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Lipsmacking Backpacking

8 9 Wherever you go, whoever you are, whatever you eat, there are really only five ways of cooking cooking with water, frying, pressure cooking, oven cooking, and using radiant heat barbecuing and grilling. As a backpacker, unless youre training for some weightlifting championships, youre not going to carry a pressure cooker and that oven is going nowhere. Lipsmacking Backpacking is about cooking with water, barbecuing and frying. Cooking with water simply means steaming or putting ingredients into heated water maybe containing salt or other aromatic ingredients. When you boil something to excess it goes soggy and mushy because it has absorbed too much water. You need to get the right amount of water into your ingredient, and its not difficult if you know the secret the time to cook properly varies according to an ingredients size, tenderness and texture as well as the weather, the ferocity of your heatsource and the thickness of your pan. In short, it always depends. The best way to know when something is done is to follow the rough cookingtime estimates I provide, then stick a knife in to see how soft it is, or taste a bit. As some of the cooking water is absorbed by what you put in the pot, if the water has a flavour, the ingredients take on that flavour we all know that cooking pasta in salted water gives you salted pasta. Make the most of whatever herbs, spices or flavourings are available. Really, your imagination is the limit. Think of a taste or aroma you like, add some to your pot, boil up your food and hey presto, the food now has a hint of that flavour. Barbecuing is my second backpacking technique. The heat from the charcoal or wood penetrates the food directly and cooks it. The only thing that can go wrong is that you can over or undercook your food. You cant control the temperature of the fire itself, but you can control how close you put the ingredient to the heat. The closer it is, the hotter it gets. The point is to get the heat to penetrate the ingredient evenly and thoroughly. For small things like kebabs this means you need to move them around, but for larger, thicker foods, like meat or fish steaks, you just need to turn them over a few times. Always check that meat and fish are cooked all the way through unless you want it rare and youre sure of the quality of the meat. Just as the water will flavour the things you boil, so the smoke from what you burn will flavour what you barbecue. Add anything you fancy to your fire herbs, spices, leaves from fruit trees whatever is to hand apart from old tyres or plastic bags. Frying involves putting oil, butter, lard or fat from meat into a hot pot, or onto your ingredient, and then putting the ingredient in the pot. Because the heat is so great, and the oil is transmitting it to the ingredient, frying cooks things quickly whether a vegetable or fish dusted with flour, a pattie or steak. Often frying is just the start of the cooking process. You might fry onions, garlic, spices and meat then add water and softer vegetables to make a stew. Oil can be a bit of a nuisance to carry around with you as it manages to find its way into clothes and towels etc. Even marge in a tub will get slippy if the weathers hot. Its best to wrap them in a plastic bag and then wrap that in an old Tshirt or something and keep them, if you can, in a separate part of your backpack. a quick guide
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