Hiker’s Mexican Corn

Here is a vegetable recipe that makes a very good soup base. Add a 3-ounce package of Sweet Sue Premium Chicken Breast, or 1/4 cup dehydrated ground beef. Cut up some peppered jerky to throw in. The secret to having vegetables on the trail that taste good is to make sure they are well re-hydrated before you boil them. When I first tested this recipe, I added 1/8 tsp of red pepper, and although I like food hot and spicy, that much red pepper is a little too spicy. If you add chicken, try adding 1/8 tsp of chicken bouillon for a flavorful and hearty Mexican soup.

Hiker’s Mexican Corn
3 tbsp. Harmony House dehydrated corn
1 tbsp. Harmony House diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. Harmony House bell peppers
1 tsp. Harmony House chopped onion
½ tsp. Harmony House jalapeno dices
½ tsp. powdered butter
1/8 tsp. Tones Taco Seasoning
pinch cumin (I like more)
pinch ground red pepper
Salt, and coarse ground pepper
½ cup hot water or more

Package all vegetables and spices in one bag, and seal bag with an oxygen absorber inside. On the trail: Add hot water to the bag to rehydrate vegetables about 15 minutes before cooking. Bring vegetables and water to a boil, reduce heat and put in cozy for 10 minutes. Goes great with Hiker’s Refried Bean Burritos.


Hiker’s Savory Mashed Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese

When you have a meal that is rather lean, with not much starch, it is nice to add a starchy vegetable as an accompaniment.  Trying to have an entree and mashed potatoes with gravy is not very likely, so making a stuffed baked potato without the skin to stuff it with, is an option. Here is my hiker’s recipe for un-stuffed mashed potatoes.

Unstuffed Mashed Potatoes with Broccoli & Cheese (1 serving)
1/3 cup Idahoan Original Mashed Potatoes
1 tbsp. Harmony House dehydrated broccoli
1 tbsp. Meyenburg goat milk powder
1/8 tsp. Wyler’s chicken bouillon
½ tsp. powdered butter
1 tbsp. Honeyville Freeze-Dried Cheddar Cheese shreds
1/3 cup or more water*

Combine mashed potatoes, goat milk, chicken bouillon and powdered butter in one packet and seal. Seal a packet with 1 tbsp. broccoli and another with 1 tbsp. cheddar cheese.

On the trail: Rehydrate broccoli first by adding water to the bag and allowing it to steep for about 15 minutes. Bring the 1/3 cup water to a boil. Stir in potato packet and remove from heat immediately. Add rehydrated broccoli and stir. Put pot in a cozy for 3 minutes. Remove from cozy and fluff with a fork. Top with cheddar cheese. *You may need up to 1/2 cup of boiling water, so prepare.

Hiker’s Barbeque Beef Sandwich (for lacto-ovo vegetarians)

BBQ Beef Sandwich (Adapted from Augason Farm’s Recipe)
1 cup Augason Farms Vegetarina Meat Substitute Beef
4 tsp. beef bouillon
¾ cup water (per serving) or more
Worcestershire sauce a few drops per serving
8 tbsp. Honeyville Freeze-Dried Cheddar Cheese Shreds
Divide beef substitute into four equal ¼ cup servings. Add 1 tsp. beef bouillon to each bag. Prepare four small bags with 2 tbsp. each of cheddar cheese. Seal one bag of meat, with one bag of barbeque sauce and one bag of cheddar cheese.

Barbeque Sauce Packet Adapted From Martha Stewart’s Spicy Barbeque Sauce: Makes 4 servings
3 tbsp. Harmony House Dehydrated Onion
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp coarse salt
¼ tsp allspice
10 tbsp. Harmony House tomato powder
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 cup dehydrated apple cider vinegar (Nuts.com. has this)
¼ tsp black ground pepper
Mix all the dry ingredients well and divide into four equal portions. Seal with an oxygen absorber.

Bring water to a boil. Add bouillon, barbecue packet and beef substitute. Lower heat to a simmer until meat is heated through. Top with Honeyville Freeze-Dried Cheddar Cheese.

**Lacto-ovo Vegetarians omit the beef bouillon.

Italian Lasagna for Hikers on the Appalachian Trail

Purchasing ready-made meals for long-distance hiking trips is prohibitive for most people. While some brands taste very good, others are less than desirable. I don’t want to find out which meal I have when I’m 200 miles in and very hungry. From a culinary standpoint, it just makes sense to create your meals at home, and try them first. Most of the recipes I have shared with my audience are my own recipes. Some, I adapt from other cook’s recipes. I will even post recipes and give full credit to other hikers who have done the same. The home-prepared meals are economical, delicious, prepare easily on the trail, and will make your mouth water in anticipation. Seal in fresh ingredients, and take the time to cook them on the trail. The effort is worth it.

While some hikers prefer to precook these meals and then dehydrate them, I don’t. I have tried it too, but you lose the savory aroma of the herbs. You need to add more salt for it to taste good. There is not much nutrition left in spaghetti that has been cooked, and cooked, and cooked again. The textures are unappetizing, and personally, when I first bagged up my cooked spaghetti with sauce that was dehydrated into a round mess, it looked kind of like garbage. My sauce was wonderful, but by the time it was processed, it even tasted like garbage….a dead thing…and was composted for the worms. Even when preparation takes a lot of time, the results are far superior to ready-made or precooked.

Hiker’s Lasagna for the Trail (very large serving or divide into two)
1/8 cup dehydrated ground beef
1/8 cup Honeyville freeze-dried sausage
6 tbsp. tomato powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. Harmony House dehydrated onion
1 tsp. Harmony House dehydrated bell pepper
1 tsp. brown sugar
¼ tsp. coarse salt
¼ tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 ¾ cups or more water

Cheese Filling:
1/8 cup dehydrated cottage cheese
1 tsp. Meyenburg goat milk powder
1 tbsp. Parmesan
1/8 tsp egg replacer
½ tsp parsley flakes or dehydrated spinach flakes
Water for reconstituting

1 to 2 tbsp. freeze-dried or dehydrated mozzarella
1 tbsp. Home-made dehydrated garlic bread croutons

2 ounces Mafalda pasta (looks like mini lasagna noodles)

Seal sauce ingredients in a bag with an oxygen absorber. Combine cheese filling well and seal in a separate bag. Seal small bags of the toppings. Finally put the pasta into a larger bag which will hold all the ingredients. Fill this bag with 1 sauce package, 1 cheese filling bag, 1 topping bag (or 2, however many bags you use for them) and seal, preferably with an oxygen absorber.

On the trail, boil pasta first. While boiling pasta, rehydrate cheese filling with just enough water added to the bag to make a creamy, pourable filling. Pour the water from the pasta into another cooking pot and add more water to make 1 ½ cups. Add sauce packet to this water and boil, then simmer until meats and vegetables have rehydrated and sauce is heated through. Mix pasta with cooked sauce. With a spoon, open up spaces in the pasta mix to squeeze the filling into. Do this by snipping a corner of the bag, and simply squirting the filling into the pasta. Sprinkle mozzarella over it all and toss on croutons for your garlic bread. Voila! Hot Italian Supper on the Trail…

**While some people like to pour the starchy water off their pasta, I want to consume that starch for energy on the trail. Reserve the water for the sauce. If you want to drain away those calories, the herb Cleavers makes a very good colander in the wild. If you can find it, just curl it up into a bowl. It will stick together nicely and you can pour your boiling pasta right into it. Cleavers makes a very good tea as well.

Macaroni and Cheese on the Appalachian Trail

In my home, macaroni and cheese is a staple food and is sometimes the entire entree. It is so versatile. Add chicken, vegetables, or ham. Ummm. Top with sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, Parmesan and bake. Ummm. It is the ultimate comfort food. Ultra Gel is a gluten free, non-GMO cornstarch that can be directly added to any liquid, hot or cold, for instant thickness. Ultra Gel holds up to freezing, canning and refrigerating without weeping, thinning, or breaking down. It is used in this recipe because it is added while the liquid is hot so the powdered contents stir right in. You can use bacon on the trail if you buy Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits, but you must use the entire package that day, so start with a breakfast of bacon and Ova Easy Eggs and Mac & Cheese for supper so the bacon does not go rancid. Here is my adapted recipe. The original is from Chef Tess from Honeyville Foods:

Mac and Cheese  2 servings
7 tsp. Honeyville Powdered Cheese                                          2 tsp. Ultra Gel
1 tsp. chicken bouillon                                                              1 tsp Harmony House dehydrated onion
¼ cup Meyenburg Goat Milk                                                     1 cup elbow macaroni
½ tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning                                1 tsp powdered butter
Salt & pepper to taste                                                               ½ cup Honeyville dehydrated

3 cups water (for 2 servings)                                                   Honeyville Cheddar Cheese shreds

Mix powdered cheese, bouillon, milk, seasonings, Ultra Gel and butter. Divide evenly into two servings. Divide macaroni and onion into two portions and seal them into two bags. Divide dehydrated cheddar cheese into two bags. In a sealer bag, add one pkt. Of seasoning, 1 macaroni pkt., and 1 cheddar cheese pkt. On the trail, Bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil. Cook macaroni until tender. Add seasoning packet and simmer until heated through. Top with crispy cheddar cheese shreds.

Cuisine on the Trail

Food Preparation for the Trail
Hikers need a lot of energy on a demanding trail. I’ve read on several blogs and on sport’s websites that a hiker can expend between 3500 K cal to 7000 K cal per day. I figure my consumption will be on the lower end of that scale simply because my age and physical fitness level demand that I will be moving slower than most hikers and I will travel less miles per day. My trip is not a race. I’m not trying to set any records. My goal is very simple. I’m going to live on the Appalachian Trail for as long as it takes me to finish, even if that means a year. There are blue blazes that beg to be explored. There are cold rivers to soak one’s feet in. There are animals to watch, plants to sketch, and so many other useful activities like daydreaming under a forest canopy with dappled sunlight to accompany me, that I just don’t have time to waste trying to hurry through. I am also assigning myself algebra and Spanish homework because I find that very enjoyable, even in the middle of the 100 Mile Wilderness. There is a drawback to this revelry. Going slowly so that I fit in with the other organisms, and trying to graph functions on the trail means that I either have to forage for food or carry more than I really want to, because there are long distances between resupply points. I say pack it on and eat the weeds.

I am used to foraging for food, so much so, in fact, that my son Andy once asked me to please graze in the back yard instead of the front, so the neighbors would not see me eating our weeds. Dandelions are not weeds. Neither is chickweed, henbit, cleavers, or lamb’s quarters. How would I get through a spring without sampling the delicious shepherd’s purse? To put his mind at ease that I will not be munching on something toxic, I’m planning my meals, and the preparation is enormous. I also know, from living in Iraq during the war, that good food can boost morale and give you an edge so you can scramble over those boulders on your belly, and you can hoist yourself over an immense fallen tree. I will make delicious and nutritious meals even if I do decide to amble around the tree.

If I take nine months to complete the trail that is ≈ 272 days of meals to prepare, in advance. If I follow recommendations to eat three meals and four snacks throughout the day, I will be packing a lot of food. Thus far, I have thirteen shipping boxes that will include two full week’s meals, which my son will mail to predetermined strategic post offices along the trail.

Today I am preparing breakfast. The entrée is a not-so-nutritious pancake mix. Comfort food…
There are 28 little pouches of dry pancake batter just waiting for a packet of syrup and a sleeve of butter before getting tucked into a Ziploc. Only 244 more breakfast entrees to make. Here is my recipe:

Linda’s Trail Pancakes with Fruit*
1 cup Pioneer Baking Mix
½ tbsp. Egg Replacer
4 tbsp. Meyenburg powdered goat’s milk
Four 3-tbsp. packets of freeze-dried fruits
4 pkts. Pancake syrup
4 sleeves of butter or margarine

The dry mix goes into one small bag. Mix the dry ingredients well and divide into four portions. Bag these up into two-ounce portions, removing as much air as possible. Into a larger plastic bag, tuck one packet of dry pancake mix, one packet of freeze-dried fruit, one butter sleeve, and one syrup packet. *Makes four servings. Add an oxygen absorber and seal.

To cook this on the trail, you simply add water to the packet and squeeze the plastic bag back and forth until the batter is smooth. Clip a tiny hole in a corner of the bag and squeeze the batter onto a hot griddle. (I bought a Swedish Trangia military mess kit for this purpose) Top the batter with the fruit and turn when the bottom is browned. Voila! Pancakes on the trail… Bon appetite!
I buy Harmony House freeze-dried fruit because it is fairly priced and is delicious! The company offers free shipping on large orders and that is a plus as well. Freeze dried is better than dehydrated because it is lighter. Freeze-dried fruit can also be powdered to add nutrition to drinks or puddings.

To vary my meals, I have at least sixteen different recipes for each meal of the day. If I pack only one of each kind of entrée in my two-week’s boxes, my meals will not get boring or monotonous. My goal is to have at least three servings of fruit per day and five servings of vegetables. My snacks will be high-fat, high-calorie, and high protein.

The second breakfast entrée I prepared today has potatoes and eggs. Here it is below:

Hungry Jack Cheesy Bacon Hashbrown Quiche
¼ cup dry Hungry Jack Cheesy Hashbrown potatoes, about 0.7 ounces
1 tsp. Harmony House dehydrated chives
¼ cup Ova Easy Egg Crystals
1 tsp. Meyenberg goat milk powder
2 tbsp. Oscar Mayer real bacon bits
¼ tsp. coarse salt, ¼ tsp. coarse black pepper
¼ cup water, 1 tsp. cooking oil
2 tbsp. Thrive freeze-dried cheddar cheese shreds
(Definitely high-fat, high-calorie, and high-protein, but there are only six of these meals in the entire food preparation menu)
While taking the hiking hammock down in the mornings, the potatoes and onions can be rehydrating in water (takes about 15 minutes). Once rehydrated, use the non-stick Trangia pan to fry them in a tiny amount of oil until browned. Mix the egg crystals, powdered milk, salt and pepper and reconstitute with ¼ cup water. Center potatoes in the pan and pour egg mixture over. Allow eggs to slightly cook and add bacon. Cover and let the eggs cook until set. Sprinkle cheddar cheese shreds over and cover the pan again until the cheese starts to melt (it will be crunchy if it is not rehydrated).

I have six of these little breakfast entrees almost ready to go. Waiting on UPS to deliver the cheese!

A third breakfast recipe is much healthier than the previous two, and is just as hearty. It combines oats, spices and freeze-dried fruit. Here is the recipe below:

Old-Fashioned Apple Oats
¾ cup Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats
1 ½ cups boiling water
½ tsp. coarse salt
1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
½ cup Harmony House Freeze-dried apples
1 good shake of cinnamon

Bring water to a rolling boil. Add salt and oats. Lower the heat (with the simmer ring on the Trangia 27 3UL). Cover oats and allow to cook five minutes more, until tender, but still chewy. Add brown sugar, apples, and cinnamon. If you do not rehydrate the apples, they give a very pleasant crunch.

On this first food blog, I will apologize to my audience, in advance, for boring you with details. When I first started researching recipes for hikers, I found that many of them left out details that I wanted to know, or they didn’t tell you how to actually prepare it on the trail. For instance, I found a recipe for pinto beans (on the trail). The blogger did not say that you can heat the beans to boiling and place them in a thermos for the next six hours and supper will be ready. I thought I would use 2 liters of alcohol to cook ½ cup of beans. I will not be taking uncooked beans on the trail, but Harmony House has cooked beans which have been dehydrated, and once reconstituted and reheated, they are delicious and taste almost as good as fresh. I have a soup recipe which uses them and I will share this recipe with you later.

Thank you for reading. If you have recipes to share with me, or comments to make, please do so. Also, if you have questions, please ask.

Forty-one days until I leave for Bangor, Maine. On June 2, I will summit Mount Katahdin and begin my adventure. Glad you want to tag along.