Monday, May 19, 2008

Camp Kitchen

This camp kitchen is like the "Letherman Multi Tool" of culinary underbosses.

1 GSI Telescoping Spatula & Spoon
1 Lexan salt and pepper shaker (full of ground chiles)
1 GSI Extreme Cookset
2 Orikasa Folding Dining Sets
2 ultra lite cutting boards
2 light my fire sporks
1 snow peak Giga Stove
1 Brunton Optimus Multi Fuel Stove
1 small tupperware of kosher salt
1 small tupperware of fresh cracked pepper
1 small tupperware of adobo,
1 small tupperware of pico de gallo spice mix
1 medium bottle of extra virgin olive oil
1 small bottle white truffle oil
My own chef's knife wrapped and taped in cardboard
My favorite tongs
The smallest cheese grater I could find
2 MSR Camp-towels
1 small bottle Dr Bronner's All-In-One Soap
1 2 gallon bladder
1 small backpackers folding grill
2 cheap throw away sponges

life water

Granted, we saw no Baby Ruths floating along side our canoe, we did see inebriated youth standing in their canoes making electrical contact with the river. Even though lore advises against such electric communication with the river and such practices are discouraged during storms for obvious reasons we filtered our water.

Um, Yea.

Mom's WT Tuna Noodle Casserole

I can't believe I'm writing this down. Unfortunately, this is not the first time. Many people have asked me for this. Under duress and usually under the influence, I give it to them.

"Mom's WT Tuna Noodle Casserole"

1 block Velveeta cheese

1 can Campbell's cream of mushroom soup

1/2 stick butter

1 carton white mushrooms

1/2 package frozen peas

2 cans of tuna in water  

1 Bag Egg Noodles


This is a two-burner dish.

On one, 

boil water for the noodles

As soon as is ready, cook the egg noodles

On the other,

Saute the mushrooms in butter 3 min on low to medium heat

Cut the Velveeta into chunks and add to skillet.Add can of cream of mushroom soup, frozen peas and tuna and mix well

You're not really cooking anything here, rather just heating and mixing the (gourmet) ingredients

As soon as this mixture is softened and mixed to a saucy concoction add the cooked noodles and toss

Finish with fresh cracked pepper and serve.

This is the easiest, most retard proof recipe one can put into words. I know, it sounds like a drunken 3 in the morning concoction, but I promise, if you don't tell anyone the ingredients, and you are not too heavy on the sauce to noodle ratio, people will remember this casserole and ask you for this recipe. I promise guilty compliments, praise and a full stomago.

Don't Melt The Kevlar

When I was young my mom made tuna noodle casserole. I had no idea of the ingredients, all I knew was I loved it. One day ten years later I asked her how to make it. I was appalled! But that could not override the wonderful memories of the dish. So I decided to make it by her recipe at camp.

 Tuna noodle casserole on two lopsided backpacker stoves propped in the sand is not easy. Cooks are use to the hunch over a counter to prepare and plate. Its another thing over backpacker stoves and a cutting board in the sand. Your "mise en place" is not what i'd consider professional.

We are not talking the camp cook that has a fire pit, a full set of cast iron, spit roasting a pig along the Colorado cause he's got 24 to feed and 4 rafts with him to lug it all. That's practically military. For a small group with limited space the concerns are different.

First off, flame temperature is a bitch on modern ultralite stoves. They are meant to rapidly boil the water that will hydrate your crushed Ramen Noodles. Mmm, yumm. Simmering capabilities without hotspots now a days seems to be the bragging rites of stove makers. (which means it's a problem with all stoves) 

Also, prep area. You have to practically build a kitchen every night with less than desireable  furniture in less than cleanly accommodations. The canoe itself, when turned upside down provides the almost perfect work surface. Don't melt the Kevlar! Sand? Forget it. It's everywhere. As long as its not in the food. It might look like pepper........

"Oral Tradition Is Not Manifest in ONLY Words"

Now I've played up the idea that canoeing can be a culinary
adventure. But, just because Cheetos and cold cuts make their way
onto the menu, by no means, has food not been a central feature of the
trip. Who didn't love Cheetos at one point in their childhood?
To refuse the foods that gave us pleasure, is denying
our past, denying our culture. Taking those items from the past 
and reinventing them is natural for cooks. 
We are all guilty of this. It is a necessary practice. Thank god though, 
for this desire in chefs. We would still think the International House of 
Pancakes is a fine dining establishment, were it not for the dudes 
in the back getting stoned and getting creative. Nothing is better 
than a chef with the munchies, or the food scientists in their stainless 
steel dungeons creating concoctions like foi gras cappuccino.

do not compare this desire with the value of the traditional.

"Oral tradition is not manifest only in words."

Recreating a dish, no matter how novice it might be, that had been
cooked for you as a child or has some significant memory, is
revealing of your past. Your young self might not have enjoyed as
sophisticated a palate as you might now have, but those memories 
are no less valuable than your most expensive dinner to date.

The Perfect Camp

The perfect camp had always been reserved for Patagonia photographers or REI marketing teams with budgets and models and free gear. No longer! Thank you canoe.