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Summer 2007 Issue
    Cover Article
    Message from the Director
    Field Notes: Leave Only Footprints, Take Only Pictures
    Mission at High Altitude: KCS & NOLS Team to Train Sherpas
    A Wilderness Twist to Traditional Medical School
    Wild Side of Medicine: Heat Illness in the Backcountry
    NOLS Environmental Sustainability Initiative Update
    NOLS River Courses
    Alumni Profile: Nico Marceca
    Recipe Box: Creative Menu Planning for Short Trips
    Gear Room: Personal Locator Beacons
    Book Review: Give Me Mountains for my Horses
Movie Review: Everything's Cool
Matching Gifts Stretch Your Scholarships Giving
Passing it Forward: NOLS Donors Support Student Experiences
Issue Room: Land Development Looms Around NOLS Mexico
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Creative Menu Planning for Short Trips


Coming in January 2008! NOLS Backcountry Cooking: Creative Menu Planning for Short Trips edited by Claudia Pearson, NOLS RM Rations Manager, and Joanne Kuntz, NOLS  Writer/Editor

You, dear reader, are probably one of the many thousands of NOLSies who have digested NOLS Cookery, a detailed presentation of the school’s bulk rationing that feeds students on backcountry expeditions across the globe. The bulk rationing system, in case you sit unaware, provides every cook group (usually 2-4 participants) with a wide selection of bulk foods and spices. Each group decides what to cook at each meal with the help of NOLS Cookery and knowledgeable peers or instructors. There are no set menus on a NOLS course, and you learn the art of cooking in the field.

This system works wonderfully well for large groups on multi-week expeditions, but smaller groups going out for shorter lengths of time—five days or less—might want to consider menu planning instead. With the menu planning system, all meals are determined in advance, and the food purchased and packed accordingly. So we’ve written NOLS Backcountry Cooking: Creative Menu Planning for Short Trips to answer this question: “How do I plan food for a short trip with a few friends and still maintain the NOLS culinary experience?”

One of our suggestions for cooking creatively in the backcountry, and one that keeps you from taking dehydrated, processed food for shorter trips, is to pick one or two of your favorite frontcountry recipes and turn them into a meal-in-a-bag. That is, carry all the ingredients for a specific meal in one large plastic bag. If all the ingredients are not cooked at the same time, use smaller bags to separate the ingredients within the large bag. With a little prep and planning at home, you can have a fresh, delicious dinner in the backcountry. Let us demonstrate with this yummy smoked salmon pasta recipe.

Ingredients (1)

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 green onions
  • 3 Tbs. margarine
  • 4 Tbs. dried tomato bits
  • 1 packet instant chicken broth
  • 8 oz. smoked salmon
  • 8 oz. angel hair pasta
  • ¼  cup capers
  • Parmesan cheese

Frontcountry Directions

Peel and chop garlic and green onions; sauté in margarine. Add dried tomato bits, chicken broth and ½  cup water. Let sit off heat for 15-20 minutes while pasta cooks. Flake salmon into garlic-tomato mix and add capers. Drain pasta. Toss pasta and salmon-garlic-tomato sauce together until well mixed. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Meal-in-a-bag recipe makeover: At home prep

  • Pack the pasta in a large plastic bag.
  • Peel and chop garlic and onions and place in a small plastic bag. (2)
  • Put broth and tomato bits into a small plastic bag. (3)
  • Flake salmon into a small plastic bag and add capers. (4)
  • Package desired amount of Parmesan cheese in a small plastic bag.
  • Put all the small plastic bags in the large bag with the pasta.
  • Pack margarine separately in a small container, ready for this and other uses. (5)

Voila! A meal-in-a-bag!

Other delicious recipes from the original NOLS Cookery that lend themselves to effective meal-in-a-bag makeovers:

  • Breakfast Couscous
  • Donna’s Hash Brown Fritters
  • Donna Orr’s Gado-Gado Spaghetti
  • Sweet and Sour Rice
  • Tabouli Salad
  • Cheese Bombs
  • Spooz-Ole
  • Vegetarian Meatballs

The new NOLS Backcountry Cooking: Creative Menu Planning for Short Trips is sure to keep you cooking creatively in the backcountry when bulk rationing just isn’t as convenient. Just say no to dehydrated, costly, processed camping.

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