"New Zealand Backcountry Cooking | Recipes for trampers, campers and other outdoor adventures"

Authors | Paul and Rebecca Garland
Publisher | Potton & Burton
Publication | December 2015
Cost | $39.99
Buy | good bookstores, or online (with free postage) at Potton & Burton

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Food, glorious food.

Food rates high on the enjoyment scale after any day’s efforts in the outdoors. Something tasty and filling is always highly appreciated. And with the calorie burn off, for once there is no guilt in having a decent scoff out.

Backcountry Cooking has a useful summary of most of what you need to know about food in an extensive introduction: planning, sample menus, vacuum packing, dehydration, flavour, cooking equipment, etc.

The main sections have a large range of recipes: lightweight fresh foods, suitable for weekend trips; tasty rice/chickpea/pasta based meals for multi-day excursions; some suitable for families; even a few with a more gourmet style. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

I have spent many days preparing my own sustenance huddled over a fuel stove but, to be honest, have previously been singularly unimaginative about my menu. When bike touring in Australia in remote areas it was often two or three weeks between supermarkets, and even then there was often little choice of eats. I survived on muesli or porridge for breakfast, and spaghetti with tomato paste and sprinkling of Parmesan cheese for dinner. The drained water from the spag was used for a cup of soup. I couldn’t waste that water.

Reliable but, what can I say, intensely boring for extensive periods of time.

Uninspired, perhaps, but it nevertheless transferred adequately to New Zealand tramping conditions: easily prepared, tasty enough and compact. Each 500 g pasta packet could be divided into two or three dinners, depending on hunger.

With my southern half of Te Araroa tramp up the South Island, I was carrying 14 days’ food at times, well, immediately after resupply, so compactness for the 700 g a day requirement for sufficient calories, and ease of preparation needed to rate highly. Minimising fuel use was also important.

This book provides many suggestions for increasing the variety in my diet for future expeditions.

There are plenty of ideas in Backcountry Cooking, some that can be modified for longer trips by pre-dehydrating, and then adding water and heating when required.

The recipes are easy enough to whip up, if you are organised. Some require fresh ingredients, and are therefore only feasible for a weekend trip.

For this summer’s Little Adventure, inspired by this book, I have dehydrated five day batches of Venison and Dark Ale Stew recipe, and Sweet Kumara and Pumpkin Red Curry, with extraneous cashews, to use as a flavour filled topping to otherwise dull boil-in-a-bag rice. The nourishment is in the rice, the flavour comes with a limited quality of topping. Dehydration was easy enough to achieve using a fan based oven set on 50º C. Much less costly than commercially prepared dehy meals. There are going to be a few 14 day sections so bulk is always a crucial consideration.

That has to be 200% more variety than my previous diet, and to be frank, I’m over pasta in the hills.

Backcountry Cooking has a useful bunch of ideas for healthy and tasty sustenance that would be welcomed at the end of any big effort day.

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