Robert and I are going backpacking in a few weeks so I have been busy planning what we are going to eat during our trip. My main goals are to keep the cost, preparation and weight to a minimum while still having meals that we enjoy. Robert suggested frito pie. For those that don’t know, frito pie is a New Mexican dish that, at its simplest, is a bowl of fritos topped with chili and usually some chopped onions and cheese. Last night, I performed a little frito pie experiment. I was able to stick fairly closely to my normal recipe with a few modifications for wilderness cooking. First, I made a quick roux of flour and oil. I found a tiny bottle of oil at Cost Plus so I figured it wouldn’t be too much trouble to bring that and a tablespoon of flour. Next, I added water and a blend of red chili, cumin, oregano, onion granules, garlic granules and salt. Normally I would use fresh onion and garlic but it’s added weight. I don’t want to have to do any chopping and I really don’t want to smell like onions in the woods. I don’t know if bears are attracted to people that smell like onions but I’m not going to risk it. I will not be bringing a whisk (only a spoon) so I was very happy that I didn’t get lumps when I added the water. In place of tomatoes, I added some tomato paste. Later, though, I read that tomato paste needs to be refrigerated. I’m not going to bring a whole, unopened tube so I think I will either leave it out or use ketchup instead since you can get those small packets of ketchup at fast food restaurants. Ketchup would make it a pretty ghetto frito pie (as if frito pie could get any more ghetto!) After simmering for a few minutes, I added some instant black beans and texturized vegetable protein. These are low in fat, high in protein and extremely lightweight to carry. They also helped to thicken the chili. Overall, it was a success and, if I liked it at home, I know it will taste great in the mountains. Next week I will be performing a tuna noodle experiment!

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