Book Reviews

Book Review: Trailside’s Trail Food

A review of an older book, currently out of print, one that sits in our collection of trail cookbooks.

Do you remember “Trailside: Make Your Own Adventure”? – it was a TV show on in the early 90’s that originally partnered with Backpacker Magazine, which was hosted by John Viehman (the then Executive Editor of the magazine). It was a first of its kind, in the days before YouTube!

In 1993 Rodale Press brought out Trailside’s Trail Food, as a companion book to the TV show. Rodale at the time owned Backpacker Magazine (this would be the case until a couple years ago when they sold it to AIM.)


The book is a compilation edited by John, from many years of magazine articles. It pulled from Backpacker and Wilderness Camping as well. I have posted this link before but if you haven’t clicked on it, do check it out – Backpacker Magazine from the start to 2009 (minus a couple years) They are scanned into Google for your reading pleasure.

Back to the book though – many of the recipes had been featured over the years. Most are not fussy, just easy to do recipes in the style of the 1980’s (so some products are now not available). The book has around 50 pages of recipes out of 123 pages – it was a manual in ways, to help teach those new to the sport basics on camp kitchens, bear safety, building fires, gear choices, etc. It is a nice window to look into how hikers used to cook on the trail! If you come across the book it is worth picking it up, especially as a gift to a friend starting out.

A couple recipes from the book that give an idea of what to expect – simple but easy to make fare:

Grits and Eggs

6 Tbsp quick cooking grits

1/4 cup dry egg powder

1/3 tsp salt

1-2 Tbsp butter

1 3/4 cups boiling water

Mix grits and egg powder, and add to boiling, buttered, salted water while stirring. Reduce heat, simmer three to five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Curried Mushrooms

1 ounce sliced dried mushrooms

1 cup water

3 Tbsp curry powder

2 packages beef, chicken or pork ramen noodles

Soak mushrooms in the water for 20 minutes. Pour mushroom water in the pan, adding enough water to make 4 and a half cups. Bring to a boil. Add curry and noodles. Boil for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in seasoning mix from ramen. Serve immediately. Serves two.