Saturday, May 12, 2007

Book Review: Lip Smackin' Vegetarian Backpackin'

Full Title: Lipsmackin' Vegetarian Backpackin': Lightweight Trail-tested Vegetarian Recipes for Backcountry Trips
Author: Christine and Tim Conners

This book is the sequel to the top-selling Lipsmackin' Backpackin': Lightweight Trail-tested Recipes for Backcountry Trips, which I'll have to get Ian to write a review for as I'm a tree-hugging vegetarian.

The book begins with an introduction to using the book, and a primer on dehydrator use. The next chapters are divided into recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, breads, snacks & desserts, and drinks. With more than 150 recipes, it helps to spend some time reading through them all and place some post-it notes on recipes that catch your eye.

When I first started using this book, my choices were fairly limited as I didn't have a dehydrator. I was still able to make quite a few meals, but probably less than 1/3 of the book. While some of the dehydrator recipes are quite fantastic, I would suggest trying some of the non-dehydrator recipes before you make a purchase. I eventually did buy one, and eventually plan to write a dehydrating guide.

OK, let's eat!

The most important advice I can offer with this book is to TRY the recipes first, either at home or on a weekend hike. Not heeding this advice, Ian and I had to dip into our extra rations after burying a batch of Green Dragon Pad Thai. Needless to say, if a recipe calls for lime Kool-Aid: skip it and try the next one.

Speaking of the next one, my absolute favorite recipe in this book has to be Ez-Ed's Burritos, page 92. As with most of the recipes, I had to adapt them to my taste, and to what products were available in my area. At the bottom of this review is Ez Matt's version of Ez Ed's Burritos. (Props to Ed Molash for the original recipe.) Some of my other favorites include Black Mountain Potatoes (page 97), Cheese Coins (which are so good they will become trail currency - page 56), and Fuji Feast (page 88).

Overall, I have now added about 10 recipes to my regular list of backpacking food. A lot of the recipes are for drinks and desserts, which are luxuries I normally don't find necessary for a truely lightweight backpacking experience. There are also a fair number of trailmix recipes, which I found inspired me to try some different combinations in my usual GORP - especially dehydring my own strawberries!

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys cooking, and is adventurous with their flavour combinations. If you are kitchen-impaired, or happy with ramen noodles, it might not be such a good purchase. The binding on the book leaves something to be desired, as it doesn't lay flat. Recipe book publishers who don't twin-loop or spiral bind their books need to spend more time in the kitchen and less in the print shop. That aside, it is still the book I reach for when beginning to prepare a meal plan for an upcoming hike.

Ez Matt's Tent-Warming Burritos

1 cup Uncle Ben's instant rice
2 packages (cup of soup style) Nile Spice Black Bean Soup
2 packages (cup of soup style) Nile Spice Sweet Corn Chowder
1/4 cup dried chopped onions
3 tablespoons textured vegetable protein
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried seaweed flakes/crumbled nori
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon tomato cheese sauce mix
1 teaspoon dried chili peppers

Mix all ingredients together and divide evenly into 4 ziplock freezer bags. On the trail, add 1.5 cups of boiling water to the bag (caution: read the book's primer on using Ziploc bags with hot water!), wrap the bag in a towel and knead for a minute. Leave wrapped, and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes with an occasional kneading. Try a small amount to make sure the rice is soft, then squeeze onto 2 tortillas and roll. Add fast-food hot sauce packets if you have them, or dehydrate some salsa.


Rebi said...

Super-yummy! These burritos are one of my favourite backpacking foods as well. In fact, they've even made it into our repertoire of car camping and wintertime power outage meals.

BRENDON said...

Didn't know about this book until I saw it on your sight. Nice. Thanks for reviewing it. My wife and I were backpacking on Santa Cruz Island this past weekend and pondered, "Could we make our own dehydrated food for camping?" Perfect timing!

Sarah said...

Hi Matt,

I saw the link to your blog over on TLB.

The reason why books don't get a spiral binding is becuase of being put on book shelves on stores-you can't read the side. So the big book publishers don't offer that.

When we brought our trail cookbook out, we offered it in spiral binding as well as in the "normal" binding-and yep, that version has sold well since then!


Kartimel said...

I really wanted to make these for our trip this weekend but have no idea what 'tomato cheese sauce mix' is. Can you shed some light on this.
It looks like a great recipe!

Matt said...

I think I used a Knorr powdered mix, but really any cheese sauce powder would do. It's often in the bulk bins, or in with the soup powders. If you're just going for a weekend, real cheese would work well too!