Freezer-bag Thai Green Curry

The quest for the perfect trail food begins and this is my first experiment with homemade freezer-bag style food. Inspired by Sarahs blog, I ordered the stuff I needed from Harmony House Foods.

All good Thai curries, start with an excellent paste. I'm too lazy to fry my own paste on the trail – so my plan was to pre-cook and then dehydrate the paste. I fried some paste in coconut cream in a similar way to my Massaman Curry post here (except using Green Curry Paste). Follow the Massaman Curry recipe up until the point I mention beating people back with a spoon.

Once I made the paste, I spread it out onto parchment paper and popped it in the convection oven for a few hours on very low (I don't have a dehydrator)

A few hours later, and it dried out nicely. Next I broken it up and ground it into a powder in a coffee grinder.

A few days later and I'm ready to make the concoction I'm a complete newbie at this, and so have no idea on the right ratios of stuff but I'm pretty fearless, so I just winged it 🙂

Here's the recipe I used:

– 1 cu Uncle Bens Instant Rice

– 3 Tbsp of Green Curry Paste Powder

– 1 2oz bag of Chaokoh Coconut Milk Powder

– 4 Tbsp Dried Diced Potatoes

– 3 Tbsp Dried chicken bits  (Soy product)

– 1 1/2 Dried Tbsp Onions

– 1 Tbsp Dried Peppers

– 1 tsp Lime Powder (Sour)

– 1 Tbsp Palm Sugar

– 1/2 tsp Sea Salt (My fish sauce substitute)

I simply threw all the dry stuff into a bowl, mixed it up and added to a zip lock. Final dry weight was 10.7 oz. Heavier than freeze dried fare – but a hearty meal for two.

To cook , I simply added 2 /12 cu of water. I think 2 1/4 might have been better – it was a little wet.

The taste? Outstanding, really outstanding – even if I do say so myself. Theresa tried it and wanted to eat it for dinner. The chicken bits were actually pretty decent and (IMHO) a good alternative for not carrying the weight of canned chicken. It was very spicy – as I used a lot of paste, so you might want to cut back on that if you try this at home kids.

Next time, I think I'd add fish sauce and sugar to the paste before drying it – to see how they survive, vs using salt.

And here are some photos documenting it, and the ingredients:

Olympic Granola Bars

I ordered a sample pack of Olympic Granola Bars and they arrived last week.

What's so special about these bars?

They weigh in at around 3oz each but pack a whopping 390 calories (Compare to a typical Powerbar at 2.4oz / 240cal) and oozing in a whopping 18grams of fat, and 9g of protein. (Compare with 3.5g fat, 6g protein for a Powerbar).

But aside from the energy qualities – they are made of natural, healthy ingredients.

The sample pack comes with the following eight flavours:

  • Almost Chocolate
  • Roasted Almond
  • Chocolate Peanut
  • Mocha Mint
  • Espresso Almond Chocolate
  • Turtle Mocha
  • Green Tea Zest
  • Lemon Chamomile

And I've been slowly munching my way thought them to see what I think. I've tried the Roasted Almond, the Chocolate Peanut and the Espresso Almond Chocolate so far. They are all very very tasty, albeit a little too sweet for my tastes.

They would be great on the trail – but the heavy density of nuts conflicts with my usual gorp/trail mix for on the go snacks. On a longer trip I think I'd get maxed out on nuts easily – but I certainly would take a few days of these bars – perhaps to compliment a cheese/salami day.

1977 Air Mattress

Q: How far have we come in backpacking technology in the last 30 yrs?

A: Not as far as you might think

This ad comes from an old 1977 copy of Backpacker Magazine:


Individually inflated components! Awesome if you get a puncture – it will just affect one segment vs. the entire pad. Surprisingly, at 20oz, this air mattress isn't all that far off a modern Themarest Prolite  air mattress today.

When you think of how far the computing industry has evolved in a similar time period, isn't it time the backpacking industry took some bigger leaps?

Where's my 2oz sleeping pad made of puncture-free space-age materials?

Where's my just add water and it inflates from the size of a pea to a super-comfy feather bed  air mattress?

What about the gravity-defying or rocket-booster backpack?

Olson Farms Beef Jerky

Theresa, Chester and I hit the University District Farmers Market in Seattle today.

The produce there is always spectacular and we enjoy our Saturday morning shopping trips there.

Today we bought some Olsen Farms Beef Jerky, and boy was it spectacular. Salty, garlicy and naturally raised beef. Makes me wonder if Oh Boy Oberto Jerky can ever hit my lips again 😉

This is now on my menu for our upcoming Wonderland hike next month. It tastes so good off the trail, I can only imagine how orgasmic it will be after a hard day in the mountains.

RedTrails – Interesting Hiking Resource

If you haven't already, check out For Seattleites, the amount of trail data in the Seattle area is staggering.

Heaven help the old school Print Guidebook publishers with resources like this springing up.

While it currently appears to be a Geography Thesis experiment, the potential for a site like RedTrails is huge : combined with better trail descriptions, improved organization of data and user-rated trails it might just be a force to be reckoned with some day

Nigel’s TGO Update

It's been fun to watch Nigels Live TGO Status page over the last few days.

You can see his intended route in RED and his actual route in BLUE.

The actual route is being reported hourly by his SPOT tracker device.

Given the harsh conditions for the first few days – it appears they skipped some hill climbing on day 2 and stayed low. I suspect this was their bad weather alternative route.

It's about 6pm UK time as I write and they appear to be well on their way to Fort Agustus. The weather forecast for today was clear and sunny (near freezing temps though!) so hopefully that raised their spirits a little from the brutal start.

Nigels Real-Time TGO Trip

My friend Nigel leaves for the UK to start his TGO trip next week. He's planning on taking a SPOT communicator with him and having real-time updates of his progress available at his blog.

Check out Nigels TGO Map page for real-time progress.

It shows his 'planned' route, and all points checked-in by the Spot. If you zoom out of the UK and into Seattle, you can see Nigel has been wandering between Redmond and downtown Seattle over the last few days, and either he swam across Lake Washington or the SPOT isn't all that accurate 😉

I for one, will be watching like a hawk and living my life vicariously through Nigel and Lynn, while getting fat eating donuts & coffee at my desk at Cisco. 😉

Thermarest NeoAir First Impressions

I received my new NeoAir in the mail today. My first impressions are outstanding. Read on for the gory details

I was surprised at how small the package was the came in the mail. Upon opening, the NeoAir comes nicely packed in minimal packaging and is about the size of a water bottle.

Here's a shot next to my iphone showing the scale.

After unpacking the mattress comes tightly rolled from the factory. I took a photo, as I thought I would never see my NeoAir look like this again 🙂

However, it is surprisingly easy to re-roll into this tight package even after being inflated. I unrolled the bundle and blew up the pad.

When inflated it takes on a slightly wavy shape to it.

I ordered the short model – which is quite generous in length. I've been accustomed to my Gossamer Gear Torso pad for some time now, and this new length feels down right luxurious. I can't imagine why anyone would want the regular length unless they are snow-camping.

The thickness of this mattress is what blew me away – it is a whopping 2.5  thick. Here's a few side shots:

The weight test? The specs say 9 oz for the small and 14 oz for the regular. My scale showed it at 8.9 oz after being deflated.

The comfort test? On my hardwood floors at home – down right staggering. I think it's more comfortable than my bed. The thickness feels like a crazy luxury and I can't wait to field-test it.

My current sleep solution is the Gossamer Gear Torso Pad, which while functional and very light at 4.7 oz (including the extra insulation pad) isn't exactly a comfortable nights sleep – but I've gotten used to it. The ultra plush comfort is certainly going to give me a good reason to re-think my sleep solution and consider a 5 oz gain for a better nights sleep. Although the weight penalty might be higher, as my Torso Pad currently doubles as a my packs back-pad eliminating weight from my GoLite Jam. 

Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee

I decided to bite the bullet today and pony up $3 for a 3-pack of Starbucks VIA.

My best option for backpacking so far has been Medaglia D'Oro instant espresso – which isn't terrible.

So does Starbucks VIA live up to it's hype?

In its dry form, the instant coffee resembled very finely ground regular coffee, and doesn't at all look like the typical freeze-dried granules  of the revolting varieties like Nescafe and Folgers.

The taste test? I wouldn't go as far as to call it great  – but it's actually pretty decent. On the trail – I expect it will be fabulous. It has the grittiness and texture of real brewed black coffee, and almost tastes like the real thing.

I mixed it with less water than recommended to make it nice and strong, and noticed it left a concentration in the bottom that was very bitter where the grounds didn't completely dissolve.

Definitely coming on some trips with me this year

We’re going to Wonderland – Take 2

I received a letter today saying that our permit for the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier has been approved. Last year we had to abandon our early season permit due to lingering snowpack. This year, we opted for a trip at the end August spanning over labor day weekend.

I didn't fancy our odds for a permit in August – but the stars aligned

Our Camp sites are as follows

  • Mowich Lake (Start, No Camp)
  • Mystic Camp
  • White River
  • Indian Bar
  • Maple Creek
  • Paradise River
  • Devils Dream
  • Klapatche Park
  • Golden Lakes
  • Out at Mowich Lake

Oh and to top of a great start to April – REI is apparently receiving a shipment of Thermarest NEO Air sleeping pads this week.

Flip Mino HD


The company I work for (Cisco), just announced the intent to acquire Pure Digital – makers of the Flip, for a whopping $590m. The CEO of Pure Digital, Jonathan Kaplan, was in Seattle and spoke at our company meeting yesterday.

The flip is a very cool product. I'm not sure my backpacking trips are ever entertaining enough to want to shoot video – but I'm sure some readers might find the idea interesting.

If you haven't heard of it before (living under a rock?) then it's a tiny Digital Video Camera – about 4  x 2  and weighs a ridiculous 3.3 oz. It has built-in storage, but it's elegance it truly in it's simplicity.

Jonathan was a humble yet inspiring guy – his tenacity on simplicity really shows in the Flip. I've wrestled with camcorders, codecs, video problems, fire-wire connections and all sorts of mess in the past. The flip – is insanely easy – you just flip a switch on the side and up pops a USB connector. Plug it into your PC, some simple software runs automatically and hey presto – your video is on YouTube or off to your friends and family via a link in email.

It is truly in the league of an Apple product – something all consumer companies aspire to – but very few can ever achieve.

More info at