View Full Version : What do you cook your food in?
I hope this is in the right slot, but I wondered what poeple here cook their food in. I know it's quick and light to boil water in a billy and rehydrate dried food, but what about real food?
Does anyone take a wok, frying pan or dutch oven with them, or are there even more inventive ideas?
Years ago Campmor sold a fish shaped wire grill. the wire was smaller in diameter than say, coathanger wire and the whole thing weighed substantially less than a frying pan, was about 16" long and could accomodate a 12-14" trout or 2-3 fish 10" long. It was easy to prop up on a couple of rocks in the fireplace and saved me having to cut up a fish and pick bones out of my teeth throughout a meal. I still carry it when I think there's fish to be caught. To be practical for groups, everyone needs to have one of their own or they have to wait for me to finish with mine.
I also bought a small cookie sheet to use as a griddle/wok/frying pan, but never really got around to working out the bugs.
I don't think either of these adapts too well to a liquid or gas stove.
Boiled water is the "standard", but there are a few other options... several people here are interested in an ultralight wok (check out the thread "A Wok for Rock" and "folding cups" - I think thats its name anyway). Asian style cooking is quick and easy in the woods... and little bit of oil heats to cooking temp faster than a cup or two of water anyway.
I dont know of anyone who would "backpack" a dutch oven, not over any serious distance anyway. I like potjie pots for when we are car camping or taking the Jeep out (potjie can be used over a wood fire, or a propane burner)
I haven't really done it since making the switch to ultralight and Leave No Trace methods, but I've cooked real food with a campfire, pot, lid/frying pan, aluminum foil and recipes from "The Complete Book of Camping", an old school classic published by Outdoor Life. I still have the book. I'll have to dust it off and take another look at it. There might be some useful ideas to adapt for ultralight.
Anyway, if backpacking where fires are allowed, the aluminum foil method works great for a lot of real food; though I would now also use parchment paper -- that is, wrap the food in parchment first, then in foil. The paper (look for it in the baking aisle) eliminates the risk of ingesting aluminum oxide (a possible Alzheimer's cause) and allows you to reuse the foil.
Let the fire (a small one's all you need) burn until you can scrape out enough coals to make a "bed", a single layer of coals the size and shape of the food packet. Cover the bed with a layer of ashes to tone down the heat some and prevent scorching, then lay on the food packet. Timing is key, but I can't help you much there. You'll have to learn it by experience. It's a good sign when the foil packet puffs up and you can smell the food. It's a bad sign if you see smoke and smell burnt food.
Fish is great cooked this way with salt, pepper and slices of lemon. An apple with the core cut out and refilled with nuts, raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon is a classic. Another classic is chicken, beef or ham with potato, carrot, onion and pepper cut into strips or small chunks and seasoned with salt and pepper. You could instead skewer the preceding on a stick and cook it over the fire.
Winter is good for packing fresh foods, because the cold keeps things fresh or frozen. Be very careful in warmer temps, especially with meats. Some things you can freeze solid before you go and keep frozen or cold for several days if you insulate it with your sleeping bag and/or extra clothes. The vegetables and fruits I mentioned do well without refrigeration. Others include green beans, corn on the cob, peas (in the pod), cabbage and oranges.
I've been the "Chief-cook-and-bottle-washer" for going on 35 years. Quite frankly, I prefer to do my real cooking and dishwashing where I have access to plenty of hot running water, soap, a automatic dishwasher, etc. One the trail, I usually am cooking for just me, so do the prep at home, dehydrate stuff and use the boil water and dump as much as possible.
That said-If I am car camping, dragging along hubby, or in the mood to experiment, I've steamed all sorts of foods using a simple alcohol stove. If you don't want to buy a bakepacker, you can make a simple rack by cutting holes in a recycled disposable pie plate, bent to fit inside your pot. Use a second cut down and bent to fit as a pan or disposable foil muffin/cupcake liners. I've made cake, muffins, "poached" eggs, and other foods this way.
You CAN, if you wish, make stew using small meat balls and smaller cut vegetables over an alcohol stove in a 3-4 cup pot. (At least, I have.) I had to refill the stove a time or two, but it worked. Smaller-cut veggies and ground meat allows cooking in a reasonable time. Larger pieces or larger chunks of meat just need too much time to get tender.
Of course, you are likely to have heard of foil cooking. It isn't just for Cub Scouts using hamburger patties. I haven't tried pasta in foil, but rice should be possible if you use heavy duty foil and crimp it tightly. Line the bottom with sliced onion so the rice is less likely to stick and burn. Maybe do this with a layer of onion, some meat, flavorings, then veggies, and rice (plus water).
I have a cool gadget that I tested for BackpackGearTest.org. Again, I reserve it now for car camping, close to car backpacking, and when I need to impress someone. (Cough, rare! :biggrin: ) REI.com used to have this item: the Pac-Flat Backpackers Grill. I think it weighs 8 oz. (It has been a few years.) Most alcohol stoves don't have the output to drive the grill, and the quantity of fuel it requires makes me reach for one of my other stoves instead of the alcohol types. I've grilled burgers, veggies, kabobs, pork chops, steaks, and chicken fillets. Propane, butane, and campfires all worked well.
Along with the HYOH, do your own food thing. As I said, above, I usually stick to boiling water for dinner, period. But, then, I've had 35 years of KP.... :biggrin:
We use a Trangia storm kitchen: Windscreen, potstand, 2 pots and a fryingpan/lid.
We've replaced the original DUOSAL pots and pan/lid with the Trangia Ti replacements :biggrin: saving ½kg on that account.
The Trangia kit can be used as a makeshift owen for baking ect.
I enjoy baking on the trail, using a wal-mart grease pot and an aluminum pot-pie pan with a coil of aluminum to hold the pan off the pot bottom to prevent scorching. Risk wrote it all up on his site.www.imrisk.com
I enjoy baking on the trail, using a wal-mart grease pot and an aluminum pot-pie pan with a coil of aluminum to hold the pan off the pot bottom to prevent scorching.
I'm guessing weight is not an issue for you, but you can eliminate the coil by instead using a flat stone or 3 pebbles found on site. Thermal mass of the stone or pebbles can also stabilize the temperature inside the pot. DO NOT USE sandstone, slate or similar stone which could contain trapped water and explode when heated.
If you ... buy a bakepacker
What bags do you use in your bakepacker?
Have you used it over a campfire as opposed to a stove? If so, any tips to controlling the fire? (I've had trouble managing the heat when using a campfire.)
The coil is left over from an aluminum oven liner. The edge of the liner is rolled as it comes from the store. I trimmed the edge off to form my wind screen but didn't trash it right away. When I was trying to figure how to replicate Brawny's baking ideas with my cat stove, I hit on a way to lift the pot-pie tin off the bottom of the grease pot to prevent scorching. The coil weighs so little I have to watch it isn't blown away when I'm cooking my oats.
…The coil weighs so little I have to watch it isn't blown away when I'm cooking my oats.I sometimes have that problem with my whole "kitchen" if I'm not quick about filling the pot with water and the stove with alcohol, but that's a good problem. :)
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