Home Cooking: Take a hike and pack a lunch
When I was 10, my father dropped me and my brother off at Boca Inlet to spend the day at the beach. We’d entertain ourselves by jumping in the inlet and letting the current carry us to the other side before we were carried out to sea. On overcast days, when the sea was too rough for swimming, we’d run through stands of towering Australian pines that hid the beach from the ocean road. I’d pretend I was in Scotland in search of a castle. No, I don’t know why.
The culinary highlight of these afternoons was a brown paper grocery bag filled with our lunch. It was all store bought, but oh how I loved the cold fried chicken and tart lemonade. I honestly have no memory of what the rest of the bag contained.
Since those days, I’ve gone on a few day hikes and packed my lunch with mixed results. Let’s face it, granola bars, trail mix and cold pasta salad may be healthy, and lightweight, but they always left me wishing for a real meal when the hike was over.
So, here’s my menu: You can make and pack it the night before, it’s refreshing, portable and best of all, as memorable as the scenery. Here’s the benchmark, I still remember the cold fried chicken after 40 years, that’s memorable and that’s what we should shoot for.
Cool and Spicy Gazpacho
Make this gazpacho the night before so it will be well chilled before you leave for your hike. Take it along in a thermos to keep it chilled. It will be a refreshing drink when you’re hot and tired. Making the soup is incredibly easy.
Ingredients and directions:
• 3 cups V-8 Juice or tomato juice
• 1 cup each assorted diced vegetables (handful of each: green peppers, garlic, radishes, onion, tomatoes, cilantro or parsley) toss into the bowl of a food processor. Pour V-8 juice over the chopped veggies. Begin to layer the flavors with your choice of white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, perhaps a splash of hot sauce, then a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a healthy pinch of kosher salt. Keep adjusting the flavors until you reach the acidity that you desire. Pulse the food processor three to four times to incorporate the vegetables into the tomato juice.
• Chill well for several hours to let the flavors combine.
When I was thinking of what sort of sandwich I’d like to find in my lunch box, I considered a salami and cheese mufaletta, which is delicious but can turn into a soggy mess. And then I imagined a cold meatloaf sandwich, served between two thick slices of buttered bread. That’s what I want when I’m sitting on a shaded boulder, next to a babbling stream, enjoying a view of the mountains. (Do you get the feeling my lunch breaks last longer than my hikes?)
Enjoy this meatloaf for dinner the night before but save a few slices for tomorrow’s sandwich.
1 lb. of ground turkey or ground beef
1 lb. of ground pork sausage
1/2 cup oatmeal or breadcrumbs
1/2 – 1 bell pepper (red, green, or orange) diced
1/2 medium onion diced
1 cup frozen chopped broccoli thawed and diced
1 cup diced carrots
Season to taste with: garlic powder, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning
Sauté the vegetables lightly until just softened. Then let cool.
Combine turkey or beef, pork, oatmeal and egg. Mix together gently.
Fold in the sautéed vegetables.
Form into a loaf, place in baking dish. Drape a couple pieces of bacon, slather with BBQ sauce.
Bake at 375 for one hour.
Easy-Peasy Hummus with Veggies
Make the night before so the flavors can marry.
1 – 14 ounce of chick peas
1 large spoonful of tahini
Juice of ½ lemon
Season to taste: garlic powder, salt, pepper
Throw everything into a food processor, turn on to process, drizzle in olive oil until the hummas becomes smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with slices of your favorite veggies.
Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
There’s nothing wrong with trail mix. But wouldn’t you rather have chocolate chip cookies?
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
11 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup walnuts (optional)
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Allow the batter to chill in the fridge for two hours up to 24 hours. Preheat the oven to 325F. Add the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet in rounded tablespoons. Lightly flatten with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden (these will not get dark brown like traditional chocolate chip cookies.). Allow to cool.
There you have it! A delightful menu for a day hike in the mountains or a picnic by a lake. We have plenty of both in Summit County, so get out there and enjoy the day!
Suzanne Anderson lives in Breckenridge.
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