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Vegan & Vegetarian Trail Cookbook

backcountry cooking   

How it All Started
An author's dream becomes reality

©Outdoor Adventure Canada

I knew from the time I was a young girl that I would one day write a book. I never expected that it would be two books on cooking for wilderness trips, nor could I have fathomed that it would change my life.

My books started as the mere spark of an idea on a wilderness canoe trip with a lady named Christine. She had written a few books on cooking for backpackers and the two of us discussed food quite a bit on that trip. More than once, she said that I should write a cookbook. After we returned home, she kept encouraging me to approach a publisher. So, I wrote the coursework for a wilderness cooking class, and started teaching that online, hoping that she would give up on the idea of my writing a cookbook. She didn't. Some time passed and I decided that maybe I should write a book after all and I wrote the proposal to submit to publishers. That's as far as I got. Why? Simply, I chickened out. My desire to write was overshadowed by an inane fear of rejection.

Admittedly, getting to the point of being published wasn't exactly my decision but one that fell into place by a small series of events. Fate? Maybe. I would never have had the courage to submit that proposal had it not been for a lady named Roslyn. I was chatting about dehydrating trail food in an online hiking discussion forum that I had just joined. Roslyn emailed me directly to ask if I had thought about writing a cookbook and said that she figured I had to be well versed in the subject because of my little cooking course and the fact that I seemed to really know my way around a food dehydrator. Roslyn was the Publishing Manager at Wilderness Press and I told her I wasn't interested.

Yes, you read that right. I turned down a very well respected publisher who had just offered to make my dream of being a writer a reality—without the risk of rejection. And I said no. Don't ask what I was thinking because I'm not exactly sure. I had closed the door an opportunity that had come knocking. I regretted it in that smack-on-the-forehead kind of way. I came to my senses and a few months later I submitted my proposal to Roslyn. Two years later, in early 2008, A Fork in the Trail became a reality and hit the bookstore shelves.

The book wasn't out a month when I asked Roslyn if I could submit a second proposal, this one for a vegan and vegetarian sequel to the first book. She told me that we would have to wait to see how the first book did and only then we could talk about a second book. Seriously? I had to wait? But I wanted to write. I was going through some sort of post-writing funk that left me feeling a little lost. So, I started to work on some recipes, just in case. I had a passion for this that was seeming a little hard to quench.

A Fork in the Trail was doing well since its release earlier in the year and on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, I got the word that Wilderness Press would be interested in publishing the second title with me. How fitting that I was standing in Algonquin Provincial Park, next to a campfire, when the email came across my new BlackBerry. I was so excited... much like a youngster on Christmas Eve.

After some discussion, Roslyn and I decided that it shouldn't just be vegan and vegetarian but that the needs of the gluten-free backpackers and paddlers should be addressed. It would be a first in a backcountry cookbook. It would be a challenge and one that I took head on.

Another Fork in the Trail took much longer to complete than I had anticipated, not because of the complexity of the subject matter, but because my life got in the way. Life certainly has a way of doing that when you least expect it, but with hard work and determination, I made it through.

Now here we are here in 2011 and my second book was just released in the Spring. Both of my books are published by Wilderness Press (Keen Communication) in the USA and by Touchwood Editions (Heritage House) in Canada.

I don't know if it was a matter of luck or destiny, or merely Roslyn's faith in my abilities, that brought me here, but writing has changed my life. It has given me a confidence I never knew I had, it has given me the opportunity to meet some amazing people, to learn about their adventures, and in turn I've been able to share my passion for great wilderness meals. For more information please visit the website for A Fork in the Trail.

Speaking of sharing… here are a few recipes that will appear in Another Fork in the Trail this spring.

Carrot Cake Quinoa Flakes
© 2010 Laurie Ann March

Dehydration Time: 5-7 hours
Makes 2 servings

This hot cereal recipe has the comforting flavor of carrot cake and the gentle flavor of green tea combined with the protein-packed nutrition of quinoa flakes. If you like, you can substitute oats for the quinoa, however, if you lead a gluten-free lifestyle ensure that the oats are packaged in a gluten-free facility. I usually rehydrate the carrots and raisins while I have my first cup of tea.

3 tablespoons carrots, dehydrated measurement
2 teaspoons gunpowder green tea, ground measurement
2/3 cup quinoa flakes
2 to 3 tablespoons powdered soy milk
2 tablespoons sultana raisins
2 teaspoons maple or brown sugar to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon shredded sweetened coconut (optional)
1 1/2 to 2 cups water

At Home
Grate a carrot on the fine side of a box grater and dry on lined dehydrator trays for 5 to 7 hours or until dry and leathery. Grind the green tea to a fine powder in a spice grinder. Place the quinoa flakes in a medium ziplock freezer bag with the green tea and soy milk powder. Put the raisins and dried carrots in a ziplock freezer bag and place that bag in with the quinoa flakes. Mix the spices and sugar together and wrap in a small piece of plastic wrap. Then do the same with the nuts, and coconut if you are using them. Put the bundles in the bag with the quinoa flakes.

At Camp
Remove the bundles from the bag of quinoa flakes and set aside. Add enough boiling water to the carrots and raisins to barely cover them and let rehydrate for 10 to 15 minutes. When the carrots have rehydrated, boil 1 1/2 to 2 cups of water depending on the desired consistency. Add the quinoa flakes, spice and sugar mixture, carrots and the raisins to the pot, cover, and let sit for about 2 minutes. Stir in the nuts and coconut if you are using them. Divide into 2 servings.

I like to grate several carrots when making this recipe. That way I have extra for this, soup and trail salads.

If you don't have a spice grinder just use an inexpensive coffee grinder and dedicate it to grinding spices.

To save time in the morning, start rehydrating the carrots and raisins the night before using cool water and a leak proof container.

Date, Pecan, Blueberry, and Ginger Bars
© 2010 Laurie Ann March

Makes 8 to 10 bars

The first time I made date bars was when I was a young girl taking a 4-H outdoor living course. As an adult, I wanted to add a little something to the recipe and I've always loved candied ginger. It gives these a nice bite, which livens the tastebuds.

1 cup dates such as medjool or honey dates
3/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/8 cup candied ginger, chopped

At Home
Pulse the dates in a food processor until you have a thick paste. Toast the pecans, if desired, in a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat just until they start to become fragrant. Be careful that you do not burn them. Add to the dates and pulse to chop the nuts. Remove the container from the food processor and take out the blade. Stir in the dried blueberries and candied ginger. Line a square baking pan with plastic wrap and press the mixture firmly into the pan. Refrigerate for an hour and then turn out onto a cutting board. Remove the wrap and cut into 8 to 10 bars. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap and reshape by pressing each side on a flat surface if desired.

Wipe your knife with a hot water soaked paper towel between cuts to prevent it from sticking. You can reuse the piece of wrap you lined the pan with to wrap your bars.

Written by Laurie March

masthead photo courtesy
Laurie March




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