Wednesday, April 1, 2015

TRAIL MEALS: Spam and Cheesy Noodles

Today, I went to a different grocery store than I did two days ago, to see what different offerings they might have, that would make good trailfood. I happened upon a packeted slice of spam, a Spam Single, as it was called. The prospect of a non-fish meat in one of those packets was pretty appealing, so I snatched it up, and a bag of cheesy noodles to combine it with. Now, the directions for the noodles called for powdered milk and margarine, but lugging those out into the wild is impractical, and going without them sounded like a recipe for a disappointing "cheese" aspect to the noodles. But, this was not insurmountable. Picked up some powdered milk and olive oil, to use in place of the milk and margarine. I didn't measure them, I just eyeballed it, sprinkling in a small amount of the milk powder, and a couple small pours of the oil. Figured that on the trail, I wouldn't be likely to be very scientific about it.

I used yet another camp stove from my collection for today's meal, a green two-burner Coleman camp stove (suitable for car camping) that I inherited from my grandfather, and near-identical to the one I always borrowed from my father over the years. I used this, because I knew that cooking the noodles would be fuel-intensive, and I was right. I would not want to cook one of the pasta sides on a pocket stove, it would rip straight through your fuel stores like a swarm of piranha. There IS however a backpacking version of this manner of stove, Coleman's peak line. Twenty years ago it passed for "ultralight" but today even my BioLite beats it for weight. Still, since these Coleman stoves can take gasoline or lantern fuel(white gas) it means you're unlikely to be unable to resupply on fuel in town. Years of use tell me that a full tank will burn for quite a long time. If you've got a large group to cook for, and people to distribute your load with, I could see justifying bringing a stove like that.

It took a good long time for the noodles to soften, and I used the pot lid to chop the spam up and pan-side-up hold it above the water, heating it while the noodles cooked. It took a lot of babysitting, stirring the noodles to keep them from fusing to the floor of the pot. Even after a long time boiling, and a few minutes to set, it was still a little liquidy. Tasty though! Stirred the spam into the noodles and chowed down. Very tasty, almost worth the amount of babysitting and fuel it consumed to produce it. I would definitely eat this on the trail, but for next time, I'm going to try and find some cheesy rice instead. It's likely that would cook a lot faster and take less fuel and effort.

Bottom Line, Would I recommend this? Yeah, but not if fuel's going to be scarce. It was tasty, I'd eat it again, but I'd be worried about my canister stove having enough life if all my meals took that much cooking. It also means more work cleaning up, the rice meal was a lot more pot-friendly than the noodles were.

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