Friday, April 14, 2017

Forgot Your Stove?

We did. Fortunately it was just a weekend overnight car camping trip to Smith Rock, but regardless we didn't have a way to heat up our food. I had already pre-cooked a stir-fry breakfast like I usually do for car camping trips, so we just ate that cold, and our lunch was no-cook anyways, but dinner...

We had planned on making burgers with some ground beef from our freezer and now we sat looking at a pound of raw meat wondering what to do. All of a sudden, I remembered reading that if meat is frozen for more than 14 days, it is safe to eat raw because it kills all the bacteria in it. Our beef, part of a bulk order we'd had in our freezer for a while, had indeed been frozen for more than 14 days.

That solved it! Raw meat dinner! We pulled out our trusty bottle of mustard, diced up a few lacto-fermented pickles and some avocado, and basically stirred it all together. It was delicious! (Seriously...I know you're probably doubting this one.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuna or Salmon Chowder

This recipe deserves a story. A couple years ago, Max and I went on a 2-week bike trip on the Pacific Coast. The first week of riding was in beautiful, sunny, late-fall weather, iconic of the Great Northwest. During the second half of the trip, our luck changed. One morning we woke to rain. The type of rain that is also iconic of the Great Northwest, but in a very different way. Heavens-opening-up-on-you rain. You-might-as-well-be-in-a-swimming-pool rain. Stay-inside-and-listen-to-it-thunder-on-the-roof rain.

But we were trying to make it to San Francisco for the Divine Play acroyoga festival and needed to stay on schedule. So we rode. We rode 10 miles to the nearest town for breakfast at a cafe and dined, already soaked to the bone. Staying optimistic for the first half of the day that maybe it would let up at least a little, we pushed through for another 5 hours or so, and realized at 4pm that we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. Had it really been 5 hours? We'd been waiting for it to stop raining but it never had. We snacked quickly under a road overpass and made the decision to stay at a hotel that night. We then rode another hour or more until we found a small inn that wasn't too expensive.

We arrived, soaked through, shivering, hungry, tired, and cold, cold, cold. The owner of the inn was so kind to us. We asked if they had a dryer we could dry our sopping cycling clothes in, and he offered to take them for us and do it himself. An hour later he brought them to our door, and announced he had went ahead and washed them for us as well. He also brought us extra towels, not showing any sign that he was worried we'd grow a pond of mildew overnight in his room. We were exhausted as we hung up all our other dripping gear over the chairs, the ceiling fan, the doors, and anything else we could find.

Luckily we had two things: first, a pint of Häagen-Dazs ice cream we'd picked up at a convenience store a half-mile before the hotel, and second, the last of a gallon-sized bag of salmon chowder we'd already used for a couple dinners. We downed the whole pint of ice cream as a pre-dinner snack and cooked up a huge pot of this chowder, simmering it on our pocket-rocket on the front stoop outside our room, the sky still drizzling away. We ate it on the hotel bed watching episodes of Human Planet (if you haven't seen these shows, you should definitely check them out, they're pretty incredible). Rich and dense, it picked us up from the day behind and fueled us for the next day, which started with the biggest climb of the trip.

For 2 people

4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 TB dried dill
1 5-oz. can of clams
1 5-oz. can of wild-caught salmon or tuna
1/2 bag frozen peas
1 14-oz. can full-fat coconut milk
sea salt to taste
coconut flour or amaranth flour for thickening

In a large soup pot over medium-low heat, cook the bacon until the fat begins to release. Add onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and dill. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.
Add clams and salmon (add the juices, too!) and cook a few more minutes until heated through.
Stir in the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook about 10 minutes. Stir in peas just before turning of the heat.

Before dehydrating:
Allow soup to cool and check consistency. If it is very thin, it might need some thickening. We've used both coconut flour and amaranth flour (amaranth isn't technically paleo, but it's pretty tasty and I feel good about using it). Start with a small amount (about 1/4 cup) and stir it in completely before adding more. Coconut flour especially has a tendency to soak up liquid and make things really dry.

Let cool about 20 minutes, then spread on dehydrator trays covered in parchment paper and dehydrate 8-12 hours at 150 F, checking several times during this process to break up clumps and turn over. More dehydrating directions found here.

Before dehydrating

After dehydrating

To rehydrate:
Throw it all in a pot, add water until just covered, and let it soak for as long as you have. When ready to cook, bring to a boil (you might have to add more water after soaking) and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover pot with lid and let sit for another 5-10 minutes. Open and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Backpacking Coyote Gulch: 3-Day Menu

For a lot of people, Spring Break is synonymous with Utah. March is here and we're starting to get hints of nicer days, leaving us wanting more sun, more fresh air, and more barefoot time. For Max and I, it's also an opportunity to return to a place we called home for almost two years. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and never thought I would feel at home anywhere else. Giant Doug firs and western red cedars, shady mountain streams, coastal fog, rain, clouds, rain, and more's in my bones and I thought there would never be room for anything else. But, when you do a job like wilderness therapy, and you live in a desert landscape for 16 days out of every month, and you rely on the dry rocky soil, the dusty red cliffs, the shade from a stunted juniper, the smell of sunbaked sagebush, and the vast starry sky at night for comfort after a stressful can't help but get into your bones.

And so now I have a second place to call home, and I was very excited to go back during my spring break last week. Max and I were able to meet up with two close friends who still live there to do a 3-day backpacking trip through stunning Coyote Gulch in Southern Utah. I offered to make dinners for us all, and we ate well!

My favorite part of this trip was that we hiked barefoot most of the time. The canyon was mostly filled with very fine sand (almost like red flour), clay, small rocks, and some stretches of sandpapery slickrock. And a lot of the time we were walking ankle deep in the clear, cold stream cutting through the canyon. It was the ideal surface to go barefoot on - lots of variability, but nothing too painful for feet that are not that used to being barefoot. Our feet are the base of a majority of movements we make, and so it is so important to have full function in the feet. At first I thought that just meant having a zero-drop heel (meaning, not having any sort of raise between the toe and the heel), and a wide toe-box. But lately I've been learning that having full function also means that your foot is able to deform comfortably over objects you step on, that your toes can spread wide and also move independently from each other, and that you have good blood flow through the feet. I normally have very cold feet, especially while sleeping, but after a day of stimulation on sand, clay, rocks, and water, my feet were so warm I had to take my socks off in my sleeping bag. They were throbbing with blood flow, not in a painful way, but in a really happy, "this is what we're supposed to feel like!" way. It was definitely an ah-ha moment for me (and my feet).

This is what I ate on the trip:

Day 1:

  • Eggs & left over Indian food (at home)
  • Sausages & some other stuff I don't remember (in the car)
  • Iranian Beef Stew (about half of a gallon Ziploc for 4 people; supplemented with rice, but we probably didn't need it...we all ended up pretty stuffed)

(Note: We had only a small amount of this beef stew left over from a trip this summer, so I took some plain dehydrated vegetables - zucchini and yellow summer squash, some onions and tossed those in, and then cooked and dehydrated an extra pound of ground beef. I was worried that the tastes would be really separate, and not meld very well, but I was wrong! They blended really well and this was one of the best meals I've ever had backpacking!)

Day 2:

  • 1 Chocolate Sea Salt RX Bar 
  • 4 oz. summer sausage
  • Sardine "Bowl"- 1 tin sardines packed in olive oil, 1/2 carrot chopped, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 baby bell pepper, mustard
  • Salmon Chowder (one super stuffed pint Ziplock for 4 people; supplemented with rice, but we probably didn't need it)
  • Dark chocolate
Salmon Chowder

Day 3:

  • 1 Chocolate Sea Salt RX Bar
  • 4 oz. summer sausage
  • Sardine "Bowl"- 1 tin sardines packed in olive oil, 1/2 carrot chopped, 1/2 avocado, 1/2 baby bell pepper, mustard