Friday, April 9, 2010

Kayak Camping Food

P. and I had scheduled a little kayak camping excursion for the Easter Holiday weekend. We wanted to paddle over to an area on Masonboro Island on a route we'd been shown once by friends. It led to a more secluded area of the island, and we were pretty stoked about our getaway.

Kayak camping takes a good bit more planning than car camping, but a deal less than backpack camping. You can certainly carry more stuff with you in a couple of kayaks. But space is at a premium. All this plus food and drink had to go into two boats, and still have room for the paddler.

No, not the furniture. We did leave that here.

There is limited room for food, and big coolers are out of the question unless you like capsizing. Thinking about this a while back, I hit upon an idea that makes The Wheel look lame. No coolers, little room for ice - what do you do besides take powerbars and dehydrated food, for which you need water, so that's not really a great trade-off, and oh-so-not-tasty. Well, you come up with the Super Genius (!) Idea of buying a food sealer thingy (technical term), vacuum sealing pre-made GOOD food, and then throwing it in the chest freezer overnight. Wa-La, ladies and gents! I will pause for you to be stunned by my ingenuity.

I know, right!?

Seriously. Don't email me and tell me how it was written up in ten different magazines and you've ALWAYS done this and I'm so late to the party I might as well have shown up in my janitor clothes and cleaned up the mess. Just don't. Allow my my brief moment in the sun, because shortly, this trip is going to deteriorate.

I decided on one-pot meals for our two dinners, so that I could just dump them in the pot to our "boat cool" MSR (not to be confused with MRS.) cook set.
For one night, I made chicken with orichiette and basil, and for the next night, I made a chicken and eggplant curry. I also put together breakfast sandwiches, some pbandj, and turkey sandwiches for lunch. All of this went into the seal-pouches for the vacuum sealer, and we sucked the air out of them and froze the dinners and refrigerated the rest. Next day, packed up and off we went!
P. loved using the vacuum sealer.

(This is where you should start hearing ominous music in your head.)

would you stop following me?!!
We got the boats in the water fine, and were enjoying a gorgeous day of paddling. Then we tried to find the route to the island. (ominous music gets a little louder). Yeah, that didn't go so well. We found the same pissed off great blue heron a few times. (We thought maybe he knew the way.) But we just kept getting choked off in the marsh tantalizingly close to the back side of the island, but too far to slog through weeds and man-eating oysters. (you only think I'm kidding.)
We went North, toward a (very) popular landing and camping spot that everyone and their mother's housecat uses, but hoped to find another path through the marsh to a different area a little further down. No dice. Since we were losing the tide, and we knew from experience the quicksand-like mud flat we'd wind up in, we decided to just bite it and go to the popular landing area. (One of us a little more grudgingly than the other.)

Sure enough, when we got there, two other people had already set up camp and there were probably six kayaks and a couple of other small boats already there. Within an hour of us setting up our camp, another group of kids showed up and pitched camp within spitting distance of ours. For those of you who  don't know me, I am an INTROVERT!!! (including all-caps and exclamation points). I have a cape and everything.  "People I Don't Know" are not a welcome addition to my planned weekend of seclusion and relaxation. I'd like to say I was a good sport about it, but those of you who DO know me would know I was lying. Add to the crowded conditions the fact that it was COLD the first night, and very DAMP (the tent dripped icy water on us all night from the condensation), and the fact that my arm and shoulder were absolutely killing me (I pulled something), and you can maybe understand why I looked like this the second night.

I know. I wasn't even trying, was I? My feet were freezing, and I was waiting for our dinner to heat up.

After I ate, I felt marginally better. Then P. loaned me his socks and became my hero, and I was able to enjoy this a little more.
The sunset silences the whining temporarily.
The second night wasn't as cold, not as damp, and my shoulder was better, so I slept some.
Look what a good night's sleep and scalding hot, strong coffee will do for my attitude! Well, that, and knowing we're going home that day...

I was even able to enjoy the beach and some chill time.

My mother-in-law looked at these and said "where are all the hoards of people Andie was complaining about?" I don't think she believed me. They were over to the left. Obviously, I cut them out. Years from now, I will be able to look at these and maybe forget that there was a tatooed, pot-bellied, crunchy guy with a mullett who was staring at me every time I visited the primitive powder room. You have no idea how much I wish I was kidding.

We got home and it took a month (or, you know, an afternoon - I lost track) to clean the sand off everything and put it away, and I now have a cold. My good friend Mr. Andy Across the Sea told me, "Never underestimate the consequences of cold feet!"

Oh, but this is a food blog, isn't it? I should probably at least mention how my Super Genius Idea went over, shouldn't I? I am pleased to say that it was a smashing success. The first night, the pasta was still frozen, and it simmered over low heat down to a respectable one-pot hot meal in about 15 minutes. The curry was no longer frozen solid by the second night, but it was still very cold, and also reheated well. The sandwiches were good and hadn't gotten soggy. We will definitely use this method again. I just need to come up with new one-pot meals for variety. And pack a pair of warm socks. And yes, we've already looked at the charts and Google Earth and plotted the course we meant to take in the first place for next time.

Next time? Did I just say that?

For a .pdf copy of the recipes and a shopping list, click here. These are repeat recipes from earlier menu posts.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much - now I feel better about an Easter that included two boys jacked up on candy and a painfully long wait for Easter brunch. Sounds like yours turned out much better in the end!


Karen Roberts said...

Thanks for the enjoyable read. I'm going out for the weekend tomorrow! Just figuring out what I want for meals. I didn't see where you are but the picture looks like the eastern shore of virginia. Take Care and paddle safe.

Andie Reid said...

Thank you, Karen! We're actually NC coast in Wilmington. This was on Masonboro Island.