Packing the Cooler

You won’t be hearing from me for a while, because I’m about to head far from computers, cities, and cell phone service, to Harney County, Oregon. Over 10,000 square miles of basin and range close to the Nevada and Idaho borders, home to fewer than 8,000 people. I’m going to visit the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to ogle thousands of migrating birds, head as far up Steens Mountain as the snow levels will let me get, and hopefully have time to soak in a hot spring in the Alvord Desert. You have full permission to be totally jealous.

You’re probably getting a sense of my food nerd meets outdoorsy type personality by this point, but you may have never seen in come together as in this post — it’s the logical meeting point of my posts about food and the outdoors: what I eat outdoors.

I’ll be car camping for about a week on this trip, in a few different spots. I’ll be passing a couple “towns” with populations between 8 and 15, and keeping the gas tank full and buying some ice for the cooler will be about all I can hope for there. Even if I could stock up on provisions during the trip, I don’t want to be doing a lot of chopping and cleaning up at my camp sites. I’ll leave cooking for a kitchen, but camping, I’d rather just enjoy the outdoors.

That means no-cook breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, coupled with super-low-prep dinners cooked on a camp stove.  That level of convenience food is no small task for a food nerd, but even with the extra challenge that I eat primarily vegetables and meat, with dairy thrown in for good measure, I have to say I’m fairly proud of how I’ve risen to the occasion.

So I’m packing a cooler, as well as getting together a box of dry goods. Some strategy will be involved in eating the more perishable stuff earlier in the week, but this should keep things pretty easy in general. Highlights include:

  • Packaged Sausages (To be cooked over a campfire or camp stove, as opportunities arise.)
  • Hard cheese and salami
  • Three bags of frozen vegetables (pre-chopped!)
  • Two homemade curries, frozen in ziplocs. (They’ll double as ice packs until they thaw and I eat them on the third day or so.)
  • Canned Sardines (Great portable protein for later in the week, and fine if I run low on ice.)
  • 12 hard boiled eggs (Second only to canned sardines on the portable protein list. Breakfast of Champions!)
  • Turkey Jerky  (No refrigeration or cooking required)
  • Dried Plums (I had to buy more because I’ll be finishing the last of my home-dried fruit on this trip!)
  • Dried Sweet Potato slices  (Sliced thin and left in the dehydrator for a few hours, these are great little chips.)
  • Almonds
  • 2 jars of olives
  • Dried seaweed to rehydrate and some sesame dressing
  • The last jar of Apple-Nectarine Sauce
  • Carrots and Sunbutter to dip them in
  • My favorite super-dark chocolate bars

Pickle Provisions for Harney County

Most of that I just bought, but I also thought this provisioning project would be good for some prep time in the kitchen. I dried the sweet potatoes, and also realized this trip was a good fit with my recent plan to do more pickling this year. Refrigerator pickles are pre-chopped, no cooking required, and won’t wilt towards the end of the week if I run low on ice. I’ve got four kinds:

  • Red Beet, with fennel, garlic, three dried cherry tomatoes, and peppercorns in red wine vinegar, white vinegar and water.
  • Golden Beet, with red onion, shallot, peppercorns, bay leaf, cloves, hot chili pepper, and mustard seed (classic pickling spices) in apple cider vinegar and water.
  • Radish, Baby Turnip and Carrot, with spring onion, shallot, and ginger in rice vinegar, white vinegar, and water.
  • Daikon Radish and spring onion in rice vinegar, cider vinegar and water.

I’ll try to remember to report on those with an eye towards future pickles, but to be honest, I think I’ll have some much more exciting stories to tell when I get back. Stay tuned for the next dispatch! Or rather, don’t stay tuned. But do check back in ten days. Or for ultimate ease in following my adventures, like the blog on Facebook or sign up as an email follower in the right hand side bar. Then the next post will come to you!

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3 responses to “Packing the Cooler

  1. Have a great trip, dear camper. I’m saving all these great suggestions. Love, Louise

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