LARKSPUR – For backpackers whose camp kitchen idea is to pour boiling water into a freeze-dried foil bag, the notion of outdoor dining is as intimidating as it is appealing.
How do you feel at home on the stand when you are far from your stand? Especially when you’re acting as a personal mule and your pantry is down to an ounce.
Patty Ruwoldt, a veteran of the outdoors who lives on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Larkspur, has spent a lot of time pondering the subject.
Her years as a delegate cook on countless treks and horseback trips have culminated in a book, âOpen Range Cook’n.â The book is packed with great tips and comes with two subtitles: “Home on the Range Cooking Made Easy” and “A Camp Cook’s Guide to Tasty Vittles”, so readers have no doubts. serves.
âThe book was born simply because I was always the one who was appointed to cook on a trip,â says Ruwoldt. âAbout four and a half years ago, I decided to create one. In the beginning, it was about riding a horse. But I also opened it up to hiking and car camping. Or even people who want to do it at home in their garden.
âIt’s about preparing good food in less than 15 minutes. “
Ruwoldt says the key to successful camp cooking is the same as it is for professional chefs.
âThe secret is preparation,â she says. âIf you can do a lot of small things in advance, it will save you a lot of time and effort. It’s a good rule of thumb for so many things in life.
So if you bring an onion, dice it at home, then wrap it. Ditto for the peppers, which will save space in the backpack or chuck.
âI think part of the fun of getting ready to go on a backpacking trip is figuring out how creative I can be,â Ruwoldt said. âI think that’s one of the challenges.
Another challenge is to pack lightly with ingredients available at any grocery store. Consider vacuum packaging rather than canned tuna. (Aluminum packaging also allows for lighter packaging.)
On a recent visit to her home, a plate of huevos rancheros offered a generous helping of Ruwoldt’s magic.
The recipe was pretty straightforward: too easy eggs inside two flour tortillas, which were folded over quesadilla style and topped with melted cheddar cheese.
But the gravy was a departure from the house and restaurant versions of the Southwestern breakfast classic. Instead of the green chili, which adds weight whether fresh or canned, the sauce was a blend of reconstituted instant brown sauce. (Pioneer brand, natch) and chunks of salsa frozen in an ice cube tray, then burst and packed in a Ziploc bag. Accompanied by ranch beans and bacon, with a side of grape tomatoes and avocado, this was a terrific dish.
The whole shebang came with a sweet concoction good with any meal: Puff pastry pizza cut into triangles, then reheated in a skillet and topped with cinnamon.
Ruwoldt, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Germany when she was one year old, started cooking at the age of 7. A year later, the family moved to the United States, where they began a long-standing relationship with the Wild West and the outdoors. She and her husband raise horses and cattle at their Lone Mesa ranch, which is full of cowhide rugs, vintage horse accessories and antiques, including a refurbished wood and charcoal stove. which once belonged to the Anschutz family.
The couple backpacked for years, and Ruwoldt used to bow hunting. Some time ago they switched to horseback excursions, sometimes with a pack mule, other times not. A memorable trip was a 120 mile hike in the Bitter mountains in Montana. âIt was a real treat,â she says.
Other trips have included explorations of Western history in the Dakotas. We explored the old haunts of a young Teddy Roosevelt.
When traveling in a pack, whether it is a horse or a human carrying the load, one should think of food as fuel. Breads are a great source of high-energy carbohydrates, but standard grocery store breads take up too much space and are invariably crushed.
It is best to use solid breads like bagels, pitas or tortillas. All three keep well too, even in wet weather.
Despite the adage that hunger is the best condiment, Ruwoldt recommends adding any spices and herbs of your choice. Garlic powder is a good choice all around. Thyme, curry or a mixture of generic Italian seasonings also help to spice up dishes.
âI always bring lemon juice when traveling, because we fish, and lemon pairs well with trout,â Ruwoldt explains. “Lemon actually brightens up anything.” She also loves cinnamon and crushed red pepper flakes. (Helpful tip: Most take-out pizzas come with more sachets of pepper than you can use; save them for camping trips.)
Packaged bouillon cubes and taco seasonings are also an easy way to inject flavor into backpacking foods.
Accompanied by recipes and practical advice, “Open Range Cook’n”, available on Amazon.com and the book website (openrangecookn.com), is crossed with fantasy, which reflects the personality of Ruwoldt. On pack trips, she brings what she calls âmy redneck wine glasses,â a pair of red plastic tumblers with the bottoms glued to truncated glass candlesticks.
The book even contains recipes for treats for horses and dogs.
Ruwoldt’s book is a good way to impress your fellow campers, and she is proud to do so. An alfresco dinner included shrimp and angel hair pasta mixed with pesto and finished with Parmesan cheese. (Hard cheese packs well and tough.) She also did a cowgirl and wrapped a bottle of wine.
âThey weren’t expecting it,â she says of her happy campers.
On another trip to the Dakotas, she created a dinner with four types of fondue. She even managed to impress the local cowboys.
âThe ranch fighters came down and they were stunned,â she said.
William Porter: 303-954-1877, [email protected] or twitter.com/williamporterdp
Huevos Rancheros by Patty Ruwoldt
For 2 people
1 10-ounce can beef sauce or gain weight with a reconstituted powdered equivalent
Â½ cup salsa, canned or frozen cubes
4 12-inch tortillas
Grated cheddar cheese
Combine beef sauce and salsa in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Fry the eggs easily or according to your preferences.
Place two eggs on a tortilla and fold it in half. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Pour the sauce over the cheese and serve. Follow the same procedure for the second. Serve each with an extra tortilla for dipping the sauce, or fill it with butter and jelly.
Â¼ cup brown sugar
1 raisin snack box
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Combine the sugar, raisins and cinnamon in a bowl. (You can also pre-mix at home.) Core each apple, but leave a little on the bottom and place each on a square of foil. Fill the hole with the sweet raisins. Wrap foil around each apple and bake for 10 minutes over hot coals. Apples should be soft when pricked with a fork. For a nice variation, fill the center with 1 teaspoon of butter and 3-4 caramels.
For 2 people
2 cups of water
2 chicken broth cubes, crushed
1 15-ounce can enchilada sauce, or gain weight with a reconstituted powdered equivalent
1 12-ounce can white meat chicken
12 ounces of corn chips, crumbled
Â½ cup grated Mexican or cheddar cheese
Bring the water and crushed stock cubes to a boil, then add the enchilada sauce and the canned chicken. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the crumbled corn chips and cheese. Stir until the chips are moistened, then serve with shredded lettuce and tomatoes, if desired.