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Backpacker Magazine – May 2013

Master Class: Cook Like a Pro

Use these tips to advance your cooking skills and improve your camp grub's taste and nutritional value.

by: Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Photo by Patitucci Photo
Photo by Patitucci Photo
Make a Five-Star Spice Kit (Photo by Ben Fullerton)
Make a Five-Star Spice Kit (Photo by Ben Fullerton)
Dehydrate your own ingredients. (Photo by Ben Fullerton)
Dehydrate your own ingredients. (Photo by Ben Fullerton)

Dehydrate Your Own Ingredients
Add flavor and keep pack weight low.

Get a quality dehydrator (we like NESCO/American Harvest’s line; $44 to $150; nesco.com). They’re simple, dry better than your oven can, and pay for themselves quickly. Then, upgrade even simple meals by adding these flavor boosters:

» Veggies Carrots, corn, onions, mushrooms, and peppers all maintain good flavor and texture in savory dishes; cut into small pieces for faster drying. The Conners’s timesaving trick: Load frozen veggies directly onto dehydrator trays; dry until brittle.
» Fruits Berries, apples, peaches, pears, bananas, and pineapples make excellent snacks. Like veggies: Cut into uniform slices. Unlike veggies: Peel and soak fresh fruit pieces in orange juice for three to five minutes before drying to preserve color. (Skip the soak for berries and pineapples.)
» Proteins Ground beef or turkey, steak, or veggie burgers like MorningStar Farms Grillers (morningstarfarms.com) make versatile mix-ins. Fat impedes drying, so get the leanest meat possible, then trim all visible fat. Cook (rinse ground meats after browning to remove residual grease), then dehydrate.

Serve Inspired Courses
Impress with this easy, gourmet trail menu.

Appetizer
Instead of A hunk of snack cheese Try Cheese-stuffed dates
Make it Combine 4 ounces of goat cheese, ¼ cup chopped almonds, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a zip-top bag; knead to mix. Cut a hole in the bag and use it to pipe cheese filling into eight whole, pitted deglet noor dates. Serves 2 to 3.

Entrée
Instead of Tuna mac Try Poached trout fillets
Make it Boil 2 cups water, a bouillon cube, and spices in a shallow pan. Add two cleaned, skin-on trout (they should be mostly covered in water); bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and poach for two minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered until flesh is firm.

Dessert
Instead of A candy bar Try Chocolate fondue
Make it Improvise a double boiler: Heat a pot of water (¾ full) over medium heat. Put chocolate in a metal cup or smaller pot; float in the larger pot. Add a bit of oil and stir until melted. Dip fresh or dried fruits, nuts, or marshmallows into the chocolate.

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