The Glampeur’s Guide to Fine Backcountry Cuisine
Cooking Outdoors Made Organized & Fun
To truly enjoy a semi-luxurious experience in the backcountry, you need an organized cooking kit. No, you’re not going to have someone cooking for you or washing your dishes as the rich and famous glampeurs, but, yes, you can make cooking easy and fun and you’ll save a lot of cash in the meantime (which ultimately means more adventures for you). And you can always just take turns cooking with your sweetheart so that you can kick back with your Green Goo Pint Glass full of beer.
So what do you need? As a serious glampeur chef, I wouldn’t leave home without: a double-burner stove (from $109 on up at REI), a folding table ($20-$40 at Cabela’s) and two camp chairs ($15-$80 on Amazon.com). I purchased all the following items at my local thrift shop: large cast iron skillet, flat-bottomed wok, medium-sized pot for pastas and soups, small pot for boiling tea water, and, pretty much, a full set of every utensil you might need to whip up a simple gourmet meal. I stole this tip from my brother recently; he puts all his utensils in a plastic water bottle, which he stands up in the corner of his bin. It makes your forks and sharp knives easy to find. I also bring a lighter, cooking lamp or headlamp, role of paper towels, at least three cloth towels, a five-gallon water jug and a couple extra gallons for easier access, plus a sponge, 4oz bottle of Peppermint Pure-Castile Liquid Soap and small bottle of hand sanitizer (I dig the 1oz bottles of Cleanwell Natural Hand Sanitizer Spray for under $3). I don’t necessarily clean every item every time I cook in the woods (eggs the next morning in a well seasoned cast iron skillet can be delicious).
In addition to the ingredients for whatever meals I plan, I always bring a stick of butter, olive oil, a small bottle of coconut aminos (I’m allergic to soy sauce, but it works just as well), a small bottle of balsalmic vinegar, and plenty of spices (thyme and rosemary go a long way, along with salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon and some fancy meat or veggie rubs). I always have sugar and dried coconut milk powder (because I prefer it to powdered milk), various teas for breakfast and bedtime, coffee for my boyfriend, and plenty of snacks that I can throw in my pocket for day hikes and climbing outings.
Also, I always keep my camping kit separate from my home cooking kit (i.e. go to the thrift shop and get an entire cooking kit for four people so you don’t have to cannibalize anything from your kitchen. And, most importantly, organize the hell out of it with sub bins, bags and containers. It’s most annoying to find your lighter at the very bottom of your bin, stuck in between the strainer and soy sauce after 20 minutes of searching.
Most importantly, I organize everything meticulously in Rubbermaid bins of various sizes and shapes. My favorite, easily stackable size is the 14-gallon tub. I can stack two high in my van if need be. My dad taught me this camping trick early on, and I adopted and enhanced it as a semi-professional glampeur. Keep all your spices in one small bin or even in a Green Goo Recycled Rice Bags; bigger utensils that don’t fit in the water bottle should go in another small bin or back. Then stack and stash those bins and bags in your larger tub. You'll figure out the perfect Tetris arrangement after a few tries.
One ex taught me another handy technique; instead of a small wooden cutting board (which I actually do also regularly use), find yourself an old, hard plastic restaurant tray with raised sides. This will keep your garlic from slipping off the board, and if you have to use your lap for cutting veggies, it’ll offer a bit of added protection. Eventually you’ll become as familiar and appreciative of your kitchen kit as you are with a good lover; you’ll be able to find just the right thing in just the right spot. So set up and breakdown become a painless habit, and cooking becomes loads more enjoyable.
Read Lizzy's previous post, "The Glampeur’s Guide to Sex Outdoors."