Campsite cooking: Students learn meal prep outside the kitchen

Campus Recreation hosted Backcountry Cooking Clinic at the Hydaway Outdoor Center Oct. 28, teaching participants how to make food while outdoors.

During the event, students learned to make a snack, a meal and a dessert.

“This workshop allows for participants to get some skills under their belts to then apply to their own camping cooking plans,” Abby Arbeiter, manager at Outdoor Adventure, said. “Whether that be a sunrise hike where they can bring their own meal to heat up or a 10-day through hike.”

Before the cooking began, Arbeiter taught participants about safety regarding wildlife and fires, with an emphasis on leaving nature intact by not removing anything from nature and taking all belongings, including waste.

Because all supplies would need to be carried, preparation through meal planning must be done before leaving for a trip.

“Meals served in the setting of camping, especially backcountry camping, require a few more steps for planning and preparation,” Arbeiter said. “However, these skills can still be applicable to everyday meal-making. We will be making meals for the rest of our lives, so why not start learning how to make good ones right now?”

The clinic first taught its participants how to make a small snack. Using a tortilla, peanut butter, honey, and cranberries or raisins, participants rolled it all up and made a sweet yet salty snack for a quick stop on the trail.

Before moving on to the meal, the clinic taught participants how to set up and use a Jetboil, which is a lightweight backpacking stove that uses propane. In addition, the clinic taught students how to use a Coleman, which is also lightweight but has two stovetops and also uses propane.

The idea behind the meal was similar to a meal, Ready-to-Eat, which is a bagged meal that is easy to make on the go, but homemade. Participants started by creating a small pouch to keep the food warm.

“My favorite part of the clinic was learning how to make the pouch,” Leah Riggan, an aviation student, said.

In order to make the fried rice, participants put scoops of dried vegetables into a Ziploc bag with spices and a bouillon cube. Then, using the Jetboil, they boiled water and added it to the Ziploc bag. With the Ziploc bag in the pouch, the rice was added and cooked inside the bag. Once the water was absorbed, the fried rice was ready to eat.

Due to time restrictions, there was not enough time to make the dessert; but participants were able to take home a bag of spices, granola, dried pears or apples, and walnuts or pecans. Using the recipe provided and the skills they learned during the clinic, participants could make it in their own time.

“It was the perfect day to have it,” Riggan said. “The weather was the perfect temperature, and the fall leaves on the trees were beautiful. It was nice to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.”

Students interested in backpacking or camping should consider purchasing a collapsible bowl, one plastic spork to reuse the whole trip, a water filtering bottle, a Jetboil or Coleman and prepped meals.

Twitchell is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion

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