so much.  One thing I did learn was that although jerky is good, you can't rely on it for an entire weekend on the trail.  One's jaw tends to get tired of chewing and it doesn't make for a quick lunch meal when you're trying to cram in 15 or more miles in a day.

As a Boy Scout when I was younger (and eventually an Eagle Scout) we were always forced to plan our meals for our camping trips.  This is something that always stuck with me so I always have to have a solid plan and then I will toss in a little extra just in case there is an emergency or something falls through.

Fail Safe foods


I always want to keep foods with me that are not going to spoil on me.  So the standard fare for the pack are trial mixes (which I often mix myself since not all nuts agree with me).  I used to keep huge batches with me and then realized I always went home with a ton after the trip.  So I'll keep it to a minimum (about a cup total) to reduce costs in weight added.  I will go for something like cashew, coconut flakes, and some sort of dried fruit (but go easy on the dried fruit).

Fats


Fats are one of my stumbling points to date on getting them packed for the trail.  I do keep coconut manna (butter) with me in some form or another and it really is a booster for satiating me and keeping me fueled on my trip.  I am still trying to bring more fats with me that will not go rancid.  During cooler months I will bring precooked bacon often mixed with a pickled eggs for breakfast.  I seal these in individual vacuum seal backs so it sort of ends up wrapped together.  I didn't think I could go for a vinegar based meal first thing in the morning but it was actually refreshing and got the body moving.

Since Tallow is often utilized for Pemmican (which I have yet to find a recipe that doesn't make me gag) I may consider just bring a small container of tallow on the next trip to see if it can hang in for a couple days before bombing out.

Carbs


Carbs are something that I have underutilized on my trips in the past but I am not reconsidering the usage of more to recover at the end of the day and refill my glycogen stores.  I think this is a vital key that I have been missing regarding recovery.  I eat extremely low carb on a daily basis (very close to a steady Ketogenic state) so I thought I would continue that on the trail when I think int fact I need a boost.  So my next venture will include a heavier dose probably in the form of dehydrated sweet potatoes and or a few more dried veggies.

Pulling it Together


My typical weekend trip is usually a Friday evening night hike with a full Saturday and usually out by around lunch time on Sunday.

Friday Night:
A small snack (trial mix and maybe some jerky) once getting settled in for the night (Steve's Paleo Kits are perfect for this)
Sat Breakfast:
Pickled eggs, bacon, Coconut butter treat
Lunch:
Summer sausage (or one that can handle room temperature), Dried Fruit, Nuts, and maybe some hard cheese (if you go for a more Primal diet)
Sat Dinner: 
You'll want something hearty and warm after a long day.  I am working on some recipes myself but I would go for a dehydrated meat (chicken or beef).  Both of which can be done in your home with paying a boat load for the pre-packaged meals.  Add in some dried veggies and carbs of your choice.  Note that the flavors will be diminished so keeping a spice combo available in your kit is a good idea.  A favorite for me is to go with a beef, sweet potato mix with mexican/cuban spice.  I've heard Avocado CAN be dehydrated as a guacamole but I have yet to try it.
Sun Breakfast:  Same as Sat (because I am super inventive)

As I said before I will always pack a couple extra things, be it extra jerky or something snacky just in case I end up on the trail longer than expected or I want something for my ride home.

I'll report back once I start working on some recipes again.  I'd love to hear other suggestions.  My goal is high fat, moderate protein, and a decent boost of carbs as needed.  I'll keep the natural sugars to a minimum.  They're good for an uphill boost but that's about it until I crash and need the sustaining power of fats.