Sunday, September 29, 2013

Carrot Som-Tam - Spicy Thai Salad with Snap Beans

This is one of my all-time favourite Thai dishes - spicy, sour, sweet, crunchy, and very refreshing on a hot summer day.  It's one of those dishes that when you order it in Thailand, they ask you if you're sure you want it because it's just so goddamn spicy.  I say:  BRING IT ON.  But bring it on with a side of rice, otherwise it's suicide.

Traditionally, som-tam is made by pounding the ingredients together in a giant mortar and pestle.  It actually means "sour pound" in Thai.  It's also typically made with green papaya, which is plentiful in Thailand, but not so much in North America.  As such,  I had resigned myself to eating it only at Thai restaurants, and to paying through the nose for it (it can be as much as $11 for a small one).   Recently, however, I learned that one can substitute carrots for the papaya with sterling (and cheap) results.  I should probably also mention that som-tam is made with dried shrimp and fish sauce, but I leave them out and find no shortage of flavour.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Herby Tomato Couscous - Backpacker Style


Here's another one to add to your repertoire of healthy, whole-foods, no-fuss, (vegan) trail foods.  There's sooooo much mis-information out there about backpacking as a vegetarian or vegan.  I've seen entirely too many comments on discussion boards directing people to leave their veganism behind on the trail, lest they die some terrible, protein-deficient death after three days of exertion without beef jerky and SPAM.  They make it sound like it's either too much work, too expensive, too heavy, or just downright impossible (for no clear reason) to survive without dehydrated chicken chili on the trail. Well I say, bah!  It's entirely possible, affordable, enjoyable, and uncomplicated.

Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce - Tactical


Experiencing a tomato surplus?  Looking for something to do with all of those bad boys that won't take up your entire day?  This one's for you.  This is more of a method than a hard and fast recipe, and yields will vary depending on what you're working with.  You can keep it pure and just use the ingredients listed below, or toss in a pepper or two to spice things up.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Buckwheat Banana Camp Cakes


Camping season isn't over yet, and while it's fun to peruse the dehydrated food section at your local out-door store, I find it much more satisfying (and affordable) to take home-made, whole foods on the the trail.  This buckwheat pancake mix accompanied Philippe and I on a 9 day canoe-camping trip through Parc de la Vérendrye last month and it did not disappoint.  One batch makes 4-5 hearty pancakes.  We would have one or two for breakfast (when we weren't having oatmeal), then smear the left-overs with peanut butter for an easy lunch.

I highly recommend adding the dehydrated banana strips for flavour, texture, and potassium too.  Just be sure that you get dehydrated, unsulphured bananas, not sweetened banana chips.  You should be able to find them at most health food stores.  We were lucky enough to be canoeing through blueberry country, so we had a few days of blueberry pancakes as well. 

As you can see, pictures from the trip are few and not of the highest quality.  We only had a 24 shot, disposable Kodak with us, but I have to say - I liked it that way.  It was nice to take a break from documenting experience, and just have the experience. We did 132 kilometers through lakes, rivers and streams with some seriously burly, mud-up-to-your-knees-with-a-canoe-on-your-head portages.  Our butts and faces were bitten by mosquitoes in equal measure.  Our feet were never dry.  We had to pack out our toilet paper.  It was dirty and buggy and hard at times, and it was one of the best trips of my life. We had no watch, no cell phone, no GPS.  We had no where to be, and no one to please.  It was just us, a map, a royalex canoe, and a camp stove that tried to kill us every time we used it.  It was beautiful, and I can't wait to go back.  I pray that I will be able to go back - that it will still be there.  Human "development" is creeping in and we heard the menacing hum of clear-cutting loggers for at least a 16km stretch of the Chochocouane.  There was an eerie lack of wild life.  But I digress, you were here for a pancake recipe, no?