Food for climbing

Paella, clean-air chili, zucchini, blueberries, apples, a pear and five bananas. My food dehydrator is in full swing again! My first experiments with it kept me well fed on my Desolation Wilderness trip. I have Shasta, Rainier, and Nine days of peak climbing near Mather Pass coming up. To de- stress my packing, unpacking, and cleaning schedule, I decided to go ahead and get the food for these three trips ready to go.

The clean-air chili was an accidental invention. I had only one can of kidney beans in my pantry, but needed more. There was a half package of red lentils where the kidney beans should have been. I took this as a sign to experiment, and threw the lentils in the mix. I liked the outcome very much, which should probably not been a surprise given how much I like lentils in general. so, I have now replaced 100% of beans by lentils. Using the smaller legumes has the added advantage of dehydrating and dehydrating faster.

Yesterday, having Paella for dinner, I decided to give that dish a try in the dehydrator as well. I removed the mussels though, because I was not so sure about how well they would hold up. The shrimp, cut up in pea-sized pieces, stayed in. Dried shrimp is a common good in Asian markets, and therefore I figured it to be ok.

Incidentally, I was making a batch of my fast and easy summer zucchini soup as well. Cut up zucchini, sautee until done, blend in food processor, add milk or soy milk until you reach desired consistency. Use plenty of white pepper to season (it needs to have a slightly peppery taste). Before I added the milk, I took some of the zucchini puree to dry. I will mix it with couscous for another dinner dish. It may work as breakfast as well.

Blueberries are my favorite dried fruit snacks. I bought some at the farmer’s market today. After washing them, I blanched them fipor 30 seconds in boiling water to crack the skins for drying. Two apples that had spent a week in my office dehydrating in computer exhaust also made their way onto another sheet. A pear happened to lie around and got chopped up as well. There were some bananas around that had gotten just at the edge of being overripe; that’s when they are best for smoothies. Too many smoothies, so an attempt at banana chips was justified.

So far, I really enjoy making the switch from store-bought dehydrated packages to homemade. With a bit of planning, it is not much extra work. I use my weekend time to make and freeze lunches for work anyway. Before a climbing trip, I just pay more attention that a portion of it is appropriate forthe dehydrator. For now, I still use about 50% store-bought food, mainly because I want to have a fallback in case my experiments don’t work out. So far, so good!

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