Going Dutch

Apparently the term “dutch oven” came about because the Dutch were very advanced at producing cast metal cookware in the 1600s (who knew…well, besides Wikipedia?). 


Our buddy Geoff with peach cobbler in an early prototype, 1988

We started with our first dutch oven way back in the ’80s: two pie tins connected with binder clips. It worked ok, but there’s a reason that REI doesn’t sell binder clips. We graduated to a cast iron dutch oven (21 pounds, not very practical), and then to an aluminum version (5 pounds, almost practical), and finally to the Banks fry-bake (just over a pound, pure genius). The fry-bake is arguably the finest kitchenware ever made, and we don’t think that’s hyperbole–a word which incidentally was also invented by the Dutch (ok, not really).

Anyway, we are big fans of the fry-bake for everything from toasted bagels to enchiladas, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that it has changed our backcountry kitchen forever. No matter how hard we try, nothing ever seems to burn in that thing.  Nothing.

On just about every trip, from floats to backpacks to car camping, the fry-bake finds a place in our kit. One bite and you’ll know why.


Suzy and Sara with Cheat River Tortilla Pie at Teeters Campground, West Virginia. Use no-bake noodles and the lasagna recipe on the box (so much for big secrets). For ricotta mixture, add about 1/4 cup of parm cheese, 2 eggs (beat them first), and a half bag of chopped spinach (squeeze moisture out first).

What’s in our pantry

                              mary jane

We were recently turned on to a new source of trail-light food, Mary Jane’s Farm out of Moscow. No, not that Moscow; we’re talking about the college town in northern Idaho that is a jump-off point for a lot of fabulous river trips…so it’s no surprise to find a business there that caters to light and healthy trail-worthy food. Moscow is also home to Northwest River Supply, which also turns out to be a pretty good southeast river supply.

Anyway, back to the point. Our priorities in the kitchen are generally taste and weight, with ease of prep coming in last…but it’s nice to find all three. Lots of choices here, and the breads in particular can add a lot of variety and texture to an extended trip without the need for any fancy cookware.

We are just starting to scratch the surface with these products, but so far we like what we’ve tried (the old cliche of “it even tastes good at home” has already proven true a few times). And to whoever said that dehydrated hummus couldn’t possibly be palatable, well, you’re wrong (oh, wait, that was me that said that, never mind).

You can see some of what they offer here.

Our first blog entry…ever

We’ve been traveling and cooking in the outdoors together for the past 20+ years or so, with meager beginnings (boil-in-bag rice, maybe cous cous when we were feeling plucky) that eventually led to a New Year’s Eve’s “kitchen theater of the absurd” with five burners, risotto, lobster, and Crème brulée.

Eventually, a few of you suggested a blog—so here it is. Sometimes we’ll write about general outdoor stuff or travel stuff, but mostly we’ll share recipes, ideas, and foodie photos–replete with scenery, of course. The more ridiculous the idea, the more excited we are about it (Baked Alaska on a summer float trip comes to mind).

We’re new to the blogging world, so go easy on us and we promise we’ll invite you for leftovers.