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Very Dry Food? New Housing; Camino Preps; Canine Art Treasures; A Woman’s Number One Weapon?

One of the best parts of backpacking is enjoying a hot meal at the end of the day. In the past, I had always carried commercial freeze-dried foods by Mountain House and other companies. But in contemplating months-long hikes on the Appalachian Trail in a year or two, I thought, “Hey, I can dry my own food with a dehydrator, saving bongo bucks, and eat exactly what I like.” So I ordered a Nesco food dehydrator and jerky maker and started slicing and dicing… the dehydrator comes with four trays (although you can easily expand to eight, but since My Lovely Bride won’t be making long backcountry treks with me, four is plenty). Here is Your Faithful Correspondent loading up the machine with trays of onions, carrots and chickpeas…

I also did a batch of zucchini, which resulted in tasty zuch-chips seasoned with celery salt and Italian seasoning. It is amazing how much veggies shrink when you dehydrate them, as you can see by these before and after photos.

Re-hydrating is supposed to restore them to 80% of their original size, but the chips you see here are eaten just as they are, like potato chips. The process takes a long time, 6-24 hours, depending on what you’re drying.

Even more dramatic was what happens to tomatoes… here I am cutting up, after blanching (the very first time I’ve ever blanched, I’ll have you know!) six (yes, SIX!) Roma tomatoes.

And here is the result after 8 hours of dehydration… a small bag (less than 3/4 ounce) of dry red stuff that would fit into one snack-size Zip-Loc bag (but all I had was the quart size).  And I always wondered why sun-dried tomatoes were so expensive!

We were having breakfast the other day, and I was in the midst of all this food prep. My Lovely Bride looked over and asked in a deadpan manner, “Well, Ty, what are you going to do today? Sit around and watch food dry?” She is such a card.  Oh, and I almost forgot… as frequent readers will recall, I HATE quinoa and kale. Well, MLB was giving me a hard time about only dehydrating veggies, saying, “Ty, are you becoming a vegan or something?” “No, My Darling, and I’ll prove that tomorrow, because then I’ll be making beef jerky, a Real Man’s Snack!” More on that treat in my next blog…

In preparation for a solo backpacking trip in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona at the end of the month, I decided to get a lighter tent. My old one is a two-man tent that weighs 5 lbs; my new “ultra-light” one-man tent weighs just under 3 lbs. and has much less floor space and headroom (surprisingly enough) than its predecessor. 

Rudy and Gretchen decided they wanted to try out the tent, but alas, they aren’t going on the trip with me; their legs are just too short, and Rudy has to stop and sniff every five feet, making hiking progress way too slow. 

You can see in the first photo that most of the tent’s upper is mesh (to keep bugs out and for ventilation), but there is a waterproof rain fly that fits over the tent to keep out rain, snow, mice, mosquitoes, snakes, tarantulas and bears… it’s about as thick as heavy Saran wrap, so I’m hoping it’s not tested by that last animal.

On the subject of hiking, Suzanne and I are still training (and will be until September) for our 500 mile long trek on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, but we won’t be carrying tent, stove or food on that trip. Hostels for pilgrims exist in almost every village and town along the Camino, which allows you to carry much lighter packs (15 lbs for MLB, 20 for me). Our most recent hike was almost 16 miles, from our house out to Las Tapas Spanish restaurant in Brownwood and back. Of course, we had to have lunch there… also in preparation for adjusting our taste buds to more dishes with garlic and olive oil. Special Thanks go out to Rosalie Terman for her recommended reading for that trip.

We were happy to have Suzanne’s Lovely Mom Ruthie and our good friend and neighbor Reve Norman over for my world famous Chicken Marsala recently. Reve is from Louisiana and is an amazing cook who supplies us with gumbo and handmade cheese crackers on a regular basis. 

I would also like to thank Deb Donley for her unique gifts of hand painted portraits of Rudy and Gretchen, beautifully done on sandstone. We met Deb out in Colorado where she lives and works. See her web site at for ordering portraits of your favorite pet or that of a friend. 

Finally, I learned a new term today. I had mentioned to Suzanne that I was doing the blog and might mention a fashion malfunction that she had suffered recently. She responded in a surprisingly threatening manner, “Ty, you bring that up in the blog and you’ll find out about a Woman’s Number One Weapon!” (I can’t believe she said that!!!)

1 Comment

  • Anonymous
    Posted January 13, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I hope you will report whether making up your own dried mixture of food was worth the time and effort. When I tried to reconstitute my dried foods they took a long time and were rubbery. Tell us which foods were more successful. Thanks and Happy Trails!


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