Dorcas Miller’s book “Backcountry Cooking: From Pack to Plate in 10 Minutes” doesn’t have full-page, mouth-watering food photos, but it does have an immense amount of practical, vetted, and diverse information, wisdom, and recipes for all backcountry adventurers.
In the Introduction, Miller asks a question that sets the foundation for the entire book: “What kind of cook are you?” She offers three classifications of “an ascetic, a pragmatist, or a gourmand.” Each chapter and recipe takes all three approaches into consideration, and every dish can be adapted for home, picnic, and weekend campground outings.
The first thing that I learned from this book is how many quality foods you can get in powdered form. Sure, I knew about powdered dairy products, and dry packets of gravies, sauces, and hot drinks. Orange powder, coconut cream powder, and powdered vegetable shortening were new and fascinating discoveries. Miller deftly incorporates these, as well as freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, into the recipes, alongside canned and fresh ingredients. There are even whole sections on how to dehydrate your own foods, and substitutions for alternating fresh and dry ingredients in your meals.
Miller’s voice, style, and approach are relatable, simple, and functional. Each chapter opens with a rich quote from an outdoor living, camping, or backpacking book. The pages are peppered with “Hot Tips” of backcountry trends, challenges, trail tips, and fun stories from “trail-wise cooks” and “trail denizens.” The layout makes it easy to flip back through and find memorable tidbits. And the recipes provide information to help you pre-prep, track your caloric intake, and gauge your pack food weight.
We all have our own trail styles, tricks, and foods that are unique to us, and this book can help you adapt the foods you love for all your outdoor adventures. //
[Feature photo: Shallan Knowles]