And there you are in the forrest, after a whole day of hitchhiking, cycling, walking or driving. You’re hungry and want to fill that hole in your stomach. In this piece I’ll give you some tips ‘n trick on how to cook, what to bring and finally some good recipes.
It can be pretty hard, cooking outdoor, with just one pot on a fire. But it can also be pretty amazing to have that slight taste of smoke or fire in your food. You don’t need BBQ sauce with that! There are a couple of different ways to cook: a simple stove, on a fire, on hot charcoal or even on pinecones. Lets have a look at the stoves first.
The stove: There are lots and lots of stoves. Super expensive ones burning on all kinds of fuel and cheap ones made from just a tin can. The stove I’ve been using for some years now is a simple gel/wood stove (on the picture above). It contains a pot for cooking, a burner for gel, alcohol or any type of burnable liquid and a tray to put the pot on. In the tray the burner perfectly fits. Mostly I cook on wood, but at places where there are hardly any trees (northern Scotland for example) its handy to take some burning gel. Gel has my preference as it is much safer then liquids. I remember one day cooking in the side of my tent (already dangerous!) and i accidentally flipped the whole thing over… With proper liquid there would be flames all over directly, but with gel it just slowly drips out. Next to this, most gels available don’t produce smoke and very toxic residue on your pots’ n pans. Firelighter blocks, lamp oil and stuff with oil in it gives huge flames and lots of smoke, something you don’t want to have.
Check out the toxic residue on the pot!
Extra tip: Build your own stove of rocks, bricks or metal!
Cooking on a fire: When you want to cook on a fire, you have to keep that in mind when you start the fire. It also depends on what you would like to cook of course. If you happen to have a big pot, its good to stack logs up and make a kind of stove from logs. But make sure the logs will not burn trough when cooking!
You could also make a bed of charcoal and put you pot on there. A quit tip for cooking on fire, keep the lid on the pot! It’s nice to have a smokey flavor but ashes in your food is not cool. The best thing to cook on a campfire is meat in my opinion. The taste of the fire really goes in the meat and to add some extra flavor you can put some pinecones or birch in the flames.
But what could you bring? There are some foods or ingredients that are perfect for backpacking. I can tell you that tomatoes are not one of them in my opinion. They’re tasty ‘n healthy but lets face it, would you walk around with a kilo of tomatoes smashed in your backpack? Although when the tomatoes are concentrated and formed into paste they’re the best! So let me give you a list of stuff that is really worth to take.
Extra tip: cook entirely on pinecones; your food will get a great taste!
– Carrots: Tasty, healthy and you can use them in every food. Also good to eat raw as a snack.
– Onions: Onions have a strong taste, so you can use a half one in every meal to make the meal complete.
– Brown Beans: Canned beans are great to eat when you need some magnesium for your muscles and to fill your stomach. Good together with the onions, carrots and other vegetables for a nice stew.
– Garlic: Garlic is a natural antibiotic and has a very strong taste. If you feel a little under the weather on your travels, eat a piece of garlic before you go to sleep and you can notice that you feel better the next morning. Next to this, you can use garlic for nearly every food.
– Canned Fish: Nearly all types of canned fish you can eat raw. Good for a snack but also good to add to a whole meal.
– Stock Cubes: For adding a bit of taste to blend food. They have saved my life a couple of times! (Naja, saved the taste of my food…)
– Tomato Paste: This comes in handy with everything! Pasta, stew, vegetables, fish…
– Couscous: This is great stuff, it tastes good and it goes well with lots of vegetables. The only thing you have to do to cook it, is to put it in hot water for a minute and its ready! If you consider to take rice with you, take this instead. It saves you 10 minutes of boiling.
– Tabasco: Yes, it spices everything up! Even a piece of dry bread tastes better with tabasco…
– Red Wine: Not only for cooking, but also for drinking!
Next to this it’s always good to carry a salt/pepper mix, chili powder or some other spices. Spices don’t weigh so much, but they can enhance every meal! I like to buy a pack of taco mix or some other mexican spice mix, but italian herbs are also pretty damn good. These 25 grams are worth it, I assure you.
Extra tip: coffee! It’s not food, but tell me that in the morning…
And after the fire tips and the food tricks some recipes. There is one recipe I tried some weeks ago in the bush above a fire and it was delicious! I tried it a week later at home and it was good, but it missed a outside feeling. So if you ever make this, make sure you prepare it outside above a fire! You can find it here.
Pasta del ponte: what do you need? Pasta, tomato paste, olives, capers, onion, garlic, salt’n peppa, stock cube, tabasco, red wine.
Cook the pasta with the stock cube. When it’s done put the pasta in a plate (or on a piece of paper if you don’t have plates) and put the garlic and onion in the pot with a little wine. Cook for some minutes and add the capers. After a minute or 2 add tomato paste, water and some more wine, tabasco and the salt’n pepper. Let it boil for 5 minutes and serve with the pasta. Preferably close to a bridge.
Brown bean stew: What do you need? Canned beans, onion, chili powder, sausage or diced bacon, a carrot, tomato paste, red pepper, mexican spice mix.
Start with the meat and bake it for some time. Now add the onion, and the carrot. Keep steering and when the onions are glassy, add the tomato paste and the chili powder. If you want you can add a little wine with the paste, but water will do too. Add the mexican spice mix and let it simmer for some minutes. When you think it’s almost done add the red pepper. It will still contain all the vitamins, and makes the stew fresh. There u go! A mexican bean stew, full of fibers and vitamins.
For more recipes you can read “The beer can cookbook“. A great adventure cookbook made by Leah, an american traveler.
Happy cooking and don’t forget your spoon in the forrest!
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