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.

The easiest way to dehydrate potatoes (and onions)

Dehydrated potatoes are one of my favorites among all of the food stuff for camping and hiking. They are cheap and light weight, they have very long storage life, and they can be used with almost any ingredients one happens to find from his backpack for nutritious and delicious camp site meals.

However, before a happy camper can take advantage of the wonderful properties of dehydrated potatoes, the potatoes must first be hydrated, and that can be somewhat tricky process.

For quite a many of enthusiastic beginners, potatoes have been the reason why they have only tried to dehydrate anything twice – the first and the last time. The end product of the dehydrating experiment has been an ugly mess, in which horribly discoloured strips of potatoes are glued together into a blackish-bluish-brownish lump of something disgusting. Therefore, there must be something wrong with the potatoes, or the dehydrator, or the whole idea of successfully dehydrating anything at home.

Wrong.

About 70-80 % of the dry content of potatoes is starch, a long chain polysacharide, which in addition to being the major source of energy in potatoes, has some very glue-like properties. In fact, starch is a fundamental ingredient of many water soluble glues, and as some of the older, or more eco-conscious, readers may know, a boiled potato alone can be used as substitute for paper glue. Another undesirable property of potatoes is their tendency to turn black or brown when in contact with oxygen, i.e. air. The discoloration is a product of several enzymatic reactions within, and among, the cells in the potato.

From dehydrator’s point of view, a good thing is that once we know what causes these problems, there are ways to fix them. First thing to do is to choose a potato variety with the lowest possible starch content. After cutting the potatoes into thin slices or strips, a quick cooking or steaming session kills the enzymes responsible of discoloration, and after careful sieving and separating the individual pieces of potatoes, they are ready for the actual dehydrating process. Bad thing about all this is the required ridiculous amount of work.

Fortunately, our friend, the big food industry, has exactly the same problems with potatoes, and they have tools to handle the problems. As you may have noticed, within the other small print on the bags of frozen groceries, especially potatoes, you can usually find words like “pre-steamed” or “pre-cooked”. The big, if not so surprising, secret is that the big food industry did not pre-steam the veggies to “let you spend quality time with the family by reducing your time in the kitchen”. They did it because, due to the properties of starch and the enzymes, they had to.

Whatever the reason for the pre-steaming has been, love towards the mankind or industrial necessity, frozen potato products are an excellent starting material for home dehydrating experiments. They are cheap, pre-cut, pre-steamed, pre-separated, and, against the standard industrial procedure, usually do not contain any additives.

My personal favourite for dehydrating is a frozen potato-onion mix. Not that I particularly wanted the onions, which are easy enough to dehydrate by themselves, but I was not able to find other so perfectly sized thin strips of potatoes without them, and for most of my potato dishes I also use onions.

The work flow for dehydration is as simple as it can get:

1. Spread the frozen potato strips onto the mesh of the dehydrator.

2. Dehydrate for 6-9 hours at 40-50 C

3. Store the potatoes in ziploc bags, protected from light and moisture.

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).