Quill and Quire

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The Wilderness Cookbook: A Guide to Good Food on the Trail

by Bonnie McTaggart, Jill Bryant, Chum McLeod, illus.

A camping trip is like a party: the better the planning, the more fun it is. Food is central. When roughing it, especially on canoe trips, mealtime can be the silver lining. All your clothes are soaked, you’re feverish from bug bites, and your Vuarnets are swimming with the fishes, but if you’ve planned well, at least you’ve got couscous and chocolate cake for dinner.

Couscous and chocolate cake?

Yes. That is, if you’re using Bonnie McTaggart and Jill Bryant’s Wilderness Cookbook. The surprisingly varied and even exotic recipes, along with an abundance of seasoned camping tips, will go a long way toward not only salvaging bad days in the bush, but also making your whole trip a hit. McTaggart, a retired nurse, and Bryant, author of two children’s craft books, are both nature enthusiasts who understand the need for tasty and nutritious food that is easy to prepare on the trail.

Freshness, packing, and equipment are crucial considerations. Eat heavy and perishable items first. Hot cereals or pancakes, with dehydrated fruits, make satisfying breakfasts. Instant soups with bread, cheeses, and canned fish make simple lunches. At dinner, when hunger soars, things get more interesting. Tofu Kebobs, Corn and Potato Chowder, Veggie Burgers, and Asian Noodles are just some of the things to replace wieners and beans. Dried veggies and fruit add flavour and nutrition to many recipes, although most cooks will prefer to purchase them commercially rather than prepare them at home as suggested. Also included are desserts and snacks, packing and “At Campsite” instructions, and equipment lists to make sure you remember the can opener.

It may mean some work, but if this thoughtful book (with cute drawings by Chum McLeod) is used while planning your next camping trip, at least mealtimes will seem like a party.