Near East Couscous with Mushrooms
I lived in Turkey for a couple years. We would go to the open bazaar every Saturday morning where we would find canvas sacks full of eastern spices, grains, and beans. They also had fresh local/regional vegetables. The place was bustling with people bartering for their goods. It was a treat, for sure. The smell and taste of this recipe is reminiscent of those times. And I added mushrooms, because I like them.
3 tbsp dried onions
2 whole star anise pods
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1/2 diced and dried red bell pepper
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
6-8 dried mushrooms (I like mixed)
½ tsp mushroom powder
1/4 cup chopped dates
1 handfull of dried kale or spinach
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ teaspon turmeric powder
1 cup uncooked couscous
1 cube vegetable bullion
2 tbsp olive oil
Combine all ingredients into one-quart freezer bag.
On the Trail
Bring 1.5 cups of water to a boil (or near boil) and poor into freezer bag. Add 2 TBs olive oil and seal. Blend well by massaging with fingers and then place into an insulated pouch (see tips below) for 10 minutes. Open freezer bag and devour contents. A pita or lavash goes well with this dish.
For garlic powder it’s easy to buy a jar of it at the store. Alternatively, you can chop up a couple heads of garlic, dehydrate it, then grind it to a powder using an inexpensive Mr Coffee Electric Coffee Grinder.
Tumeric has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. It contains curcuminoids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Take a look at your feet after a long trail. Yes, your feet will thank you for the turmeric. It’s also a strong antioxidant. BUT, the body doesn’t absorb it well unless you take it with black pepper, which contains piperine. Piperine will enhance absorption of curcuminoids by crazy amounts… like, 2000%. It’s also fat soluble – so, it helps to consume turmeric with fatty meals.
I like to use an insulated pouch (mentioned above). It allows me to save some fuel because I don’t have to bring my water to a full boil. It also keeps my water hotter for longer, helping extend cooking time. With dehydrated food, sometimes the longer soak time makes for more naturally textured food. A good inexpensive and lightweight pouch is the Big Sky International Insulite pouch. Or search the Internet for some DYI options. Prepare your meal, put it in the pouch, then go set up your tent. By the time your tent is all set up, your meal will be ready. Trail efficiency, baby!
The handful of dried kale or spinach is something I like to do to help put more minerals and vitamins in my trail diet. I use mostly greens from my garden, but picking up some fresh produce at the store and drying it works too. It's easy, cheap, and light... and everyone will think you’re a genius for it.