Thanksgiving On The Trail Made Easy

If you haven’t ever gotten the chance to hike over a Thanksgiving weekend, make it a goal. It’s still shoulder season in many areas, almost no one is out, and being on the trail is invigorating in the late Fall. And you get an excuse to climb into your sleeping bag early and read for a few hours. It’s a luxury you don’t get at home too often.

I decided a round-up of commercially prepared meals would be a fun option, so I hand-picked out some vittles from Alpine Aire: two meal choices & a dessert.

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy with Turkey.

This meal led me to a memory, from a very long time ago. Back in the day Alpine Aire had more rustic packaging. I had made an order from Campmor, one of my first online purchases, of various hiking gear, and I picked up a couple of “hiker meals” to take with me. One of which was this meal. It wasn’t my first freeze-dried meal, but it was pretty close to that. It was one of the better ones I had though, and it has held that title over these many years. It’s simple comfort food, satisfying to eat. The gravy/turkey is prepared┬áseparately from the potatoes. You could add in dried cranberries into the gravy as well. This meal is one I’d say serves 2 well, if you make dessert. Tip: Pack in some soft potato rolls for the extra gravy. You won’t regret that!

Pre-digital years. Lake Minatour, North Cascades, Washington State. Two tiny one man tents. Mine was the smaller orange one. It was the first time I backpacked to alpine and it totally changed my life. And yet, I remember the meals? ­čśë Always!

For those who don’t care for potatoes:

Wild Thyme Turkey. This is a different kind of meal. It’s wild rice, cracked bulgur, rolled barley and a lot more. It’s halfway between soup and a casserole. High in protein from turkey, almonds and sunflower seeds. It’s a modern meal for changing tastes.

Dessert:

Cinnamon Apple Crisp. It’s a great dessert – or even breakfast. It’s simple, and warming. Apples and raisins, topped with crunchy granola. It’s a classic choice.

FTC Disclaimer: We received items for potential review. All thoughts are ours.

New Gear and Food Finds

We’ve had some good items come across recently, from gear to food.

NASAR (The National Association For Search And Rescue) has out two guides that are pack ready. Essential Knots and Basic Navigation, the guides are palm sized and ultra light and most of all…..waterproof. The guides fold out similar to a map, and are more than worth the cost. Full color, the guides walk you quickly through what you need to know – without fluff. Want to teach someone how to use a topo map correctly and how to use a compass? This is it. Need to know how to make a basic anchor off a tree? Yes, you can learn it quickly. Every knot is shown in diagram that you need to know.

They can be found on Amazon as well: Navigation and Knots.

Smoked Salmon Sport Pouch. We found this treat at QFC, a chain owned by Kroger, in the canned fish section. It’s US caught, and packed in the US, not shipped to Asia for this. Taste wise, it is great. Firm texture. It’s good for both eating by itself (with crackers) or added into meals. Not the cheapest treat, but well worth it.

Alpine Aire Chocolate Cranberry Crunch trail mix. This was a fun trail mix, and I think I liked it even more than the Mango Fire I had previously.

The apples and cranberries pair well with the almonds and pepitas, and multiple types of chocolate. Easy to grab on the way out-of-town, it’s ready to go. I love a simple mix, where there is many choices of flavors.

FTC Disclaimer: Some of the products reviewed in this post were sent to us by the manufacturers for potential review. All thoughts expressed our are our own.

On The Dehydrator

Some months my hard-working dehydrator runs often, other months it sits tucked away. This has been a busy period for it. It’s time to fill the pantry back up, to replenish what I have used, but also to be prepared for winter and power outages.

Pasta is the item I dry the most of, outside of dried fruit.

Why? Once precooked and dried, you have nearly “instant” pasta on hand. It dries to about the same size as before, so is easy to bag up for trips. If cooking a long type, break in halves or thirds before cooking. To rehydrate, bring enough water to boil to cover the pasta. An average serving per person is 4 ounces. Add in pasta to boiling water (or cover it with the water in a freezer bag or mug), and let sit insulated/covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain off any remaining water (which won’t be starchy). And yes, you can do gluten-free pasta as well!

Cook pasta as normal at home, just cut off 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time (it will finish cooking when you rehydrate it). Drain, rinse and dehydrate at 135┬░. Check after two hours and break apart any clumps. Rotate trays to ensure even drying.

Advantages?

  • Less fuel used (you only need to boil water, add pasta in, and let sit insulated for 10 to 15 minutes. It saves about 7 minutes fuel use for each meal.
  • Smaller cooking pot. You need a lot less water to cook in as well.
  • No overflowing pot or starchy water to deal with.

A fun treat for children is dehydrating mini marshmallows. It’s a lot cheaper than buying the tiny Kraft ones (if you can even find those).

Spread a bag of mini marshmallows on a couple of trays, separating as much as you can. Some brands are stickier than others. Dry at 135┬░, checking after two hours. Break up clumps as needed, and rotate the trays so they are evenly dried. You want them marshmallows to be dry on the outside, and preferably dry inside. The drier, the longer the storage time.

Add to hot cocoa in camp, or for kids? Let them add it to their tail mix!

~Sarah