GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 2, 2013

A feast to pack and take on fall hike

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — September and October are two beautiful months for camping and hiking, and there are plenty of areas locally to do just that.

My son Mark found the joy of hiking years ago. Besides hiking in many areas of New Hampshire, he has hiked in Hawaii, Alaska, and the Northwest. Now living in the “Four Corners” of Colorado, he enjoys weekends of great hiking in the San Miguel Mountains.

Serious hiking demands frequent snacking. Just a handful of trail mix when you stop for a rest keeps your energy high. You want a mix with a base of low-fat, low-sugar granola, and items such as pitted dates, dried apples, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and dried apricots. (Bring enough to share and you will be popular.) Avid hikers have learned not to be tempted with high-fat, high-sugar foods, which can give you a sluggish feeling.

Another tip I can pass on is that if you only pack Pop-Tarts or granola bars, you will be sorry for sure. You want good and wholesome food to look forward to after a strenuous day of hiking. Eating a good meal around the campfire weaves people together and makes it a warm experience that is a huge part of hiking and camping. That’s where I come in! With a little planning ahead it’s quite easy to prepare a satisfying meal fit for a king.

Make sure you share these recipes with any hikers, campers, and Boy or Girl Scouts in your family. It’s a complete out-of-doors-meal that can be prepared ahead at home, kept cold in the refrigerator or cooler, and then thrown on the grill or campfire for 20 minutes.

Camper’s Foil Dinner

Makes 2 dinners

2 potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

3 carrots, peeled and sliced thin

1/2 pound lean ground beef or turkey)

2 slices cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon seasoned salt (such as Lawry’s)

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

2/3 cup pineapple chunks

Barbecue sauce, to taste

Parboil potato and carrot slices for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Split ground meat into 2 oblong patties about 5-by-2-by-2.

Split each patty in half and tuck in a slice of cheese, sealing the meat around the cheese.

Place patties in the center of a 12-by-18 inch piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Sprinkle patties with seasoned salt and pepper.

Place over the meat in this order: potato, carrots, onion, and pineapple.

Pour favorite barbecue sauce over all. Fold and seal foil securely. Keep cold until ready to cook.

Cook over hot coals for 20 minutes, sealed side of foil up.

Cranberry-Pecan Couscous Pudding

Serves 2 for breakfast or dessert

1/2 cup instant couscous

1/2 cup nonfat dry milk

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

11/4 cups water

At home: In an airtight plastic bag, combine all ingredients except water. Seal tightly.

At camp: In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil, Stir in pudding mix, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir and serve.

More pudding tips

1. Take a small plastic measuring cup for water (an empty 8-ounce yogurt cup will do.

2. Write on a strip of masking tape the amount of water needed and directions and stick to plastic bag.

3. Feel free to substitute your favorite dried fruits and nuts.

Pig-in-a-Blanket

I found this fun way to cook a pig-in-a-blanket around a campfire:

Roast a hot dog over the fire the traditional way, and then when it’s done, leave it on the stick.

Poke 3 toothpicks through the hot dog (each end and the middle) and wrap a thin slice of uncooked bacon around the hot dog using the exposed ends of the toothpicks to secure it to the dog. Cook the bacon over the fire just like you did the hot dog.

Now pop open a canister of crescent rolls, remove a roll and wrap it around the bacon, again using the toothpicks to hold it in place. Cook this over the fire a little further from the coals until nicely browned and cooked through.

Eat right off the stick. No mess! (Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks before digging in.)

Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com, or send a self-stamped, self-addressed envelope when writing care of Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930.