Sunday, September 2, 2012

Trail Food

BIAS has, thanks to blessings and great folks, been very busy. Between it and full-time employment, my available time is at a premium (one reason it's been so long since I made a blog post).

I'm not Babelfish5 or even a close facsimile, but I like to cook -- I love to cook -- and I've been making my own dehydrated dishes for a while. I've got several sources of inspiration; Mr. Fish5 is one of them, as is the Backpacking Chef (

A while back I got a pay it forward on Hammock Forums... it's a section of the forum where you claim an item at no cost, but in return you post an item of your choice... anyway, my PIF claim was some barbecue spaghetti (I believe it was a babelfish5 recipe) made by forum member SamyK, who's since become the proprietor of Backcountry Eats. Samy's spaghetti was awesome!

So back to the present. I am packing for a trip in mid September between hammock making, working, playing with the kids and attending to my other responsibilities. One thing seems certain. Given all that I have to do, I do not have time to make meals. I know what you're thinking. "Quit typing, you idiot and make some spaghetti for the dehydrator," but it's not that simple. Energy wise, I am sapped. It isn't going to happen. It's like changing my own oil at this point in life. I used to enjoy doing it, but at some point and time, the $25 you pay someone else (on top of charges for the oil and fuel filter) seems incredibly worth it.

Besides, my onions never work out right, I never eat all the beef I dehydrate and it eventually goes rancid and my wife complains that I buy and make things I don't eat. And my eggs are terrible and the powdered milk I get at the grocery isn't exactly premium stuff. So... without will, without an optimism that my meals will live up to my expectations and without time to bring it together, I put out a hail mary to HF members.

I asked them for cottage food vendors. My friend at Backcountry Eats got a nod (he's a newcomer so even being mentioned is a big deal) as did the well known Hawk at Hawk Vittles. Finally, a recommendation came in for PackIt Gourmet. Point being is that I know Backpacker's Pantry, Wise Foods and Mountain House, plus grocery favorites like Ramen Noodles, but I wanted to dig deeper.

Of the three, PackIt Gourmet had the most interesting offerings to me. Their stuff was truly unique. In addition to having stuff like gazpacho (which I ordered!), they also have smoothies, yogurt and an assortment of easy mixing cocktails for the trail. I mean it was impressive stuff that was quite different from the usual rice and pasta dishes to which I've grown accustomed.

Hawk Vittles got the most recommendations and I ordered some interesting stuff from that site. Stir-fry salmon and clam vermicelli were the two dishes I found most interesting (and I ordered them).

Finally, I ordered a few things from Backcountry Eats which were, to be specific, backcountry goulash and shepherd's pie. I really enjoyed that barbecue spaghetti and Sam earned my business.

Then a guy I met at a group hang and that I've exchanged messages with a few times pipes up and says he's starting a food company and has completed licenses and is close to launching and offers some free grub. The guy, Black Wolf, is a neat fellow. When I ran in to him in Arkansas, he was coming in off a 200-mile hike and he walked into our group hang. I enjoyed talking with him and have since gotten some professional advice on a few matters.

His sites are 

The Hawk Vittles and Packit Gourmet grub got here the Saturday before Labor Day. The shipment of the Backcountry Eats food had been made and is en route and Black Wolf told me he'd do his best to make my departure deadline -- and he did.

What I learned from this experience is that just as there is a budding industry in cottage hammock makers (which includes Butt in a Sling Hammock Gear --, there is a budding industry in cottage food makers. I am really excited to try some of these recipes and hope you give these guys -- and other cottage food vendors -- a little of your business.

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