Thursday, August 16, 2012

Backpack Mini Feast

The weather is turning here in Minnesota, the state fair just 2 weeks away, which means fall is coming. Days are hot, but nights are cool.  Ryan and I headed out on another 1 night backpack adventure.  This time at St. Croix St. Park.  We parked the car and hiked 5 easy miles to our site.  Look what awaited us. Adirondacks!  Three sided structures, which were really 4 sided, since they had a screened in front wall.
Ryan checking for wasps

Instead of packing the dehydrated lazy camper meals, we went a little more whole foods style this time by cutting up a bell pepper, 2 jalapenos, and 1/2 an onion at home then storing them in a plastic tupperware.  I also brought along 3/4 can of black beans and white hominy in a plastic bag.  At the campsite I began by sautéing the peppers and onion in palm oil.  Once they were cooked I added the black beans, hominy, and two 5oz cans of chicken.  While it was not the most flavorful of meals, it was satiating, nutritious, and did not leave us feeling bloated and gassy.

For breakfast we boiled water and made Proat-meal.  Quick-oats + vanilla whey protein powder + almonds and walnuts.  The whey protein did coagulate a little bit when cooked, but it was still pretty good.  At 6:30am, after 3 hours of sleep...we weren't going to complain, especially since we didn't have to take down the tent.

Most hardcore lightweight backpackers use dehydrated foods since they weight almost nothing.  It's what the lazy camper meals are made from.  Dehydrated veggies are easy to find and purchase, but making our own would be so much better.  Plus we could load up on the non-starchy veggies, and skip all the extra corn and peas.

beautiful campfire

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blackberry Bounty

Ryan and I recently went on a quick overnight backpacking trip at Afton State Park.  A few weeks prior we had been there just to hike and noticed a lot of blackberry brambles, but not many ripe fruits.  We figured the critters would have gotten to all the good ones by the time we arrived for our overnight...but we were wrong. 
At first we were not sure if they were blackberries or black-raspberries, and didn't really know if there was much of a difference.  With a quick google search (at home, not in woods), I identified them as blackberries.  Raspberries have a 'rasp' which holds the berry to the vine.  When the berry is pulled off the vine, the center is hollow.  A blackberry does not have a rasp, and is not hollow when pulled off the vine.  Another interesting fact; blackberries are not actuall berries.  They are in fact an aggregate fruit.

 How to pick blackberries in 3 short steps.
Enter blackberry bramble avoiding thorns, poison ivy, and nettles.

Gently pluck ripe berries, avoiding spiders and other insects.  


After eating a handful of berries, we used Ryan's bandana to cary about a 2 pints worth of berries back to camp.   Ryan wanted to use his hand to demonstrate just how much we picked.  We did eat a few for breakfast with instant coffee the next morning, but most of them we took home.   Ryan enjoyed putting them on his yogurt, I just ate them with a little heavy cream.
Why eat blackberries?  Besides being delicious they are high in many antioxidants including: tannins, anthocyanin, quercetin, and ellagic acid.  
A cup of berries contains only 15g of carbohydrate and whopping 8g of fiber!  Berries are also high in vitamin C (50% DV), and vitamin K (36% DV)

The blackberries were much more nutritious and satisfying than our 'lazy camper' meals.  Too much carbohydrate, and not enough fat.  I felt bloated and burped more than I have in months. Gross.  Not something I feel like repeating anytime soon.  Also, the dehydrated onions made for a stinky night in the tent.  Next time we're bringing tuna packets, instant rice, and veggies.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect Produce

This summer we have been splitting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box with a family friend, and it has been a fantastic experience.  We have received everything from kohlrabi and garlic scapes, beets and potatoes, and  now on to swiss chard, cauliflower, and carrots.  The day I realized how much I loved our Featherstone Farm CSA was one of the first mornings I tried out my new frittata making skills on Ryan.  I was washing and ripping up some kale to be sauteed in butter, when I noticed little holes in some of the leaves.  It warmed my heart to know that this produce was so perfect and nutritious, that it was now imperfect.  How often have you found holes in your store bought spinach or beet leaves?  Not to many thanks to pesticides.

Like so many other CSA members, each week we are faced with the question, "what do we do with it?"  Here's what we've been making:

Breakfast Frittatas with kale, chard, or spinach.  Then topped with Goat Cheese (not from CSA).

Sauteed Kohlrabi with garlic and lemon

Yogurt Veggie dip with CSA diced onion, garlic and dill,  eaten with CSA snap peas

Stir Fry and Curry with zucchini, snow peas, and cauliflower brainer for the leaf lettuce

Roasted Beets and Broccoli

Dilled Potato Salad  and German Potato Salad

Beef Pot Roast with CSA carrots and garlic

Cucumber, Tomato, and Sardine salad with olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette

The produce we receive from Featherstone farm is so precious to me, I hate to waste any of it.  Not only did I roast the beets, but the greens found their way into several morning scrambles.  Not wanting to even waste the cauliflower leaves, I discovered that both cauliflower and broccoli are related to collard greens.  Therefore you can cook their leaves in a similar fashion.  Unlike collards which have very little flavor, the cauliflower leaves still retain their very distinct flavor when simmered for 45 min.
The summer is already half over, and I'm sad that soon we will no longer be receiving our perfectly imperfect produce.