Gear Review: Field Trip Jerky

Trail snacks are not my forté. I need them and I usually devour some while out on the trail. I would like to say that I make lovely lunches and snacks at home but really, I have a large Tupperware tote in my cabinet (or in my shed) full of miscellaneous bars, tuna packets, and some single serve powdered drink mixes and tablets that I can just grab and shove in my backpack. I am kind of picky about what I choose to eat though and try to allot my (few) dollars towards natural foods whenever possible.

At Winter Outdoor Retailer, I met Todd of Field Trip Jerky. Field Trip doesn’t use corn syrup as a sweetener (common in many jerky products), it’s gluten free, and delicious. The folks at Field Trip were kind enough to send me a package of their different flavors to sample and truthfully, I liked them all.

They make both beef and turkey jerky. I loved the flavor of the Crushed Chiles Turkey Jerky (ummm…and I would love it in beef, hinthint) and enjoyed the Cracked Pepper as well.

The beef flavors were my favorite, however with Roasted Sesame and Teriyaki leading the way with Original and Honey Spice just barely behind.

The packages are resealable which I really appreciate when I just want a little something to chew on but don’t want to eat the whole package. (If you open one with a friend around though, don’t expect to have any to put away.)

As I mentioned before, the folks at Field Trip do it right. Check out their ingredients in their scrumptious Roasted Sesame:

I totally recommend Field Trip for your next hike, roadtrip, or couch snacking. Many Starbucks location carry Field Trip and you can buy it on their website or on Amazon.

 

Field Trip Jerky provided me with jerky for sampling but all opinions are my own. Some links in this post are affiliate links that help support 3Up Adventures.

On The Page: The Art Of Fermentation

I have a slew of books to plow through that I already owned but after reading Michael Pollan’s Cooked, I found myself really interested in fermentation. Maybe it’s me being a science geek but I just wanted to learn more! I started baking sourdough bread but I still wanted to know more so I could experiment. Finally, I caved and bought Sandor Ellix Katz’s The Art of Fermentation.

The Art of Fermentation

The Art of Fermentation isn’t a cookbook. Although it contains a ton of general guides to trying different types of ferments, it does not contain classic “recipes.” Instead, Katz organizes ferments into general categories and examines how they developed throughout the world. He is clear that there is no one specific way to make any ferment and encourages the home fermenter to experiment and find a taste profile that works for them. While The Art of Fermentation discusses purchased cultures, Katz is clearly a fan of wild fermentation (he also wrote a book called Wild Fermentation).

It might seem like a boring read but I read this cover to cover. The book begins with an exploration of why we might care about fermentation; this “why” of fermenting sets the tone for the entire book. Chapter 1 is entitled “Fermentation as a Coevolutionary Force” and discusses how our digestive tracts evolved along with bacterial communities inside us and in our foods. Chapter 2 discusses the benefits of fermentation to us. Historically, the primary benefit of fermentation was the preservation of food. In our modern world, refrigeration has largely removed this imperative however those interested in more self-reliant living paradigms (modern homesteaders, preppers, etc.) may be interested in fermentation for this reason. Fermentation also is believed to have health benefits. Although the science is still developming, Katz cites peer reviewed studies that point towards boosted immune response, increased nutrient bioavailability, detoxification, and maintenance of flora in the gut. Plus, as Katz points out, the results are pretty darn delicious. It is clear that Katz is a fermentation evangelist and is interested in the entire range of fermentation procedures practiced around the world.

In nearly each and every chapter I found something that I wanted to try making (or at least find someone who had made the live culture ferment to try). I read about wines, meads, cheeses, prosciutto, I read about grain fermentations we would never normally learn about in America, I read about the history of beer like beverages in Africa, and about sauerkraut. It was incredibly hard to not feel like I could make all of the things. (I mean, I can, but I have a full time job and I only need to be growing so many things in my food on top of having worms in my laundry room.) Katz makes fermentation sound so achievable for the average person that The Art of Fermentation is powerfully inspiring. He is also realistic about the number of fermentation projects any one person can handle and encourages home fermenters to barter for ferments made by others.

I am really impressed with The Art of Fermentation (and kind of bummed that I couldn’t make it to Denver last weekend to hear Katz speak at the Cultured Colorado Festival). I am excited to be sharing some of my experimentation inspired by the book over the next few months here on 3Up Adventures (and follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more real time updates). I really recommend this book to anyone but if you’re interested in the intersection between food and science this is for you. Or, if you’re interested in re-learning some fading food traditions that make us more self-sufficient, this book is for you. Or, if you’re looking for ways to make a wider variety of healthful foods, this book is for you.

Telluride with Kristin

Kristin and I need to be better at taking Selfies apparently because this whole post looks like it’s all about SP and me. Luckily, she was kind enough to share some photos of our awesome day in Telluride here on the blog. We headed to Telluride via Last Dollar Road to enjoy the last of the fall colors, walked around downtown Telluride, gorged ourselves at Brown Dog Pizza, and rode the gondola to Mountain Village for a little extra scenery.

Beth Lakin Bault and Sprocket in Telluride

Beth Lakin Bault and Sprocket in Telluride

Beth Lakin Bault and Sprocket in Telluride

San Miguel Mountains

Beth Lakin Bault and Sprocket in Telluride

Beth Lakin Bault and Sprocket in Telluride

Stovetop Shepherd’s Pie

In the continuing search for delicious food to eat in the camper, I attempted Shepherd’s Pie:

Ground beef

First I browned the meat. I meant to add some paprika and instead sprinkled some cinnamon in. The cinnamon will be staying next time. After browning the meat, I thickned it up by sprinkling in flour until there was sort of a gravy mixture.

Corn

A can of corn (drained) was added on top, and then two packets of Idahoan instant mashed potatoes were spread on top (one was Italian Romano White Cheese and the other was Baby Reds).

Mashed potatoes

I topped the whole thing off with a dash of paprika, covered, and heated until it was heated through and simmering which didn’t take long since everything but the corn was already hot.

Shepard's Pie

Stovetop Apple Pie

I’ve never been much for cooking. Baking is much more up my alley but baking is something that mobile living usually means giving up. (A full size RV is an exception and I loved having an oven in the toy hauler but not enough to drag that monstrosity around!) Dessert options around here have been pretty limited so I decided to see if I could make a cobbler-like dessert in a saucepan.

Google and Pinterest quickly taught me that such a thing is called a “slump.” Although slump isn’t a particularly appetizing name, there really wasn’t much of a downside to giving it a shot.

The jumping off point for my experiment was a recipe called Sour Cream Apple Slump. Given that my great-grandmother’s sour cream apple pie is one of our favorites, this boded well as something that just might taste delicious.

As we found out, it was pretty good! A pie in a skillet!

Apple Slump

Sour Cream Apple Skillet Pie

Apple “filling”:

  • 1 TBS butter
  • 3 large apples, sliced
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. milk

Biscuit topping:

  • 1 c. flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 TBS cold butter
  • ~3/4 c. milk (as needed for soft batter)

In a bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and spices. Melt about 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet (I used a 9 inch)—of course I subscribe to the Pioneer Woman theory of butter and approximately doubled that. Swirl pan to coat with butter and turn off heat. In the skillet, combine apples, sour cream, sugar mixture, and milk. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until fruit is slightly softened.

Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. Cut in the butter and set aside. When the fruit has softened just a touch, add the milk to form a thick batter (or thin dough). Add small dollops of the batter to the simmering fruit, distributing it evenly. Cover and gently simmer for about 20 minutes then remove the cover and simmer another 5 minutes.

 

Nomadic Super Bowl Party!

There’s no getting around the fact that the Super Bowl is essentially an American holiday. There was plenty of noise in my Twitter feed about escaping onto the trails or the slopes to take advantage of the fact that most of us were settled in with horrible fatty food, beer, and a television set.

Laguna Mountains

Out here at our lakeside camp, we decided to do both.

I got in two short little hikes: one with Sprocket and the other with Mike, F, and Sprocket right before the game started.

Laguna Mountains

Beth & Sprocket

F and Sprocket

At game time, our little nomad crew worked together to have a proper Super Bowl Party. Randy offered up a TV (and some of his ample battery power), I improvised buffalo chicken dip (aka “Death by Dairy) on the stove top, and Lou made nachos.

Nomad Super Bowl Party

Even better, the Seahawks won!

Sprocket


RV Friendly Buffalo Chicken Dip, aka Death By Dairy

adapted from po’man meals

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 2 c. Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 c. bleu cheese or ranch dressing
  • 1-12oz can chicken, drained
  • 3TBS minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. tomato paste
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 4TBS Tapatio

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, and 1 cup Monterey Jack. In another bowl, combine chicken, garlic, tomato paste, water, and hot sauce. Layer the cream cheese mixture in the bottom of a large skillet and top with the chicken mixture and the remaining Monterey Jack. Cover and heat on low until the cheese is melted. (I had to move my skillet around a bit to get everything to heat evenly.)

I subsituted the tomato paste and water for tomato sauce since it’s much easier to keep a tube of tomato paste in the refrigerator. The buffalo layer was a little on the thin side so I might err on the side of less water next time. I’ve also upped the hot sauce from the original recipe, be sure to experiment with the type and amount to find what works for you. (We’ve tried Tabasco and buffalo-style Tabasco but prefer the Tapatio.)

 

Los Algodones, Mexico

Beth & PacificoLos Algodones water tower

Over the last week or so we’ve been hanging out in Los Algodones catching up on dental work and eating delicious tacos. Actually, I’ve been eating a lot tacos while F is stuck with cheese quesadillas due to the aforementioned dental work. Thankfully, his teeth are better and he’s done his best to make up in the taco department.

Quesadillas in Mexico

Algodones is the self proclaimed “Dentistry capital of the world” and is also home to a pharmacy on every block. The streets of town are full of Americans and Canadians getting dental work and stocking up on prescription drugs for cheap.

Mexico, perscription drugs

The streets are colorful and filled with street vendors selling sunglasses, blankets, hats, jewelery, lawn ornaments, and more. All the booths are more or less the same but at least everything is colorful!

Los Algodones

Los Algodones

Colors!

El Paradiso is really popular with those from north of the border. The food looks like it pales in comparison to taco trucks and stands outside the main tourist area but it’s got energy and the $2 Coronas and $5 margaritas were pretty delicious.

Margaritas in Mexico

F in El Paradiso

Beth & Pacifico

In the end, our stay near the border was really great: F got all caught up on dental work, I got a cleaning, we ate tacos, and thoroughly explored Algodones. Of course, all the tacos whetted our whistles for traveling further south but that’s for another time!

Review: Good2Go Protein Bars

Among our many highlights of OR Show was the #hikerchat adventure. In the “buffet” of things we collected were Good2Go bars. F and I each grabbed a few but didn’t eat them on the hike because we were so busy talking (and grabbing an extra peak!).

When we headed up Mt. Sneffels with our buddy Ezra and tossed three of them in our packs for some sampling at over 14,000′.

Good2Go BarsSince we hadn’t sampled them before, I was bit apprehensive handing one to Ezra on the summit. I opened my Almond Butter Chocolate Chip bar, F bit into the Almond Butter Fruit Nut and Ezra tried the Peanut Butter Fruit Nut. Our snack quickly turned into a summit tasting party as we passed them around..

First, the flavor: excellent. Each of the three flavors we sampled was really yummy. They were simple and delicious.

Second, the texture: These bars had little of the “grainy” texture that I associate with protein bars. They are a bit greasy but that’s purely due to the “good” fat from the nut butters (something you need when out hiking all day).

Third, the ingredients. As much as I like how they taste and feel in my mouth, I also love what these bars stand for. They’re made with all natural ingredients, are gluten free, and basically are full of things you don’t need a degree in chemistry to pronounce.

Fourth, They are made here in the Rocky Mountains by people that love the mountains and support the outdoor community. Sounds like a winner to us!

Wedding, Part 6: How to use Crockpots to Self-Cater A Wedding

We were really conscious all the way through our wedding planning of what was really important and let that guide how we spent our money. One of the big ticket items for a lot of people planning their wedding is food. Catering is expensive wherever you are but we didn’t have many choices in Moab and our wedding wasn’t even going to be in town. I did some checking around to be sure and the final answer was, “Yup, won’t be paying someone to cater!”

Pie and wedding dinner ingredients

Instead, we decided that self-catering was going to be the thing. While there’s a lot of information out there on the internet about how “self-catering” your wedding it seems like even more sources talk about how it’s a lot of work. They also warn you that if you don’t really like to cook and haven’t ever cooked for a crowd that your wedding is probably not the time to start. I really don’t like cooking. And I’m not particularly good at it. Given budget goals, the location, and the relatively small guest list we decided to do it anyway. (I rationalized to my mother that we have fed more people for Thanksgiving…)

Our menu wound up looking like this:

–Crockpot lasagna
–Garlic bread
–Caesar salad

We made two big crockpots and two smaller ones worth of lasagna and it was about perfect for 27 people. For the Caesar salad, we used 5 heads of romaine, also about perfect. For bread, I think we had four loaves. The lasagna went together really fast and if you had access to more crockpots this could absolutely be scaled up to a little bit bigger wedding.

Before the wedding, I tested the lasagna recipe to make sure it was okay in the refrigerator overnight and accidentally found that it was okay to make two days in advance (we forgot to eat it the day after I made it). Between pie baking and relaxing, the lasagnas didn’t get made in advance but Jolleen, Stacia, and Andrea threw them together pretty quickly on Saturday. They also buttered the bread I’d picked up at the grocery store that morning and put it in aluminum foil for heating.

I’d talked to Tasha several weeks before the wedding and asked her to be in charge of wedding meal logistics. Basically this involved putting the bread in the oven to warm, tossing the Caesar salad, and taking the whole lot out to the serving area. From what she told me it was pretty easy to get everything on the table, especially when Vanessa jumped in to help.

 Bottom line? This was a totally workable solution for us. I have really no complaints or things that I’d adjust. And since Tasha doesn’t either and the food got rave reviews, I declare this a major success.

Dishing up food.

Crockpot Sausage Lasagna

Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution

8 curly-edged no-cook lasagna noodles broken in half
15 oz. ricotta
1 1/4 c grated Parmesan
1/2 c. minced fresh basil
1 large egg
1 1/2 jars pasta sauce (I use whatever’s on sale.)
1 lb italian sausage removed from casing
4 c. shredded mozzarella (1lb)

In a bowl, mix ricotta, 1 c. Parmesan, basil, egg, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.

Spread 1/2 c. tomato sauce in slow cooker.

Arrange 4 lasagna noodle pieces in slow cooker (overlapping is okay, make them fit the best you can.), then dollop 9 rounded tablespoons of ricotta mixture over noodles. Pinch off one-third of sausage into tablespoon-sized pieces and drop over ricotta (yes, raw…it cooks, promise). Sprinkle with 1 c. mozzarella, then spoon 1/2 c. sauce over top.

Repeat layering of lasagna noodles, ricotta mixture, sausage, mozzarella, and sauce twice more.

For final layer, arrange remaining 4 noodles in slow cooker, then top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining mozzerlla and remaining Parmesan.

Cover and cook until lasagna is heated through. About 4hrs on low. Let lasagna cool 20 mins and serve.

Just a random note since this post gets found by Google fairly often (hi, Googlers!), I also did this for a big family meal after my dad’s funeral and it worked out really well. I assembled everything the night before in crockpots and started them when we left for the service. Lasagna is a real crowd pleaser so this makes for an easy way to serve a big crowd.

Walmart Backpacking Food?

I don’t have easy access to an outdoors store where I can buy freeze dried food. Our biggest grocery store around here is Walmart so when I decided to go for a short backpacking trip for Labor Day I was sort of scrambling to find some food to take with me. It wasn’t my fastest trip to the grocery store as I wandered up and down the aisles looking for some filling food to take along.

What I found wasn’t the lightest since everything was ready to eat but in a pinch, it worked out pretty well. (They were also all less than $3 each!)

I also was able to find the usual assortment of snack foods:

In the end, I was really pleased with my resourceful finds for main dishes.