My mother bought me a dehydrator a few months ago as an advance Christmas present, either that or advance birthday present, I am about 2 years ahead on holiday gifts. Anyway I used it to make some weird raw crackers and things but then it seemed the least I could do would be to dehydrate some meals for my mom to take on her week-long kayak camping trip to the Georgian Bay in Canada. This is her first time camping out of the kayak and the ones we both have do not have very big hatches so space and weight were a concern, also because my mother likes to take a million tote bags of books on every trip so I can only imaging what she has with her right now.
I used the book “Another Fork in the Trail” by Laurie Ann March. I really like this book. For one thing, I find the cover extremely aesthetically pleasing. It makes me want to force Chris O to go hiking, stat. I have no personal need for dehydrated meals as I have made peace with my level of laziness as far as carrying heavy things while hiking… there was a time when I was buying all kinds of backpacking junk before I came to terms with my non-hardcore-ness and accepted that I would much rather car camp with my zillions of belongings. Then I stopped investing in tiny light things and started buying 25 lb cast iron dutch ovens and a tent the size of my current bedroom and whatnot. Anyway. I would say these recipes are good enough to make even at home. Also, they are nearly all vegan or veganizable so do not fear that you are going to be wasting your time with a bunch of cheesey vegetarian recipes.
I made a bunch of things and they were all pretty winnery. As my first foray into dehydrating cooked foods, I made the Roasted Sweet Potatoes. The potatoes are cubed and roasted with rosemary and garlic, and then food processed, and then spread onto sheets and dehydrated, and then you have a a big translucent sweet potato sheet, and I ground that into a powder in the vitamix.
Sweet potatoes are delicious as usual. It is suggested that you can use these as ravioli filling or toss them with broken lasagne noodles for deconstructed ravioli. I am totally going to do that at home next time I am carb-loading for a 5k.
Incidentally, I also dehydrated a raw sliced sweet potato, because it is supposed to make a delicious dog chew. Lenny loves cooked sweet potatoes but he would not even deign to touch his princess lips to the raw sweet potato chews. He is a huge disappointment in the area of homemade dog treats.
I made the Roasted Tomato Dip. This is roasted tomatoes and onions and then food processed with a can of beans and some other stuff. I had a crap ton of mini roma tomatoes from my CSA so I used those. This was pretty good. I was expecting more of a hummusy texture but it is nice and tomatoey. I wasn’t sure how I would eat this (it did not go that well with the super healthy fiberous crackers we had) so I just passed it on to my mother and let her worry about that. It would be a nice pasta sauce, probably.
In the area of entrees, I first made Mushrooms Burgundy. The difficulty here was that it calls for frozen pearl onions which do not exist at Wegmans. Well, they exist in a mixture with peas, or in a “Real Cream Sauce.” I will admit that I considered both picking them out of the peas and washing off the Real Cream Sauce and I would have gone the peas route if I had not just recently bought a giant bag of frozen peas. Instead I bought some fresh ones but they were not very small and cute, they were kind of monstrous.
I had some doubts about their ability to dehydrate, which I am prescient because they were totally not dehydrated at all the next morning, so I cut them into bits at that point, which was annoying because they had a creepy amphibian like consistency at that point, and then kept dehydrating for ten thousand more years, so that I am not totally sure this item will ever rehydrate itself, but, my mother has a camping stove, so she can boil it for a while.
Thirdly, or whatever number I am on, I made the Butter Bean and Kale Ragout. This was quite good and dehydrated/rehydrated easily. I added a minced red pepper because I had one. I tried it out with Bob’s Red Mill potato flakes, which are supposed to make instantaneous”fluffy” potatoes, but instead they made gooey goop, possibly this was a user error, but I passed them all on to my mother anyway. Everything tastes much better when you are starving in the wilderness so I am sure it will be fine.
I also dehydrated a bunch of cooked quinoa, which makes it “instant” so you just add boiling water to it, it works really well. So my mother is out camping right now and we will see how it went next week… probably she will not starve to death.
I also made a few non-dehydrated things, such as the Maple Walnuts, which are so delicious there is no picture since we ate them all, and Harvest Apple Granola, which is sweetened with boiled-down apple juice. I ate this all myself and I am going to try making more with less oil because I do not need backpacking amounts of calories and am on a granola binge lately.
Finally (finally!) I bought everything to make the Harvest Chili but then I ran out of time for dehydrating so I made it last weekend just for eating. I couldn’t find any reviews of this online and I was slightly apprehensive because it has no tomatoes and 3 cups of pumpkin. But it is totally my favorite.
I added some corn because I had a languishing ear of CSA corn. Also the ingredients were slightly off (high on pumpkin and low on beans) to use the amounts of things that were in the cans I bought. Next time I would double the beans and possibly a small can of tomatoes although that might not be great. Usually we end up throwing out leftovers (especially since I kicked the microwave out of the kitchen to make room for Excalibur) but I gobbled this all up. I am going to make it again for Labor Day car camping. It is great! However Dr. Oetker’s Corn Muffins mix is way too sweet.
In conclusion, Another Fork in the Trail is a very nice book and if the world of dehydrated backpacking food is completely mystifying to you as it was to me, then you should get it. There is also a lot of stuff about baking in backpacking ovens, if you are into that. Apparently you can also make a dry cookie mix and then fry cookies in a frying pan.