Category Archives: Trangia

CAJUN JAMBALAYA FROM DEHYDRATED INGREDIENTS USING MINI TRANGIA CAMPING STOVE

In the turn of the millennium, right before Katrina, I spent two years in New Orleans. In the party town I was invited to a number of parties in local households, and according to my experience, there just were no parties without some version of Jambalaya being served. And there are some good reasons for that; Jambalaya is at the same time both simple and sophisticated. Garnished with some fresh herbs, it can be served on your finest silverware, or scooped into disposable cups by your drunken friends from a shared large bowl. It is relatively easy to prepare in large quantities using very limited number of pots and pans, and it tolerates a fair amount of variation in ingredients. And most importantly, most often, despite the variable ingredients, it tastes damn good.

A little while ago, while preparing Chef Emeril Lagasse’s version of Cajun jambalaya (recipe is at the end of this article), I decided to try to develop a hiker/backpacker friendly modification of this wonderful dish.

First thing to do was to dehydrate everything heavy and/or easily spoiled material, ie. veggies and meats. I seasoned thin slices of chicken breast and shrimps with Emeril’s Bayou Blast (recipe below), hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Then I fried the chicken well done (you cannot be over careful with the chicken), chopped it to small cubes, and dehydrated them together with shrimps and tomatoes over night in conventional electric oven. At the same time onions, garlic, celery, and green peppers were dehydrating in my homemade food dehydrator.

The only “wet” ingredient I did not dehydrate was the Chorizo sausage for two reasons; first, Chorizo and other similar kind of sausages are so heavily salted, that they stay good for days, if not weeks, at room temperature, and second, the sausage is pretty dry to begin with, and any attempt to dehydrate it would probably only melt away the delicious fat in the sausage.

The reason why I used Chorizo instead of Andouille of the original recipe was the fact that when you ask for Andouille sausage at the arctic circle, most of the shop keepers just roll their eyes, and the friendliest ones advice you to take a quick 800 km (500 miles) flight to Helsinki, where some small exotic delicacy shop may, or most probably, may not have Andouille available. So, my Andouille is Chorizo. Sorry, chef Lagasse.

Then it was time to test whether it is possible to turn rattling small bits in plastic bags into mouth watering Jambalaya. My original plan was to prepare one portion of Jambalaya using only the Mini Trangia camping stove, but since a friend of mine wanted to join me for a nice day in the forest, and I didn’t want to see him starve, I changed my plan to also test the little Trangia stove’s ability to heat up a larger carbon steel pan packed with enough food for two hungry guys.

So, I started with rehydrating all of the dehydrated stuf in the Trangia pot. After about 30 minutes, I added some chicken broth concentrate (a cube of the same stuff works equally well), and some oil, and let the whole thing simmer for about another 30 minutes. At this point you can add some bay leaves into the pot, but due to the fact that I have never been able to tell any difference between two dishes, one with, and one without bay leaves (maybe something wrong with my taste buds), I skipped the bay leaves. Then I poured the content of the trangia pot into the larger pan, added the rice and chopped Chorizo, and let the Jambalaya simmer till the rice was cooked.

The end result was an absolute success! The only difference to the freshly made Jambalaya was in the texture of the chicken and the shrimp. They were not bad at all, but the truth is that de-, and then rehydrated meat and seafood can never be as tender as freshly cooked ones. However, taste wise it would have been almost impossible to separate the camp site version from the fresh one.

This test also proved that the tiny trangia stove packs enough punch to heat a relatively large carbon steel pan. I wouldn’t try use this combination in the middle of the winter, but at least at above freezing temperatures, it seems to work just well.

And then the recipe for the Cajun Jambalaya, and the spice mix. Unfortunately, the link to the original source of the recipe did not seem to work anymore, but all the credits for the recipe (except the Chorizo part :)) belong to chef Emeril Lagasse and www.foodnetwork.com

CAJUN JAMBALAYA
Ingredients

12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
4 ounces chicken, diced
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning, recipe follows
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3/4 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
5 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced
Salt and pepper

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Directions

In a bowl combine shrimp, chicken and Creole seasoning, and work in seasoning well. In a large saucepan heat oil over high heat with onion, pepper and celery, 3 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in rice and slowly add broth. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice absorbs liquid and becomes tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. When rice is just tender add shrimp and chicken mixture and sausage. Cook until meat is done, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning.

How to dehydrate pea soup, and prepare it with a mini trangia stove

Pea soup has been, and still is, commonly used food in the Finnish military for several good reasons: a) it has excellent nutritional value, b) the main ingredient, dry beans, is very light weight, and has a very long storage life, c) the soup itself is easy to prepare for a large group of people, and d) in practice, it cannot be over cooked, and it can be reheated for several times.

Pea soup is also a very good dish for any campers, hikers or survivalists, who wish to enjoy tasty and nutritious hot meal every now and then. However, the soup has some unpleasant properties. One, preparing the soup from scratch, ie. from dry beans, takes a good 16 hours (at least 12 hours to soak the beans, and few hours of cooking), two, home made soup does not stay good for a very long time, and canned soup does not taste good to begin with, and three, as all of the soups, also the bean soup, even concentrated canned pea soup, contain lots of water, and is a bitch to carry around.

Fortunately, to circumvent these problems, it is possible, and very easy too, to dehydrate the soup.

Dehydrated pea soup, even with some meat in it, stays good for weeks in a backpack, and the weight reduction in comparison to the wet soup is about 80%, and best of all, preparation of delicious pea soup from dehydrated ingredients at a camp site is as easy as it can get.

Due to the facts that soup spills easily, and that a large flat area speeds up the evaporation, for dehydrating soups, or any other relatively liquid stuff, a conventional oven is better than a regular food dehydrator.

To begin the process, heat an oven to about 50 C (122 F), and line an oven tray with baking paper. Then spread the soup (either home made or canned) evenly on to the tray. One average size tray can handle anything between 500 and 750 ml (2 to 3 cups) of soup. Place the tray in to the oven and wedge the oven door slightly open with some wooden or metal kitchen utensil. Dehydrate for 14 to 24 hours (depending on the amount and the water content of the soup) till the soup is dry and the consistency brings corn flakes into your mind. Pack the dehydrated soup into a ziplock bag, and store in a cool dry place. If your soup contains meat, I recommend freezing it for long term storage.

To prepare pea soup at a camp site, try to remember what was the original volume of the soup, and heat up equivalent amount of water, and pour it into a pot on top of the dehydrated materials. Then simmer the soup on low heat (use the simmering ring with Trangia burner) for 20 to 40 minutes till the peas, and especially the meat, are rehydrated, tender, and hot. The slowly boiling soup can pretty much be left alone for the whole time, but a little stirring a couple of times during the process is recommended.

When the soup is done, season with some mustard, which, in addition to tasting good, also thickens the soup a little bit, and enjoy.

One full Mini trangia pot of soup contains about:

Energy 2500 kJ

Proteins 35 to 60 grams (depending on the meat content)

Carbohydrates 85 grams

Fat 25 grams

Creamy risotto with Mini Trangia

Based on the fact that failure to cook decent risotto seems to be one of the most common reasons of elimination of the competitors from TV shows such as Master Chef, Top Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen, the idea of making risotto in camping conditions, from dehydrated ingredients, with a Mini Trangia stove, must  be doomed from the beginning.
So, of course I had to try it.
To my pleasant surprise, the risotto in the wilderness was a success. I could not notice the difference to the home cooked (from fresh ingredients) risotto, either in the taste or in the texture.
Some one could  of course now say that I’m obviously a damn horrible home cook who only repeats his unfortunate cookings outdoors, but at least this time I have to disagree with that, the risotto was as creamy as it should be, and the taste was excellent.
Well then, how was it done?
Knowing that the perfect risotto requires a perfect ratio between the rice and the liquid, in this case the beef broth, I carefully measured all of the ingredients at home using the same 1.5 dl (5 oz) coffee cup I was about to use out in the field.
To extract every last bit of flavor from my dehydrated ingredients, I used the rehydrating water as a part of the beef broth.
The secret behind the creaminess of the real risotto is to slowly absorb the broth into the rice by adding small portions of the hot broth onto the rice, letting the real risotto rice, in this case the Arborio rice, release the starch into the broth.
The broth should be boiling hot. Therefore, if you don’t have two burners or nearby open fire, this dish is limited to relatively warm weather (say, above 10 C or 50 F).
The rest of the story is pretty straight forward, stir, add broth, repeat. When all of the broth has been absorbed, add half a teaspoon of black pepper, about 40 g (1 oz) of grated parmesan cheese, mix and enjoy.
If you happen to be camping in an area where you can find some wild chives, garnish the dish with it.
And, as I said in the video, if you wish to impress your significant other, or make Gordon Ramsay jealous, replace some of the water with dry white wine.

Creamy risotto

1.5 dl (5 oz)         Risotto Rice (Arborio rice. Liquid to rice ratio may                                                                    vary with other rice variants.)
1 small onion (dehydrated)
Mushrooms (dehydrated)  100g (3 oz) fresh weight
30 ml (1 oz)        Olive oil
40 g (+1 oz)        Grated parmesan
½ teaspoon         Black pepper
1                                Beef bouillon cube
Some                      Chopped wild chives
3 X volume of rice    Water

Rehydrate mushrooms and onions for 15 to 30 minutes.
Prepare broth from rehydrating water, plain water, and a beef bouillon cube (total vol. 450 ml (5 oz)).
Pour the oil and the rice into the pot, and stir for few minutes.
Add mushrooms and onions.
Add some hot broth.
Stir, add broth, repeat till all of the broth is absorbed into the rice.
Season with black pepper.
Add cheese.
Garnish with chives.

Pasta stew from dehydrated ingredients with Mini Trangia

Pasta is one of the best sources of carbohydrates for a camper/hiker/survivalist. It weights next to nothing and stays good for a very long time. If, in a post apocalyptic scenario, I would have to pick a single source of energy, I probably would fill my back pack with dry pasta.
Pasta is also a very good foundation of  a variety of delicious meals in pre apocalyptic situations. In fine dining culinary circles, it may be important to know from which northern Italy river valley the durum wheat of your fresh pasta comes from, and how well it fits to the aroma of black truffles. However, in most of the home cooking, as well as survival situations, pasta is the filling material, and the sauce gives the taste to the whole meal. Therefore, in this excellent camping dish, the pasta part comes from an instant noodle pack. You know, those 39 cent packs of noodles, which contain some very thin curly noodles and a pack of industrial waste bad taste aroma seasoning. But the sauce is made out of pure love. For those of you who do not know what love is, it is:

Dehydrated tomato paste        1 dl (½ cup) Fresh
Dehydrated ground beef           100 g (3 oz) Fresh
Dehydrated mushrooms            30 g (1 oz) Fresh
Dehydrated onions                        ½ Fresh
olive oil                                                  30 ml (1 oz)
Beef bouillon cube                          1
Oregano                                               ½ tsp
Basil                                                        ½ tsp
Black pepper                                      ½ tsp
White pepper                                    ½ tsp
And some water (+some processed cheese, if available)

 

The cooking process is easy:
Pour some boiling water on top of all of the dehydrated ingredients and the spices . Let them rehydrate for 15 to 30 minutes. Add the oil and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add 1 pack of Instant noodles (about 50 g (1 ½  oz)), and for the love of God, discard the seasoning pack.
Simmer for about 3 minutes.
Add about 3 tablespoons of processed cheese and mix carefully.
The beef bouillon cube has enough salt for most of the people, but if necessary, now it is time to add salt to your own taste.

This dish passed the ultimate quality test; my kids asked for seconds.

Mini Trangia and winterizer at -32.6 C

About a year ago, I tested my home made winterizer for the Mini Trangia alcohol stove at –25 C (-13 F). To my great surprise, my “not good at really cold weather” Trangia managed to boil 500 ml of +4 C (+39 F) water in about 7 minutes, mainly due to the help provided by my DIY winterizer.

Since then, it has been ridiculously warm, and now was my first opportunity to try to find the limits for an alcohol fueled stove.

So, this is how it went. First, I left the stove and the fuel outdoors at -32.6 C (-26.7 F), and 500 ml of water into the fridge for overnight.

In the following morning, I loaded sthe stove and soaked the wick of the winterizer with -32 C alcohol (Note to self: Do not spill it on to your fingers. It is damn cold!). Despite the syrup like behaviour of the cold alcohol, lighting up the alcohol soaked wick was very, very easy. However, due to the 5 m/s wind, it took albout 13 minutes to bring the water to boiling. Therefore, I repeated the experiment using a simple windscreen made out of fire retardant fabric.

With the windscreen, the boiling time was reduced to 9 minutes and 40 seconds.

As conclusion, with a proper protection from the wind, an alcohol burning stove (with DIY winterizer) still works beautifully at -32 C !

As soon as the good old -40 to -50 winter days (hopefully) return, I’ll test and report whether there really are any limits for my little Trangia stove.

Mini Trangia Apple Pie

OK, you Rambos, Mad Maxes, Conans, and other mother’s little warriors, admit it! Every now and then, after surviving months with only rattle snake soup to eat, and wolverine’s blood to drink, it would be nice to have a piece of sweet, delicious, grand mom’s apple pie.

If you are man enough to admit that, here is the recipe;

First, mix milk powder, salt, and yeast to about 150 ml of +42 C water. Let the yeast wake up for 5 to 10 minutes, and carefully mix the solution with the rest of the dough ingredients in a ziploc bag. Place the bag in a warm place, which, in wilderness, usually is a pocket close to your skin, for one to 4 hours. Properly closed ziploc bag does not disturb your activities too much, and while the yeast is doing its magic, you can hike to the next camp site or continue doing your things at the present one.

Before baking the base of the pie, it is time to prepare the apple jam, or sauce, or what ever you call the stuff on top of the apple pie. After rehydrating dry slices of apple for about 30 minutes, simmer the slices with cinnamon and brown sugar till the apple slices are soft, and the excess water has evaporated.

Then to the baking of the dough; Squeeze a ball of dough onto the frying pan, which in this case is the lid of the Mini Trangia. Flatten it to about 1-2 cm thick disk, and fry each side for about 4 minutes. Unfortunately, this requires some hands-on time. To avoid burning the dough, it is necessary to hold the pan about 10 to 15 cm above the flame, but trust me, the taste of the final product is worth of all the work.

Now, the remaining work is to scoop the apple jam on top of the baked dough, lift your feet up, think of your childhood and grand mom, and enjoy the apple pie. To get even closer to your childhood experiences, you can heat up the apple jam for about two minutes, and properly burn your tongue (just like when you were three years old).

In my honest opinion, the only way to improve the apple pie would be a scoopful of vanilla ice cream on top of the pie. However, due to the fact that preparing ice cream in the middle of nowhere with the Mini Trangia is beyond my expertise, I must say that I’m quite happy with the current product.

Mini Trangia DIY Winterizer test at -25 C

 

A little while ago I made a pre-heater for my Mini Trangia stove. Initially, I was able to test it at -12.5 C temperature, and was pretty happy with the results (500 ml of water from +4 C to boiling in 7 minutes and 39 seconds).

Now, the winter finally seems to kick in, and it is time to test what the winterizer is good for.

To begin the test, I left the Trangia stove and a bottle of fuel outdoors for overnight, and some water into the fridge. In the morning, the temperature was -25 C. Not as cold as I was hoping for, but so far the coldest weather during this winter anyway. So, I filled up the stove, and soaked the glass wool wick of the winterizer with -25 C alcohol, and stroke a match. The ignition was kind of lame, but easy and instantaneous anyway. Next I poured 500 ml of +4 C water into the Trangia pot, placed it (with the lid on) on to the stove, and prepared myself for a long wait.

To my pleasant surprise, after mere seven minutes and six seconds the water was boiling merrily. That was over 20 seconds faster than in my first test run at -12.5 C! How could that be? When comparing the conditions of the two tests, in addition to the difference in the temperature, the only remaining variable of any significance was the wind, which, during the first test wasn’t particularly strong, but strong enough to slightly disturb the flame and to cool down the pot a little bit, whereas during the second test the wind was hardly noticeable.

The test results confirmed the general belief that a good wind protection is essential for successful cooking with camping stoves, but more importantly, the results proved that my DIY winterizer works beautifully even at -25 C temperature. I can’t wait for the arrival of really cold weather to test the winterizers limits (if there are any).

Rice pudding with Mini Trangia and improvised water bath

In Nordic countries rice pudding is a very important part of Christmas tradition. Hiking and camping in the middle of nowhere is also quite popular. For some reasons, one rarely sees anyone hiking during the Christmas.

One reason to that probably is a common will to spend Christmas with the family. Another possible reason is that it is so damn difficult to get rice pudding in the wilderness.

Not any more!

When I first decided to try to prepare rice pudding with my Mini Trangia, I took is as a crazy experiment, destined to fail. First of all, even with the regular good quality cooking gear at home, it is quite difficult not to burn and ruin your rice pudding, and additionally, the requirement for slow long simmering in low temperature did not sound like a Trangia job.

Well, what do I have to lose? 10 cents worth of rice, euro worth of fuel, and some wasted time. So, go for it!

Due to the fact that the rice pudding is one of the easiest things to ruin by over heating, I decided to make some kind of a water bath. For that purpose, I happen to have a surplus mess kit from the Czech army. The larger pot of the kit is just big enough to hold the Trangia pot within it (any pot slightly larger than the Trangia pot works as well). To prevent the Trangia pot from over heating or floating on the water, I placed three flat stones on the bottom of the water bath to be.

Then to the cooking itself.

First I heated some liter of water (600 ml for the pudding, and the rest of it for the water bath). Then I mixed 100 ml of rice, 100 ml of water, and about 30 ml of oil (rice pudding is usually made with full milk, therefore the oil). Next part was to boil the ingredients for about 2 minutes to rehydrate the rice. Rehydrating the rice requires constant attention and stirring. When the water is mostly absorbed into the rice, it is time to place the pot into the water bath, add the milk, place the lid on top of the pot, and add water to the water bath.

After stirring the pudding and adding water to the bath every now and then, the stove eventually ran out of fuel. At this point I placed the stove onto the ice on the ground to let it cool down before refilling. (It is not a good idea to fill up a hot stove with flammable alcohol).

After about 45 minutes of cooking, the pudding began to look like pudding, and it was time to add salt (if you don’t want your milk based cookings to curdle, do not cook after adding the salt).

The end result was perfect! Just like the pudding my grandmom used to make!

I must admit that preparing rice pudding with the Mini Trangia is not a hard core survivalist thing. It takes an hour to make, and the fuel consumption is ridiculous (about 250 ml for one large portion of pudding), but, God damn it, it is possible!

So, from now on, if, during the Christmas time, you happen to be in the deepest, darkest arctic, and you get homesick (or if you have to find offerings to the local gnome), by following these instructions, the homesickness can be eased, and the gnome calmed.

Baking bread with Mini Trangia

Dehydrated bread is a good, light weight source of energy for hikers and campers. However, dry bread is dry, and hard, and every now and then it would be nice to smell and taste some freshly baked real thing.
For most of the hikers, especially male hikers, a fresh bread is something magical, that only professional bakers and some rare specimens of rural grandmothers can prepare.
That could not be much further from the truth.
Anyone can prepare bread, and in almost any conditions.
For the simplest, beduin type bread, one needs some flour, preferably some salt, water, and a hot surface to bake the bread. In a lack of pots and pans, a flat rock will do.
For a little more complicated, raised bread, some additional materials, such as milk powder, sugar, oil, and dry yeast is required.
I tried the latter one with my trusty Mini Trangia.
To raise the dough with yeast, especially dry yeast, takes some time and preparation, but with a little bit of planning, it is relatively easy thing to do, even in subzero conditions.
First thing to do is to heat up some water to +42 C, which is optimal temperature for dry yeast. If the water is too cold, it may take unnecessarily long time to wake up the yeast, but on the other hand, if the water is too hot, the yeast will die. Therefore, it is better to be safe than sorry, and use water that is not much warmer than your body temperature.
In addition to the warmth of the water, the yeast also needs some form of carbohydrates to wake up, and for that purpose, it is a good idea to mix the milk powder, sugar, and salt together with the yeast. The yeast does not need the salt, but by melting the salt in to the liquid, one can avoid possible surprise salty spots in the final product.
When the yeast is suspended into the liquid, it is time to carefully mix all of the ingredients into a ziplock bag. (In addition to the basic ingredients, in this recipe I also used some oat meal, which gives some texture to the final product).
To do its magic, the yeast needs some time in a warm environment (anything between 1 and 4 hours), and for that the best place in cold camping or hiking conditions, is a loose pocket close to your skin (remember to seal the ziplock bag!)
After these preparations, you have 1 to 4 hours to hike on, or to do your things around your camp.
If you did not manage to kill the yeast with too hot water, in one to four hours, due to the production of carbon dioxide, the ziplock bag should look like a balloon, and the dough should be ready to meet the pan.
To bake the bread, I usually grease the Mini Trangia lid with some oil. Due to the teflon coating of the lid and the oil in the dough, greasing the pan is probably a bit of an over kill, but I have my old habits. Then I squeeze a child’s fist size piece of dough onto the pan, and pat it to 1 to 2 cm thick cake. The actual baking, or frying, the bread with the Mini Trangia requires some hands on time.
Due to the short distance between the flame and the pot holder, in order to prevent the burning of the bread, instead of placing the pan on its place, one has to hold the pan about 10 to 15 cm above the flame. Holding the pan for 6 to 8 minutes may sound like a long time, but I can guarantee that after tasting the freshly baked self made bread in the middle of nowhere, you cannot wait to begin the next baking session.

Melting snow with the Mini Trangia at -8.2 C

Unpressurized alcohol stoves are not suitable for melting snow. That is one of the most common statements one can find from a countless number of camping stove reviews.
Well, I happen to have a Mini Trangia, I don’t have funds to get any nuclear powered wonder devices, and where I hike, the most convenient way to get water, about six to seven months of the year, is to melt some snow. Therefore, I absolutely had to test whether my poor little Trangia really is useless for melting the snow.
The test conditions were not very wintery, only -8.2 C below freezing, but on the coolish side anyway, and enough snow to perform the test. (I’ll repeat the test in colder conditions as soon as it gets cold, however, the weather forecast for the next 15 days is somewhat summery, from +1 to -5 C, so this is the best I can do right now).
Alcohol is a bit tricky fuel in cold environment, therefore, I used my home made winterizer for the Mini Trangia in my test. With the winterizer, the fire was easy to light up. Then I loaded the mini Trangia 800 ml pot with fresh snow, and started cooking, or melting in this case. I kept filling up the pot with more snow till I had 500 ml of water. To get half a liter of water from snow, in -8.2 C temperature, took 6 minutes and 30 seconds, which, in my opinion, is not bad. Then I placed the lid on top of the pot and continued cooking. 8 minutes and 38 seconds later, I had 500 ml of boiling water, not bad either.
Total time from snow to boiling was 15 minutes and 8 seconds, which is not lightning fast, but, again in my opinion, not ridiculously slow either. I have had slower boiling times in the middle of the summer (in windy conditions, without the winterizer, of course, and without the lid, though).
Of course, most of the multifuel burners, and some gas burners are a lot quicker, but, based on my test, announcing that one cannot melt snow with unpressurized alcohol stove, is wrong.
In -8.2 C, melting snow with the Mini Trangia is absolutely possible, and not even that slow.

Longer report of the Mini Trangia’s behavior in various conditions will be published sometime in the future.