Sunday, August 09, 2015

Food Planning and Preparation: Dinner

Dinner Options:

Dinner is the most fun meal to plan. I've had some hits and some misses. It is trial and error. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Pizza (who doesn't LOVE pizza?)
  • Soft tacos
  • Spaghetti and meat sauce
  • Rice and chicken
  • Shepherd's pie
Our first night is always a fresh dinner. Beef stew, chili (as long as SOMEONE remembers to bring it!), and shepherd's pie are some of the dinners we've had. We usually don't bring raw meat. Often campers bring that for the first night, they freeze it first and it thaws slowly while you're paddling to that first campsite. We will freeze our fresh meal sometimes too.

But after that first night we only have dehydrated meals for dinner. Here's what makes each of them up:

I used to be able to buy a dry packaged mix for the crust, but I haven't been able to find it so far this season. I'd mix it up with water, let it rise in a warm place (one of my cozied pots), then I would rehydrate pizza sauce and veggies in a smaller pot. Once the dough is ready, I spread it into my oiled camping fry pan (no, I don't carry a cast iron pan camping, although I know it's a popular choice). I spread the pizza sauce and veggies onto it, then cut up some pepperettes and then pull apart several cheese strings to top it. I cover it up, place it on the stove with the diffuser plate and cover it with my camping "oven".  

The only trip we've had pizza on so far this year I made the dough from a dry scratch mix from home and yeast which I raised in my mug (I don't even raise pizza dough at home!) and we baked it on a fire that had burned down to embers. It was the best pizza I've ever made!

Soft Tacos:
This is one of my favourite meals right now. I get a package of the soft flour taco shells at Loblaws and leave the bag unopened for freshness. I buy canned white chicken meat to dehydrate. I mix it with taco seasoning then spread it out on the trays. It dries nicely. I also dehydrate salsa. I puree it first then spread it on the special fruit leather trays.

Chicken being prepped

Going into the dehydrator
In camp I make the meal by rehydrating the chicken, salsa and veggies together, then we build the tacos with that mixture and cheese strings.

Pasta and Meat Sauce:

I've learned from Chef Glenn to dehydrate ground beef by adding some bread crumbs to them during the cooking process.  It prevents the rehydrated beef from being hard pellets. I also try to use ground sirloin instead of regular beef. I dehydrate bottled pasta sauce, puree it first and pour one bottle onto two of my trays.  Each tray yields a circular sauce leather, perfect for 2 servings. I bag the sauce with a variety of dried vegetables. In camp I boil pasta and in a smaller pot rehydrate the pasta sauce and veggies. This can be a really filling meal.
Pasta sauce: 1 jar = 2 trays (each tray is 2 servings)
Rice and Chicken:

We like the rice and chicken combo and I've got a couple of versions I make. One is plain chicken with dried salsa and veggies, another is with chicken that I dried in soy sauce. Both are yummy and easy to prepare. We mix all the ingredients in a pot, add the boiling water, cover and let it rehydrate, stirring once in a while. 

Shepherd's Pie:

Here's where LT and I diverge on what we prefer. I LOVE the packaged dried mashed potatoes you can get at the grocery store for pretty cheap. He HATES them. My recipe for Shepherd's pie pretty much has to use the packaged mix. I've tried using Chef Glenn's instructions for drying mashed potatoes, but it flopped. I make the packaged potatoes according to the instructions (I add milk powder, water, butter) and rehydrate ground beef with dried corn in it. Pretty easy!

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