One thing that is always on my mind is...food. So it's no surprise that while planning my trip i've been thinking much about the stuff. As i mentioned in my last post I have a history of working with some of the best chefs and cooks in Cleveland and this has taught me a lot about taste and preparation of delicious food, not something I wish to give up so easily as I post up camp and trade gas burners and sharp knives for rocky fireplaces, a 2qt propane stove and plastic kitchen ware...
It is my intention to avoid the highway rest-stops and fast food refuges that are entirely all too prevalent for lesser-known local stops. I have my fingers crossed for farmers-markets (wouldn't it be nice if there was just 1 for every 2 McDonalds you see). Fresh and local produce wherever I am and finding these places will be the key to my survival. In addition to acquiring perishable nutrient-rich goods and eating them before they turn, I've started experimenting with dried foods. Drying food, I've learned is one of the oldest methods of preserving food. In fact, Native Americans were sun-drying meat, fish, corn, squash, pumpkins, beans and berries years before European settlers arrived (Fears 109). Drying preserves food by removing sufficient moisture to prevent its decay. Water content of properly dried food is anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent, reducing both bulk and weight. Making it ideal to take on backpacking trips where every oz carried counts.
Because the Sun has been uncooperative the past week, I've resorted to oven drying. So far I've successfully dried bananas, kiwis, eggplant and beets. Fruit can be thinly sliced and thrown in the oven on the lowest setting for about 4-6 hrs, bananas took about 5 hrs where as the kiwi only took about 3. Monitoring the fruits status every hour or so is a good way to prevent scorching. Also continually rotating the fruit and flipping sides is beneficial in even drying. In order to evenly dry out both sides, instead of using a baking tray, I've taken parchment paper about the length of the interior of my oven and poked 1000 tiny little holes for the fruit to rest upon. A window screen would work equally well and save you some time. For vegetables you need to blanch prior to drying. Beets, being a bit hardier, need to be actually cooked as you would normally, I like to salt-bake them but one could boil, steam, or wrap in foil and cook until done, then peel, cool and slice about 1/4 in thick and then they're ready to go. Below are a few images of the process.
Now vegetables are great and salubrious fresh or dried. But so is beef! Jerky that is! And whats better than making your own!
Making ones own jerky saves money, produces more and allows you to do away with generic flavors like original or teriyaki. It also allows one to go to their local butcher or the like and get the best local, grass-fed beef available. I've got a nice piece of flank on cure right now with an uber-garlic brisket type cure going. It's at hour 36 and at hour 48 it's gonna hit the oven at about 150 thinly sliced, not overlapping pieces and cook for 10-12 hours. This process successfully dries out the meat and produces a delicious leather like meat strip that can be store in an airtight container for quite sometime. I've had mystery jerky show up in my golf bag from who knows how many seasons past and although I wasn't so desperate for food at the time to eat it, my friend was and he said it was great! Anyway there is much more on food to come including on the road kitchen equipment, outdoor stove/cooking techniques, the best brewed coffee in the world as well as the notion of taking a levain (french word for sourdough) on the road with me so I can have the best campfire pizzas anywhere!
much more to come
peace and love
ps. check out the book cited below for more information on food preservation and backcountry cooking
Fears, J. Wayne. Backcountry Cooking: Methods & Recipes for Indoors & Out! Charlotte: Fast & McMillan Publishers, Inc. 1980. Print.
my name is jordan rolleston. i've graduated from alfred university in 2010. i paint and i've set my sights on going cross country for several months. i've worked hard for 2+ years as a cook in cozy cleveland ohio at an outstanding restaurant the greenhouse tavern. it's been a dream of mine to see this country and all it it has to offer. my trip will be recorded throughout this blog via text and images. i'm about a month away from setting out on this trip of a lifetime and am in the midst of planning and gearing up. i will be posting every week to keep everybody plugged in. i am excited to set afoot but i'm more excited to share with you. this is my first blog and i hope you find it interesting. questions, comments, feedback and dialogue are always welcome. we'll be in touch...