Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Today's Review

One in the hole.

Tired of the same old Beef Stroganoff with Macaroni and Cheese 2-Serving Freeze-Dried Pro-Paks? Or possibly the Turkey with Beet Bits and Eggs and Ham and Spuds? (Also freeze-dried.) You may be, if you've been eating official hiking food for a while.

Well, just because you're going out for a few days doesn't mean you have to buy expensive meals sealed in plastic. And maybe you don't want to.

For example, have you ever read what goes into one of these high-tech meals? Maybe, or like the rest of us, the only problem you ever had was finding a rock to hide the used pouch under.

So let's take a closer look at what's inside, courtesy of the fine print from a famous brand.

This instant entree of tasty food-like substances features tender beef-lookalike critter chunks jumbled with noodles, mushrooms, and a richly sour yet cream-like sauce.

Our patented Stand-Erect™ Chow-N-Go® eating pouch, made of 100% recycled nearly food-grade running shoe soles, provides a totally easy way to cook and eat your meal.

First, open the pouch, place it in a flat spot, and add boiling water. Wait three to five minutes, then crawl over and feed yourself until satiated. Just stick your head into the pouch and have at it. There's no need for fancy utensils like plates or sporks whatsoever. Pets love it too!

Ingredients: Richly-flavored cooked animal protein (includes animal flavoring and salt), mostly-natural foaming agents, milky substances, sodium phosphate, guar gum, locust bean gum, and goo). Mushroom chips, corn starch, nonfat dry milk lookalike powder, dehydrated spices, salt, beefy-flavored flavor (roasted animal and concentrated animal stock, hydrolyzed corn gluten, other dried things and yeasty extract), molasses, more spices, and additional spicy extract. Precooked noodles are made from genuine farm products. Extra salt added for flavor.

Nothing new there, but this stuff is expensive. So next time, how about you should make your own?

"Effort," you're thinking, probably. "Effort is hard and stuff." But maybe not. There are many fine meals that even you can make along the trail. All that's really necessary is a little imagination, or hunger and a pointed stick.

Today's recipe is called "Toad in the Hole", but of course you can't eat it in the hole, which is where the pointed stick comes in.

A typical, complicated "gourmet" recipe is something like the following:


  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 sausages
  • butter or oil

Whisk the salt, egg, milk, and flour into a batter.

Roast the sausages in a small pan and remove. Toss in the butter or oil, reheat, then replace the sausages and pour in the batter.

Bake until puffy and brown all over.

See something wrong here? Yes. First, there's no toad. Second, where is the hole? And third, who carries all that stuff?

For backpackers, you have to keep it simple, and real. Real simple. In other words, take it back to basics. And we can't have any of that complicated baking.

In fact, Toad in the Hole originally started out simple. The first toad in the hole recipe didn't even call for toads, only "bits and pieces of any kind of meat", which is great, but it's easier if you aren't even that fussy.

So here is an updated recipe:


  • One hole-dwelling critter

Boil water. Pour into hole.

Wait 10 minutes, five if you are extra hungry.

Remove critter from hole with pointed stick.


Get back to hiking.

Still not sure? Here is an actual published review by an actual hiker:

By Albert H., from Nashville, TN.

Comments: I've tried this meal several times on different 3-season trips.

Overall, better than the Mountain Hut Beefy Stew with Noodly Bites, and didn't make me fart so much.

This is a great way to eat on weekend backpacking trips in the Great Smoking Mountains, where there are lots of holes.

My friends laughed at first but I saved enough money on food over the summer to afford a winter vacation to Acapulco, so that's cool, because I can hang out on the beach between visits to the parasite doctor. Sometimes it's hard finding enough live burrows near well-used camp-sites, but a warm, moist meal at the end of a long day is always nice, and it's easy to prepare. The pointed stick came in handy when the weasel was only partly cooked that one time and still had lots of fight left in him, but it worked out pretty well in the end.

I was always a skeptic about that prepacked and precooked food for hikers anyways and now I have a great alternative, and it's cheap too!


  • Easy To Prepare
  • Flavorful
  • Lightweight
  • Quick Cook Time


  • Gave me tongue warts (when I ate a real toad).
  • Wasn't fully cooked once (but I was short on stove fuel, so my fault there).
  • I thought lizards were supposed to taste like chicken.
  • My mistake, but only the first time - I thought it said "turd in a hole". Overly chewy, but still flavorful, and I caught on pretty fast.


RECIPE: Toad in the Hole