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How to Do Everything – The Master Chef

Temper our recipe for Earthworm Patty Supremes with a little Drunken Choc-Berry Fondue. Plus, other recipes and cooking skills.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Planning/Prep | Eat Right | Hydration/Freeze-Dried | Recipes

Plan your menu It’s tempting to simply throw a bunch of grub into your pack and call it good, but you’ll regret that on night four, when you’re choking down your eighth granola bar for dinner. Instead, map out your meals: Shoot for about 2,500 to 4,000 calories a day (up that by roughly a third for strenuous or cold-weather trips). Limit the weight to less than two pounds of food per person per day. For fewer dishes, bring one-pot meals like pasta, rice, and freeze-dried entrées.

Prep smart To minimize weight, repackage foods into zip-top bags and dehydrate fruits, veggies, and meats—or buy them dried from the grocery and sites like and maryjanesfarm

.org. Swap milk and eggs for powdered ones. Also, opt for foods that keep better, like waxed or hard cheeses (last about a week), margarine (three weeks), hard salami, jerky, and smoked meats (a few weeks), and dark chocolate (melts less readily than milk chocolate). For portion sizes, roughly double what the label lists as one serving.

Clean up Are you camping with someone you’d kiss? If not, sterilize dishware by rinsing it with boiling water, then air-dry. Otherwise, leftover cooking water works fine. Scatter wastewater in an arc 200 feet from streams and ponds; pack out food scraps. If soap is needed, use a biodegradable one. To protect your food, use a canister like Wild Ideas’ Bearikade Weekender ($225, 1 lb. 15 oz., or hang with 50 feet of cord (tutorial at

Planning/Prep | Eat Right | Hydration/Freeze-Dried | Recipes

Eat right

Follow these guidelines

» About 60 percent of your calories should be from carbohydrates, 20 percent from protein (like foil pouches of chicken or fish, dried edamame, cheese, peanut butter, lentils, nuts, protein bars, eggs), and 20 percent from fats (almonds, seeds, olive oil, avocados).

» The carbohydrates should be a mix of slow-burning, complex carbs (granola, oatmeal, whole-grain pasta, brown rice) for long-lasting energy, and simple carbs (honey sticks, chocolate, energy blocks) for fast, on-the-trail energy. Also, eat a couple of servings daily of dried fruits and veggies; the fiber keeps your digestion running smoothly, and the phytonutrients help your muscles recover.

» As you hike, rest for five minutes every hour, drinking fluids and snacking on 100

to 150 calories per hour.

» Get plenty of vitamin CCC (chocolate chip cookies), or anything in the Deep-Fried, Chewy-Gooey, or Double-Dipped food groups. When else can you indulge guilt-free?

Make a camp triangle To minimize animal encounters, put your kitchen, bear bag or canister, and tent at the corners of the triangle, 100 yards apart from each other. Ideally, site your shelter upwind of the other two, so smells don’t draw scavengers toward it.

Bake without a stove
Put the batter (pizza dough, cornbread, cake, brownies) in a pan, and place the covered pan atop coals or a stove turned down low. Make a small fire on top of the lid (or put coals there), so the top gets cooked. You can also invest in a relatively light backcountry oven like the Bemco Backpacker 7-inch Deluxe Oven Kit (1 lb. 9 oz., $50,

“I never leave home without vegetable bouillon cubes. They’re lightweight, make a savory hot drink, and add welcome flavor to dishes like rice and instant mashed potatoes.” —Caroline Blair-Smith, Outward Bound guide, 9/05

Planning/Prep | Eat Right | Hydration/Freeze-Dried | Recipes

Purify your water

Hikers have the dubious honor of having a disease named after them: backpacker’s diarrhea, aka giardiasis. Avoid this GI-wrecking protozoa (and other bugs) by treating water with one of the following:

» An ultraviolet-light purifier like the Journey SteriPEN ($100, 4.5 oz. with batteries, Fast and easy, it works best in warmer, fairly clear water.

» Chlorine dioxide tablets like Aquamira ($17, 2 oz., Though lightweight and easy, they take 30 minutes to kick in. Iodine tablets also work, and often come with pills to neutralize the aftertaste.

» Boiling. Bring water to a rolling boil for one minute to be safe (not five minutes, as once thought). It’s fuel-intensive, but great for silty water, large groups, or when cooking.

» Filters like the MSR Hyperflow ($99, 7.4 oz., and the Platypus CleanStream Gravity Filter ($100, 13.7 oz., Easy and aftertaste-free, they typically require field maintenance (for clogged filters and dirty O-rings).

Fry fish perfectly “Throw a wooden match into an oiled skillet that has been heating for about 10 minutes. If the match spontaneously ignites, it means the oil is between 375°F and 400°F—perfect for cooking a fish crisp on the outside, tender on the inside,” recommends Voyageurs Adventures guide Wade Watson (9/05).

Make tasty freeze-dried meals One bite of brittle, half-hydrated beef stroganoff is a gag-inducing flavor that will forever haunt you. Save yourself by preparing freeze-dried entrées with extra water and spices or mix-ins from home; this minimizes the risk of Styrofoam fare, while also delivering more fluids to your body. Another tip: To trap heat for faster, more thorough rehydration, nestle the pouch inside your jacket or a beanie while the food rehydrates.

Drink enough Your pee should look nearly clear. Thirst is often a good guide, but beware: 2004 research found cold weather dampens the thirst response. Hikers typically need three to four liters a day, but that varies with temperature and exertion level. Sip every 15 minutes; the body absorbs small, frequent amounts more efficiently. Replace electrolytes with sports drinks or salty foods. Signs of dehydration: headaches, dizziness, and confusion.

Most half-baked recipe

It’s one thing to offer survival advice about eating bugs in an emergency, but it’s another to give a three-page article with gourmet creepy-crawler recipes, and such sage advice as, “Worms, like most invertebrates, don’t keep well and should be thrown into the pot still twitching” and “For about 24 hours, keep [worms] in a container of dirt with a tablespoon or two of corn meal…They’ll feed on the grain, which pushes any dirt in their innards out the back end“ (“There’s a Worm on My Plate,“ 10/95). Get three more recipes at Patty Supreme

1 1/2 pounds thoroughly smushed earthworms

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon lemon rind

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 beaten egg

1 cup dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter Combine worms, melted butter, lemon rind, salt, and pepper. Shape into patties, dip in egg, then bread crumbs. Fry in a pan with butter for about 10 minutes, turning once. More Recipes: 

Stick Cookies

Angry Red Lentil Tortilla Soup

Drunken Choc-Berry Fondue

Omelette in a Bag

Planning/Prep | Eat Right | Hydration/Freeze-Dried | Recipes

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