Thursday, June 21, 2012

Preparing for a kayak trip: Food, part one

We've begun collecting and preparing food and gear for a 12-day trip this August along the Pukaskwa coast and Superior Highlands--a journey of about 120 miles as the crow flies, but longer if you hug the shoreline and explore coves and islands. We're planning to take the trip slowly, documenting the area and enjoying detours on land and on water.

We don't want to bring anything along that we haven't tested. So we've been dehydrating food and tasting it; outfitting boats and paddling them; and favoring tried-and-true gear over unfamiliar items. That said, this trip calls for some things we've never needed before. So over the course of the next month or so, we'll blog about what we've learned.

As we planned our menu, we realized we needed some kind of milk to go on breakfast dishes. (Our breakfast menu rotates between steel-cut oats, quick-cooking quinoa, and muesli.) It would be possible to do without milk, but we'll be far happier in the morning's with it. We aren't fans of dried cow's milk, so we prowled around online for a soy milk that gets good consumer reviews. We settled on Better Than Milk Soy and ordered two canisters that make eight quarts apiece.

This tofu-based dried soy milk calls for 2 Tbsp. of powder for each cup of water. 
We tested it this morning. It's tasty and has enough body to hold up on cereal and in cocoa and coffee. This one is coming along.

Alec tests the reconstituted milk on breakfast cereal.
We've already made a few batches of tofu jerky, based on a recipe shared with us by Sue Gjerset of Minnesota, who has participated in courses each of us has taught. It's phenomenal--a great, high-protein snack and lunch item--and we plan to make several more batches before we leave.


1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 to 4 tbsp liquid smoke
1/8 cup water
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove crushed fresh garlic
1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp honey
1 pound extra firm tofu

Drain and pat dry the tofu. Take the cube, cut it in half, and then slice it into strips on its short side about ¼ inch in thickness. Mix all the marinade ingredients together well. Put the tofu in a single layer in a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet and pour the marinade over it. Let soak for several hours or overnight. Drain excess liquid and dry tofuin food dehydrator or warm (200 degrees F) oven. This will take 4 to 8 hours, depending on weather. Dry the jerkyuntil it is very chewy, but not crispy.

Be creative: Use Tabasco or ground cayenne if you want it hot. Chili powder makes chili jerky. Oregano and basil make pizza jerky.

Originally we thought we'd prepare most of our food in advance, but with limited time and a lot of other things to do, we've decided to rely heavily on purchased prepared meals. We've ordered several entrees from Outdoor Herbivore, a company that specialize in vegetarian backpacking food, and we've stocked up on Fantastic World Foods instant refried beans, taco filling mix and other quick-to-prepare items. (We're limiting cooking time on everything we bring to 10 minutes in order to conserve fuel.) And although we dehydrated our own mashed sweet potatoes and we plan to dehydrate other produce and perhaps some sauces, we purchased dried peaches and pears.

We're pulling our menus together now, and will post the entire document when it's complete.

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