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Backcountry Cooking

Backcountry Cooking
The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Cooking
by Sierra Adare
Skyhorse Publishing, 2011

Unlike most cookery where dishes are prepared shortly before dining, cooking for backpacking trips and other outdoor expeditions requires advance preparation and lots of bags.
Backcountry Cooking
In this backcountry dining guide, menus for five trips ranging in length from five to 10 days are carefully detailed with recipes, ingredient lists, instructions and advice. The ingredients are purchased from a local grocer. The meals are prepared in advance and bagged.

High Plains Hash

Back in the 1600s, "hash" described a wide variety of dishes made from leftover meat and vegetables. Settlers chopped the ingredients very fine, put them into a kettle of boiling water, added a bit of salt and pepper, and sprinkled enough dry flour over the mixture to produce a thick gravy. In the U.S. Army of the 1700s and 1800s, the only difference between hash, stew and soup was the amount of water used. One cook in 1866 claimed four quarts of beans, two pounds of hash "boiled to rags in fifty quarts of water, will furnish a good meal for forty men" for about two cents a serving.

See Recipe File

Wilderness Baking

"To bake successfully in the wilderness, you need a lid fire," according to Adare. A lid fire is a small flame fed by twigs no larger than a pencil that burns on the lid of the skillet in order to create the top heat source.

The skillet or pan should be filled with batter no more than halfway to the lid so that the baked food won't reach the lid as it rises. "Arrange the tinder on the lid. Loosely cover it with matchstick-sized twigs in a rough pyramid shape. Hold the flame of either a lighter or a match to the tinder until it catches fire. After the fire gets going, distribute it evenly over the entire surface of the lid (for even baking)."

To keep the dish from burning, the skillet or pot must be rotated frequently. Adare suggests placing the skillet slightly off center over the flame below. Every few minutes she shifts the position so that another section is off center. She marks the starting point with a rock to help her keep track of the rotation, dividing the baking time into quarters to ensure even baking.

"Allow baked items to cook at least half of the time specified in the recipe before  checking on it. Otherwise, the stuff may crater and never rise again."

White Water Biscuits

2 c. flour
4 T. powdered milk
1 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3 T. margarine

Blend and bag all ingredients except margarine.

In-the-field preparation:
Cut margarine into biscuit mix. Add 1 1/4 c. of cold water to dry ingredients or enough to form a soft dough. Pat into biscuits about 1/2 inch thick. Back in the skillet with a lid fire 10-15 minutes until slightly browned. Makes 12-14.

Dutch Oven
Dutch Oven

Mess Kit
Mess Kit

Salt-and-Pepper Shaker
Salt-and-Pepper Shaker

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