Friday, September 10, 2010

Food to Go - a backpacking cookbook

Frank and Sue Wall, who run the popular Australian blog Our Hiking Blog recently released an e-book about eating well on the trails, co-authored by Sue Hadskis.

"Food to Go" is a bit different from other backpacking cookbooks. What I found unique about it is that it caters to a wide variety of ways to eat on a multi-day trip, rather than focusing on making dehydrated meals from scratch. It does cover recipes for such meals, but let's face it, there are a lot of backpackers who never cook from scratch when they're eating at home, and aren't about to start just because they're going on a trip!

There is a section comparing various pre-packaged freeze dried meals. These are growing in popularity, and it's nice to have some first-hand accounts regarding portion size, flavour and texture. While I wouldn't use these meals while hiking locally, I can see it being a good option if you are far from home and don't have access to a kitchen.

They also discuss dehydrating techniques at length, including examples of how to dehydrate a take-out meal for your trip. Brilliant! Even if you have no idea how to make a curry, you can buy one from your favourite restaurant, dehydrate it, and eat it at camp. Ditto your favourite stir fry or pad thai.

If you're willing to do a bit more work, there are also recipes which include the use of pre-packaged sauce mixes and other convenient ingredients. And of course for the purist there are recipes from scratch for both omnivores and vegetarians.

The book also includes sample four day menus from a variety of outdoors enthusiasts, myself included. It's quite interesting to see what different people like to eat on their trips. I know that when I'm at tramping huts in New Zealand, I'm always fascinated to see what other people are having for dinner. I think my biggest surprise was when some friends started cooking up garlic shrimp! (Granted, it was a one night trip.)

Food to Go costs $19.50 Australian - which is around US$17.50. You can download the pdf HERE.

Frank and Sue also have an e-book about hiking Tasmania's famous Overland Track - so if you're heading down under you may want to check that one out too.