Monday, December 15, 2008

Chicken Soup

Brrrrrr! It's cold in Northern California and we just had a blustery winter storm. Donner Summit is blanketed in white and more is coming. Time to think about spring rafting trips! During cold season, even the doctor recommends chicken soup. Hot soup warms the body and spirit. It also loosen the congestion in the head and chest. An old fashion remedy that has been proven time and time again as the cure for the common cold.

large pot
cooked chicken (grab a roasted one from the deli & save time)
water to cover chicken with extra to add as it simmers
2 whole onions cut into halves
1 diced onion
1 bunch of clean and sliced leeks
1/3 cup diced celery
5 cubed potatoes
4 sliced carrots (keep large as they cook quickly)
1/2 cup barley
any vegetable (broccoli is a good one)
salt, pepper & any other flavor (deli chicken is already seasoned; go light)
NOTE: measurements are based on amount of ingredients and your personal taste... this is chicken soup for pete's sake!

Large pot of water. Place cooked chicken in pot with halved onions. Start simmering at medium heat. In a skillet, add diced onion, leeks and celery. Saute slowly until onions and leeks are carmelized. Set aside. Remove bones from chicken and place the meat back into the simmering pot. Add potatoes to chicken and water. When potatoes start to soften, add barley. Barley will puff up around the time the potatoes are almost done. Add the skillet ingredients of onion, leeks and celery. Add carrots. Add vegetables such as broccoli. Simmer slowly until chicken is completely broken up into shreds. Season with salt, pepper and any other seasoning. (keep in mind that deli roasted chicken is already seasoned)

You should be ready for dinner within 2 hours of start. To speed up the cooking time, add only the chicken meat to the pot of water. (I add the whole chicken because of the calcium content in the bones themselves.) Add a salad with a fresh country baguette. Piping hot soup! Now this will chase the virus away!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Side Dish for Thanksgiving

The saucy, gooey, rich foods of the holidays will be presented in the next two days on silver platters decorated with flowers and doo dads of all sorts. Ahhh, the holiday foods. I can feel the waistband growing tighter as we speak...

Here's a great side dish or hors d'ourvres to go with your Thanksgiving menu!
Eat sushi and save the calories for the stuffing and pie! Happy Turkey Day!

4 cups cooked white or brown rice
2 Tblsp rice wine vinegar
nori sheets (seaweed paper to wrap rice)
washed/cleaned spinach leaves
sliced slivered carrots
sliced avocado
cooked sweet peas
extra nori cut into slivers
optional toasted sesame seeds
soy sauce

Cook rice according to direction. Cool rice in large flat bowl (turn gently without breaking grains). Add rice wine vinegar to cooled rice. Mix well without breaking grains. Lay one sheet of nori on plastic wrap. Smear rice over 3/4 of the nori sheet in a thin layer. Add 2 spinach leaves, few slivers of carrots, a slice of avocado, a few peas & nori slivers. Optional: sprinkled toasted seasame seeds. Roll the rice tightly using the plastic wrap to contain items inside roll. Leave tightly wrapped in plastic. Put aside and continue to roll the rest of the ingredients. Place all sushi rolls in their plastic wrap into the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Take out and slice with a wet knife. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese mustard). Yummy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


On river trips, after a long day of rafting, fall starts showing colder evenings and hot beverages warm the inner core of your body. Hot soups, coffee, tea and hot chocolate are the best drinks after paddling all day. How can you provide this easily? Especially hot chocolate? On rafting trips during fall and winter, you are probably limited in carrying much gear. This isn't summer rafting where giant gear boats carry everything. No, it's probably just you and a few friends on the river paddling in kayaks and small rafts.

Hot chocolate is a winner. Hot, sweet and everyone loves it. Save the carton of milk and leave it at home. Here's a quick way to provide hot chocolate without the mess and cooking time. Keep paddling & be safe!

large pot of water (make as much as you can to provide hot tea, coffee, soup)
instant hot chocolate mix (yum, Ghirardelli)
pinch of instant expresso (optional; omit if for children)
chocolate chips (think goodies for kids; peppermint candy is a winner)
marshmallows (mini or regular)
mugs and/or large metal container

Bring the water to a boil using the campfire or a propane stove. Be careful that you keep all children from the area. Cordon it off using a barrier; table, coolers, etc. Split the water into several containers for use for coffee, tea or instant soup. In large mugs or a large container (metal is recommended), pour the remaining hot water. Add instant chocolate mix. We like Ghirardelli brand for the taste of homemade hot chocolate. Add cinnamon to your liking, and a pinch of instant expresso (optional).

Pour into mugs. Allow the kids and adults to add their own chocolate chips and marshmallows. You can have a pinch of expresso for the adults to add, too.

Instant, but oh so good! And after paddling all day on the white water rafting trip, believe me... hot chocolate never tasted so good.

Variations: add peppermint candies (place in a ziplock baggie, cover with a towel and pound it once with a rock) & add to the hot chocolate.

Variations: you already have the hot water... add coffee grinds to your specifications (more = very strong coffee!) into a covered coffee pot with the hot water. Let the grinds settle... voila, hot coffee. Add instant hot chocolate to each large mug and add coffee. This little trick will surprise you. Incredibly yummy. Ahhhh... go ahead and add a bit of chocolate chips and marshmallows. Desert on the river!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Figs, Nuts... it's Fall

wet river trips food
Figs are all over the driveway covering the walkway with a sticky, jammy mess. Oh, how I love fresh figs! Another few doors down, a neighbor has a magnificent pecan tree kicking out fresh nuts from a very old tree. The combination of figs and nuts is an ancient one with references in biblical times dating back to the Torah and even found and mentioned in the Promise Land. Ficus is the genus of the fig tree and the common fig is grown in mostly temperate or desert climates.

I love figs gently sauteed and then wrapped in prosciutto. It is a treat to die for while you are lamenting the loss of fresh summer peaches. I added nuts to this most well-known dish for the added crunch and protein. Omit the prosciutto and you have a glorious dessert for any vegan.

Proscuitto wrapped Figs w/ Nuts
2 Tblsp of olive oil
California Black Figs
cracked black pepper
nuts (pecans, almonds)
small package of proscuitto

Place olive oil in a low medium skillet. Wash and cut figs into halves. Place cut side down into the skillet. Gently sautee until the edges seem to melt (do not overcook; just warm through). Add cracked black pepper. Take out of pan and set aside. Place half a nut and push into the fig half. Wrap a thin slice of prosciutto around the entire half of fig. Set aside. Then place all wrapped figs back into the skillet to warm the prosciutto (do not brown; just warm). Take out and serve or let cool and serve at room temperature.

I just made this last night. So tasty! For an interesting video on how W.E.T. River Trips makes those awesome dinners on whitewater trips, check out Big Poppa's recent video blog about dinners on rafting and camping trips.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Nuts for Dessert

When you are planning a long extended wilderness rafting trip, the menu becomes a difficult chore of organizing perishable food items. You cook the items that will spoil first. So veggies and herbs go first. That's the easy part. Dessert, on the other hand, is a difficult meal plan.

I had ice cream on the East Fork of the Carson River on day two, but it was seriously cold outside anyway, so we were able to dry ice a small cooler and sit in the hot springs eating gelato and drink champagne. That was easy. But when you are on a Klamath River trip on day 5, in 100 degree heat in August, ice cream is definitely not a choice.

I came up with this very tasty treat on a long extended river rafting trip a few years ago. Pack almonds and cashews in a dry box and don't open it until you are ready to make this. Yummy nuts!

2 lbs nuts (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc)
butter (enough to coat the nuts)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 pinches of chili flakes (to your liking)
1 small sprig of rosemary (leave whole; easier to take out when done)
salt (optional if salted butter is used)

Heat a dutch oven to medium heat. Throw nuts into the dry dutch oven and slowly toast by stirring. You will smell the nuts toasting. This will take a minute to 3 minutes depending on the size of your nuts. (Don't let the nuts get black on the edges or it will taste burnt) Add butter to cover the nuts. Continue to stir. Add sugar, cinnamon, chili flakes, rosemary and salt. Stir. When the sugar melts, remove rosemary spring and take dutch oven off of heat and continue to stir until it starts to clump. Let cool and break up any large pieces. Serve.

Variations: add toasted oats after the sugar melts. Add raisins or any other dry fruit (cherries, cranberries, prunes). These variations can be saved in ziplock baggies and served throughout the day while on the river. Imagine munching on this vegan treat while riding on the rafts and enjoying the scenery. Add some chocolate chips into the baggies... aahhh, life on the river is grand!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bruschetta on the River

Since the 15th century, bruschetta has graced the tables of Italian cuisine. I imagine leftover pieces of bread were probably grilled and laced with oils and herbs just so the kitchen would not waste precious food. This recipe is so good that you will look forward to dried out loaves of Italian-style or French breads in your pantry. The crustier, the better. The next rafting trip, try this out on the grill as an hors d'houevre. Your guests may not need dinner after munching on this grilled delight!


Leftover bread (French, Italian crusty breads are best)
cup of olive oil
5 - 6 large fresh tomato sliced in half (roasted is best!)
4 red peppers (roasted is best!)
10 garlic cloves (cut 5 cloves in half; mince the rest)
fresh basil - save a few leaves for decorative touch (or rosemary)
balsamic vinegar (or your favorite champagne vinegar)
gorgonzola cheese (blue cheese, romano, feta are great substitutes)
parmesan cheese

Slice bread into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside onto a cookie sheet. Oil tomatoes and red peppers generously with olive oil. Set on grill at medium-high heat. Let tomatoes wilt slightly and take off the grill when blackened on cut side. Set aside. Continue to roast peppers until skins are black. Place peppers into a paper bag or covered bowl. Set aside. Peel garlic and cut several in half. Set aside. Take 5 cloves of garlic and mince, then set aside. When peppers have cooled enough to handle, take a slightly wet paper towel and rub the blackened skin off until the roasted red flesh is visible. Chop both tomatoes and peppers into a coarse dice. Place into a glass or stainless steel bowl. Add minced garlic. Chop basil or rosemary or both into a fine dice. Add to the bowl. Add 1/3 cup of olive oil and 3 - 4 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Stir. Set aside. (Add more oil for a good spreading mix)

Grill bread last because it will toast within seconds. Take cut garlic and rub each slice top and bottom. Drizzle olive oil generously over the bread. Place onto the medium heat side of the grill and watch carefully. I usually wait until the edges blacken then turn. This only takes a minute to complete, so keep an eye out. Place toasted bread back onto the cookie sheet to cool.

Drizzle more olive oil onto the serving side of the toast. Smear a tsp of gorgonzola onto the toasted bread. Place a dollop of the marinated tomatoes and peppers on top of the cheese. Add finely chopped basil on top (optional). Place onto a nice serving tray and sprinkle a light touch of parmesan cheese over everything. Serve. (Make a double serving, it will be gone in a flash!)

Instead of gorgonzola, use mozzarella or bufala cheese. Place cheese on top instead and then after assembling the toasts, broil until bubbling on top. Then serve onto a decorative plate and add slivers of basil.

You can also make this as a vegan dish by omitting or substituting a vegan cheese product. I like it just with the tomato and pepper mixture. Cracked pepper on top with extra slivers of basil... WOW. So deliziosa...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chopped Salad

It's mid-January and the stomache was extended during the holidays. It's salad time for me. After all the rich and saucy foods, I really need to lean out again on veggies. I had a lot of leftover carrots, peppers, beets in the vegetable bin, so I started making retro chopped salads. How can I apply this method to salads on extended river trips or multiple day rafting trips? Use more root vegetables!

leftovers (chicken, broccoli, celery, ham, etc)
daikon (asian radish) or radish
1 can of corn, drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed & drained
green onions, diced
salad dressing (bring your favorite)
romaine or ice-berg lettuce (choose a firm lettuce)
beets, shredded or chopped (shred raw if fresh & sweet)

Rinse and wash all raw vegetables. Drain to dry or pat dry with paper towels. Cook potato and beets in water to a boil. Do not overcook; firm but done. Let cool. Start chopping the other vegetables. Chop to small uniform pieces. In a large bowl, place all ingredients except for green onions, lettuce and beets. Toss with salad dressing. Before serving, add the torn lettuce. Add green onions. Toss. Add beets on top (don't add before or everything will be pink!) and serve. Serves 4. Add bread or crackers and a cup of tomato soup for an awesome meal. Omit meat for a vegan dinner.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Hangover Cure for the New Year

Cures for hangovers are common recipes on January 1st. Here's one sure to help based just on nutrition and hopefully, a body that can recover quickly from alcohol poisoning.

When you wake up, the head aches because you are dehydrated and you've lost nutrients essential for your body. Avoiding caeffine helps, too... and replacing potassium. Eat a banana!

Here's a quick fix for all you party animals that just had to drink themselves to oblivion.

SLEEP: best cure folks; sleep it off
FRUIT JUICE and lots of WATER: you're dehydrated
BLOODY MARY: it has alcohol, but lots of goodies too (the hair that bit you)

1 1/2 oz vodka
3 oz tomato juice
1 dash lemon juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 - 3 drops Tabasco® sauce
1 lime wedge
1 rib of celery

Shake ingredients (except lime wedge) with ice and strain over ice cubes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the wedge of lime, celery and serve.

Ok, now, go back to sleep until Wednesday. Use this cure anytime you're going on a river trip and you did a bit too much the night before.