Dehydrating food works well even if you don't have a dehydrator. And once you master it, you can literally be prepared for anything.
But it helps if you have a snappy little book like mine: High Trail Cookery by Linda Frederick Yaffe.
Our bike trip was filled with sweating, small frights, raccoons in the night, dirt, gorgeous vistas, no cooking fuel, and lovely meals that would work equally well around a campfire or a crowded table. Now that everyone's back to business, no more summer shenanigans, make a couple of these recipes and eat them right away, imagining next summer when you'll be making them for dehydrating. You'll use them on your next great adventure, and you will be happier, in addition to feeling more smug, than all the other adventurers out there.
Before we get to the recipes I have to say a few words about dehydrating. If you don't have a dehydrator, you will need an electric oven. I tried to do this using a gas oven and I'm afraid I almost gassed myself and my roommates to death. Gas ovens can't really go as low as you need nor maintain the temperature for many hours without going out. If you're using an oven, dry the finished recipes on very lightly oiled large cookie sheets with sides.
When your creation has finished drying in the oven, let it stand at room temperature several hours or overnight--this step is important to prevent mold. When dry and cool, you're ready to package it for storage or use. Place one or two servings' worth in a small plastic baggie, expelling all the air before you zip it up. Place this baggie in another zipper plastic baggie. Between the two layers, label and date the food, and write the directions for rehydrating. Store your finished product in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Linda does not advise how long this food will last, but I think you should pop it into your panniers and get on down the road. Don't forget your fuel.
Instant Highland Porridge
I made days and days worth of this stuff. This just makes a very nice bowl of oatmeal.
4 c. water
1 3/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. dry milk
1/4 c. oat bran
1/4 c. honey
1 T. margarine
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. allspice
1/4 t. salt
Bring all ingredients to a boil in the top half of a double boiler. Then place the pot over several inches of water in the bottom half of the double boiler and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Spread the porridge out on a lightly oiled baking sheet and dehydrate for four hours at 145 degrees. Periodically turn the pan and push the porridge around so it doesn't stick or scorch.
To rehydrate, cover with water, boil, stir, and serve with a little milk (or instant dry milk mixed with water, depending on your provisions).
Black Beans and Rice
The dish my fellow bicyclist had to eat even though she didn't like it. Until she ate it. This recipe requires more chopping than I am usually comfortable with, and chopping for dehydrating means you will be making a fine tiny uniform dice. Pretend you're Julia Child.
Cook one cup of dried black beans, draining them and reserving the liquid. You should have three cups of beans when cooked. I really like a pressure cooker for this step.
Next, cook 4 c. brown rice.
In a large heavy pot heat 2 T. olive oil, then add:
1 finely chopped onion (saute for two minutes)
1 small zucchini, finely chopped (saute until browned, then reduce heat)
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. fresh oregano, minced, or 2 t. dried
1/2 t. cumin
1 bay leaf
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. salt
Add the beans to the vegetables plus 2 c. bean liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour. Remove from heat, remove bay leaf. Add 10 sprigs of parsley or cilantro (finely minced of course) depending on what kind of person you are, and 2 T sherry. Add rice to the mix.
Spread on lightly oiled trays and dehydrate for 5 1/2 hours at 145 degrees.
To rehydrate, cover with water, let stand briefly, boil, stir, and serve.
Seafood Curry with Couscous
If you make this to eat right away, of course, you don't need to break up the fish and the shrimp into teeny pieces.
Heat in a large pot:
3 T. olive oil
Add and saute until lightly browned:
1 onion, finely chopped
1 apple, cored but unpeeled, finely diced
Reduce heat and add:
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 c. unsweetened grated coconut
1 T. curry powder
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 c. milk
When bubbling, add:
3/4 lb. firm whitefish fillets
Simmer for 10 minutes, breaking up fish into small pieces, then add:
6 oz. shrimp, finely chopped
Simmer a few minutes more. Then cook 4 servings of couscous, and combine couscous with curry mixture.
Spread out on lightly oiled trays and dehydrate for 5 hours at 145 degrees.
To rehydrate, cover with water, boil, stir, and serve.
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