Monday, November 01, 2010


Stayed home yesterday, as it turned out, but did some errands. Will have to save camping for next week or later, I think. In the meantime, thanks to some leftover REI credits, I've been sampling various types of camp food made by companies like Natural High and Mountain House. Can't say that I appreciate the price of such packets, which often cost much more, per unit volume, than the military's MREs, but some of the food has turned out to be surprisingly good.

Last night's dinner, a Chicken à la King by Mountain House, is a case in point. It supposedly serves two (and costs a whopping $7.50 at REI; thank goodness for my store credits), but was good for one large, Kevin-sized portion. I was shocked at how tasty it was. Prep was simple: remove the desiccant packet, pour in boiling water, stir contents, shut the zip-top bag, and let sit for about 9 minutes. Doesn't get much easier.

Egg noodles, it seems, are a great dry component for camp food. The ones in the Chicken à la King bag were tiny and cute, but the overall texture, when I ate them, was familiar. The sauce inside the bag was creamy-- almost addictive. The meat wasn't stellar-- reconstituted meat rarely is-- but it was recognizably chickenish. An inventive person might consider buying this meal, then using the contents to make two chicken pot pies at home. The packet comes with veggies inside, so a pot pie isn't inconceivable: the egg noodles could provide the starch that would have come from the addition of potatoes.

In all, a good meal. Dessert was a camp brownie by Natural High, which wasn't anywhere near as tasty. I didn't want to go through the laborious process of cooking the brownie on a skillet with oil (!!), so I poured the mix (just add water) into a flat-bottomed Pyrex bowl, set the microwave for 1:25, and let 'er rip. Turns out I got the timing just right: the bottom of the bowl was covered in a chocolate disk with a recognizable brownie surface. Incredible.

Alas, the taste left much to be desired. Perhaps the food would have tasted better after a 15-mile hike in the mountains (as all food inevitably does: "Hunger is the best sauce," as the proverb goes), but in my kitchen, the overall effect was "meh." The brownie's mouth-feel was fine; the microwave had successfully produced a thick, cake-y texture, even in the center. But despite the rich, dark color, the brownie was bland as hell. I doubt I'll be buying that product ever again.

Over the past couple of days, I've also tried packets of Pad See You (not recommended) and beef stew (recommended, but just OK). What used to be known as "astronaut's ice cream" has been routinely available in camp stores for years; the ones I purchased from REI have been quite delicious, evoking memories of childhood trips to the National Air and Space Museum. Their only disadvantage: as was true years ago, the chunks melt away far too quickly. A packet of strawberry granola proved pretty good, though I was a bit confused by a weird, synthetic undertone to the powdered milk. I should have mixed the ice cream with the granola for a more natural-tasting milk.

My first big week of work begins tomorrow; I'm back to earning steady money again. And the nice thing about this job is that I can relocate anywhere that there's a speedy internet connection. Tonight, I've got "The Next Iron Chef" to look forward to, but I may be out of the house when the trick-or-treaters come around, because I've prepared zilch for Halloween.


1 comment:

Charles said...

You should have at least set up a tent in the backyard...

And yes, I've also found that military MREs are the best value for the money.