Food (for thought) and cooking while on the trail ..aka potcosey and macaroni

We all know this…though we like to admit it or not…. when going on a hike food is important. Not just because we simply need the calories it provides, but also the comfortfactor that comes with it.

If you go away for just a week or so nowadays it’s fairly simple since there are good (freeze) dried meals out there, with plenty of variety, and we don’t have to reach for MRE’s or tinned rations anymore (they arent bad mind you, they weigh more, but you don’t need to add extra water, so netto it’s the same) .

If you go out for 4 months though, easy acces to expedition type meals is not so obvious, so “real cooking” comes into play:

– Carbohydrates: Easy 2 options there, pasta and rice … Pasta provide the best calories, rice the easiest cooking option (as i found out this weekend)

– Proteins: Dried sausage of some kind, spam, canned ham, corned beef…none of them realy light, but you can’t do without and beefjerky is just not readily available in the supermarkets here in europe.

-vedgies: Tomatoes, union, beans…I’m just nog a vedgie guy, I suspect I’ll go for the “vitamins in a pill” option and grab a few apples and oranges along the way…No real challenge there.

Back to real cooking and when you are out and about with just an alcohol stove, more importantly  “potcosey” cooking. It’s a great  blast from the past. Our grandparents used it in the last century for making all kinds of stew etc .. a hay box.. The modern day hiker of course doesn’t carry around hay (although lets be honest…grab a lot of dried gras or dry mos etc and wouldnt that make a nice potcosey..or just stick that pot in you down sleeping bag!!..make sure you pot is clean though 😉 ) I’m sure we all have played arount with various kinds of radiatorfoil…and it works..and it’s it’s great far so good..

Since i’ve discovered the potcosey, I have been cooking my rice this way, even at home (Yes folks i wil get out my cooking kit when im make rice at home…it’s easy and it just works…bring the water to the boil with the rice in it, stick it in the cosey and 20 minutes later its done, and it’s nicer and fluffier than I ever get it on the stove.

So where is this going you wonder? (wait for it!) ..what about pasta, macaroni in this case?! (Pasta was the better calories per weight remember, so preferred when you need 3500  calories a day approximately) Weellllll the package says cook for 8 minutes, the same as the rice package says, queue the stick in cosey and wait 20 minutes (I skipped over the tiny diference where the rice package says and after cooking for 8 minutes let it stand for 15 minutes and the macaroni doesn’t…I’m a MAN afterall, we don’t bother with little details like that!!) So i brought it to the boil (added some extra water because it seemed to absorp water rather quickly), stuck it in the cosey and proceeded to chop up a can of spam, half an union (damn I forgot the other half is still in my backpack..*runs downstairs*) and a tomatoe and stir fry it all together in my tiny trangia messtin..any meat works with half an union and a tomato I guess and so did this.

So twenty minutes of messing about over the trangia later, I set my messtin away, and lifted the lid of the looked good, just like it should look! ….. and i stuck my folding titanium spoon in the pot..and it went clunck at the hinges…The moment I touched it, I discovered I had created something that could rival with powerglue! I managed to spoon most of it through my spam, tomatoe and union mixture and at it, it tasted OK actually, the texture wasn’t briljant…for you dutch folks out there if I mention peanutbutter sticking to the top of your mouth you know what I mean …Cleaning my pot was challenging…

So what did we learn this weekend?

A: Im a horrible cook…no news there really
B: Any canned meat with half an union and a tomato works ( I smelled the tin of catfood I fed to the cats today…I can make this work with half and union and a tomato…honest!!)
C: You can overcook pasta to where it becomes something ferocious!

I had a great easterweekend out though with my brother in law (lucky him he didnt need to eat what i cooked 😀 ) and with any failure comes a lesson,  so it’s never a waste!









Food for Thought

So far, since I decided to actually do this walk,  a lot of work has been done, fun work as I would call it

  • Trying gear, swapping gear, re-trying gear, testing gear ideas ..and failing.. rince repeat
  • Taking every opportunity to walk with my backpack(s)..even if this means an hour around the block at 10 PM at night
  • Making decissions on what to take with me and what not (that probably wont be done till the day I actually leave for the Belgian coast 😉
  • Looking at food stuff, deciding what meals can be created from stuff your average supermarket could have, that won’t spoil easily (I can’t take hiking food for 4 months with me, and since an average christmascard can take up to 3 months to arrive at my friends in Normandy I’m not going to trust poste restante)

But there is of course a lot of non-fun stuff that will have to be dealt with: Insurances (standard travel insurance doesn’t cover a 4 month trip abroad), what route to take in detail (though I have GPS tracks), making sure bills keep being paid, financing the trip, where to stay in the evenings…

It’s one thing planning a one or two week trip, things seem to get a litle more complex when you start thinking about “months” …

Even though I’ve now been preparing for this for quite a few months, I still have moments at night where I lie awake, wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into, and the next day? I feel like I’m 100 meters tall..floating on air, ready to conquer the world, ready to just say sod it!, grab my kit and just go.. It’s a true rollercoaster sometimes, and no doubt it will be till the end :), luckily lately it’s more ups than downs.

The funny thing is, I’m not doing this with somekind of to-do list or planning software, I do have an extensive gearlist which helps to focus my thoughts (Thanks Johan!), but that’s about it. The rest of it is all buzzing inside my head like some giant 3-D puzzle, chaotic at times, extremely focussed the next time.

And when I’m working on that puzzle, there is always that little voice in the back of my head telling me its allright, it will all come together. It makes me think of an article I read not to long ago on the website, about Jamie McDonald, who actually ran across Canada (so what am I worried about??)  and about an interview he gave:

Q: “I was asked how I’d prepare for the more than 5,000 miles that lay ahead of me”
A: “I answered truthfully and said that I wouldn’t – no amount of training or planning could have prepared me for this journey”

I guess that is the next hill I need to climb..letting go of trying to prepare for every little detail that I can think of and enjoy the journey, because in the end that is what it is all about … who knows maybe I’m further up that hill than I realise I am.



PS: Since a few days there is also a Facebook page up about the 14-18 walk, but you will find various other WW1 related articles there , as well. You can find it at :