You may have recently read my post about having a great time in the rain at Goldmyer Hot Spring. Well this post is loosely related since prior to that trip I had decided I wanted to experiment a little with backcountry cooking.
You may be surprised to find that with all my backpacking experience, one thing that I lack is cooking experience. Usually I just stick with the unimaginative Mountain House dinner and instant oatmeal packets for breakfast. One major exception is when my friend Brent and I hiked the High Divide Loop around Seven Lakes Basin a couple of years ago. He was in charge of dinner for that one and he made a delicious chicken and dumpling stew. It was quite memorable.
One of the recipes I had selected was the Beef Curry Noodle Bowl from trailcooking.com. The week before the trip I wasn't able to get all the ingredients so I had to default to the ease of freeze-dried goodness.
Today, though, I decided to try out that noodle bowl for dinner. I wanted to simulate a field situation. That meant I was going to make it on my backpacking stove, outside, using only the tools that I would have available to me there. It was pretty rainy and I didn't want to bother putting up a shelter, so I just did it in my open garage.
Well, I guess I did use a stool and an office chair. I wouldn't have done that in the backcountry. The office chair doesn't fit in my pack.
Everything went very well. I cooked up faster than I thought it would and it fit just about perfectly in a pot that holds just under two liters of water. I used my Jetboil with the attachment for using it with regular pots. It would probably fit in a Jetboil Sumo cup, but I don't have one to try it out. If you care, it took about 22 grams of fuel to cook it up. (It would be interesting to see how much it would take with a Sumo cup.)
The noodle bowl was delicious. The question, though, is whether the extra effort to make recipes like these is worth it. For example, by the time I bought soba noodles ($3/package), dried vegetable mix ($18/lb(!) but at least you only need a little, about $2.50 worth) and beef jerky (about $5 worth), it cost more than a mountain house. Of course, those are usually two servings per mountain house, while this one was four servings. (I usually eat a 2-serving Mountain House on my own anyway.)
Ramen is a convenient backpacking meal but gets a bad rap for having lots of sodium. This recipe uses bullion which basically has the same amount of sodium, so it's a draw there.
This recipe requires a lot more prep at home before the trip and more pots (and therefore more dishes to wash) in the field. Trailcooking.com has lots of recipes for only a single pot and that's the only way I'd do it.
I guess what it comes down to is what you want to do while you're out in the field. Ideally, when you're out there you have lots of time because you're there to relax and kick back so taking extra time for meal preps shouldn't bother you. It was kind of fun to try something new. I'll probably do it again.