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Jul 22, 2012 03:56 PM

Canoe trip foods - ideas needed

I am planning a 2 week canoe trip to the boundary waters canoe area and need some ideas for lightweight (portages between lakes) meal ideas for two. We will have a one burner stove for cooking, no refrigeration, and are not allowed to bring bottles or cans. This is such a creative group and I imagine you will have some wonderful ideas for us on this adventure. While I know there are boil in camping foods, these are not to my chowhound standards. Please help with some creative ideas you may have used or can think about to prepare for a tasty trip.

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  1. Look at the dehydrated vegetables at I keep some of these on hand to avoid extra trips to the supermarket for a fresh or frozen veg I need for a soup or stew. The quality is excellent. I also love Trader Joe's freeze-dried fruits, which weigh next to nothing.

    2 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      Thanks greygarious,

      Great ideas, I will check these out.

      1. re: greygarious

        I saw individual packets of freeze dried fruits in Costco today. Target also had freeze dried fruits and vegetables. Some were mixes- like a berry mix.

      2. Here's what I would consider bringing:

        Water (and water purification system such as a SteriPen or purification tablets)
        Coarse ground cornmeal (for grits or a breading)
        Dried mushrooms
        Dried fruits
        Dried beans
        Kosher salt
        Various dried herbs and spices, including pre-ground black pepper
        Beef and/or chicken bullion cubes
        Dried onions
        Instant oatmeal
        Peanut butter
        Powdered milk
        Crackers (can crush for breading)
        Sharp cheddar, block (remove from plastic and wrap in cloth)
        Potato flakes
        Butter powder
        Box macaroni and cheese with powdered cheese packet (re-packed to conserve space)
        Ramen noodles
        Instant pudding

        14 Replies
        1. re: 1POINT21GW

          what a great list, thanks so much. This sounds like the makings of a great trip. Any other must haves?

          1. re: docfood

            You're welcome.

            What's your list of cooking equipment and tools that you're bringing?

            1. re: 1POINT21GW

              I am bringing a nesting set of pots, knife, spatula, spoon, cutting board, one burner stove. If I can convince my partner, maybe a frying pan for the supposed fish we will catch. We are going rather minimalist as we are both in our sixties and want to be able to portage without too many aches and pains. The less we have carry, the further we can travel into the wilderness.

              1. re: docfood

                Sounds good!

                I'd simply cut the fish filets in half and use the nested pots to fry the fish in. Did the nested pot set happen to come with a lid that doubles as a pan?

                Will you be building a fire to cook by at any time?

                1. re: 1POINT21GW

                  The pots do come with a small cover that serves as a pan. making a fire depends on the weather, and the ability to collect wood. We are hoping to be able to do so.

                  1. re: docfood

                    If you're willing to do a little work (all you'll need is a branch about two inches in diameter and your knife), smoking the fish over the fire will give you a wonderfully tasting fish. It just might be the best fish you've ever had. If you're interested, I can post how to do it.

                      1. re: docfood

                        The easiest way for me to convey how to do it is for me to simply guide you to this fascinating video on how to cook/smoke fish over a fire. This is where I learned how to do it.


          2. re: 1POINT21GW

            How long would the cheddar last without being in the fridge? And out of curiousity, why wrap in cloth?

            1. re: cheesecake17

              It depends on the temperature it's going to be kept at. In a hot climate, a few days. In a cool or cold climate, a few weeks or more. The more the cheese is eaten, the better it's texture because it will begin to harden after a while since it's not wrapped in plastic. Frequent eating or simply lightly shaving the hard places off solves this issue.

              The drier/harder the cheese, the better it will keep without refrigeration. It's best stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place.

              Cloth prevents moisture from building up on the cheese. Plastic would hold this moisture right up to the cheese accelerating its spoilage, while the cloth will allow the moisture to evaporate, thus extending its life.

              1. re: 1POINT21GW

                Very interesting, thanks

                Would I be better of storing cheese this way in the fridge?

                1. re: cheesecake17

                  With cheese stored in the refrigerator, simply keep it tightly wrapped in clean plastic wrap. Wrap with a new sheet of plastic wrap each time you take the cheese out and eat some. Kept this way, cheddar can keep for years. It's all about cleanliness.

                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                    I'll try this way. I usually wrap In waxed paper and then in a ziplock bag.

                    1. re: cheesecake17

                      I learned this method from a mega cheese expert who works at a cheese house up in Wisconsin and who knows WAY more about cheese than I do. His biggest emphasis was on re-wrapping the cheese in a new, clean wrapper every single time it's taken out of the refrigerator and opened.

                      He said done this way, many cheeses will keep forever.

                      I have two blocks of cheddar that I bought more than two years ago from him that is still sealed in the cheese drawer of my refrigerator. I'm planning on opening one at the 10 year mark and the other at the 15 or 20 year mark.

          3. If you have time to get a book before the trip, Laurie Ann March’s “A Fork in the Trail: Mouthwatering Meals and Tempting Treats for the Backcountry” would be an excellent choice for preparing civilized meals in the backcountry.

            When camping, I tend to keep it very simple and leave the fancy stuff for home. Instant food from the supermarket that you would never eat at home can come in very handy if it’s fast, filling, and nutritious, and if it doesn’t have to be boiled for long, so as to not waste fuel. Freeze-dried outdoor packaged food can be bland and expensive.

            Instant rice, couscous, and bulgur work well for grains. The problem is to get something sauce-like to go well with them. Mexican tortillas are a nice addition, will keep for two weeks, and unlike other breads can’t get much flatter than they already are. Naan bread is a tastier option, but doesn’t keep as well. Good bagels can be a treat for the first few days, particularly fried both sides in butter. Instead of oil or regular butter, consider a small plastic jar of Indian ghee, which is tasty, stays relatively solid at higher temperatures, and doesn’t go bad in the heat.

            Of supermarket instant food for camping, I recommend packages of Uncle Ben’s Bistro Express Entrée (1 per person). They are cheap and tasty pre-prepared and vacuum-sealed rice meals. Because prepared foods tend to be low-key, bring some shallots, garlic, and hot peppers along, sauté them in the ghee, add any relevant spices you may bring along, add the rice mixes and cook through. After a long day of paddling or hiking, this is easy and tastes really good.

            For coffee, Starbuck’s instant packages are expensive, but taste good. A better option is to buy two MSR Mug Mate coffee cup filters, which take up little space, and bring your own ground coffee. Hard apples (perhaps seasonal imported ones from New Zealand) keep well, and the cores are small for packing out. Also, bring a few treats along, just generally.

            With fishing, getting a large enough pan that works with a one-burner backpacking stove could be tricky. Also, considering that you’ll be tenting, bears love smelly fish! And the entrails, heads, etc, have to be disposed of somehow.

            One last thing. If you don’t have one, consider getting a lightweight tarp with multiple cords attached that can be strung up for cooking under if it gets rainy. They would probably have them at REI in Minneapolis and other outdoor stores in the area.

            [With cheese in cloth, I believe if the cheesecloth or whatever has been soaked in a little vinegar, it doesn’t go mouldy as fast. Parmesan would be another cheese to consider.]

            2 Replies
            1. re: VitalForce

              thanks for the great ideas! I will test the frying pan on the stove and consider a tarp for cooking.

              1. re: VitalForce

                couscous was the first thing i thought of!

              2. Hard sausages are nice. Eat plain or chop and mix in with grains while cooking. I like adding the shelf stable Chinese sausages to my pot of rice. When the rice is done the sausage is hot too. I throw in scallions, etc.

                Cabbage will hold up fairly well and gets smaller as you use it!

                I love lentils and they cook fast and don't require soaking.

                A tube of tomato paste will add nice flavor and variety.

                1 Reply
                1. re: meatn3

                  great ideas! I like the thoughts of chinese sausages and tubed tomato paste! I also think lentils will be a good addition. You folks are so creative and are inspiring me.

                2. i'm going to do my best not to repeat, so to add to the list... if they don't appeal, don't judge me :) :
                  -shelf-stable polenta
                  -shelf-stable gnocchi
                  --both heatable with jarred sauce (your own or purchased) and cheese
                  -shelf-stable tofu (firm or soft depending upon plans)
                  -instant miso soup
                  -TVP (textured vegetable protein) - great for replacing ground meat in chili or soup or whatever
                  -powdered ingredients for cornbread
                  -dehydrated mushrooms and sundried tomatoes - once rehydrated, the leftover water makes a nice addition to broth
                  -stuffing mix
                  -bisquick - to make dumplings...
                  -in addition to the aforementioned couscous and bulghur, farro, barley, quinoa
                  -tapenades - olive, eggplant, etc
                  -pitas - ready made hummus or the fixings
                  -ten grain cereal a la Bob's Red Mill
                  -shelf-stable cream cheese (never know when it'll come in handy)
                  -nutella - see above re cream cheese
                  -rice pudding - instant pudding, powdered milk, and rice...
                  -spring or summer roll rice paper wrappers
                  -wonton wrappers
                  -ingredients for bannock :)

                  have fun!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Emme

                    I've never seen shelf-stable cream cheese! Where have you found it?

                    1. re: meatn3

                      i don't remember where at the time, but the individual serve pack sizes can be found at Costco and the like. they last at room temp. you can also freeze regular cream cheese; it'll last quite a while at room temp anyhoo.

                      1. re: Emme

                        carries a wide selection of shelf stable single serve products

                        1. re: paulj

                          What an amazing resource! You could perk up a lot of meals with very little weight with an assortment from this place.

                          1. re: paulj

                            Nice! I just sent the link to my sister-in-law. Our husbands (they are brothers) are too late for this year, they are in the mountains right now, but there are some cool things on the site for future trips. Car trips, camping, sailing, etc.... and for those days I want Hardee's biscuits and gravy, and they don't offer Tabasco! Why, I have a bottle right here in my purse!

                            1. re: paulj

                              thank you for this awesome link!

                        2. re: Emme

                          what does shelf stable mean? where do you find it? who do you know it is shelf stable?

                          1. re: camp3b

                            Shelf stable= no refrigerator needed, ok to store at room temperature