Monday, May 30, 2016

Adventures with Hash Browns

I have some skills. Maybe not in chopping wood or carrying the canoe long distances. But I can sew, knit, bake and cook pretty good. Except I always need to follow a pattern or a recipe. Whenever I ad lib, it never goes well.

On our last trip to Grand Lake we had some store bought hash browns and they were yummy. However I purchased them on my last trip to the USA at a Target store. I haven't seen the same product here. So I decided to try to recreate the same item using potatoes and my dehydrator.

My inspiration - these were yummy and easy to make while camping
I bought 1.075 kg of yellow gold potatoes. I selected 3 really nice ones. I brought them home, peeled them, and ran them through my food processor using the grating blade. I parboiled them before placing them on the dehydrator trays using the screens (not the liners).

Once they were dried they didn't look anything like the store-bought hash browns. I was prepared for this to be a failure. I ended up with 85 grams of dried potatoes.

My dehydrated potatoes
Comparison with the purchased product (1/4 cup for perspective)
In order to test out whether they would taste okay, I decided to make some for breakfast today. Here's where things went a bit wonky. The purchased hash browns weigh in at 85 grams - the same as my 3 potatoes. That seemed like an awful lot. Granted, the purchased product contains 4 portions and LT and I wolfed them down between us.  But when I started portioning out what I would make for myself, I stopped at 15 grams of my dried potatoes.

I put them in a small bowl and covered with boiling water. My plan was to just dump out the excess liquid, being in my home kitchen this was easy to do. After waiting about 10 minutes (the same time the package instructions recommends), I put some butter in the frypan and tossed the drained potatoes in to cook.

Before - they really did expand back to a good size
One of the struggles we had making these on our trip was the tiny camping spatula I have. At home I have a much bigger one. But it was still tricky to flip them. I think I need to have the patience to just let it cook and blend into a more solid mass than flipping them too early.
After - totally delicious!
This was very yummy and I now have a new item to add to my camping food menu. The one tweak I will try is adding some dehydrated chopped onions to them for flavour. The packaged hash browns have onion powder added. I just have to remember to portion out a smaller amount than the package size of 85 grams!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Trip log - Grand Lake: May 20 to 22, 2016 - Day 3

We were both up fairly early even though we were staying until lunch at this campsite. We needed to eat breakfast before 9 a.m. so we could fit both meals in. Tough day! We took it easy, steeping several cups of tea before, during and after breakfast. Today it was blueberry pancakes with pre-cooked bacon and bacon flavoured maple syrup. LT did a great job of frying the pancakes. I put warmish water in the ziploc bag with the pancake/blueberry mix and let it rise for 15-20 minutes. Another delicious meal!
Bug shelter set-up for meals
This is a long weekend and is pretty much the first weekend campers head out into the backcountry. Fishing season opened up for pickerel on Friday, there were a lot of fishermen out on the lakes. Motorboats are allowed on this lake and we saw a lot more than usual. 

The traffic had started late Friday afternoon. There were some canoes as well, but it was mostly motorboats. There's only one easy access lake with 2 campsites past our site at the top of the lake and I'm pretty sure there were two groups that went in on Friday. A motorboat came up to our spot around 6, it turned around and went across the bay and landed. It turned out that this group basically squatted on land that is not a campsite. They were quite noisy, the motorboat driver often yelled at the kid/kids, there was a lot of wood chopping and motorboat comings and goings. There was also a canoe on the shore. 

At 7:30 this morning a Canada goose was in the water right in front of where these people were squatting. He started to honk and cry and honk for about half an hour solid. It couldn't happen to nicer people! We got a bit of a chuckle out of that.
Yummy pancakes
We compared sore muscles and I was a bit worse for wear. Sore triceps and my legs were achy as well.

After breakfast we packed up the hammocks. The bugs were bad. I pretty much was wearing my witch's bug hat anytime I wasn't in the bug shelter. (And yes, that means on the whole hike yesterday too.)

We relaxed, enjoyed being where we were, then had lunch. It was KD prepared with pre-cut bacon flavoured pepperettes. LT cooked this meal too, nice to be spoiled! 

After lunch, we completed the take-down of the campsite, packed the canoe and moved off on a leisurely pace for the 12 km paddle down the lake. We started off by crossing the lake to check out a campsite we'd never been to. It was across the lake near the first one we thought we would be taking. It doesn't look like a good campsite either on paper or when staring at it from across the lake. Marshy. That usually means more bugs. However we landed at the site and LT got out to walk around it. It had a lot of potential and in the future, we just might use this one.

We made it under the train bridge without any difficulty. Of course, we were now going with the flow and the flow wasn't that strong. We just had to make sure not to hit any rocks. I noticed a lot more rocks overall on this trip, probably because the water level is lower. There were a few times I was surprised by how close we came to a rock in the middle of the lake with no land around.

We crossed the lake again to check out another campsite on our right. It wasn't so nice, from our viewpoint in the canoe.

Before we knew it, we were landing at the access point. It was busy considering it wasn't really the day people would normally be leaving. There was a pickup truck blocking any access for LT to bring the car down. But by the time we unloaded the canoe, they had finally ended their chat around a picnic table and driven off. Meanwhile two canoes landed with younger people (no gear) in them, and on the lake about 8 more were coming in. There already were about 4 canoes on the shore, probably rentals people had brought back. It was crowded. It doesn't take us long to pack up the car and we were headed out of the park again. This trip seems to have flown by.

Each trip we forget something. At least we're getting better at not forgetting something essential. This trip we left behind tent pegs. We don't need them for the hammocks, but the bug shelter uses them. LT did a very effective substitution with twigs. Such a good one, that they held steadfast during the wind that blew up late Saturday afternoon. And we forgot sunscreen. I didn't pack it as I would be mostly covered up without sunshine hitting any part of my body (huge bug hat, gloves when paddling). LT did burn his hands. As we were driving out of the park we were both wishing that we'd made it a 4-day trip!

Planning the trip                 Day 1                  Day 2                  2014 trip

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trip log - Grand Lake: May 20 to 22, 2016 - Day 2

Day 2, AKA "Hike Day". The hike that was 2 years in the planning. After failing to complete the hike in 2014, I was determined to come back and do the whole thing. To be honest, I was nervous. Nervous enough to feel slightly queasy even.

But before I get to the hike, let's start with breakfast. After a great sleep in my new hammock, the day dawned calm and sunny. Breakfast was fresh eggs, pre-cooked bacon, and something I brought here all the way from the Target in Phoenix, Arizona.....hash browns!
Yumminess in a bag!
LT did an excellent job of cooking the eggs. We ended up eating the eggs and bacon while the potatoes cooked. They were pretty much a dehydrated shredded potato with some onion powder. I think I can make these myself. I've failed with dehydrating potatoes so far. But this might be my first success story with the spuds. After all, it's a long way to the Target in Phoenix to restock!

Once the potatoes had soaked up all the water added to them, a big dollop of butter was put in the frypan and the potatoes added. After letting them sit for a while, we attempted to flip them over using my teeny tiny spatula. It didn't work the best, but the taste of the potatoes made up for it.

We digested breakfast, washed dishes, rehung the bear bag so no critters would be lured into our site while we were away. We had experience in walking from this site to the portage starting point. We would do the same today.

Looking at the picture below, we were staying at the campsite I've outlined with a black triangle. We walked from the site back to the abandoned train track, shown with the black line, to the start of the portage.

We would follow the red line from the start of the portage, sometimes under the hydro lines (shown on the map as a grey line with dots - see grey arrow). The apex of the trail is at the blue arrow. The red star marks our destination at Green Leaf Lake.

Hike Stats:
Distance one way: 5.5 kilometers not includig walk to portage start
Starting level: 221 meters above sea level
Peak: 401 meters above sea level
Green Leaf Lake: 257 meters above sea level

We were starting out pretty low, climbing 180 meters, dropping back down 160 meters, then turning around and doing it in reverse. It was becoming a very warm day. We were thankful for the shade provided in the forested areas of the trail. Although the forest brought blackflies!

Hydro lines aren't very fussy about terrain. Steep hills? No problem. Rocky? No problem. I was very glad to have my hiking poles with me. They were essential for the downhill portions.

It was apparent that the rangers had been on this trail two days earlier. But they weren't on foot like us, there were tracks from the ATV they had used to climb this steep mountain. At times I was pretty envious of their motorized transport.

LT was great with me, he insisted on taking regular breaks. He reminded me to drink water and eat snacks. I had made a rice, chicken, veggies lunch in our thermoses at breakfast. We waited to eat them until after we finished all the climbing.

On our last attempt on this trail, we had made it just past the apex, which is slightly more than halfway. The trail was familiar to us until this point. After that, we were amazed at how the trail just was one big long straight line that went down without any flat spots.

LT had packed our snack bags for the trip. Each bag contained cashews, almonds, dried bananas, dried pineapple, sugared peanuts, BBQ peanuts, and to top it off, a big sour gummy! He had brought 2 liters of water. I stubbornly only brought one. He was using his new fanny pack to carry his lunch, snack and water bottles. I am not that comfortable with a pack cinched only at my waist. I had emptied out my big backpack and put in only what I needed for the hike. The weight was distributed nicely on my back.

We finally made it to the bottom of the hill where we crossed under the hydro lines and started the 440 meter portage into Green Leaf Lake. This short section of the trail mostly comprises huge boulders excellently placed to break a leg if you don't pay attention. It was nice to be doing this trail without our gear.

We got to the lake, found a rock to sit on and took our snacks out again. I realized that I was going to run out of water. Oops. As both of us finished our first bottle of water, LT kindly poured half of his second bottle into mine. 
GoPro photo of Green Leaf Lake
After a nice long break sitting by this pretty lake, we turned around and started back. We were prepared for the long climb back and LT was good at distracting me as we kept going up. Shortly after the apex we found a suitable place on the trail to stop and eat our lunch. Making our lunches at breakfast and putting it into a Thermos is a great thing we figured out last year. (Thanks, Chef Glen)

The trip down was almost harder than the trip up. I was putting a lot of weight on my hiking poles. I was glad I had better footwear this time around. I had bought a pair of light Keen hikers and I was wearing them now. At least the slight breeze was at our face as we were descending down under the hydro lines.

When we got back to our campsite, I lay down for a few minutes in my hammock to get my batteries recharged. That was one heck of a hike! I don't know how anyone gets a canoe up this trail!

The total distance we walked was probably 12 kilometers. I was wearing my Fitbit and it told me that we had climbed the equivalent of 66 flights of stairs!

LT went out in the canoe again to get some more water from the middle of the lake for filtering. The rest of the afternoon was for relaxing. Well, what was left of it as we had been gone 5 hours.
Our view of the lake (circa 2014)
While we were relaxing in the bug shelter, a strange wind blew up over the lake coming towards us with quite the strength. Behind the wind, we could see the sunshine along the horizon. I kept saying that I didn't think it was going to last, but we had to prepare if it did. LT walked around the campsite to find a place we could set up tarps and hunker down behind them. Then we rehung my hammock. I had been perpendicular to the lake, with my head towards the water. My fly would not protect me in this configuration. We hung it parallel to the shoreline and much lower. When I would get out of the hammock now, I'd be on my hands and knees on the ground. LT figured that it was a cold front that was blowing through.

Dinner tonight was a new recipe for me, lasagna. I had found some long noodles that are about half an inch wide with lasagna curly edges. At home I had boiled up the whole bag, dried them in my dehydrator, then broke them into shorter pieces once dried.

Everything was thrown in the same pot: noodles, dried ground beef, tomato sauce leather, dried veggies (mushrooms, celery, red peppers). I added boiling water and let it sit for a while. Then we fired up the stove and cooked it over low heat for about 10-15 minutes. I had 4 mozzarella cheese string packets and some parmesan cheese to add at the end. Verdict? This is definitely going to be a regular dinner choice!

Dessert again was a new recipe. Banana-mango pudding. I had cooked frozen mango chunks, blended them with bananas and dried that mix into a leather. I rehydrated this leather in the Thermos, then once it was ready, added homemade granola topping. It was also YUMMY! Another dessert choice in the expanding menu for camping!

Dishes were done, the food/dishes/toiletries bags were hung, and we munched some chocolate in the impending darkness. The strange wind didn't make a reappearance so we were okay for the night. After the big hike we were both ready for bed early.

Planning the trip                 Day 1                  Day 3                  2014 trip

Monday, May 23, 2016

Trip log - Grand Lake: May 20 to 22, 2016 - Day 1

It's here, it's here! Our first backcountry camping trip of 2016!

I posted about planning for the trip: here

I woke up ahead of my alarm set for 6 a.m., getting 45 extra minutes, which allowed me to bathe, wash my hair, and make 2 cups of tea for myself in travel mugs. I was at LT's by 6:55 a.m. We loaded up the car (I had put my bag into the car the night before). We set off at 7:20. With a quick drive-though at McDonald's, we were soon on the highway.

It really saves time not having to stop and go through paperwork to rent a canoe. That probably shaves 30 minutes off the time at either end of the trip. While LT was getting the permits at the Sand Lake gate, I was chatting up the ranger, who was opening up the firewood cage. I asked how the bears were and he said there had been some seen on the road. I mentioned we were thinking of doing the hike from Grand Lake into Green Leaf Lake and he said that they had just cleared that trail the day before. Bonus!

We unloaded the canoe and gear at the launch point, LT parked the car, the canoe got packed up and off we went on a lake that was like glass. It was shortly after 10.

Paddling was so pleasant in these conditions. This trip was much different than the one we had taken two years ago to this same destination. Read about that trip here. Whereas last time we had a stiff wind against us, choppy, freezing cold water to start, this trip the wind was non-existant and the water remained flat up until we had to go under the man-made train bridge across the water.

This train bridge is mostly a land mass, artificially created to support the tracks, which have been removed. It creates a small space for the lake to squeeze through. 2 years ago this water was rushing through what appears to be a 12 foot wide gap (but it's probably slightly bigger). There are rocks and a slight drop, 1-2 feet, with a very narrow place we have to push the canoe up. The last time it took more than a few tries. This time we did it on the first try. This has nothing to do with any improved skills and a lot more to do with there being less water. 

I had been a bit anxious about having to squeeze through that opening, but we aced it. Once through the water was being slighly rippled by a breeze, but not much of one. It was enough to keep any bugs off.

We made it to the coveted campsite and got out of the canoe to check it out. Hmmmm, it didn't seem so great close up. LT was interested because it faced south and he felt it would be great for a lazy morning, lying in the sun, easing into the day. The site was very shallow in depth, it didn't go back very far. The shorline wasn't the easiest to land at, rocky, but not high. There seemed to be a lot of deadfall in the forest right behind the site. We had been at a different campsite 2 years ago and decided to head for that one after all. It would be closer to the hike we wanted to take the following day.

We got back into the canoe and headed up to the last campsite on the left of the lake. It's a really good site, which we now realize as we've done a lot more camping in the last 2 years to compare it with. Our biggest issue previously was the wind coming at the site. We had been chilled the first time using the site. This trip, the wind was pretty darn good to us.

We landed and set up camp, bug tent first as the bugs were out and annoying. The first crop of the year mostly fly around you, driving you nuts. They bite, but not as furiously as the next crop in June.
Cheating here - this is from 2014, same site though
I brought both of my Canon cameras. My small one died when I was standing at the launch site at Achray attempting to take pictures before we left. And I bought a new polarizing filter for my DSLR camera, which I foolishly did not try out first, so I had no idea how to use it. This trip will be very thin on pictures, my apologies.

We sat in the bug tent to devour a fresh lunch LT prepared. Various cold meats and cheeses, with a baggie of grapes, cut apple and cut pear. We've found that a fresh lunch without bread is easier to digest. Sometimes with exertion, like canoeing, you're hungry, but not that hungry that you want a full, full belly.

This would be my first trip using my Hennessey Hammock. It took a couple of tries for me to get it up where I was comfortable in it. LT helped a lot. I had put a lot of thought into my sleeping arrangement for this trip. I anticipated that it would get cold at night. (Bonus note: at 10 degrees Celsius, the blackflies disappear!)  

I had the hammock, my Eureka! air mattress, a dollar store shiny windshield shade (to reflect my heat back to me), my sleeping bag and my purple throw that I sewed up on a couple of sides to use as a sleeping bag liner. I was absolutely toasty the whole weekend! The $2.50 I spent on the windshield shade was a good idea. It didn't crinkle as much as one of those emergency blankets would. The bit of foam backing it had gripped the air mattress so it didn't bunch under the sleeping bag. It weighs almost nothing and folds very easily. I may go and buy a few more to have on hand in case the item isn't long lasting.

I didn't fully inflate my air mattress. I left it on the ground to inflate naturally, then capped it at that. I didn't adjust the pressure all weekend. It seemed to be a good setting.

LT had bought firewood at the permit office. He started a fire and he used the coals to cook dinner, which he brought. Two steaks, each wrapped in two layers of tin foil. And pre-cooked potatoes and baby carrots, pre-cooked, loaded in butter, and also wrapped in two layers of foil. We ate a bit later, around 7:30. Lunch had been around 2:30. While balancing my plate on my lap, I dropped my steak that I'd hardly touched. That's okay, the 2 second rule works here too. Actually, picking off a few pine needles is much easier that finding all the cat hair that would be on it if I dropped it on my floor at home. Nothing was wasted.

Dessert tonight was a new recipe I'm adding to our selection. Apple pie. It's dehydrated apples (no skin), with sugar and cinnamon, rehydrated in the thermos. When we were ready to eat it, we added dried pita bread. It gives the consistency of piecrust. It was good, I will add a bit more spice next time, especially nutmeg.

This site has a table and huge spikes nailed into several trees. There's lots of place to hang stuff and keep things off the ground. I brought my Cabela's table, which worked great. But I didn't have to carry it anywhere. We were not doing any portaging this trip, so weight was not an issue. It's a pretty heavy item. However, it was nice having it inside the bug shelter to keep some things off the ground. I avoided placing any containers with liquids on it, like cups of tea and such. I'm such a klutz, I'd knock it over.

Our after dinner treat was half of a dark chocolate Burnt Almond bar. We went together to hang the food/dishes/toiletries before it got too dark. We listened to birds calling, trying to identify a few more than we have in the past. The campfire had flickered out and it was time for bed. I was excited to be sleeping in my hammock for the first time. 

It took me probably 45+ minutes to fall asleep, but once I did, I slept very well.

Planning the trip                 Day 2                  Day 3                  2014 trip

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Planning the first trip for 2016

The reservations have been made, we're heading out on our first trip for 2016. It will be to Grand Lake, a bit of a repetition of our first trip in 2014 (see here). Only we're staying on Grand Lake for two nights.

We're going to take the Friday off and hopefully get a jump on getting the best campsite. We won't be portaging at all. We may try to do the same hike up the hydro line and make it all the way in to Green Leaf Lake (I wimped out last time). We won't be going to Clemow. There are only 2 sites on that lake, they allow both to be reserved and one site is pretty crappy. We never got to see the other site.

I am expecting that we'll have bear company. We didn't see any last time, but we saw a lot of bear scat, most of it fresh. And both thunderboxes were flipped over by them looking for food. They're out of hibernation, there's not much to eat, and there are a lot of them in that particular area of the park. Forewarned is forearmed. LT's can of bear spray did a disappearing act, but he's already replaced it.

We're going in at Access point 22 at Achray. We'll paddle up the lake and hopefully snag the marked campsite. We tried to get that one 2 years ago, but were just a bit too late. It's about 10-11 km of paddling. On Saturday we're going to do the hike. First we'll walk along the abandoned rail tracks to get to the section of the trail that starts up the side of the mountain under the hydro lines. Then we'll head in to Green Leaf Lake, maybe have lunch, then turn around and come back. The trail is marked in red on the map, I've indicated which trail by drawing a blue line nearby.
The portage distance is marked at 5.5 km one way. Actually, now that I see how far that is, I think I'll agree with LT. He wanted to take the canoe to the portage point instead of walking the tracks. There's probably another 1.5 km of tracks to walk, which would make the whole distance 14 km both ways. Considering that we're going from 221 metres above sea level up to 401 at the peak of the trail, and down again to 257 at Green Leaf, then back up and over again, it's not an easy 11 km (official portage length). The track, if we use that instead of paddling, will be flat and about another 3 km total. 

NOTE: Algonquin Park never recommends that we use the abandoned rail beds as a means of portaging or hiking. The area has been identified as contaminated by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Anyone that uses them does so at their own risk.

I'll have lots of food already dehydrated to choose from, I'm not sure what our menu is going to be. LT will be doing the same steak dinner for the first night. We enjoyed it so much on our Kiosk trip, we're going to be doing that more often. We're not carrying our food anywhere and it's only for 2 nights. There may be a bit more fresh food for this trip. With cool nights food is less likely to go bad.

We're going to have to ensure we keep warm at night. We've beefed up our sleeping bags, I found some windshield reflectors at the dollar store to add a layer of insulation on top of our mattresses or foam. We're debating taking the tent to help with warmth. Although I am looking forward to trying out my new hammock that I got for Christmas. 

I can't wait!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

My Food Saver: Vacuum Sealer

I picked up this kitchen appliance last spring. These babies are NOT cheap! However, because I wasn't ready to make a big financial investment, I kept checking Kijiji until I found one. Score! I paid $40 for my Food Saver, probably a $200 savings. I took it home and started playing with it that evening. The seller was kind enough to give me a single roll with some plastic left on it.

The best place to buy the special plastic you need to seal your food with is at Costco. I paid about the same price as the Food Saver for a box of a variety of sizes of plastic. It has some bags in it, but mostly rolls where you seal one end, insert the food, then seal the other end.

In this box I got;
  • 36 pre-cut bags that are 1 quart
  • 1 roll that is 8 inches wide and 20 feet long
  • 4 rolls that are 11 inches wide and 16 feet long
I checked the other day and the price is pretty much the same, $39 for the box.
Bags are pre-sealed on 3 sides
You need some tricks to use this tool properly. For example it's tough to vacuum seal something that is relatively moist. Most of my camping food is dehydrated, so that's not an issue. But I tried using it to seal bags of freshly peeled and sliced apples to put in the freezer. I ended up putting a strip of paper towel inside the bag at the end I was sealing to catch the juice. 

It took me a while to be able to judge how big of a bag I would need. This plastic is expensive, and I wanted to get the most use out of my rolls of it.

I got into the habit of writing down not only what the contents were, but what I had to do with them (how much water to add, if I needed to boil it and for how long, how many servings, etc.) with a Sharpie on the outside of the bag.

Chef Glenn suggests putting in a paper towel on one side of the bag to help ensure that hard, spiky food doesn't poke through the bag and it provides a better backdrop to read any writing on the bag.
Just sitting here minding its own business....

I don't leave this appliance on my counter. it takes up a lot of space for me. My sister bought one recently (she has a tent trailer, so she camps with refrigeration) and she uses it a lot. It's excellent for freezing fresh meat into individual packets. It works well for splitting a large block of cheese.

For camping this past summer I tried it for a variety of things. Some worked and some didn't. My purpose in having this appliance was to shrink size of a food item, help in preservation, and make the food bag pack better.

When I repackaged a box of Kraft Dinner it created a solid block of pasta with the cheese sauce inside. I had been using just a Ziploc bag before and in this case the Ziploc bag is the better choice. The block just didn't fit in the food bag as easily as the Ziploc bag did.

I used it to package soft flour tortillas for a single meal (4 instead of the 8 in the package). This also did not work well as when the air was squeezed out of the tortillas they got stuck to each other. Ziploc wins this one too.
Open, ready to slice the length of bag you choose

I bought some soft, juicy jerky from Costco last summer. Pork Teriyaki (yes, it was delicious!). It packed quite well in the vacuum sealed bags. This was a win. It also helps keep the jerky from spoiling. However one must be careful as sealing alone might not be a solution for food preservation as other bacteria can flourish in a vacuum sealed bag.

I sealed turkey pepperettes in individual bags as well. I would put 8 inside a bag of its own for one of our snacks. I cut up another 8 to be put on a pizza or mixed into KD. Cutting up ahead of time really worked well. 
Turkey pepperettes, the uncut version

I have purchased some mini-snack-sized baggies (no brand name) that hold a much smaller amount of contents. I will put several of these into a larger vacuum-sealed bag for a meal when I don't want to mix the contents ahead of time. For example, pasta sauce, veggies, pasta.
Sealed, dried apples

I have put a single serving of a dehydrated chicken, rice and veggies meal in one vacuum-sealed bag, perfect to dump into my Thermos at breakfast to eat at lunchtime.

Overall I'm very happy to have this kitchen appliance in my toolkit for food prep. It gives me some peace of mind to know that all the food we've got packed in our food bag has a high level of durability, helps keep food fresh and dry, meal items are packaged together, and it is easy to tell what is in each bag.
Meals sealed and ready to go

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Drying my heart out......

I have been working away busily buying food supplies for the upcoming camping season and having a lot of fun using my new Excalibur! Much like Eureka! which has the exclamation point after its name, I think the dehydrator should too. 

This model is so much faster to work with, food dries much quicker. The biggest difference is that the heat comes from the back and blows over all the trays pretty much at the same rate. In my old dehydrator, the heat comes from the bottom up. I would have to shuffle the order of the trays during the drying process. My old dehydrator went over to LT's to try and keep him in dried bananas. It's a losing battle!

Some of the things I've dried so far:
  • red peppers, orange peppers and yellow peppers
  • corn
  • peas
  • celery
  • carrots
  • mushrooms
  • 2 litres of salsa
  • 2 bottles of pizza sauce
The liners LT bought me for this new machine work AMAZING!

  • 1 bag of frozen blueberries
  • pineapples
  • bananas
  • 8 apples

  • a loaf of Italian bread
  • rice (cooked and dehydrated)
  • 6 cans of chicken from Costco (2 with mild taco seasoning and 2 with hot)
  • 6 cans of flakes of ham - used with dehydrated eggs
This is what's in the dehydrator now!
2 dozen eggs

Cooked polenta
Both mixed together then baked (stirred) and baked some more
Spread on a tray for drying
I've got all nine trays full of eggs right now. The 2 dozen eggs are good for 6 breakfasts (for 2 people).

I've dried 3 packages of celery, 2 were hearts and one full bunch:

All dried up
Celery is indeed mostly water, look how much those babies shrink! I put a toonie in the picture for scale.

And here's all the trays in one small jar:
Banana for scale
I also did 3.8 pounds of extra lean ground hamburger (it was on sale!). I mixed in 1/2 a cup of finely ground bread crumbs for each pound, fried it up, then dried it. I use this for pasta dinners mostly. This year I might try mixing it with soy sauce, rice and broccoli.

What's left to do?
  • an angel food cake for desserts
  • fruit leather, going to try cherries this time
  • pasta sauce, I'm going to make my own instead of using the bottled stuff