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Backcountry Cooking: From Pack to Plate in 10 Minutes Paperback – May 1, 1998
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when I bought the wok, Amazon suggested a few things, one was this book. The subtitle "pan to plate in 10 mins" appealed, the price was fine, it had free shipping, so I gave it a shot.
I'm keeping it - but it's just not me. Funny thing is, that i LIKE eating simply in the woods. I go to get away, I go solo as much as I can to just bask in quietness. I camp simply, and I mandate to myself that I must do all out of a single (very large) Duluth style pack. My gear if functional, is very neutral in color and style, in other words - plain. It's who I am.
I opened the book, read a few pages - skipped forward a few more - then a few more - then I was done. With no one's appetite but mine to worry about, all this pre-preparation is a bit much for me. My food bag is simple and small, but I really LIKE pancakes, cowboy coffee, soup packets, maybe a few smoked meats, oatmeal pkts, maybe a few potatoes/carrots - maybe just noodle packets, and I usually have fresh caught fish for dinner every night - simply grilled with a bit of spices - that's about it. I've lived for 3 weeks on that - and 2-3 days is easy.
IN SHORT -it's a nice little book - size = easy to take with you on trail and the meals are greatly detailed and DO seem simple to prepare and take with it. If you crave varied tastes, this would probably be a good one to have around.
The introduction of BACKCOUNTRY COOKING categorizes camp chefs as Ascetics, Pragmatists or Gourmands. This book leans heavily toward the ascetic-pragmatist end of the scale. As the subtitle, FROM PACK TO PLATE IN 10 MINUTES, may suggest, the emphasis is on quickly-prepared meals. As a consequence, the meals tend to be simple. If you're someone for whom part of the challenge of the camp experience is to create fabulous multi-course meals in the wild, this book is not for you. And, as expected for a book from BACKPACKER magazine, the emphasis is on light packing and cooking with a single-burner stove.
The first part of the book discusses ingredients, tool and procedures as does Marrone's book, but I find the discussion in THE BACK-COUNTRY KITCHEN to be better and more complete, in particular, providing much more detail in home drying foods. BACKCOUNTRY COOKING discusses a plethora of grains, most of which I've never seen in a grocery store. (Different kinds of oats, different kinds of rice, bread bases, etc.) Baking methods are very briefly touched upon, but the book goes little beyond single-burner stove-top cooking.
Sidebars from different magazine contributors are interspersed throughout the book, and give good tips. Some black-and-white photos are also sprinkled throughout the book.
After the introduction, the book goes into the chapters containing the recipes, with each chapter representing a meal or course. One very nice thing is that each recipe includes nutritional information.
Now, I just have a so-so opinion of this book, and it was hard for me to establish why. Like I said, I found the introductory information to be better in the other book. But I think part of my indifference is due to the recipes. There seem to be a lot of ethnic foods - Oriental, Middle Eastern, Mexican. The desserts are mostly rice and bread puddings (yick), and include mincemeat (for dessert?!). Maybe you eat a lot of hummus, but I suspect many people will find that a lot of the recipes are not the kind of things you find at home, and perhaps the trail is not the best place to find out that your body has strange reactions to strange food. Furthermore, many of the ingredients, such as the grains and beans, are things I just don't see in the local supermarket. To the author's credit, they give a complete appendix of mail-order companies, but I'm not particularly excited about paying shipping to experiment with recipes.
Teresa Marrone's book, although including more multi-burner, multi-pot recipes for canoeists, car campers and others able to carry more gear, also has many single-burner lightweight recipes for hiking. It seemed to me that her book had more recipes that BACKCOUNTRY COOKING but, in fact, the number of recipes were similar. (BACKCOUNTRY COOKING has 144, and THE BACK-COUNTRY KITCHEN has 150.)
My recommendation is to start with Marrone's THE BACK-COUNTRY KITCHEN. If you feel the need for more single-burner meals, or more quickly-prepared meals, augment it with BACKCOUNTRY COOKING.