Loc: Illinois(I just live here)
Ok this time there really are two questions, here they are, really! Chicken or tuna? and rice or couscous? Here's the details. Since tuna comes in single serving packages as opposed to chicken which comes in 2 serving foil packs, Can tuna be substituted for chicken in most any meal? Yes I know personal preference and all. Second since couscous is supposed to be higher in protein, than rice can it be substituted for rice? and what's the ratio? 1 cup instant rice turns into ?? cups couscous? Ok that's it for now. I probably shouldn't blast off an email as I'm heading off to sleep but good night folks!
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Couscous is actually a form of pasta. I use whole-wheat couscous which has a lot more nutrition. It cooks almost instantly, which gives it a great advantage. It's also very compact, unlike noodles. While spaghetti made with couscous looks a bit odd (no slurping of noodles!), it tastes the same. However, when going out with family I have to avoid couscous because of wheat allergy. For serving sizes, check the package.
For rice you can use "Minute" and similar instant rice brands or you can cook regular rice (I use brown rice) and then dehydrate it. IMHO, the latter tastes a lot better, and you can add flavor by cooking it in beef, chicken or vegetable broth. I also dehydrate cooked quinoa (excellent protein source) the same way. Both reconstitute well with boiling water and 15 minutes inside a cozy to keep it warm (saves on fuel).
You can dehydrate canned chicken (if chicken isn't pressure cooked, it turns into chicken jerky when dehydrated) or hamburger. Check out TrailCooking.com for how to do this. TVP (textured vegetable protein) is an excellent protein source that picks up the taste of whatever you cook it with (by itself it is rather tasteless).
Be sure to try out all your meals at home, first! The one time I didn't, I was really sorry! It was a home-dehydrated chicken casserole with peas. I cooked and cooked the thing, but even after 20 minutes the peas were still the consistency of buckshot, while the rest of the meal was more like glue!
And you need variety! Vary the meat, the starch, the veggies and the seasonings. Otherwise you'll be sick and tired of your food by the second or third day out!
Edited by OregonMouse (07/24/1303:26 AM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Salmon also comes in the single-serving pouches, like tuna, and provides a bit of variety. (I like a pouch of salmon with some rice, with a bit of lemon-pepper seasoning, topped with shredded parmesan cheese.) I've also seen turkey in pouches (but not recently), and I can't remember whether it was single or double servings. I've also used the really small cans (cat-food size, or slightly smaller) of chicken and shrimp; the cans aren't prohibitively heavy, no opener is needed (pull-tab tops) and again, the variety may be worth it.
My own preference is rice, but I also like cous-cous. I haven't used it in a long time, but I've also used ramen noodles as a base, just for a bit different texture. Instant potatoes are another option I've seen used, though I don't use it myself (don't like potatoes enought that I miss them on the trail.) My son used to like mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, and chicken prepared as a "pot pie" of sorts.
I've found that nutrition ("instant" v. "non-instant" rice, added vegetables, etc.) and variety of flavors or textures really only matters on trips longer than 2 or 3 nights. On a weeklong trip, you can solve some of that by taking one freeze-dried meal (maybe with beef?) But for long weekends, I don't worry about it a whole lot, and sometimes even have the same thing two nights in a row. (After all, I often eat the prior night's leftovers for supper at home.)
I dehydrate stuff. Go to Trader Joes and get a few Indian ready to eat dishes, make a pot of rice - dehydrate them separately then rehydrate in camp... make a dish, dehydrate it... I've dehydrated tuna casserole and seen the broccoli rehydrate perfectly. I will dehydrate a can of chili. Dehydrate a can of chicken so it'll be ready to add to whatever. Dehydrate your favorite refried beans or hummus. I've dehydrated lots of things - as long as it can be spread thin on a piece of parchment paper, any soup or casserole or side dish or main dish can go in. Plenty of variety that way - tons more variety than spending all your money on foil packets of preservatives, spices and that tiny bit of food they include in Mountain House....
Some things you wouldn't want to leave for years - I have a spot for the dehydrator where it sits all the time. Any dish with meat I use within 2-3 weeks of dehydrating it. Sometimes the dish comes out like bark, not quite totally dry, but that's okay if you use it promptly.
I'm waiting for some nectarines I bought to ripen so I can dehydrate them.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki