4 great meals for self-support kayaking trips
I recently went on a 12 day self-support kayaking trip on the Grand Canyon. Prior to this trip, my backcountry cooking skills consisted of the ability to boil water and add it to a freeze-dried meal pouch. However, with the help of two backcountry cooking gurus and the right tools, I was able to expand my culinary expertise for self-support kayaking trips from boiled water added to Mountain House Lasagna with Meat Sauce to fresh, homemade (camp-made) lasagna with meat sauce! Here are a few of the meals we made during our 12 day adventure in the Grand Canyon, as well as a few tips and tricks that I learned for cooking and eating well in the backcountry.
Main cooking tools used:
Fry-Bake pan and lid– this pan acts similarly to a lightweight dutch oven and a fry pan all in one. It is non-stick, easy to clean, and was safe to use as a cutting board!
*helpful to bring some sort of clamp tool so that you can hold the pan steady while mixing, flipping, stirring, etc..
MSR Whisperlite stove– easy to use, lightweight, folds up small, cooks hot
Spice kit– garlic powder, salt, sugar, baking powder, yeast, curry, pepper, chili powder…
Metal spatula that was sharp enough to use as a knife– we were able to cut veggies, potatoes, and sausages right in the fry-bake pan with the spatula
On Christmas Eve, our trip leader and one of the backcountry cooking gurus on our trip prepared the dough for our Christmas breakfast feast of cinnamon rolls. He mixed together, yeast, water, sugar, melted butter, a bit of salt, and some powdered milk. The mixture was placed in a plastic bag, and then wrapped in a down jacket, where it sat all night while the yeast rose.
When we woke on Christmas morning (at 4a.m. because our tent had blown down in a wind storm), the dough ball was huge! The yeast had risen so much that it had almost burst open the drybag that it was inside. I folded and kneaded the dough on a cutting board while others prepared a filling mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. I rolled the dough flat on the cutting board, spread the filling on it, then rolled it into a spiral and cut it into cinnamon rolls. We baked the cinnamon rolls in the fry-bake pan over the whisperlite stove for about 30 minutes until they were golden, then proceeded to enjoy home-made cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning in the Grand Canyon!
The trick with cooking over only one stove is that you have to cook everything in separate steps. The veggies had to be cooked, then the pasta boiled, then the sauce made, then the salami heated, then the layers layered, then the cheese cut and melted. It was a long process, but the end result was pretty amazing.
We prepared the dough with flour, yeast, and water, and let it sit in a down jacket for about an hour while we let it rise. While the dough was rising, I prepared a red sauce with a packet of “just add water” tomato sauce while we cooked up some veggies and sausage. Once the dough was ready, I added more flour, kneaded and folded it, then prepared some mini pizza dough rounds. We baked the pizza dough rounds in the fry-bake, then added sauce, veggies, sausage, and cheese before baking it once more. Final product = awesome pizza and lots of mice scurrying around the camp kitchen vying for dough crumbs.
Curried Vegetables and Quinoa
The curry dish had lots of vegetables, was high in protein, and it definitely kept us warm with the super spicy curry sauce. We cooked the quinoa first, using about a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa, bringing it to a boil, then taking it off the heat, covering it and letting it sit while cooking the rest of the meal. We then cut up and sautéed what was left of our fresh vegetables- zucchini, carrots, onion- and added a packet of curry sauce, as well as a packet of coconut cream. It was a treat to have such healthy and fresh food on day seven of our 12-day adventure.