All Dried Up, by Cristyn.
May 2, 2012 § Leave a Comment
While that title can be interpreted in so many directions (water content in any number of things, emotional state, weather, inappropriate innuendos, etc.) I am really just trying to say that I learned how to dehydrate food. You see, while we may have been absent from the interwebs for the last week (or two…) we have been busy! I swear! Even with a little baking! Okay, a LOT of baking. Like, last week, I made nine dozen cookies for a big camping/climbing trip. Let me repeat that. NINE DOZEN COOKIES. That is 108 individual treats in three different varieties. Do you want to know how long it took us to consume said treats? About 40 hours. Now, while I could regale you with the recipes for these cookies, or about how much of a disaster my kitchen was for about a week, or I could bore you with the details of how amazing the trip was (PRETTY DAMN AMAZING. One might even call it life changing? In fact it pains me to think about the fact that it is now over)… instead, I am going to talk about that new dehydrator I got. I know that it is not baking, but it was a bit of a game changer for me.
It all started with the Clymb… their
amazing cursed sales get me on a semi-regular basis. So when I saw this half off gem entitled Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry, I had to get it. Imagine my surprise when I opened it up and realized that without a dehydrator, I could make maybe 10% of the recipes in it… BUMMER. I toyed with the idea of creating my own contraption á la Alton Brown via a box fan and some air filters, but this seemed unappetizing and like an inordinate amount of work. I also considered just using my oven at a very low temperature…then quickly realized that leaving a gas oven on at a barely perceptible temperature for 10+ hours was a potentially hazardous situation for myself and Mr. Owl. So, I broke down and purchased an electric dehydrator. Then it immediately became my mission to get as much use as possible out of it. GOOD THING WE HAD A TRIP TO PARADISE PLANNED.
So, you might ask, what does one need to make delicious camping/vegan friendly meals? Oh… just a few things.
If this looks overwhelming, it is because it was. I spent 2 days in the kitchen… Okay, not two FULL days, but at least 12 intermittent hours total. It was like a factory in there. In fact, if it weren’t for that pesky little thing called Health Code, I would consider turning my kitchen into a full fledged bakery. Turns out cat hair in your kitchen is frowned upon by the Chicago Sanitation Board. Talk about a real bummer.
Now the basic premise of dehydrating food is as follows:
- Make the meal like normal. (We had Chana Masala, Couscous and Mixed Veggies, and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus).
- Let it cool.
- Spread it out on the dehydrator trays.
- Turn on the dehydrator/glorified fan.
- When it is dry, crumble it up and put it in a bag.
As you may have noticed, there is a lot of waiting involved in dehydrating. But because we are talking like a good 12 hours, you are free to DO things. And it doesn’t really matter if you forget about the fact that you left it on and don’t remember for like a full 18 hours. (Like I may or may not have done). I mean, it can only get so dry. And once you package it, you can store it in a cool, dry place for MONTHS. So, if you are worried about the coming apocalypse, you might want to start making some meals. Or you could just cook all weekend once a month and make food for like a full 30 days. Or you could just do this when you are camping/backpacking to lighten your load. Or you don’t have to ever dehydrate anything at all. I just thought I would let you know what we have been up to.
Now, so I don’t leave you COMPLETELY in the lurch, here is one of the cookies I made (these made up the bulk of the 9 doz).
1/2 C. Canola Oil
1 C. Sugar (plus 1/3 C. for rolling/topping)
1/4 C. Maple Syrup
3 Tbl Soy Milk
2 tsp Vanilla
1 2/3 C. Flour
1/2 C. Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon (plus 1 tsp for rolling/topping)
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Pinch of Salt
Set your oven to 350 °F. Mix the cinnamon and sugar for the topping on a plate and set aside. Mix all the liquid ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients and stir. Grab a tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball and then roll it in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Flatten the ball on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat. Bake for about 10 minutes. Eat in large quantities. I’ve always heard that spicy foods increase your metabolism… and these cookies have a nice spicy kick to them…so you can probably eat like 5 dozen and not feel guilty.