It can be challenging enough to feed Kel and me while we are on the road, but what about feeding 10 or 11 or 15? In a place with (count them) zero restaurants, convenience stores or a bright and shiny Whole Foods stocked with vegan salads, hummus and whole grain bread? Now consider that most of those I’ll be feeding are carnivores.
To celebrate my brother’s life, a big group of us – including many camping greenhorns (I’m among that number) – are heading south into the desert of Ten Mile Wash for a few days to spend time in a place my brother loved. And before we do that, we’re running, walking or strolling The Little Grand Canyon 10k. An army fights on its stomach; we have to eat. By my count we’ll have two breakfasts, two lunches and one dinner out in the boonies. I’ve cooked in small kitchens before, but the camper kitchen is a little snug, so I’m planning on bringing everything down in a nearly-finished or finished state. Coolers will be clearly marked with “breakfast,” “lunch” and “dinner.” Plastic bins will have almond butter, mixed grains, trail mix, dried fruit, utensils, kitchen towels, wet wipes, foil, freezer bags, a cutting board, knives and of course, lots of dog food for Ike. He has to eat, too.
I planned out my menu several weeks in advance and in the week before the trip, I’ve been preparing and pre-baking and -making what I can. I started with dessert first (makes sense, right?) with crazy Cookie Cookies from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. Along with Double Chocolate Cookies with Blueberries and Mini Dark Chocolate Cashew Cheezcakes (based on a recipe by Somer at Good Clean Food – who toiled away in her kitchen to develop these just for me; her selfless family did the taste-testing), our sweet teeth should be well-satisfied.
Breakfasts will consist of mixed rolled grains with dried fruit and almond milk, whole grain bread with cashew and almond butters, apples, bananas and yummy raw bars featured in a previous post; plus the amazing Cookie Bites from a recipe by Erika at Good Clean Food. My friend Sue specifically requested coffee so I’ll be bringing down a pound of Two Creek which serves up a proprietary blend from Jack Mormon Coffee.
For lunch on the first day, we’ll have BBQ Baked Tofu Sandwiches from The Real Food Daily Cookbook, by Ann Gentry, served on Ezekial sprouted (wheat-free) tortillas (these are my new favorite thing) loaded with avocado, arugula, red onion and an amazing ranch dressing also from Real Food Daily. Black bean potato salad with arugula pesto should compliment the sandwiches nicely. That recipe is courtesy of the Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health cookbook. We’ve got some gluten-intolerant folks coming along and I don’t want anyone to go hungry.
We’ll start dinner off with a few slabs of Macadamia Nut Cheez, another recipe from the good folks at The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. It can get pretty chilly in the desert as the sun sets, so I’ll employ one of the camper’s burners to heat up a big pot of Red Lentil Soup also from the first Forks Over Knives cookbook. I use green garbanzo beans instead of green beans and add mustard seeds and fresh spinach and cilantro. It is such a flavorful and satisfying soup and I was able to freeze a big batch several days before the trip. I’ll serve Curried Couscous Salad with the soup as well as whole grain rolls and the aforementioned mini Chocolate Cashew Cheezecakes.
I’m trying not to stress out too much, but there’s some pressure here. Most of the people I will be feeding are not vegan and I want their eating experience to be satisfying, surprising (in a good way) and delicious. I’d love to change some minds about what it means to eat plant-based. I’d also like to be prepared enough that I can focus on why we are out in the desert. This is all about remembering and celebrating my brother.