Culinary Adventures

Of Herb’n Culture

"A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain
of routine and renews his life through reading new books,
traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new
hobbies and adopting new viewpoints"

-Wilfred Peterson

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Utah to Calgary

You can never truly experience the location you are visiting or living unless you get out of the city and spend some time in nature.

So I planned to awake early for a guided tour of some of the unique geography by hiking and rappelling down some remote water carved was as eye opening as it sounds.

I joined a small group of adventurers lead by an excessively certified and knowledgeable guide and we were dropped at the top of a rusty barren landscape. The leisure hike was apt time to learn about our surroundings and our fellow adventures. The most fascinating fact was the "Crypto-biota" that is the basis for all life in the desert. It forms this kind of moldy crust on the sand and all other plants and animals depend for all soil building, water retention, habitat and food sources. It takes FOR EVOR to grow yet can be destroyed by one foot they have a saying, "Don't Bust the Crust!" You really learn the delicate balance of life such harsh topographies as this.

Back upon my horse with no name to cross the remainder of the desert, I follow the Colorado river up to its sources in the Colorado Rockies and Climb over multiple passes, along raging rivers that are the shoulder for the highways that wind up narrow canyons. Trees are a welcome sight along with the cool of the altitude. But I'm lulled into a cold brain fog by the constant wind and altitude. I stop and warm myself by hugging a hot water machine and sticking a hot bottle of water in my jacket. Pushing on to Denver I arrive in the evening to a wet welcome of the most intense down pour and lighting storm they've ever had in the area (thousands of strikes per hour in the thick of it and three people died from the lightening, and from some flooding). I'm warmed by a renewal of friendships, hot soup and a change of clothes.

I spend the next day checking out Denver (well, mostly REI) and got re geared for the rest of my trip (my back pack broke). Then Caught up with another motorcycle friend from my time in Peru and his son, then back on the long straights for the hard push to Calgary in 2 days...

Colorado and Wyoming where a blur of yellow dashed lines blue sky's and fields of commodity crops. I made it to a quiet spot near Big Timber, Montana on mid-grade and Lembas bread, to catch some z's before another big push north. I didn't even set up camp, I found sleeping in my riding gear on a closed gravel road to be satisfactory. The evenings entertainment was a babbling brook, a full view of the galaxy belt and a hunting owl that flew right over me to catch his prey near the road.

I arose with the universe to the feeling of serenity and joy to see the light painting a nearby snow caped range. I climbed to the top of the nearest hill to welcome the morning and bid adieu to the full moon and attempt to capture its beauty with my camera.

The farther north I rode the more rich and golden crisp light of morning and evening seemed to linger. This magic hour seemed to slow and quiet my fast pace as I ripped my loud "Thumper" across the peaceful land.

Finally at the boarder crossing, the officials denied me entry for lack of documentation to work in Canada, yet after hours of perusing the NAFTA qualifications manual and drafting my layered defense, the officer waved me in on a promise to straighten things out next time..."yes, sir". The only noticeable difference in the land from northern Montana was the intense winds that buffeted my ride (known locally as the "Chinooks". The inconsistent gusts had me leaning almost 45 degrees just to ride straight at times! Fortunately a kindly trucker took me under his wing and I rode his draft about 6 feet from his right rear flank for the next hour. I continued straight north and arrived at my hosts ranch just in time for another bowl of my famous instant split pea soup and some of the best beef in the Canadian plains...or at least it tasted like it after that ride!

Friday, July 22, 2011

What to Eat on adventures?

This is a common question I get, "What should I eat on such-in-such adventures". My answer isn't very different if you were in the front country...Eat nutrient dense, tasty, versitile foods which are prepared by you to be consumed in a convenient way...

Sounds like a tall order, yet its easier than you is what I did for this trip.

Jays adventure food:
-Lamb Cranberry spice Pemmican
-Lembas Bread (aka TTSB, "Throw that Sh*t inna Bread")
-Instant split pea soup
-Coconut spice trail mix
-Coconut oil
-seasoning salt

This menu gives you lots of options for making food and snacking as desired. Usually I just want to snack light when I'm on the road, then make a good meal in the evening (usually soup). Each item has interchangeable uses and can be easily eaten without much prep (hot water).

You gotta be creative with these foods, yet you can combine them easily with fresh ingredients you find along the way.

Trail mix: Best just eaten straight as a snack, but goes great with fresh fruit, or as an addition to a porridge or granola. Can even be blended up to make a flavorful "milk".

Soup: the instant soup can be mixed thick and combined with more oil and salt to make a dip for carrots and zuchinni, or can be used to make a soup with the same ingredients. Or it can be a spread on rice crackers, or mixed with the pemmican and used as a stuffing for fire roasted winter squash. Or you can mix it with some grated veggies, meat or cooked grains to make some veggie-burgers to pan sear them.

Lembas Bread: is a whole meal to itself and is best just eaten straight with some water to rehydrate it in your stomach. Or you can add it to boiling water to make a breakfast porridge, or blend it to make a "Milk" to pour over broken up bread and trail mix with fresh fruit for a granola style meal. Or you can layer some of the pemmican between two pieces for a "Sandwich". I make the bread a bit sweet and spicy so I like to eat it with a few carrots and it tastes like carrot cake in my mouth.

Pemmican: This is just dried fruit, meat and it tastes great just by itself, but can be added to the soup mix for a hardy soup, spread on crackers/bread to make a sandwich, sprinkle it on salads, and stuff it into a fire roasted sweet potato for a rustic camp meal.

The only things that take some time in prep prior to your trip will be the "Lambas Bread" and the pemmican. Here is a few guidelines....

-Marinate your thin cuts of meat then super dehydrate it around 140f for at least 8hours. Then grind it to a powder.
-Render some fat or use coconut (I used duck fat and coconut oil)
-then process them together with dried fruit, spices and sea salt
*its essential you keep anything with mositure out of the mix if you want it to last (it will last indeffinitly if you do it right and keep it dry.

Lembas Bread (aka TTSB):
This bread doesn't need to be fancy, just needs to hold together and taste good, so you can really put what ever you want in it...I do and it works! Remember you want a dense, flavorful and nutritious bread, so no leavening and avoid the wheat products and other fillers/flavors.
Here is some of the things I like to put in this bread: Molasses, coconut oil, butter, pureed dried fruit, left over wine or juice, pulp from vegetable juicing, spices, herbs, seaweed, eggs, nuts, fresh ginger, seeds, dried fruit, chocolate, super food powders, stevia, eggshell powder, coconut flour, malted barley flour, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, sea salt, honey...what ever I got, toss it in that bread then make it taste good! Mine usually ends up tasting like a nutty ginger bread.
-Grind or mix dry ingredients first (I use my blender to make flours from grains or other items), then mix wet ingredients together, then combine the wet and dry to a heavy batter consistancy.
-Spread the batter out on cookie trays to an even 1"-1.5" then slow bake at 325f until it begins to crack on top.
-Allow to cool, cut into squares and re-bake 225f/dehydrate 150 for about 4hours to overnight. (they should be very dry, not crisp but hard on the outside and slightly moist inside...they will homogenize later and become softer)

Trail mix:
I prefer to mix my own, its cheaper and you get to flavor/blend it yourself.
I like:
Shredded coconut, dried fruit (cranberries/blueberries, currants), nuts/seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower, cashews, walnuts, etc...), spices (clove, cinnamon, ginger, sea salt, black pepper. Or do savory with more garlic powder, seasalt, smoked paprika, oregano, tomato powder, black pepper, etc...)

So many options for fast and healthy food on the go, if you really want the best time on your adventures, you should eat well. And avoid the garbage that you find at restaurants, cafes, fast food joints and quick marts. Your stomach with thank you....

Share with me some of your suggestions for healthy adventure food!

Zion to Moab (Mother of All Backcountries!)

Arising early I enjoyed the best time of day for riding through the mountains. There is no traffic, besides the big horn sheep, the sun hits the mountain tops and produces an ambient glow that sooths the harsh morning cold and hard pavement. Every engaging corner brings a new view of unique rock formations, post card views, streams, waterfalls, and wildlife...

I follow 89 N through Dixie NF and turn off to follow the signs, attractions and traffic buzzing around Bryce Canyon. Torn between getting some miles logged and enjoying the sights I pay the meager $10 to do the ride out to the end of Bryce Canyon. I stop at the various view points for some great views, snacks and some pictures with the many other Harley riders I encounter.

I throttle on down the canyon for more views and many more twisties...if there is nothing but winding roads I can ride for days and love every minute, but those high plain straights just about put me to sleep. Up and down canyons reveals the unique geological event that produced the majority of the precarious rock formations, then climbing high in the hills for a view of it all. Through the Capitol Reef NP where the rain has washed the red clay into the rivers and temporary waterfalls to produce a scene from out of Willy wonkas chocolate factory...fortunately I have an ample supply to stave the cravings.

I find a convenient place to stop, called "The Flute Shop", to suit up for the coming rain squalls. They stock all kinds of native American goods...flint knifes, axes, pipes, flutes....I've always wanted a good flute and the price and timing couldn't have been better.

I finally get to hwy 70 by evening, and with about an hour of sunlight left I could either keep pushing on to Colorado, or stop and enjoy some time in Moab...that really isn't much of choice, since Moab is the hub for all things adventurous...I'm welcomed by a heavy rain and thunderstorm but the hopes of a quiet and dry spot to camp keep me going. I do a short tour around the cozy mountain town...cafes, upscale restaurants, art shops, tourist bars and adventure guide shops seem to be on every block. I sus out a camp spot along the Colorado river in a tight sandstone canyon then head back to town for a spot of food. I find a great cafe, called "The Peace Tree" where I finally get some fresh veggie juice and a big salad. I had to try this phenomenon of the 4% or less beer, and a brew pub that makes their own seemed the best option. I'm not the only adventure rider with this in mind and I share some stories with a guy from Austin, TX and a couple from NY. The couple are journalists and photographers doing a piece on the the culture and bonds between people on two wheels. They interview us and get some pictures of me with my if their story gets picked up I could be in their NYTimes article!

Back to Moonbow campsite I quickly set up my camp and climb the canyon walls to serenade the nightlife with my new flute. The soothing sounds quickly send me into dream land and I feel like the character know as "Kokopelli" (the traveling flute player that brings agriculture and fertility blessings).