Archive for category The Hungry Kayaker
Campfires are not always the easiest things.
I can count on one hand how many kayak camping trips I have done in the past half-dozen years when it was nice and sunny the entire time. I live in a place that has been given the nickname ‘Wet Coast’ for a reason. Even on a mid-summer trip to the west side of Vancouver Island I was met with no less than three intense frontal systems carrying a few hundred thousand gallons of rain. I remember the sun in between with fond memories. Keeping warm and doing some cooking on a campfire was key to not only the survival part of the camping trip, but also the moral.
I bring with me a small supply of dry wood (if I can fit it into the kayak) knowing that what I find out there will be damp and hard to ignite. That is the first step, the second is being able to light that dry kindling and keep it going long enough to start a good bed of hot coals that will be the base of your campfire. Once you have that base, drying out wet found wood will be an ongoing, but easy task. Stacking it close to the fire, but not too close as I found out one afternoon. Leaving ample airflow around the wet wood and adding it to your fire as needed.
To get your fire started there are a few things you can try. One of my tried and true methods is using a small tea light candle. Placing it on the ground and stacking small bits of kindling around it in either a square house style or teepee style. Keep adding small bits until the fire is glowing. The advantage of the candle is that it can be relit if something goes wrong and if it tips over the waxy wood will burn well.
Another fire starter idea is to stuff used toilet paper tubes with lint saved from your dryer. It is a good fire starter but will not burn continuously. A third option is to make your own firestarters at home and bring them along. A waxed paper cup cut in half and filled with a mixture of candle wax and wood chips and lint will work. Even steel wool will act as a grand firestarter.
Experiment, and find out what works best for the way you do things out there, but always remember to be careful and responsible with your fire. Make sure you build a good fire pit and on a level area being mindful of overhanging branches and anything flammable nearby.
This week I am giving a peek into the pages of my camping cookbook The Hungry Kayaker, a common sense guide to cooking and camping. Chicken dishes and camping don’t usually go together in the same sentence. Chicken is one of those ingredients that has to be treated carefully in a wilderness camping situation and most people will choose to avoid it and use alternative meats instead. But I have found that with a little forethought and preparation having a chicken dinner in camp can be done safely. It is like all things, a comfort level preference but if you are willing to give it a go here is one of my favorite recipes.
Green Chicken Curry is simple and simply delicious. Though it may be tough to get your hands on those illusive green chickens, ha!
Okay, bad joke, but a great recipe.
This makes 4 servings and I am supplying the ingredients you will need to make the curry paste, however if you want to simplify things more you can find some pretty good green chili pastes at your local store. I like making things from scratch, but I know that isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea.
4 fresh green chilis, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup fresh corriander
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
For the chicken….
400ml coconut milk
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
4 – 6 mushrooms, sliced
Cut chicken breasts into bite sized peices and cook. Doing this will add to the length of time you can store the meat and pre-cooking will keep you safe from it going off as well as the benefit of speeding up the cooking process in camp. To pre-cook the chicken pieces I will place them in a pot of boil water for about 10 minutes. Allow to cook completely and place into an air-tight container.
Place chili, onion, coriander, and oil into blender and process to a smooth paste. Add coriander seeds, cumin seeds and blend to combine. Place paste in a Ziploc container.
In a fry pan place curry paste and cook, stirring over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Add half the cocnut milk and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Add chicken and mushrooms. Stir in remaining coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Stir in sugar, lime juice and basil. Serve over rice.
Over the past ten years my passion for sea kayaking has grown and opened up new directions in my life, such as the occasional magazine article and of course self-publishing kayaking books. I have two that I am quite proud. The first is my most recent book, The Hungry Kayaker, which is a combination cookbook and camping for dummies guide with the weekend paddler, or recreational camper in mind. Filled with good common sense tips to make your camping trips run smoothly as well as a healthy supply of tasty recipes that are easy to prepare both at home and in the outdoor setting.
The second is a semi-autobiographical book following myself and three friends on a tour of the rugged little know area of the west side of Vancouver Island north of Nootka Island known as Nuchatlitz. It is a word that will fill your mouth and a place that filled my senses, and aroused the imagination. Nuchatlitz is a place of ancient history, native people, and some of the finest kayaking I have done. Set in an archipelago of islands and islets bordered by two wide inlets it is a place of ghosts, bears and what we brought with us, including a wobbling group dynamic. Four guys, twelve days and some blowing off of steam from the world we left behind. Dreaming in Nuchatlitz is my paddling journey through all of the above and I would hope a good companion to anyone planning to paddle there.
Links to these books are on my newly live Books tab on the home page. I invite you all to give them a looksy. Perhaps buying a copy. If you can help keep this kayaker from having to get a ‘real’ job.
Salt Spring Islanders, of which I am one are coffee fanatics. How could we not with a coffee shop on every corner and not one of them is a Starbucks. Of that, I would say speaking loosely on behalf of my fellow islanders is a good thing. I have switched loyalties in the past year to a new local coffee roaster who by chance is virtually a life-long friend that I have known since grade 4. He is CEO and head roaster of Mt. Maxwell Roasters and I was the test guinea pig for his new espresso blend. I was excited as it was going to be my caffeine treat for my Round Salt Spring Island paddle trip.
The first day was to be the longest of the three days I had allowed paddling to complete the circumnavigation. From the quiet still waters of Burgoyne Bay I would paddle southward through the narrows, riding the ebb tide surge that would push me beyond the bottom of the island and around to my first night’s camp on Prevost Island, literally straight across the waistline of Salt Spring from where I put in.
Though the tide was in my favour, there came a north wind that was to be my nemesis for the last couple of hours on the water. I arrived at James Bay on Prevost Island mid-afternoon, and ready for a stretch. With every rose (ebbing tide in my favour) comes a thorn or two (arriving at Prevost at low tide). Mud, sandal sucking mud which pulled on my kayak making it hard to move to the easier firmer muck nearer the beach. Time on my side and a lovely sunny afternoon made hauling boat and gear out of the mud easier to put up with, even more so because once the camp chores were done, I could make a brew.
Tent up, kitchen set, kayak secured above the high tide line and a sweet heritage apple tree orchard all to myself in the so-called off-season. It was as though I was sitting pretty on my own private island, and the only humans around were on a small sailboat moored in the bay with whom I waved to from time to time.
I changed into camp clothing and was warm, dry and rested and ready, oh so ready for a mug of coffee. I pulled out the espresso maker, my bag of fresh ground Mt. Maxwell Espresso and feeling overly proud of my first solo day on the water I took out my camera and snapped a picture just as the stove tipped and tossed hot espresso into the dirt. The horror, the horror!
I let things cool off and made a fresh brew and it was delicious and satisfying as I sipped while sitting in the elbow branch of an Arbutus Tree.
Of course, the GSI Espresso Maker I own is not just used in camp. I often use it at home on the stove top to whip a quick brew. It is portable, handy and very easy to use and even better, easy to clean up later.
I give it the Kayak Rogue Gear five stars as a piece of kayak camping kit you should not leave home without. Just remember to find a flatter spot for your single-burner camp stove. Oh the tragedy of it all.
Available at outdoor retailers such as MEC and ranging in price from $35-$50 depending on your desire for a single shot, or double shot maker.
GSI Stainless Steel Espresso Maker
■Made of stainless steel.
■Rugged, easy to use, and easy to clean.
■Base fits securely on most camp stoves.
■Body top un-screws for filling, emptying, and cleaning.
■Available in a four-shot or one-shot version.
Soup of the Day!
I am pleased to announce the release of my latest book. ‘Barefoot and Num Nums, Top 10 Comfort Soups’. As a sea kayaker I eat a lot of soups. They pack well, and if frozen will help keep everything else cool and fresh as well. A good hearty soup will boost your energy during a paddling day and is a great reward while resting in camp once the paddling day is done.
In my new book I offer up what I think are the 10 best comfort soup recipes of all time. Fast and easy to make they will be a great companion on the water, or loafing on the sofa in the off-season as the snow piles up outside. So kick off your shoes and socks, brew up a bowl of good soup and enjoy what comfort is all about!
Paperback and ebook versions currently available through Blurb.com online bookstore.
Today an excerpt from my new book, The Hungry Kayaker published by Friesenpress and available through Amazon as well as from Friesenpress. You can find links on my BOOKS tab on the home page.
Keeping it clean!
Simple steps to proving you don’t exist, or leaving little trace that you were ever there.
I remember being a child, growing up on an island. It seems long ago, or was it this morning. No, wait, that was not being a child, that was being childish and I don’t want to delve too deeply into that episode. However, when I was younger I was an enlightened little guy. I suppose living so close to nature and living things of all sizes this affected me to being somewhat of an environmental Zen master by the age of six. I held tightly to a belief that nothing in nature should ever be moved, not one little inch. I would recoil at the thought of shifting even the smallest of pebbles. It was not right. It, the pebble belonged where it lay, and was there for a reason.
It was not as though the pebble in question had been there for an eternity. Change and slow motion movements are the basic ways of the earth, and its coating of nature in the ooze layer in which we all live. By the state of the world we live in, I would toss in the idea that change and slow motion also applies to human behaviour. At six I felt that a ‘live and let live, leave and let be’ approach was best. The one who does not bother a bee will not be stung; one should leave rocks alone to. Though, it seems in my forties I have relaxed the rules a bit and have retired to a less rigid way of coexisting with the natural world. This is real progress for the child-like environmental Zen master. The underlying methods of my youthful madness I still apply to camping in the delicate confines of the rainforest floor, and inter-tidal zones of the west coast. Plants, trees (standing and fallen) and yes, even those pesky pebbles are where they are for a reason. Nature works in wonderfully mysterious ways that we seem obsessed with conquering.
A rock landed where it is due to a glacier snipping off a chunk of coastal mountain twenty-million-years ago give or take five minutes, and depositing it on the beach as the glacier ceased to advance. It should not be disturbed. By now, you are wondering if I, your kayaking guide to a nice weekend of good food and camping under the stars is slightly disturbed. I do move rocks from time to time, but not without the knowledge for the tremendous damage done by doing so. That rock, long ago plopped down, or pushed up from below is now shelter to a minute eco-system. Plants for instance use the rock to grow behind, over and especially under. The rock gathers and provides tiny amounts of water, and rich nutrients to feed its garden. Moving this rock to pitch my tent is a disaster on the scale of a hurricane to those that live in and around a beach rock. I am not so fanatical that I would plant ‘Do not Touch’ signs on each stone I come across, though at the age of six I may well have.
Here are a few steps to consider when perfecting your invisible camping style. First, when you land on the beach stretch your legs by searching for the ideal camping spot. Make sure that it is the least intrusive and will end your stay with minimal impact to the wild plants that are there. Public marine parks, which will be your most likely destination by kayak, offer good places to pitch a tent and often provide raised beds and platforms for that purpose. If you are ‘bushing it’, do take care. You may not think that a day or two of tromping about will do much lasting damage, but it does. Most things revive after we camp, but some do not. You will notice for instance that a well-trafficked area has little or no growth around it. Concentrate your camping in established areas.
When choosing a camp make sure it is fairly level and large enough to accommodate you, your gear and your kayak(s). Choose a spot well above the high tide line and if possible inland from the shore for added shelter. Avoid any potential problems handed out by Mother Nature. Pitch your camp away from steep slopes with loose material, dead trees, and areas with visible fresh evidence of animal tracks.