The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.
The WildeBeat edition 104: It's Soup
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A backcountry gourmet makes her first in a series of appearances to cook for us on our show. This week on The WildeBeat: It's Soup.
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News from the Wildebeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.
This is program number one oh four. Made possible by your membership donations.
I'm Steve Sergeant.
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STEVE: A lot of jokes have been made about food on campouts. And you often see people come back into trailhead towns after wilderness trips craving all kinds of foods they can't take with them. Or, they think they can't take with them. But what if you could take your own favorite, home made, gourmet meals into the backcountry. Here's somebody who is an expert on doing just that.
STEVE: I'm talking with Linda Frederick Yaffe. She's the author of several books on backcountry cooking. Her most recent is Solar Cooking for Home and Camp. She's author of the quite well-known and long-available Backpack Gourmet and High Trail Cookery, and another book called The Well Organized Camper. Linda, welcome to the WildeBeat.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: Thank you. Pleasure to be with you.
STEVE: So tell me about the soup that you have in front of us here today.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: This is a wonderful old recipe from my mother, maybe from her mother's bouillabaisse. The main ingredient is fresh fish. You need to find really good fresh fish, and the other main ingredient are fresh tomatoes, and I have huge supply of them in my garden right now, so I thought this would be a good dish to make today.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: What I have in this kitchen, ...I have an excellent gas range. I have a beautiful dehydrator I've been using for about thirty-five years... I love cooking here. This is the place I like to be. It's light. It has all the equipment I need. I've got sharp knives... When I'm camping, it's the end of the day, I'm tired, I have dirt under my fingernails, I haven't had a shower for seven days. The last thing that I feel like doing is cooking. What I want to do is eat, and I want to eat right now... All of the foods that I make at home, preparing for the field, are prepared simply by boiling when I get to camp. So it's from pack to plate in three minutes. If you have a nice hot stove, it's very, very fast. I'm doing the cooking now.
STEVE: Ok, so, how do we make this soup.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: Well, first I think that saffron is a really important ingredient, its what gives this soup it's flavor. So I'm going to steep some saffron threads, half a teaspoon, in a quarter cup of warm water. I'm going to set that aside and let those saffron threads give off their flavor. Meanwhile, I'm going to saute some vegetables; heating a large skillet over medium heat, I'm putting in three teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil when the skillet is warm. After the oil is hot I'm going to add and cook for about eight minutes a large sweet yellow onion. The sweet onion gives it a lot better flavor than a regular onion. After it's cooked -- after the onion has gotten just browned, I'm going to stir-in and cook for about five minutes longer, five cloves of minced garlic, four fresh mushrooms that have been diced fairly finely, one teaspoon of very fresh minced thyme, half a teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and just an eighth of a teaspoon of celery seed.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: Then I'm going to put the onion and saffron mixtures in a big soup pot. I'm going to stir-in three cups of fresh, or you could use canned, diced tomatoes plus the tomato juice. I'm going to put in two pounds of boneless, skinless fish filets. You have a lot of latitude with what kind of fish you use here. Tastes different every time. I going to be sure to cut this fish into half-inch cubes so that it'll dry quickly. I'm going to put in a whole bay leaf, and two cups of stock. I'm going to cover this, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and just let it simmer for about thirty minutes. At that point I'm going to discard the bay leaf, and I'm going to add a little bit of very dry white wine; a quarter of a cup, and a couple of tablespoons of minced, fresh Italian parsley from my garden.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: Now, how do we get from this, rather heavy, large, pot of fresh soup, to this little plastic bag, containing less than four ounces, that has a huge serving of bouillabaisse inside? How we get there, is by dehydrating this food.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: Well I think this soup is about ready to dehydrate. I'm going to turn off the flame here, and I'm going to spread this bouillabaisse in a thin, even layer on my dehydrator tray. I've covered the dehydrator tray with a sheet of plastic, so that this soup won't go through the mesh holes of the dehydrator tray... All of mine are mesh, so I cover the trays with either a sheet of plastic, or a sheet of oven parchment paper. Both of these are designed to withstand heat.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: Now I'm going to put this warm soup into the dehydrator.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: I have the dehydrator set to it's highest setting; one hundred and forty five degrees for this particular dehydrator -- American Harvest. I recommend drying perishable foods at the highest possible temperature. I think that the food is safer and the food quality is higher if you dry it quickly.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: What I like to do while this is dehydrating, about once every one or two hours, I'll scrub my hands with soap and water, just as you would for preparing any food. Let them air dry. So my hands are clean, then I'll just simply open the dehydrator pull out the tray, and shift the food. ...So what I'm going to do is shift particularly those large pieces around. Large chunks of meat or vegetables, so that they'll dry evenly.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: About five or six hours later, this bouillabaisse is going to be very nice and dry.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: And now, I'm going to pull out this dried bouillabaisse, I'm going to check it and it is totally dry. I can't see any moisture. I cannot feel any moisture. I'm picking up the largest pieces of food here and they're just crisp, they're just crumbling in my hand. I'm then going to let this food sit, overnight... The reason for that is, I want it to cool completely before I bag it... Just as you wouldn't put hot food into your refrigerator or freezer, you don't want to bag up dehydrated food until it's completely given up all of its moisture and heat. After this has sat overnight, ...I'm going to put this into little plastic bags.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: I like to double-bag everything. First bag has the food inside of it. The second bag contains the food, and the label. The label is so important... This label says, "Bouillabaisse," and it has the date and it has the numbers of servings inside the bag, and the directions. The directions for this say, "cover with water, one inch above level of food in pot, boil, stir, and serve." That's all you need to know.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: The storage of these is important, for quality. I have found that the best way to store these for preparation for your next trip, is in the refrigerator or in the freezer... Put them in a big black plastic bag, and then put them in the freezer for several years, three or four years. In the refrigerator, about two years. They do last a very long time.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: In camp, ...I'm going to take ...this little, tiny baggie of bouillabaisse, dumping it into my camping pot. I hate to measure when I'm camping, so I don't. I'm just covering this with water, approximately one inch above the level of water in the pot. Now I going to cover it, bring it to a boil, and it'll be ready to serve.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: OK. This has come to a boil. I'm going to turn off the heat, and this is ready to eat... The tomatoes are soft, the fish looks beautiful and fresh. This is exactly like the fresh bouillabaisse.
STEVE: If a person wanted start and pick one of their own favorite recipes, give me some guidelines for what favorite recipe I might want to start with.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: All of us have favorite recipes that will work very well dehydrated for camping. Pasta is excellent... First make a sauce, can be a seafood, beef, vegetarian, whatever you like best. Set the sauce aside, boil water, make your pasta. Just cook it al dente, drain it. Toss the warm pasta with the warm sauce, spread it on dehydrator trays and dry it until that pasta is pliable and the sauce is completely dry and crumbly. Bag it and enjoy it on the trail. To re-hydrate, all you need to do is barely cover the food in the pot with water, bring it to a boil, and serve.
STEVE: Can you go over some things that they probably shouldn't try, that probably wouldn't work for them? Things to avoid?
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: Yes. I would avoid high-fat foods, and these days most of us don't want to eat too many high-fat foods anyway. The reason is that fat does not dehydrate well.
STEVE: Linda Frederick Yaffe is the author of several books on backcountry cooking, including the Backpack Gourmet, and her newest, Solar Cooking for Home and Camp. Linda, thank you for appearing on the show.
LINDA FREDERICK YAFFE: Thank you. My pleasure.
STEVE: We'll hear more from Linda Frederick Yaffe in a future program.
STEVE: What food do you like best in the backcountry? What food do you wish you could take? Do you have comments about or suggestions for our show? You can call our toll free comment line at 866-590-7373. You can find a link to Linda's recipe, pictures from her kitchen, and a high-quality extended version of this show, on our web site. Wildebeat members can hear a bonus interview segment with Linda Frederick Yaffe on our WildeBeat Insider's web site.
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This has been The WildeBeat, program number one oh four. Thank you for listening.
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Next time -- A thanks and tribute.