PACKPACKING foodophiles maintain that "gourmet" meals belong in the out-of-doors as both tribute to nature's beauty and fitting reward for the physical exertions of the day. When motivation alone isn't enough to hike the highest mountain, it becomes apparent that food and hiking are synonymous: The one sustains and fuels the other.
Nutritious meals -- high in calories and taste and easily portable -- are needed to satisfy the hunger quotient of activity-whetted appetites.
Breakfast can be handled simply. Instant oatmeal or cream of wheat in one-serving envelopes become special when prepared with a handful of dried apples or tablesppon of mincemeat. Granola bars or granola cereal offer a quick repast, and a cup of piping hot chocolate or freshly brewed coffee puts a fine edge on the morning. For a relaxed start, an omelet of reconstituted dried eggs, mushrooms and onions is a king's breakfast, particularly when accompanied by a serving of reconstituted hash browns and onions.
Lunch is every man's smorgasbord: salamis which require no refrigeration, hard cheeses such as Cheddar of Swiss (or waxed cheeses such as Gouda or Edam) small tins of tuna, sardines, kippers, chicken, deviled ham or small sausages can be eated with dense, compact breads such as pumpernickel, bagels, pita or canned brown or date bread. Spread with peanut butter, any one of these becomes an energy-filled treat. Dry soups, the mainstay of any hiker's pantry, can be augmented with tuna and Japanese ramen (noodles) for lunch.
For snacks: fresh fruit, a luxury on long hikes, has a reserved spot on a shorter stint; and your favorite homemade cookies can be packed for the trip (in the top of the pack so they will not be reduced to crumbs); dried fruits and nuts are another welcome break guaranteed to rejuvenate flagging energy levels.
If breakfast and lunch are merely resting spots along the trail, dinner is the feast around which the day revolves. The standard one-pot dinner is based on a combination of items: a starch such as potatoes, noodles, rice, beans, spaghetti or bulgur; a source of protein such as jerky, dried hamburger, freeze-dried ham, dried shrimp, cheese or canned chicken; a base (soup or sauce) with which the meal is bound together; freeze-dried vegetables and seasonings.
Armed with a one-burner stove, a recipe, and the pre-mixed and packaged ingredients, the outdoor chef is born. Creativity isn't left behind in the city; in camp it becomes ingenuity, resourcefulness and theater.
The menu for a two-day weekend follows. Trailhead
Dinner: Shrimp Creole, steamed broccoli with margarine, vanilla pudding, lemon tea. Day 1
Breakfast: Fruit pemmican, dried apricots, orange-flavored powdered drink, orange spice tea with honey.
Lunch: Cheddar cheese, hard salami, small whole loaf of pumpernickel bread, oranges, peanut butter cookies and fruit-flavored powdered drink.
Dinner: Hamburger stroganoff, iceberg lettuce salad with vinaigrette dressing, cheesecake served with pitted cherries in heavy syrup and wine. Day 2
Breakfast: Scramble eggs, hash browns and onions, coffee.
Lunch: Vegetable soup (use less water than called for) with 1 small can tuna added, sardines in mustard sauce, pita bread, dried apricots and lime-flavored powdered drink.
Dinner: Chicken cream with vegetables and dumplings, freeze-dried peas with basil, margarine, trial snaps and cocoa with creme de menthe. Fruit Pemmican Moist, delicious fruit bars, high in protein, yummy for breakfast, lunch or a snack. 1 cup raisins 1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup milk powder 1/2 cup wheat germ 1/3 cup soy flour 1/4 cup wheat bran 1/2 cup almonds, walnuts, brazils or filberts, chopped (or whole) 2 tablespoons corn or safflower oil Enough grape, apple or cranberry juice to make thick batter
At Home: Mix all ingredients well. Spread into 8-inch square pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool before cutting into squares and removing from pan. Wrap individual servings in plasting wrap, bag and carry in top of pack. SCRAMBLED EGGS (2 servings) 8 tablespoons dried egg powder 12 tablespoons water
At Home: Bag dry ingredient.
In Camp: Put dried egg powder in a bowl, and 12 tablespoons water and stir until mixture is perfectly smooth. Melt margarine in pan; add egg mixture, cook to desired texture while stirring constantly. Serve.
Note: When reconstituting powdered eggs, milk, puddings or sauces, always add liquid to powder: put dry powder in a bowl and slowly add the desired amount of water, stirring constantly. The opposite technique (pouring powdered contents into a pot of water) results in permanent lumps. HASH BROWNS AND ONIONS (2 Servings) 2 cups dehydrated hash browns 1/2 cup dehydrated onions 1 1/2 cups water 2 tablespoons margarine Salt At Home: Bag together hash browns and onions.
In camp: Soak contents of bag in water for 10 minutes. Cook in melted margarine for 10 minutes, stirring often; season with salt and serve with eggs. m SHRIMP CREOLE (1 serving) 1 tablespoon dried onions 1/8 tablespoon or more garlic powder 1/2 tablespoon dried bell peppers 1/2 tablespoon dried celery flakes Creole spice packet: dash each of cayenne pepper, basil, rosemary, thyme, file, marjoram, savory, nutmeg, parsley, and a bay leaf. 1/4 cup brown rice, presoaked Oil or margarine 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce 1/2 cup water 1 small can (4 1/2-ounce) shrimp, drained
At Home: Put the onions, garlic, bell peppers and celery flakes into a plastic bag; put the components of the Creole spice packet into a second plastic bag. Place these packets inside a third bag containing the rice. Leave shrimp and tomato sauce in original containers.
Preparation: Presoak the rice in enough water to cover for 2 to 3 hours before dinner; drain before adding to pot.
In Camp: Pour a little oil or margarine into saucepan or pot and saute onion, garlic, bell peppers and celery flakes briefly. Add tomato sauce, Creole spice packet, water and rice, bring to boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until rice is done. About 2 minutes before serving, stir in the shrimp, being careful to avoid breaking them.
Note: Because of the weight of the ingredients for this dish, it is an excellent meal to be made the evening before you start your hike. To presoak rice when hiking: Carry it in a tightly lidded plastic container carried within a second container. Adapted from "Backpacker's Budget Food Book" HAMBURGER STROGANOFF (4 to 6 servings) 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds extra lean ground beef, frozen 2 1/2 cups whole wheat elbow macaroni 1 package (1 3/4 ounce) stroganoff sauce mix reconstituted with 7 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk Sour cream sauce mix (1.25 ounces), reconstituted with 5 tablespoons powdered milk, optional 2 cups water Salt
At Home: Freeze hamburger, wrap in several layers of absorbent paper and enclose it in a strudy plastic bag tied securely with a rubber band. Let it defrost during first day of hike and use for the first day's dinner.
Bag together macaroni, two mixes (left in their own packets) and powdered milk (in two bags).
In Camp: Brown meat in one pan.Drain most of the fat. Make stroganoff sauce and sour cream sauce according to package directions. Boil macaroni in salted water in a second pan, stirring to keep it from sticking to pan. When almost cooked, add the stroganoff mix, then add beef and sour cream. Serve at once.
Variation: Use dried hamburger. In Camp: Presoak 6 ounces of dried hamburger in water for 15 minutes; then cook macaroni in same pot. MAKE AT HOME DRIED HAMBURGER
One and a half pounds of extra-lean ground beef reduces to 6 ounces. At Home: Brown meat until all red color is gone. Drain well. Spread several layers of paper towels on a large cookie sheet and dry overnight in a 150-to 200-degree oven. Will be very dry and hard to chew (until reconstituted). Cool and store in tight plastic bag; keeps on shelf in a cool place.
In Camp: Use about 2 to 3 ounces of meat in the one-pot meal with a starch, dried vegetables, a base and seasonings; presoak entire dinner in 2 1/2 cups of cold water for 10 minutes or more, then bring to a boil. CHICKEN CREAM WITH VEGETABLES AND DUMPLINGS (4 servings) 1 package (2 5/8-ounce) leek soup mix 2 ounces freeze-dried chicken or 4 ounces chicken-flavored TVP or 1 can boned chicken 1 cup soup greens 1 teaspoon dill weed 1 teaspoon tarragon 1 package (6 1/2 ounce) buttermilk biscuit mix 3/4 cup dry milk powder 5 to 7 cups cold water
At Home: Bag together soup (in its envelope), chicken, soup greens and herbs. Bag biscuit mix and milk powder separately.
In Camp: Add water to all but biscuit mix and milk. Bring to boil, stirring regularly. Simmer 10 minutes. In a cup, reconstitute milk with 3 to 6 tablespoons of soup, then add it to pot.
Prepare dumpling dough: add 1/2 cup water to biscuit mix and stir to blend. While liquid is simmering gently, dip out dough by the teaspoonful and drop into stew. Cover the pan; simmer gently until dumplings have risen and are done in the center (5 to 10 minutes). Cook one layer of dumplings at a time; serve the first batch, then cook the second in the remaining stew (makes about 20 dumplings). CHEESECAKE (4 hearty servings) 1 package (10 1/2 ounce) cheesecake mix 1 can (16 ounces) pitted cherries packed in heavy syrup, partially drained Crust 1 envelope graham crumbs 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 cup melted margarine (or oil) Filling: 8 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk 1 1/2 cups water
At Home: Bag cheesecake mix (2 packets in own wrapping); can of cherries; bag sugar and instant nonfat dry milk separately.
In Camp: CRUST. In 7-inch cook kit frying pan, mix together graham crumbs, sugar and margarine (or oil). Press firmly over bottom and sides of plate. FILLING. In small bowl, add water gradually to milk powder. Stir until smooth. Add filling mix. Blend with fork until thick; pour into crust Set pie pan in shallow part of stream (or in a large pan of cold water) to chill (being careful not to wet contents of pie). When filling has set, spoon drained cherries over cheesecake and serve. VANILLA PUDDING (4 servings) 1 package (3 3/4-ounce) French vinilla instant pudding 10 tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk 2 cups water
At Home: Bag together pudding and milk.
In Camp: Gradually add water to pudding, stirring until blended. Beat with fork until thickened. Set aside. When pudding has set up, serving with cookies.
Variation: For PUDDING CAKE. At Home: bag half an envelope of whipped topping mix (and required milk equivalent), pudding mix (and 1/2 required milk equivalent), 12 ladyfingers and a handfull of chocolate morsels.
In Camp: Make topping and pudding according to package directions (substituting only half of milk equivalent in pudding). Fold topping into pudding.Make a layer of ladyfingers, a layer of pudding and then repeat, ending with ladyfingers. Melt chocolate and dribble over the top. Serve. PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES WITH CRUNCH (9 dozen two-inch cookies) 1 cup margarine 1 cup chunky, salted peanut butter (or substitute unsalted peanut butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt) 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 cup brown sugar, packed 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 cups sifted whole-wheat flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 cups granola 1 cup raisins (optional)
Cream margarine, peanut butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Mix in flour and baking powder, then add granola and raisins. Drop dough from a teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie in crisscross pattern with a fork dipped in flour. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. From "Backpacker's Cookbook" TERRY'S TRAIL SNAPS 2 cups flour 1 cup dark brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon cinammon 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger 1 teaspoon powdered sassafrass (Sassafras albidum) or spice bush leaf(Lidera benzoin), optional 3/4 cup soft shortening (bacon grease recommended), room temperature 1 egg 1/4 cup dark molasses
Combine dry ingredients and spices. Cut in shortening. Add egg and molasses, blend well. Place 1 1/2-inch dough balls on ungreased cookie sheet 3 inches apart, bake 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool slightly before removing from pan.