Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Throw down for the “Best Backcountry Chef”

Throw down for the “Best Backcountry Chef” cook-off

While lurking around on Twitter, Sarah Simon say’s, let’s have a backcountry cook off. She started talking smack and very quickly throws this down “hahahaha! Watch out, I've got this guy In The Wild Chef in my corner of the ring! He's got a wicked rice pilaf recipe!” 

Mountaineers Books "Well, we have Langdon Cook and U author Amy Pennington in ours, so it's ON!"

In The Wild Chef suggested we do the wilderness cook-off in the Cascades and raise money for charity.

Suggestion's of the criteria:
  • Must be prepared outdoors, cooked on a ISO-Butane type of stove. 
  • Originality
  • Presentation
  • Camp friendly - ease of eating and clean up
  • TASTE!

Let's get this thing going. Also looking suggestions for the beneficiary of the proceeds from the event. All opinions will be received and some might even be used.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's a Southern Thing

Southern Quesadilla


·         2 Tomatoes (Diced)
·         Cilantro  (1/2 cup finely chopped)
·         1 Can Olives (Diced)
·         Original Sweet Baby Rays Barbecue Sauce (1/2 Cup)
·         3-4 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (Shredded)
·         Jalapenos Diced (1/2 cup)
·         Sour Cream (to taste)
·         Shredded Cheese (3 Cups)
·         Large Tortillas (8 Count)


  1. In a large skillet combine Shredded Chicken and Jalapenos and cook until chicken is done.
  2. Add Barbecue sauce to chicken and simmer for 5-10 minutes on med low heat – set aside
  3. Pre-heat additional large skillet for Tortillas on Med – Low heat
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil to skillet and place tortilla on pan to absorb the oil
  5. Turn tortilla every 5 seconds until most of the oil is absorbed by both sides of the tortilla
  6. Once the tortilla is browning add chicken mix, Cheese, Olives, tomatoes, cilantro, and Sour Cream to preference on one half of the tortilla
  7. Fold the tortilla like you would an omelet and cover skillet to allow cheese to melt (be sure not to burn tortilla)
  8. Serve hot 
Eat Well and Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Freeze Dried Food Debate…

The packaged freeze dried meals that are on the market today have artificial additives added in many recipes and are expensive considering actual food received. Many entrées require additional quality carbohydrates for a filling meal as entrees alone will not supply adequate nutritional value.

You need to consider the ratio of calories from carbohydrates to protein to fat:  shoot for about 50% calories from carbohydrates, 15% calories from protein, and 35% calories from fat.

Freeze dried meals are very expensive. You can buy two whole days worth of food for the cost of a single freeze dried dinner. 

As Ryan Porter states in the foreword of my book” Many a hungry backpacker has arrived at camp to the dismal sight of an over-priced, freeze-dried meal..... and resolved immediately with intense conviction that the menu must be improved.

The outdoor experience provides a myriad of different satisfactions for participants, but there is a constant for us. If we are going to stay some duration. in the wilderness, we must pack food with us (unless your friends will tolerate the sight of a llama’s backside all the way up the trail) that means, your food is on your back. And so the great debate is born. How much weight should we be willing to pack to enrich our high-elevation cuisine?

Has any subject been hashed out more than this one over the ol' campfire? The weight vs. taste argument is one old and worthy Multi- day backpacking circumstances demand that people reasonably determine weather he or she shall either consume dehydrated muck, or pay dearly through the quads, hamstrings, and calves, etc., in order to dine well”

I have researched the weight argument as well. Consider taking a Salmon foil pack, a pesto packet and some pasta and won’t really have any additional weight.

Eat well and climb high!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fresh Omelets in the Backcountry

Studies have shown that never refrigerated, never washed eggs direct from the farm can be stored at about 65 deg for several days before going bad. To get them to your destination store them in Coghlans plastic egg holder.

My friends like to eat well, why not? Our typical calorie burn on a hike or snow climb can hit as much as 2500 calories or more in a 10 hour day going hard. One of my favorite people to camp with is JP.

He is a connoisseur of fine outdoor cuisine. As he states “Steve whipped up another gourmet meal (literally- he separated the eggs before whipping the whites for our omelets). To finish my omelet with a flurry, he flipped the darn thing in the air, catching it with the pan. This had to be the highlight of my weekend for me. But I digress”.

Prepare and cook your omelet:

Whisk the amount of eggs you want with 2 tablespoons or so of water and some salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your skillet or fry pan. Add eggs to heated pan reduce heat and cook for 30 seconds. Use a spatula to tug the edges towards the pans center. Swirl the pan. Cook until set (about 1-2 minutes), top with veggies, shredded cheese or whatever else tickles your taste buds, then fold in half and serve.

Preparation tip: when you prepare for your trip, put your veggies, cheese and etc… in Ziploc bags.

Eat Well and Climb High!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Primus Firehole 300

Houston we have lift off!

Dude, seriously! The Firehole 300 aint your Grandpas camp stove. I think to myself “WOW!” Could they have put more features on a stove?

Outdoor cooking has really evolved. Glamping and aggressive car camping have created high performance needs for the discriminating backcountry chef. Outdoor gourmet cooking has advanced to alien like designs and rocket ship performance.

You get back to base camp from 8 hours of grueling mountaineering or hiking, and you want easy. “Please can I just turn it on and have it do the cooking for me?” The rest of your gang is looking to you to pull a meal out of your hat. It’s dark and we are using headlamps, “wait this thing has two lights” That was like hitting the easy button.

Let’s see, where did I put the cooking utensils? Of course, a nice little set is stuck to the back of the stove with magnets. Throw on a couple 3 liter pots and get that Salmon Pesto pasta cooking. Well that took all of about 10 minutes; let’s boil some water for beverages.

It seems like it took longer to eat the food than it did to cook it. Heat water for clean up and we are done.

The Firehole 300 is intuitive. It knows what we need and when.

Thank you Primus

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Primus Njord and his many friends

While on a backpacking/mountaineering trip to the Sawtooths in Idaho, I was tasked with cooking for 13 people. No easy feat with having to consider 35 pounds of food and what stoves and cookware we can pack on our backs.

Primus Njord 2 Burner Backpacking stove
Primus ETA Power
Primus EAT Solo
Primus Power Gas, 3- 450 gram canisters
1 GSI Medium Bugaboo Base Camper
GSI Pivot tools
GSI Kitchen 23

The ETA solo provides the quick heated water for coffee or tea and hot cocoa. The ETA Power EF is a good extra burner with 2.1 liter of cooking space.

Allow me to introduce the Prince making his debut to the majestic Idaho Mountains. My first time using the stove on a trip like this

The Primus Njord, 4 lbs of pure glory for a backcountry cook! The first night I threw on a couple of 3 liter pots and cooked up some Salmon Pesto Linguini.

In the AM put a griddle on the Njord and fried up some trout from the previous nights catch at Hell Roaring Lake. Oh my, nothing like fresh fish in the morning

After a tough day climbing up to the Finger of Fate, we return tired and hungry taste buds anxious for Sausage Penne Pasta. The Njord once again impresses us with its power and efficiency @ 7400 ft above sea level.

It’s a different type of task to cook for this many people at any level of remoteness. I can see many applications for this stove for my cooking future.

Climb High and Rock On!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Wild Journey

In The Wild Chef Book Launch Party - September 8th 2012 @ Sierra Trading Post Meridian Idaho.

I am grateful for my family, my friends and the acquaintances in my life that came to help me celebrate the launch of my cookbook. A 3 year journey in which along the way I was fortunate to be introduced to Steven Siler, publisher of Smoke Alarm Media, a Rock Star Publisher, Chef, Firefighter, a Southern Gentleman.

The learning curve to be a cookbook author is hard, fast and furious, and that is just the warm up. Of course there is nothing to prepare you for this process, you just have to jump in and hold on. It’s like taking a really fast ride in a jeep down a mountain road, moments of exhilaration and smashing your head against the dash and ceiling.

Minutes before the launch party the "rumor" is my book still might arrive. The night before, we learned that my books would not arrive until Monday (2 days late). Steven had made "sample books" and offered a gift card to the people that showed up expecting to buy a book and have me sign it.

The emotional rollercoaster peaked when several characters from Idaho's Mountain Climbing Community arrived. (I named recipes after several of them and others when it was appropriate to do so) "Wow! this is really happening!" I really have great family and friends. These are my peeps, my network. They are not outwardly disappointed that the book wasn’t there , they had came to celebrate this journey with me.

All who arrived received our In The Wild Chef t-shirt. It was exciting to witness a sea of Pistachio Green t-shirts with "Get a Little Wild in the Woods" logos flying around Sierra Trading Post.

I have a phrase, one I say frequently to my immediate family, "Nobody loves you more than me".
I would like to leave you with a slightly modified version of that~

Nobody loves and appreciates your support of my cookbook journey more than me!

Thank you to all!

Rock On

Monday, September 3, 2012

. . .  Extreme 11” Wok
Premium wok for the camping gourmet
I was excited to try out my new “Extreme Wok” from GSI Outdoors. I cook for groups of people outdoors both at the Trailhead and the Trail so on this day, I wanted to change things up a bit.

The first meal I cooked with my new toy was Sweet and Sour Chicken. I doused the wok with peanut oil and fired up the backpacking stove. Around the camp nobody has any interest in what I am doing until I hit the heated oil with garlic and chicken and then “…Whoa, what do you have going on there, Chef?”

I cooked the raw chicken for about 2 minutes and then pushed the chicken up on the walls of the wok. Now time for the veggie to take a jump into the bottom of the pool.  Lovin’ the sizzlin’. A crowd was forming around my kitchen domain and these people looked hungry! The veggies took just a minute to perfection. I then poured Sweet and Sour sauce (that I had made at home) over all the goodies and cooked it for one minute.

Now, I was a Toughguy Soldier in a former life, but I felt afraid for my person as the camp participants looked like they are going to mug me. Kind of like the meat handler at the Big Cat enclosure.I served up rice (previously cooked…a lifesaver when camping) on my GSI Medium Base Camper onto the plates and spooned the Sweet and Sour Chicken over everything. Yup, it WAS like watching feeding time at the Big Cat enclosure! The gang devoured it!

Seriously, I am really looking forward to using my Extreme Wok on future outings. Stir-fried veggies and meats are fun when you are cooking in the backcountry. And woks are probably one of the most versatile cooking pans. This is a wonderful tool and will be used frequently by me.
Rock on!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dining at the Seven Summits

I have always dreamed of what the climbers of the Seven Summits might be eating at the various base camps. In recent years, the guide companies and their clients have elevated the fare on the big mountains.

Elaborate stoves and exotic foods have been carried to the camps. With the commercialization of the world’s highest mountains has brought people with money and strong desires to have what they want, when they want it.

The truth is high altitude mountaineers struggle with getting the calories needed. The appetite just goes away as the body is left dealing with many other issues.

As I read from the Himalman blog:
"Last night at Base Camp the meal began with a steaming hot wash towel, then garlic soup, then pizza and spaghetti and vegetables, then pound cake with frosting, and for those who so desired, a nip of Scotch. Breakfast this morning was fried eggs and toast or pancakes smothered in fresh butter or peanut butter or syrup, or a selection of jams and honeys. Lunch was potatoes with pine nuts, freshly fried bread with cheese, corn, cabbage salad, and sardines. We’re just about to have our mid-afternoon picata,which consists of sliced Italian salami and French cheese on crackers."

To think that they will do whatever it takes to avoid the freeze dried options is amazing. In interviewing some High Altitude mountaineers, they all told that one of the most popular foods at Everest Base camp is French toast.
For first hand accounts I have found the National Geographic Everest blog to be full of interesting data on the diet of a high altitude mountaineer.
"Climbing Everest is not backpacking. We have yet to have a single freeze dried meal. Quite the contrary, we eat like kings"

Regardless of “what “ they eat, the common theme is that they eat well and climb high!