Friday, 4 January 2008

Hiking for Gourmets

Whilst it is very rewarding to cook up a storm in your home kitchen, I think it's even more rewarding to get something nice to eat while being on a hiking trip.

Rule no. 1: Always have enough food with you! This includes goodies like chocolate, a wine bladder filled with port to sip in the evening, or in case you're on a shorter hike, even a bottle of red wine. Of course, it helps tremendously if you have a supportive boyfriend fiancé who offers to carry the port or the wine bottle.

Rule no. 2: Apart from the above mentioned goodies, make sure that all the food you carry is as dehydrated as humanly possible. Otherwise your backpack will be so heavy that you will reach your destination cursing just as heavily...

While being on our Christmas vacation in New Zealand, we had only planned to do an overnight-hike in the region of Wanaka on the south island. Therefore, we didn't have too many things to prepare and, luckily, our packs weren't particularly heavy.

However, what we didn't know was that the steep climb to reach our destination, the Liverpool hut, was indeed the second steepest climb in the whole National Park. Two thirds of the hike were a rather leisurely walk through a beautiful valley, whilst the last two-and-a-half hours turned out to be quite a challenge. With both hands for support we worked our way up, using trees, roots, and rocks as handles. I was glad to be in the shade of the woods otherwise I would have had to sweat even more.

Luckily, after this ordeal, we were rewarded with the most amazing view down the valley. But I didn't stare in amazement for too long - my growling stomach reminded me of the dinner yet to be cooked.
With roughly 20 people arriving the same evening at the same 6-bunk hut, we had set up camp a bit further away, enjoying our privacy and our space. Whilst many of the hikers I've met so far lived on instant noodles and the like, we truly enjoyed our couscous with mushrooms and tuna, followed by chocolate-covered almonds. After such an exhausting day, this was a real feast!

Couscous, Hiking-style

The ingredients (per person, can be easily multiplied)

100g instant couscous
a good handful of dried and sliced mushrooms (make sure to buy sliced ones as whole mushrooms will have to be cooked for much longer)
85g tuna with sun-dried tomatoes and basil (comes in a foil pouch)
salt, pepper, your favourite spice mix

instant stock cubes
whole sun-dried tomatoes
powdered milk for a creamier texture
bottle of red wine

Let the mushrooms with some water (amount is according to instructions on couscous package) come to a boil and cook until mushrooms are soft and not too chewy. Add the sun-dried tomatoes at this stage, if using.
Don't forget to sip your wine while cooking!

Add couscous and let stand until softened. Add more water if needed.

Season to taste and stir in tuna. Dig in!

The hint
This also works well with salmon out of a foil-pouch or with dried beef (has to be cooked with the mushrooms to soften). Powdered tomato sauce will make a good variation.

The source
My own invention


bee said...

that sounds like so much fun. have a great 2008.

Nora B. said...

Congratulations again Eva. This will be a GREAT year :-)

I am glad to see that you rewarded your self with more than instant noodles on your hiking trip. You're my kind of hiker :-)

xx Nora

Katie said...

Your hike sounds enjoyable, hard work and rewarding. Those views are spectacular, well worth the effort. I ahve done a bit of hiking myself and admit I too turned the instant noodle route, your dinner sounds fabulous though.

Eva said...

Bee - It was a great hike in a beautiful area! Wish a wonderful 2008, too!

Nora - It'll sure be very memorable..;-)

Katie - Luckily, going down the next day proved to be easier for me than going up (although pretty exhausting, too). Whenever I do something exhausting, I need to reward myself with nice food, that's paramount for me..;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, you're a hike! So am I and it must have been absolutely stunning to hike in New Zealand. Envy from this side of the world. Hiking food is a tricky one, but wow -- doesn't it taste good. It's amazing how much one can eat after a day on the trail.

Katy said...

oh yum! i could make this in my kitchen, as there isn't much "hiking" to be done in manhattan (sigh). or maybe i'll save the recipe for my next vacation!

Y said...

This reminds me of the hikes I used to go on, with friends in school. It was funny, some of the things people would pack as snacks - one girl had a whole loaf of bread (squashed by the time she brought it out to eat, of course), someone else had popping corn, and another had a tube of condensed milk to be squeezed out onto crackers.