Fossil Springs Wilderness Areanear Strawberry, Arizona. It was my first backpacking trip in over 3 years and David's first civilian trip ever. We had intended to keep the bags light, but, well, you know how that is. Even with essentials only, it's always heavier than you imagine it's going to be. We took the smallest, lightest tent, a one-burner backpack stove, 2 pans (could have just taken 1), 2 light weight sleeping bags and pads, some warm clothes, one deck of Munchkins, a few multi-purpose bandannas and food and water.
The food is always the heaviest stuff since I hate eating crappy food when I'm starving which is always when I'm in the fresh air and sunshine. Trying to keep my raw food diet as much as possible didn't help either! Here's what our menu looked like:
Breakfast in the car: grapes & strawberries and later chips and guacamole (this stuff we ate so it wouldn't go bad in the refrig. - our goal was to eat it ALL before we got to the trailhead, which we did )
Lunch: sandwiches made at home with Provolone cheese, tomatoes, red pepper, onion, cucumber, sprouts, oregano, black olives, and thousand island dressing on long french rolls which we ate immediately upon getting to camp.
Dinner: Fettuccine w/ sun-dried tomatoes, dried onion, fresh garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, basil, pepitas, and Argentinian Parmesan cheese. For dessert, bananas with crushed walnuts, dates, and ginger baked in foil over the campfire.
Breakfast: "nutmeal" (ground nuts mixed with dried fruits and some cinnamon and ginger) for me and oatmeal for David, Java Juice, and my Mexican hot chocolate (cocoa, dried milk, cinnamon, instant coffee and cayenne pepper).
Lunch: Pb&j on rolls, LÄRABARS
Dinner: Caribbean red beans and rice, Argentinian Parmesan cheese chunks, soy cerviche* and chips. For dessert: fresh apples with pistachios, dates, and cinnamon baked over the coals (see image above)
Breakfast & lunch: same as Day 2 plus as many snacks as we could power down...to lose the weight so we didn't have to carry it the 4 miles up the canyon.
1/2 c. TVP (textured vegetable protein) - you can find this at most natural food and ethnic food stores
1/2 c. water or tomato juice
1 medium tomato, chopped (or 4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped)
1 small onion, chopped (or 1 Tbsp. dried chopped onion)
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp. garlic powder, not garlic salt)
juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro (or 1 tsp. dried)
Add the water (or tomato juice) to the tvp and let it sit until the fluid is soaked and the tvp is tender. I'm not exactly sure about the ratio of tvp to water as I usually eyeball it, but I'm erred on the side of less water so that if needed you can add a little more. Just get the tvp tender, but not soaked.
Then add the rest of the ingredients. It's best if you let it sit a little while, but you can also eat it right away with tortilla chips or veggies (celery, cucumber slices, or pepper strips are good).
On our way home, we stopped in Mesa to use our India's Grill coupon that we got a few weeks ago when Restaurant.com was having a 90% off sale. We got $25 gift certificates for $1! The food was excellent! OK, so we were ready to tuck into something hearty after, as David put it "two days of nothing but Pemmican and dirt!" (oh really?). But really, this restaurant is a keeper, especially with the lack of real Indian food in Tucson not counting Saffron, of course).
We started with the soup. I had the spicy tomato and rice while David had the dal which was fabulous! We also had the samosas that came lightly sprinkled with "chat" spice. They were something special! For our entrees, David had the lamb birayani (rice, lamb, raisins, dried apricots, red & green pepper, onions, cashews, and spices while I had my usual paneer tiki makani (homemade cheese cubes in a spicy creamy sauce). The paneer was tender and fresh while the sauce was less tomato-ey than I'm used to, but excellent just the same!
For dessert, we shared a gajar halwa (carrot halva). This was much sweeter than I make mine and after all the other food, it was just too much. The presentation though was beautiful...a lovely mound of ground cooked & sweetened carrots and cashews served with drizzles of chocolate and rosewater sauces. The sauces really intensified the carrot flavor. We left Mesa quite full, happy and eager to return. Anyone up to going this weekend?