What made me change my mind after all these yesrs, you might ask. The honest answer is, I don't really know. I ran across a website while I was looking for recipes and the web-author published his complete recipes in a book titled Recipes for Adventure. The author/chef, Glenn McAllister, has placed all of his recipes in a 250 page PDF file that you can purchase for a nominal fee through Glenn's website http:www.thebackpackingchef.com
To be honest, I wasn't looking for dehydrated meals recipes, I was looking for recipes for what I call "wet" meals. Typically, I take along fresh vegetables and prepackaged items that I can cook up quickly over single burner stove. At the end of a long day of paddling, there is not much light left and I'm eager to get my tent pitched and hit the sack. I'm not much on meals that take a lot of preparation. Wet meals work because, except on long trips, one is not constrained for space if the kayak is packed properly.
But this book caught my eye because it could very well be titled The Complete Book of Dehydrated Foods and Meals. The first half of the book deals with how to dehydrate ingredients. The latter half is how to combine these ingredients into edible meals. For a novice dehydrator like myself, the first chapter was very informative. It talks about what to look for in a dehydrator. The pros and cons of different types of dehydrators are discussed. By the way, I have not yet purchased my own dehydrator. I am borrowing my son's, until after I determine if I like doing this myself. So far, it has been a lot of work. My wife is more than a little peeved with my spending so much time dehydrating common food stuffs like corn, peas, green beans, ham, hamburger, scrambled eggs, and, well, you get the picture, about anything you can eat.
My approach is to first build a small library of dehydrated ingredients, then to begin putting together meals. This way, I can pick and choose ingredients to make something that is not only palatable, but will replenish the calories I have burned on the day's paddle. All this takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and planning. As I write this, I am dehydrating 5 bell peppers and 6 jalapeno peppers. It is 8 o'clock p.m. The peppers will take six to eight hours to dry at 125 degrees Fahrenheit. I have timed the process so that when I get up at 4:30 AM tomorrow morning, the first thing I need to do is remove the peppers from the dehydrator and vacuum pack them. I have pre-cut 3 sweet onions that these will go into the dryer before I leave for work. Tomorrow afternoon, I will pack the onions upon my return home.
One of the things I especially like about Glenn's book is that he describes several methods for dehydrating especially difficult ingredients. For example scrambled eggs are easy o dehydrate, but notoriously difficult to rehydrate. When rehydrated scrambled eggs taste powdery and inevitably end up chewy. Likewise, the common food ingredient, hamburger, is rubbery tasting when rehydrated. Glenn has devised several food combinations that make the rehydration process more complete. I won't get into how he does this, because those are the secrets you pay for by buying his book. Suffice it to say, they work.
So, what has all this got me so far? In my freezer, I now have packaged Beef Stroganoff, Cheese O'Rama (a spicy cheese Mac meal), Easy Cheese Rice and Beans, a breakfast meal of Green Grits and Ham (grits, peas and dehydrated deli ham), a recipe called Kick'n Mac, and another for spicy Red Beans and Rice. I am working on the ingredients for a Rice, Meat and Veggies meal and another for Shrimp and Cheesev Grits. Sound good? Check back at the end of the summer and I will let you know my ratings for the taste of these recipes and whether or not the effort was worth it. Meanwhile, I'm content that I have a nice library of meals to do my paddles down the Chesapeake Bay.
If you have suggestions for meal menus, please upload them. I'm always up for something new and tasty.