One of the best ways to reward yourself for summiting a high peak out in that thing we call nature—besides the beautiful view from the top—is to cook yourself a delicious and nutritious supper. Being able to look forward to a tasty dinner makes hiking those thousands of feet of elevation in torrential rain and unrelenting winds a little more enjoyable.
But whether you’re at your backcountry campsite over a propane stove or campfire, or in the wilds of Wesleyan with your modern kitchen, a dinner of Gado Gado and Dog Shit will distract you from your aching feet and provide you with the calories you need for yet another long day on the trail (or on your chosen academic track).
This recipe for Gado Gado, a spin off the traditional Indonesian dish by the same name, is one of my favorite trail meals because it reminds me of Pad Thai. Just a small serving of these creamy peanut noodles will satisfy even the most voracious camper, and room-temperature leftovers the next day for trail lunch are equally delicious.
There’s a lot of room for the chef’s interpretation based on what ingredients are available. Everything but the kitchen sink can be added to fortify the dish, but I suggest broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and tempeh—if you have them on hand—because they absorb the sauces well.
If you make this recipe in the woods, when draining the pasta water, use a spare piece of clothing, tarp or cloth to protect your hands from the hot pot, unless you are super-organized and actually think to bring potholders into the woods. The excess water can be used to make slightly-starchy tea or hot cocoa, or put aside to clean dishes.
After a heavy dinner of Gado Gado, a small, yet flavorful dessert of Dog Shit is always welcome. Despite the name, Dog Shit is not actually the excrement of a canine, though it has the general appearance of it.
Dog Shit is formed using a makeshift pastry bag. Given the imprecise nature of piping out of the corner of a plastic bag, it tends to ooze out in mushy cylinders. This chocolaty, creamy and crunchy dessert will resemble logs of dog feces, but taste delicious.
Fun fact: Sylvester Graham invented the graham cracker—the ingredient responsible for the texture of Dog Shit—because he believed it would lower sexual activity, especially self-love (a.k.a. masturbation). We have no idea why he would want that, but never fear: he was wrong.
(adapted from the NOLS cookery)
1/2 lb. rice noodles (ramen or spaghetti noodles work, too)
4 cups water
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 chopped onion
1 cup assorted chopped vegetables
1/2 cup chopped chicken, tofu, or tempeh (not entirely necessary because the peanut butter contains protein, but these ingredients make the meal heartier for hungry campers)
1/2 tsp. black pepper (pepper’s best friend, salt, is not necessary because the peanut butter and soy sauce already contain plenty of sodium)
1/4 cup cashews or sunflower seeds (optional)
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter (preferably crunchy, because it is far superior to smooth. For the unfortunate folks who are allergic to peanuts, sunflower seed butter works as well)
3 tablespoons sliced scallions (optional)
1. Cook noodles according to package directions.
2. Heat oil in frying pan, and sauté garlic, onion, assorted veggies, meat (or meat substitute), and black pepper. Stir in cashews or sunflower seeds until just heated. Add vegetables and nuts to noodles.
3. Heat coconut milk, soy sauce and peanut butter in frying pan until they form a homogeneous liquid. Make sure to stir constantly and scrape the bottom of the pan often to prevent burning. Add sauce to noodles.
4. Stir noodles, cooked vegetables, sauce and scallions until well combined and all the flavors are equally distributed. It’s no fun to be the last person served and get the plain, pale noodles from the bottom of the pot because the chef did not properly stir.
1 box chocolate pudding mix
1 box no-bake cheesecake mix (consisting of a cheesecake mix packet and a graham cracker crust packet)
2 tbsp. powdered milk (optional)
3 graham crackers, finely crushed (optional, for extra-chunky feces)
1 cup water (start with just a cup and add more, if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency)
1. Combine all ingredients in a Ziploc-bag. Seal bag well. Massage, mash, toss and punch bag until contents are thoroughly mixed and disgruntled.
2. Let bag sit for 15 minutes. Perhaps use this time to clean up dinner dishes.
3. Cut off one small corner of the Ziploc-bag. Suggested cutting utensils include, but are by no means limited to, chef knives, trauma shears, teeth, Swiss army knives, and axes.
4. Squeeze the Ziploc so the contents ooze out of the corner in little logs.
5. Allow 15 minutes to harden before eating.