Archive

June 2024

Backcountry Gourmet — Favorite Recipes from Our Field Staff

By Liz Shirley June 26, 2024

Wilderness Cooking

Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) we like to take backcountry cooking to the next level, and that means teaching students how to prepare gourmet meals while on backcountry expeditions.

Whether it’s starting your day with a hearty breakfast, making a quick lunch wrap on the run, or preparing a veggie-filled dinner at the end of a long day hike, climb, or paddle, this post includes three backcountry recipes that might inspire you for the meals you’ll prepare and enjoy on your next adventure.

Backcountry cooking, making sandwiches on tables next to a river & gorge

Cooking in the backcountry doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor or nutrition. In fact, with a little planning and creativity you can enjoy delicious, nutritious, and satisfying meals that fuel your human-powered outdoor activities. Our field instructors have crafted these recipes to be both easy to prepare and incredibly tasty, ensuring that your time in the backcountry is complemented by great food.

Heard, Chef! When you’re in the wild, having a variety of meals that are quick and simple to prepare can make a big difference in your attitude and overall experience. The three recipes below are designed to maximize flavor while minimizing cooking time and cleanup, allowing you to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors.

At NCOAE, we believe that good food is an essential part — in fact, a highlight — of any outdoor adventure. Not only does it provide the energy needed for strenuous activities, but it also brings people together, creating memorable experiences around the campfire. So, whether you’re a seasoned outdoor chef or a beginner, give these recipes a try.

Note: The following recipes are meant for groups of 12. Do the math and adjust for the size of the group for whom you’re cooking.

Backcountry Recipe 1 – Breakfast

Breakfast Burritos with Hash Browns

Young man cooking eggs for a back country breakfast

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Scrambled Egg powder or 24 Eggs
  • 4 Cups Hashbrowns (dried)
  • Onion, diced
  • Bell Pepper, diced
  • 12 Tortillas
  • 1 Cup Salsa
  • 2 Cups Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Bacon Bits, optional
  • Ketchup packets, optional
  • Butter / oil

Directions | Instructions | Serves 12

  1. Mix eggs.  
  2. Add spices to taste.  
  3. Heat butter or oil in a skillet, then scramble the eggs.  
  4. Meanwhile, cover dried hashbrowns in a small pot with boiled water.  
  5. Let sit 5 minutes.  
  6. Once rehydrated, season with spices to taste.  
  7. Fry in a skillet with oil.  
  8. Once cooked, remove from skillet.  
  9. Sauté until softened.  
  10. Set out tortillas, eggs, hashbrowns, veggies, cheese, salsa, and any optional ingredients buffet style.  
  11. Build your own breakfast burrito and enjoy! 

Backcountry Recipe 2 – Lunch

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

Ingredients

  • 12 Tortillas
  • 4 pouches Chicken 
  • 12 pkgs Ranch Dressing or Blue Cheese
  • 12 oz Buffalo Sauce
  • 1 ½ Cups Carrots, sliced
  • 6 Cups Lettuce
  • 1 ½ Cups Shredded Cheese
  • Paprika, to taste
  • Garlic Powder, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Hot Sauce, to taste
  • 6 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 Avocados, sliced — optional 
  • Celery sticks — optional

Directions | Instructions | Serves 12

  1. Mix together olive oil, buffalo sauce, paprika, garlic powder and salt in a Ziploc bag. 
  2. Add chicken and allow to sit for 5- 10 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, place tortillas on a dish and spread with a thin layer of blue cheese or ranch dressing. 
  4. Layer with lettuce, carrots, avocado (optional), and cheese.  
  5. Next, arrange chicken down the center of each tortilla. 
  6. Wrap like a burrito. 
  7. Serve with a side of hot sauce, extra dressing, or celery sticks if desired. 

Backcountry Recipe 3 – Dinner

Riverside Stir- Fry

Team preparing onions and peppers for a backcountry dinner

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Rice
  • 2-3 Onions
  • 4 Bell Peppers
  • 4 Cups Squash / Zucchini
  • 4 Cups broccoli
  • 2 Cups carrots
  • 1 bag Snap Peas
  • 1 can Baby Corn
  • 1 Cabbage
  • 1 Can Water Chestnuts, optional
  • 2 Cups Mushrooms, optional
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, minced (or garlic powder)
  • Ginger, minced (or ginger powder), to taste
  • 6 Teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 Cup Soy sauce
  • 1 pkg Tofu, shelf stable
  • 4 pouches chicken
  • Chili sauce, to taste
  • Oil

Directions | Instructions | Serves 12

  1. Cook rice.
  2. Meanwhile slice onion, pepper, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, squash/zucchini, garlic, mushrooms, etc. 
  3. Sauté with olive oil about 5 mins.  
  4. Add soy sauce, brown sugar and other spices. 
  5. Continue sautéing until slightly tender.
  6. Separately sauté tofu and/or chicken. Stir well, cover 5 minutes. 

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About the Author: Elizabeth Shirley, WFR, is the Director of Outdoor Programming & Education at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE).

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Advice: Starting an Outdoor Education or Adventure Program in Your School

By Stephen Mullaney June 11, 2024

Outdoor Education

In addition to working for The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), I’ve had the good fortune to assist public, private, and charter schools in setting up outdoor education programs for the past 25 years. During that time, I’ve developed a few winning strategies for educators embarking on such adventures.

Some of my more successful programs have included launching a learning farm for a public school system with 32,000 students, transforming schools into outdoor learning labs as a model for a school district, and even helping former inmates return to the world beyond bars by diving deep into outdoor experiences. (You can learn more about some my school-related work by reading “Taking Learning Outdoors: Merrick-Moore Elementary” on The Great Trails State Coalition website.)

Students at an outdoor education program for NCOAE

None of these projects were easy, but they can be done. In this post, I offer insights on how to start an outdoor education or adventure program for your classroom or school. Let’s begin with planning and dreaming.

Have a Dream, Plan Your Work, and Work Your Plan

To successfully launch an outdoor education program, it’s important to start with a clear vision and follow a structured plan. Here’s an approach I’ve developed based on both my experiences and the wisdom of my mentors (more…)

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