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Dinner and Dessert For Two – A Backpacking Feast

Kirk and I write the column Trail Eats for Washington Trails Magazine (well I develop the recipes and he shoots the photos!). I love the column and have had a lot of fun – it keeps my mind active. The last issue out (July/August 2011) was a backcountry feast for two involving fish tacos. Lets say that I don’t fish so I made it cheater fish tacos using easy-to-catch pouched tuna from the grocery store 😉 PS: Recently we did a Vegetarian Dayhiker’s Picnic – so go check it out as well! And if you want to see more of what I write for hiking….come over to TrailCooking!

The three recipes:

Fish Tacos


  • 2 5-ounce pouches Albacore tuna or salmon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (1 packet)
  • 2 small or 1 large fresh lime(s)
  • 4 small soft taco size tortillas

In a small spice bag:

  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning blend
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic

In a sandwich bag:

  • 1 cup shredded cabbage (plain or tri-color with carrots)

Heat the oil in your pan (or frypan lid if you have one) over a low flame. Add in the spices and the tuna or salmon, gently heat through till sizzling, stirring often.
Divide between the tortillas, cut the lime(s) in half and squeeze over, top with cabbage as desired.

Serves 2.

Do you fish? For tasty fresh caught fish tacos, once you catch and clean your fish, prepare the fish in bite size chunks in the way you prefer – be it gently steamed or pan-fried and then proceed as above. This works great over a camp stove or a campfire. You will want to pack more oil though.

Like heated tortillas? Bring a piece of aluminum foil about 3 times as big as your tortillas (you can gently fold it at home to make it small). Before starting the fish, heat up your tortillas one at a time in a dry pan. Stash the hot tortillas in the foil, folding over like an envelope and they will keep warm while you cook!

Fresh cabbage is easy to carry while hiking and stays crisp for days. For ease, buy pre-shredded bags.

If you like salsa on your tacos you can pick up individual packets at

Herbed Tomato Rice

In a quart freezer or sandwich bag:

  • 1 cup instant rice (white or brown)
  • 1/4 cup freeze-dried corn
  • 1/4 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp diced dried onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp lower sodium beef or chicken flavor bouillon
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano

Also take:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (1 packet)
  • 2 sticks cheddar or pepper-jack cheese (2 ounces)

FBC method:
Add 1 1/2 cups near boiling water and the oil to the dry ingredients in a quart freezer bag. Seal tightly and tuck in a freezer bag cozy to insulate for 15 minutes.

One pot method:
Bring 1 1/2 cups water and the oil to a boil, add in the dry ingredients. Take off the heat and cover tightly. Let sit for 15 minutes (in cooler temperatures or at altitude use a pot cozy to retain heat).

Dice up the cheese and fold in.

Serves 2 as a side dish.

Find in the cheese sticks in the dairy aisle near the string cheese.

Berry Dessert

In a sandwich bag pack:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried lemon zest

Also take:

  • 1 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • Cake of choice for topping (pound cake, desert cups, angel food cake, Twinkies, etc)
  • Pick 2 cups Huckleberries, Blueberries or Blackberries while hiking or in camp.

Add the dry ingredients to your pot, stir in 2 Tablespoons cool water and add the berries. Place the butter on top and over a very low flame on your stove bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring often. Once thickened, take off the stove and serve with your choice of cake.

Serves 2.

For a lighter weight version (and ability to carry long-term) substitute 1 Tablespoon butter powder. Butter powder can be found in specialty kitchen shops, online ( or you can use Molly McButter/Butter Buds, found in the spice aisle at grocery stores. Dried lemon zest is also found in the spice aisle.
A small fresh lemon carried and squeezed in is a wonderful gourmet touch.

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