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Four Season Kitchen Tips

Try these 6 kitchen tips, excerpted from BACKPACKER'S new book, Campsite Cooking: Cookware, Cuisine, and Cleaning Up. Plus, cold-weather tips from the pros.

Use plenty of water With pasta, you want at least three parts water to one part pasta, so you don’t end up with one big, partially cooked, stuck-together noodle blob.

Adjust the heat If your stove’s flame is too high, depressurize the fuel bottle, and the roaring flame will dim to a flicker. The best way to do this is to turn the stove off, blow out the flame, unscrew the fuel pump, and let some pressure escape. Then, screw the pump back in and relight the stove.

If you smell burning, don’t stir
Immediately remove the pot from the heat; stirring spreads the burnt taste. If your food needs to be cooked more, transfer the uncooked portions into bowls, clean the pot of char, then resume cooking. To help prevent burning, make sure your pots are clean before you cook. Food is more apt to stick to dirty surfaces.

Mix up your mac For an Italian-style flavoring, use spices like oregano, rosemary, and/or basil instead of (or in addition to) red pepper flakes. And experiment with different cheeses like Parmesan, Swiss, provolone, or Gruyère. Avoid too much mozzarella, however, since it will make your sauce very stringy. Another great way to add variety: Fry up the whole concoction in an oiled pan for a delicious, crispier mac.

Conserve fuel Use a windscreen and site your kitchen in a protected spot, since wind sucks heat away from your stove.

Keep fuel canisters warm
If you’re using canisters in freezing temps, improve performance by warming them (next to your body or in your bag) and setting them in a shallow pan of water while cooking.

Advice from the Pros
Our cold-weather experts dish out these cooking tips:
>> The unofficial hot drinks of the Mt. Washington Observatory: Swiss Miss with marshmallows, and hot Tang
>> Carry the repair kit specific to your stove, and know how to use it. Bring extra O-rings and pump oil, as gaskets tend to shrink in the cold.
>> Fill up all water bottles at night, so you can move quickly at dawn.
>> Add beef jerky and butter to your oatmeal, says Larsen, for extra calories and flavor, “and an ounce of olive oil to freeze-dried meals.”

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