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Eggs in the Backcountry

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With Easter being just around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to talk about eggs in the back country for this months food feature. I’ve always been a big fan of eggs for breakfast and sometimes we will switch things up and have eggs for our dinner.

Fresh Eggs

The eggs we get from the grocery store aren’t always as fresh as one would think and it is best to get your eggs directly from a farm if you are planning to use fresh in the backcountry. Often, eggs in the store were laid several weeks before you bought them. There are many schools of thought on keeping eggs fresh for a week or more. It is important that you don’t wash the eggs because once you do, you’ll have to refrigerate them. Egg shells are porous so some people use a thin coating of Vaseline on the shells and others wrap the uncracked eggs in vegetable oil soaked paper towel. We did this when I was a child in a 4-H outdoor living course and it is a common practice with Scouting groups. It is best to package fresh eggs in a hard-sided container to prevent breakage. If an egg cracks, you will need to throw it out so it is should pack a few extras.

The following recipe uses fresh eggs and ham. Therefore, it is best for the first morning, in cooler temperatures, or on base camping trips where a cooler bag would be feasible.

Monte Cristo
from A Fork in the Trail © 2008

Makes 2 servings

Basically a French toast sandwich with a savory twist, a Monte Cristo makes a hearty breakfast or a delicious brunch.

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
6 very thin slices Black Forest ham
2 slices Swiss cheese
1 tomato (optional)
4 1/2 inch thick slices French bread
1 tablespoon butter

At Home
Wrap the bread slices in plastic wrap. Pack the bread and seasonings with the dry goods you are taking. Place the remaining ingredients in a cooler just before you leave.

At Camp
Beat 2 eggs in a small pot with 1/4 cup milk, and add salt and pepper as desired. Put 3 slices of ham, a slice of Swiss cheese, and a tomato slice between 2 pieces of bread. Repeat with the other 2 pieces of bread, and set the sandwiches aside. Preheat a frying pan over medium heat, and add 1/2 tablespoon of butter.

Dip one of the sandwiches briefly in the egg mixture, being sure both sides are coated with the egg mixture. Fry the coated sandwich, turning once, until both sides are golden. Dip and fry the other sandwich until golden.

Powdered Scrambled Egg Mix

If we are planning to have an egg dish later than the first or second day, I prefer to err on the side of caution and use a powdered or crystallized scrambled egg product. There are several good ones on the market but I recommend trying a few different brands to see which you like best. I’ve had success with Ova-Easy Egg Mix, Adventure Egg Anywhere Scrambles, and the scrambled egg mix from Walton Feed. Don’t use whole powdered egg because that is a product designed for baking and you’ll find the flavor less than desirable.

Back country Veggie Frittata

Dehydration Time: 7–9 hours
Makes 2 servings

This vegetable and egg dish is delicious served with bannock or flatbread.

1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, well drained
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup frozen mixed vegetables
2 servings powdered scrambled egg mix (the equivalent of 4 scrambled eggs)
Water as directed on the powdered egg package
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
Butter or vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

At Home
Dehydrate the vegetables for 7 to 9 hours and place in a Ziploc. Put the scrambled egg mix in a small freezer Ziploc with a note about how much water to add to reconstitute. Wrap the Swiss cheese in plastic wrap. Add the package of powdered scrambled egg mix and cheese to the bag containing the spinach. Add the butter or oil to what you will take on your trip.

At Camp
Combine equal parts of boiling water and dried mixed vegetables to reconstitute. Let sit for about 15 minutes. In a separate container, mix scrambled egg powder with the water as indicated on the note you enclosed and beat well with a fork. Put a little butter or oil in the bottom of a pot or frying pan. Add ¼ cup of Swiss cheese to the egg mixture and pour into the preheated pan. Drain the vegetables if necessary. Top the egg mixture with the rehydrated vegetables and cook on medium to low heat until the egg mixture is cooked. Add salt and pepper. Remove the frittata from the pan, cut it into two servings, and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of grated Swiss cheese.

Tip
If a little egg mixture remains uncooked in the center, just tilt the pan slightly and let the uncooked egg move to the outer edges.

Having an eggy breakfast can help you get cracking in the morning.

Laurie Ann lives in Brant County, Ontario, Canada. She loves to escape the city as often as possible to backpack, hike, or paddle with her husband, Bryan, and her two children. Seeing nature through her children’s eyes is one of her greatest rewards and she remembers how special camping trips were in her own childhood. Her passion for the outdoors has gone far beyond hobby. She is the author of two backcountry cookbooks and an instructor of wilderness cooking workshops in which she teaches the special skills needed to prepare food for wilderness excursions. Laurie is the owner of the popular Canadian e-zine www.OutdoorAdventureCanada.com. Her other hobbies include photography, sketching, and throwing dinner parties. Laurie's second cookbook, Another Fork in the Trail, is now available on a bookshelf near you.

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