MSR Backcountry Cafe: Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew

One of my favorite things about cooking on the road is collecting spices from each place I travel. New flavors and aromas add excitement to my daily meals, and I love always being on the lookout for things I’ve never seen or tasted in marketplaces. What’s even better than buying fun new ingredients? Being given them by new friends! When my husband Tyler and I were in Athens, I was gifted a bag of spices by our couch surfing host, Miwa, who knew how much I love to cook. It wasn’t a Greek spice mix, nor one of Japanese descent like our host herself, but rather one that smelled of India. Miwa didn’t know exactly what it was called, but she said it was one of her favorites. I was honored to…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Trail Treats, Part 2 – The Parking Lot

Story and Photos by Laurel Miller Some of us eat to live, others live to eat (admittedly, it’s a First World luxury to be able to make such a distinction). If you’re of the latter persuasion, it’s hard to dispute the psychological and satiety benefits of high-fat/protein/complex carbohydrate post-exercise snacks that go the extra mile. Want to ensure a surplus of stoke at the end of your next outing? Take some inspiration from the below list, and make the traditional parking lot scarf-session just as memorable as the rest of your trip. Obviously, you’ll need to menu-plan and store or pack accordingly, depending upon climate and duration of trip. If you’re feeling especially motivated, fire up a grill if there’s one available at the trailhead, or use your camp stove….

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Speck Pasta

Story and Photos By Tara Alan A few years ago, my husband Tyler and I were cycling through Europe. After pedaling up the Alps through expensive-but-gorgeous Switzerland, we coasted down the mountains and entered a paradise for hungry, food-loving touring cyclists like us: Italy. Besides taking breaks each day for gelato and cappuccinos, we often stopped at the market, where we picked out groceries to cook for supper. One afternoon, during a long, gorgeous ride through the regal Italian lake district, we stopped at a discount supermarket and bought a bag of spinach and ricotta-filled pasta, a few kinds of meat and cheese we’d never heard of, and a bottle of cheap red wine. Just a few miles down the road, we grew hungry, and were unable to resist our curiosity about…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Trail Treats, Part 1

Story and Photos By Laurel Miller Shoulder season may be over, but whatever outdoor pursuits you’re currently enjoying, you still need to eat. There’s nothing wrong with traditional trail/slope snacks: I love jerky, GORP, and energy bars just as much as the next person. But sometimes, when you’re really busting your ass out there, it’s nice to up the ante a little bit and treat yourself- and others- to something special.

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Romanian Stir Fry

Story and Photos By Tara Alan  A few years ago, my husband Tyler and I were bicycle touring in Romania. We’d just pedaled through the gypsy village of Glod when we decided to free-camp for the night, stopping to set up our tent in an idyllic, secluded forest on a hilltop high above the town. Tall trees towered above us as we made our home for the night. Tyler got a fire going, while I set about making a tasty supper to satisfy our ravenous appetites. Despite the fact that we were deep in the heart of Eastern Europe and I should have been craving cabbage rolls and hearty Romanian soups, all I wanted was food like I’d find in a Chinese restaurant back home. And thus, I decided to concoct…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Soba Noodles With Wilted Greens & Spicy Peanut Sauce

Raise your hand if you’ve ever prepared Top Ramen on a camping trip. Raise both hands if you’ve ever been so famished that you’ve eaten them uncooked. We’ve all been there. And with all due respect to the ubiquitous fried noodles, there are other, healthier options available—ones that won’t crumble to dust in your pack or add a heaping dose of MSG to your dinner. If you’re willing to allow for the additional prep and cooking time, you can throw together a pot of soba noodles dressed with a fiery peanut sauce in just 10 minutes. These slender Japanese noodles are named after their main ingredient, buckwheat, which is a fruit seed related to rhubarb, rather than a cereal grain. Buckwheat is a good choice after an intense workout, as…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Basics of Dehydrating food

In this episode of Tim and Christine Conners’ Camp Cooking TV, they dive into the basics of dehydrating food for the trail. They cover the reasons for dehydrating your food and explain how to prepare some of your favorite foods for the trail. If you want to lighten your pack and make great tasting food on the trail, dehydrating your food is a great technique. For more of Camp Cooking’s mouth-watering camp recipes be sure to  check out Tim and Christine Conners’ bestselling series of books. You can find more information on their website, http://www.lipsmackincampin.com.

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Camp Style Lablabi

Story and Photos By Tara Alan, A few years ago, my husband Tyler and I were bicycle touring on Kerkennah, a desert island famed to be Kirke’s isle in Homer’s The Odyssey.   It was there, just off the coast of Tunisia, that we first tried the dish lablabi. This satisfying soup was vaguely reminiscent of the chili I grew up eating in North America, but it was far simpler, made of yesterday’s baguette, a scoop of hearty chickpeas, and an ample amount of spicy chili-garlic paste. Though the dish didn’t win any awards for beauty, the hearty meal was humble, delectable, and inexpensive.

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Bacon and Beyond

Story By Laurel Miller Bacon makes everything better. This is hardly news. What causes some confusion, however, is how best to pack your meaty treats into the backcountry. Food safety, while perhaps not of highest concern to those of us who live the dirtbag lifestyle, is still important. Raw or cured/aged/preserved protein products such as meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs can cause serious food-borne illness, so choosing the right products and packing them properly is key before heading out on an adventure. I spoke with David Katz, chef, salumi-maker, and owner of Napa’s Salumeria Sub Rosa, about what safety precautions hikers should follow when taking cured meat products on the trail. Despite the fact that frontiersmen have been packing bacon for centuries, “If it’s not a shelf-stable product, unlike most…

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