Friday, September 11, 2009

Culinary Canoeing

Every couple of years we do an amazing canoe trip on the Trinity river at the very upper most edge of California. It is a week of sublime wilderness, adventurous rapids and frolicking with such wildlife as black bears, steelhead trout and crayfish the size of my fist. Pure bliss.

In the past food was rustic at mac (mac n cheese with hot dogs), pasta with pre-made sauce, etc. But this year, to my delight, we brought along a group of real foodies and together we made this the most gourmet trip down the Trinity in recorded history.

Though it is possible to pull out and hike to nearby towns to replenish supplies, our first-time canoeing companions took no risk of not finding what they'd like to eat. Large coolers were stuffed to the gills with tri-tip, butcher-made italian sausages, eggs, hash browns, gourmet espresso, and this list goes on and on. Oh, but I can't forget about the SIX pounds of bacon (meaning there was a pound per person to consume on the trip)!!!


Breakfasts consisted of standard eggs, bacon, and so on, which kept us well fueled for the day's rapids. It was dinners, however, that were the real masterpiece, making dishes so good it was hard to believe we were on a river, in the middle of nowhere.

Breakfast of Champions (champion canoers that is)

The first night we cooked up the tri-tip and made the requisite garlic bread and baked beans to accompany it. I had also brought along some of my freshly made oven-dried tomatoes and homemade pesto, so we whipped together a nice pasta salad. Basically, you get the gist - we ate like kings and queens.

The second night we grilled and shredded some chicken breasts and mixed them in with refried beans and pepper jack cheese. We also made some fresh guacamole with the avocados that Kevin and Amy had just picked at home. Wrap all this up in a corn tortilla and it was so good, my mouth is watering now.

Though I could keep describing meals from this trip in great detail, there are two dishes that hold a special place in my heart. One was the birthday brownies we made for Thomas' birthday using my awesome Outback Oven (yes, an oven that you can use on your camp stove and can bake scone, breads, pizza, etc - sooooo great). They were perfectly done and gooey - not burnt on the bottom at all like I feared they might be.

The second is a nice little hors d'oeuvre we made from the fresh trout that Coop caught. It was amazing. We had a little assembly line going where the fish came out of the water, got cleaned, thrown on the pan and fried and finally composed into a very tasty morsel consisting of a wheat thin, a dollop of homemade pesto and a nice little chunk of freshly caught and fried trout.

This is a bite that I would definitely replicate in my own kitchen!

The beautiful (and tasty) bounty!


Easy-Peasy Pesto

3 cups basil
1/2 cup parmasan
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the basil, parmasan and pine nuts in the food processor. Drizzle in the olive oil while processor is running. Add salt and pepper to taste - and you're done! I like to put individual servings of pesto into little sandwich bags and freeze them.

My favorite thing about it is that you can get creative and switch out ingredients to make more imaginative and adventurous flavors. You can replace the basil with arugula, spinach or cilantro and you can replace the pine nuts with pecans or walnuts.

1 comment:

  1. Those tacos on the 2nd night sound really, really good. And this is completely off topic, but I saw this recipe and thought of you. They're reminiscent of sufganiyot, traditional Hanukkah treats. But I thought the cardamom syrup sounded like an Alelia touch.

    One of the chefs on Top Chef did a dish of her vices - donuts, bacon, and a dipping sauce of beer and chocolate. Mmmmmm.