Filed under: Camping Food
If ever I need to be reminded of how fast plants can grow, I go on vacation in August. After 2 1/2 weeks away, the most noticeable growth was in the corn forest and the various grains – particularly the amaranth and millet. Oh yes – and the piles of squash, tomatoes, peppers on our kitchen counter was one of the best welcomes I could have received. I have never been so happy to eat a simple dinner of zucchini, kale, and fried eggs!
It turns out that its surprisingly easy to feed yourself without meat or dairy while on a road trip. I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to prep and bring our garden with us. But I did throw some squash, green beans and tomatoes in the car, and away we went. I thought I’d share a few things that I learned about almost-vegan road-tripping:
1. When eating out on the road, ethnic restaurants like Thai and Chinese are pretty good bets – you can usually get tofu and a fair amount of vegetables, and dairy isn’t a core ingredient. We also ate one night at a Sizzler just for the salad bar!
2. Grocery stores. A few times we made a giant salad of spinach, chickpeas, cukes, tomato, onion ,etc. Zucchini and green beans keep fairly well in the car, and when backpacking I brought along avocado, onion, bell pepper and apples in addition to squash and beans.
3. One of my favorite traveling dinners is inspired by my friend Natalie: tortilla chips with refried beans, guacamole, and salsa. Great protein from the beans, and easily dressed up with other toppings (I added diced squash, kale, and tomatoes one night.) Another camping favorite from this trip was pasta with white beans, mushrooms, artichoke hearts and sundried tomato bruschetta.
4. We are VERY spoiled by our access to fresh, local and delicious produce here in Santa Barbara. There is truly no other place like it (well, maybe Santa Cruz could compete), and I’m so thankful to live here!
We’re about five weeks out from the Eat-VERY-Local week, and I’m feeling optimistic and excited about the challenge. I’ll try and post up a list of all the food we have stocked up so far, but there are still eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and squash out there in abundance! Plus, I harvested a bunch of walnuts from a tree near the bike path last week that I need to process.
No recipes for this post, but I’ve got a few drafts lined up already. Instead, how about a parting shot from Wyoming?
Life can get so busy sometimes, that its easy to just forget about goals set in the past or what I’ve accomplished. The other day I took a look at my “Life List” and realized that I could tick off at least five things – wow! (It had been probably a year since I’d seriously looked at the list.) I tend to just add things when I think of them, and then usually forget. It gave me a really good feeling, that I could cross these goals off my list. They were:
1. Climb in Italy (September 2009)
2. Climb Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne Meadows (July 2010 – not only did I climb it, but I LED the whole thing)
3. Figure out how to combine passion for outdoors with helping people (August 2009 – started working for Wilderness Youth Project)
4. and 5. Run a 50k trail race (I’ve done three in the last year, and also ticked off the next goal – run a 50k in under 6 hours!)
6. Backpack in San Rafael Wilderness (October 2010 – girls trip out to the Manzana Narrows)
While I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, I now believe strongly in the power of setting goals. Setting a very specific goal means that you then need to devise a plan on how you’ll reach that goal, and if you go so far as to set it in writing on a calendar, that really holds you accountable. While I haven’t always been successful (I dropped out of my first 50k attempt), the failure can provide additional motivation to accomplish it.
My 29th birthday is coming up in a few short days, so I decided to take on a month-long birthday challenge that will hopefully set me up for some longer-term habits to support my running and climbing goals for the year. While we eat healthy most of the time, I’d like to really ramp it up and see how my body responds. I’d also like to be more consistent about writing and certain aspects of my athletic training.
1. Eliminate meat and dairy (we’ll still eat the few eggs our chickens are laying), refined sugars and grains. Increase raw meals (green smoothies, salads, etc) and do 2 new raw recipes a week.
2. Write something every day (and post to Garden Eats at least once a week!)
3. Follow a strict training plan for the entire month, that includes strength training, yoga, and track workouts every week.
Because this is a food blog, I suppose I should include a recipe, right? This one is incredibly easy – and perfect for a cold, windy, rainy day like today. Over the weekend I finally tried a meal my vegan housemate had been raving about – sauteed walnuts and kale over brown rice – but today I didn’t have brown rice, so instead I put the kale and walnuts over a ready-made soup from Trader Joe’s. The soup isn’t vegan – so its a good thing my birthday challenge starts tomorrow! This would also work as a camping recipe (the original version over rice worked well this weekend – I used Trader Joe’s already cooked brown rice).
Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Kale and Walnuts
Trader Joe’s ready-to-use soup of the same name (although there are probably other ones that would work just as well)
Handful of kale, chopped up
Small handful of walnuts
1-3 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)
Heat enough soup for one bowl. Saute the walnuts in olive oil until they begin to sizzle. Add in the kale and saute another 1-2 minutes, adding the garlic in at the last 30 seconds. Top the soup with the kale mixture, and enjoy!
Ahh, relish the break from squash recipes! I have tons up my sleeve (and in draft form on my computer). The reality is, squash is now just a part of my every day life, and I’d have to increase my blog postings 7x to get all the ways I prepare it to you. Frankly, that sounds exhausting – its hard enough cooking all of it, much less posting! But I’m trying to be better about it, really! So instead of more squash pictures, lets enjoy some pictures of the heirloom zinnias that I’m successfully growing this year.
Something I’ve noticed about Santa Barbara is that people really like the barter system. I see it all over – the neighborhood garden exchanges. On Craigslist. In my work. And the barter that the athlete in me benefits the most from: my massage therapist. I see her every 4-6 weeks or so, and in exchange for a painful (but very effective) sports massage, I cook her food. Sometimes she’s craving something in particular, and other times she just asks for “something healthy.” Last week, she asked if I knew how to make Indian food – a chicken curry perhaps?
Fortunately, I knew that one of my friends has a beautiful Indian cookbook – complete indian cooking. I picked out a recipe, Kashmiri chicken, that seemed like it wasn’t overly challenging but looked tasty. As it was finishing up, I decided to quickly make something else to go with it. I chose Aloo Sag because it featured ingredients I had on hand (mainly freshly-dug potatoes and chard) and was fairly easy to assemble. I think this could accompany a number of things – even some fried eggs (its sort of like breakfast potatoes with an Indian twist). Oh yeah, and it would be great to go camping with!
Aloo Sag (adapted from complete indian cooking)
6 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, chopped
2 fresh green chiles, finely chopped (I actually just sprinkled in chile powder)
1 tsp turmeric
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound potatoes, cut into small pieces
1 pound fresh spinach or chard
Heat the oil in a lidded skillet, add the onion, and cook until soft. Add the ginger, chiles, turmeric, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and salt to taste, stir well, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add chard or spinach to the potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, until both vegetables are tender.
Filed under: Camping Food, Main Dish | Tags: Cheese, summer squash, tortilla, zucchini
Well… I really have no excuse for not posting for such a long time. Except that we were on a friend’s boat in French Polynesia for the month of May. And have been traveling nearly every weekend since! The closest we got to gardening on our trip was picking coconuts fresh off the tree – a lot of work for what’s inside, but I managed to make a few delicious desserts (hopefully I’ll post those soon). The most exciting surprise on our return home was discovering that our chickens had started laying. I’m pretty sure that all seven hens are laying now, as we get 5-6 eggs/day. Creative egg recipes are sure to follow in the next few months!
As is the norm for summer, the garden is also producing in abundance. Today I must have picked at least 12 summer squash – five different varieties! Plus green beans and the usual kale, broccoli, chard, carrots, potatoes, onions, etc. I know this will pass, but for now I’m pretty excited about all the squash varieties we have growing, in addition to tasting great they are beautiful to look at!
Particularly after spending an entire month on a boat, one of the things I missed the most was my garden and eating so many fresh vegetables. It is with joy that I have re-established my morning ritual of a garden stroll to harvest fresh greens for a green smoothie, as well as concocting dinners based on what is growing in the yard. I can say with confidence that this is my favorite way to cook, and inspires creativity like no other.
More evenings that not, we get home from a ride or run, starving, and need to eat something NOW. This recipe is handy for nights like that – it comes together quickly and is very filling. I have a feeling this would be a good camping recipe too (something I’m always on the lookout for). I don’t put exact proportions on vegetables, just use what you have – and if you have extra filling left over, its great for lunch the next day mixed with couscous or quinoa (or quesadillas round two).
Mix of vegetables: I used baby zucchini and scallop squash, carrots, cauliflower, and onion, cut to small pieces/slices of similar size
Grated cheddar cheese
Whole wheat tortillas
Saute vegetables in olive oil, using cooking time as guide for the order (I put in onions and carrots first, then cauliflower, then squash)
Heat up a large frying pan. My quesadilla method is as follows. Take one tortilla, put cheese and vegetables on one half, and fold to make a half-moon shape. Heat up a bit of olive oil in the pan, and coat one side then the other of the half-moon with the oil. Flip when the down side is golden. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream or avocado!
Last week, Matt and I took off to the Eastern Sierras for a backpacking/rock-climbing adventure at Temple Crag, where we would attempt a 1,500′ climb (~20 pitches) that ended at 13,000 feet. I’ll save you the technical details (unless you really want them!), but the short story is that we backpacked in on Thursday afternoon, left camp at 6am Friday for the climb, successfully made it to the top, and got back to camp ~10pm (thank goodness for headlamps!). Beautiful perfect Sierras weather and views, great rock and climb , and, minus a raging headcold I acquired on the drive up there (oh and some voracious mosquitoes), a fantastic experience!
I’ve always been a little stymied when it comes to backpacking food, because you want to eat well without adding too much weight to your pack (since you have to carry it, and in the Sierras you usually need a bear canister), you don’t have refrigeration, and being smushed in a pack means your food needs to take a little abuse. There are all kinds of freeze-dried, dehydrated, backpacking-specific options out there, but… we like to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. They do take up more space, but once they’re gone your pack is just that much lighter. We pretty consistently take bananas, oranges/apples – and other great vegetable contenders are cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onions, and if you can protect them, avocados or tomatoes.
We of course had vegetables from the garden, so I took a bag of green/purple beans and some zucchini/yellow squash. After a quick saute over the backpacking stove, I mixed in a can of tuna and one of those Trader Joe’s pre-cooked multigrain pilafs. Not the best combo in the world, but it would have been a lot more boring without the fresh veggies! Pasta, rice or couscous would also work well – I like couscous because it cooks so quickly. Anyone else have suggestions?
Since this isn’t a recipe post, persay, I thought I’d share some photos from the garden. We took out the yellow squash plants this week because they were all covered in powdery mildew (kind of a relief – I was getting tired of yellow squash!). We did a fairly large harvest on Sunday since we’d been gone for a few days on our adventure. We got our first cucumbers, and the green beans have been coming in fast and furious!
The plums are starting to ripen up for eating, and the strawberry plants perked up again with a new crop. The two peaches on our tree were ripe today so I will be enjoying those in the morning! One of my favorite things to watch is the watermelon plant – in just a week it went from the size of a marble to softball size!