Dec 302012

Red lentil stew with quinoa

This recipe came to me by way of a dear friend and backpacking/adventure buddy. About a year ago, Heather and I had kicked the planning for our six-day Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim backpacking adventure into high gear and had begun to draft a menu so that I had plenty of time to cook and dehydrate all of our dinners. I was basing much of the menu off of that summer’s Denali menu, but because the Grand Canyon adventure was longer, I needed more meal ideas. Heather suggested this chili, and I was impressed by its credentials. Her husband, a weirdly picky eater, loved it, so I decided to make a test batch.

Now, my husband is not a weirdly picky eater (he’ll eat anything I put in front of him — even the most fail-y of my experiments), but he isn’t normally so vocal about food that he enjoys. He repeatedly enthusiastically complimented it, so I knew I had a winner on my hands. That’s right: it got the stamp of Manproval from both of our husbands! So by all means, hurry up and try this yourself — your taste-buds will thank you!

Red lentil stew with quinoa

For guidance on making this for dehydration, see the “Variations” section at the end of the recipe.

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Feb 262008

Every cook needs a good marinara recipe in her or his repertoire. Why not? It’s simple to prepare, goes with tons of things, and is easily modified into a multitude of other sauces. It’s infinitely superior to what attempts to pass for jarred spaghetti sauces, and again, it’s so easily made and even more easily customized that it’s really not worth buying it off the shelf.

I recently made a batch from a recipe recommended by raving reviews from my Mom and I fell in love. It’s sweet but not overly so with plenty of warm garlic flavor without any of the raw garlic punishment. I used it for three separate applications: saucing ravioli served with fresh mozzarella and torn basil (pictured below), pizza Margherita, take due, and spaghetti with calamari (utterly divine, but so modified on the fly due to utterly poor recipe testing that I wasn’t keeping track of things like quantities and time, so I’ll have to re-make it in order to post the recipe). Needless to say, the sauce is all gone. Well, that is, until I make another batch…

(For guidance on preparing this for a backpacking meal, see the “Variations” section at the end of the recipe.)

Marinara sauce

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Jan 142008

Every year since I can remember, my family has eaten beef burgundy on Christmas Eve. The warm wine and beef flavors, served atop noodles, the meat perfectly tender… this is the food that memories are made of. Which is good, because it means that the substantial effort required to put this meal on the table is worth it. I mean, come on, this is a dish three days in the making – you know it has to be good. This recipe is like the poster child of the slow food movement.

The beef begins its long slow marinate
Nikon D50

Even though this year was the first that I’d ever enjoyed this meal on Christmas itself (it was our tradition to eat this on the Eve), this is the single dish that I associate the most with warm and cozy family dinners around the holidays. We often spent Christmas with extended family, but Christmas Eve was a smaller affair, and beef burgundy, with its warm and sensuous flavor, was the perfect dish for a more intimate setting.

Deliciousness is served
Nikon D50

Now that I’m all grown up, having married and struck out on my own, I find that I’m in a fun situation: I get to make my own traditions with Cory now. Not surprisingly, beef burgundy made the cut. We enjoyed our first Christmas as husband and wife huddled over a bowl (or two), eating the food that will tie the years of our lives together.

Every family deserves a beef burgundy of their own.

For the backpacker’s version of this recipe, scroll all the way to the bottom: it’s posted at the end of the traditional version of the recipe.

I don't want to wait another year to eat this again!
Nikon D50

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Jun 152007

Be careful: homemade chicken stock is another one of those “you can never go back” recipes.

I remember a little over a year ago, I made minestrone soup for the first time. It’s one of my favorite soups, but I couldn’t understand why it was so….. blase. Despite the fact I had used fresh ingredients and used the proper technique, it wasn’t worth making again, and I stuck with my usual soup staple, Provencal Vegetable Soup.

A leek for the stock-pot

About a year later I was having some friends over for an Italian night – caprese salad, various pastas with homemade sauces, and affogatos. Something was missing and (being ignorant of the traditional Italian primi and secondi) I decided to add in minestrone soup.

So I tried again. Talk about night and day! It was like the first batch I had made was anti-minestrone and if the two batches had ever met they would have annihilated each other. The only difference? The fantasmagorically-delicious minestrone was made with homemade stock instead of commercial chicken broth.


Every recipe I’ve used with this stock has sung with flavor. Why? That flavor comes from tons of fresh ingredients and no salt. It’s a recipe that I’ve adapted from more traditional chicken stock recipes to fit the way I cook. I roast a bird one week, save the carcass, skin, and fond and after I roast another bird the next week I combine the two carcasses with any leftover meat and tons of aromatics. This way I’m getting maximum use out of those chickens with minimal waste.

To see guidance on preparing this for backpacking, see the “Variations” section at the end of the recipe.

And it is so worth it!


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