Written by Kieran Creevy, MHW ambassador, expedition and private chef & International Mountain Leader.
Think about your favorite meal shared at home or in a restaurant with family and friends… Now go back to your last mid-hike, trail run, or climbing session snack. Odds are, they’re vastly different. Imagine combining the benefits of both into one simple, flavor- and nutrient-rich meal: something that can be made as easily in mountains as your own kitchen—and taste as if it was made by your own private chef!
Too often we leave our mountain food choices to the last minute, buying supplies on the way to the trailhead or maybe just scrounging the pantry for whatever’s left from the week prior. But, if we plan our menus and practice recipes in advance, we can reduce food waste and single-use plastic consumption, save money by buying smarter, and eat healthier.
Given that it might take a few weeks or months before we get to head out on big mountain trips, now is a great time to test out new recipes and menus for the outdoors while at home. These two recipes have been staples in my outdoor cooking and private chef work for many years: the first, a simple cornbread, I’ve served on arctic ski tours, in jungle and Himalayan basecamps, and at outdoor festivals and backyard cookouts; and the other, spicy polenta grits, came about thanks to my friend, Jen, who introduced me to Creole food in the Colorado Rockies almost 5 years ago and has since been a go-to dish for winter camping in the Italian Dolomites and on Campervan road trips.
Now, onto the recipes!
This dish is easy to make, has easy-to-find ingredients, and is widely adaptable to dietary needs and palates. You could replace the corn flour with wholemeal or rye flour, add cured meats, or replace the cheese for a fully vegan bread.
(Serves approx. 2-3)
What you’ll need…
First, to make the cornbread, mix together the corn flour, spices, salt, and oil in a drybag until it looks like breadcrumbs. Then, add in the cheese, seeds, and a little water at a time. Knead until you have a smooth dough and store in the drybag.
Place the skillet on your camping stove over medium heat. Break off a golf ball size lump of dough, roll in between your hands until smooth and flat. Dust with a little corn flour and place in the skillet. Dry fry for a few minutes on both sides until cooked through and the cheese starts to ooze out.
You can adapt and/or add ingredients such as these to suit your taste…
You can make batches of these breads in advance to take as an on-the-move snack by wrapping in beeswax cloth.
Jalapeño & Herb Polenta Grits with Spring Onion and Cheese:
Classic hominy corn grits take 20-25 minutes of simmering on a medium heat to cook properly. While this is fine at home, it’s fuel inefficient for camp cooking. This is where fine polenta comes in handy.
Instead of using up valuable fuel, you only need to bring water to a boil, then let that heat cook the polenta for you.
In sub-zero temperatures, I prefer to use insulated food canisters for dishes like this, doubling up as both a leak-proof container and a bowl from which to eat.
What you’ll need…
Pack all ingredients into a leakproof container and take to camp. Decant the ingredients into your first bowl while heating the water over the stove.
Once the water is at a boil, slowly pour into the bowl a little at a time, mixing thoroughly as you go. You should be looking for a consistency somewhere between risotto and barely-cooked scrambled eggs.
Divide the grits between the two bowls, top with any extras, and enjoy!