Sunday, April 3, 2011

Styrofoam or Beef Stew?

So a few weekends ago was the "girls weekend".  What I mean is that my oldest daughter had a Cheer banquet to attend on Sunday and my youngest daughter had a Dance convention thing all weekend and my wife was attending both events.  My job was to watch whichever daughter was home  and to be available when they were coming back and forth to their activities.  My movements were limited, but I enjoy my time with the girls.  Especially when we have one on one father-daughter time.

On Saturday around Noon it was damp, cold, and windy and there wasn't much else to do except cook lunch.  It was a perfect opportunity to test out my new backpack stove and backpacker dehydrated food!  I tried to convince my oldest daughter that this would be fun, but she gave me one of those looks.  You know the kind that says your "old, weird, and I am not doing that" without her saying anything other than "Dad".  I was not discouraged though.  I proceeded to dig out my new MSR Pocket Rocket stove and a packet of Mountain House beef stew.  I bought this stove for my potential elk hunting trip that I may take this year and other backpacking trips I would like to take in the future, but since I am a planner by nature, I needed to test the equipment and the cuisine under controlled conditions (i.e. if I don't like the food I can get a Whataburger instead).

I started by getting out the stove and reading the instructions.  Amazingly there were about 5 different sets of instructions with various languages.  I had no idea this was such a global product.  It appeared to be easy enough.  I remove the stove from the box and screw it on to the fuel canister, turn the valve and light it.  When the stove lit, it made a satisfying "foom" sound that means we are cooking with gas!  I then place my "all-in-one" cooking pot/cup on top with about 16 ounces of water to be heated to a boil.

On the menu is beef stew.  I am skeptical to say the least.  When I think of beef stew ready made, I think of hungry man soup, full of vegetables and hunks of beef!  I anticipate this being more like styrofoam in brown water.

The instructions say to heat 16 ounces of water to a rolling boil, then pour the water into the packet and reseal.  Wait 8-10 minutes and then enjoy your beef stew!  No I know I didn't have to heat the water on my little stove since I was home, but I wanted the full effect.

After following the directions and waiting the prescribed amount of time, I opened the packet and was pleasantly surprised!  It smelled fantastic and looked good too.  There was nothing styrofoamy about this dish.  I ate nearly the whole thing (with my compact camping spork I might add).  Check this test off as a success for both the stove (it was really easy to use) and the beef stew (this is will hit the spot on a cold night)!

I tried to get my oldest daughter to try a bite and although she was appreciative of my offer, there was no way she was eating stew in a bag.  I think I ruined it when I showed her the bag before I cooked it and demonstrated how dry and crunchy everything sounded inside.

The weekend ended with some time spent with my youngest.  We headed for the indoor rock climbing wall at the gym.  We both love to climb and enjoy encouraging each other as we attempt different routes along the walls.  This is my daughter in the picture below nearly to the top of the wall.

Just to prove that this old man can still climb, here is another photo I took of her while she is climbing after I had already reached the top.  We both climb until our hands and arms are completely weak from exhaustion and we love every minute of it!

The weekend is gone and Turkey season is fast approaching.  I can hear it in the distance now....yelp, yelp, yelp........ gobble, gobble....... BOOM!   Ah, the sounds of spring.


  1. Mountain house is awesome! I get it at sames club and take it with me on all my hiking trips. Great post

  2. Great article and the pictures!!!!!!! Can't wait to hear about your next adventure!!!

  3. I love my MSR Pocket Rocket! I remember the first time I used it I barely turned up the gas at was taking hours to boil water...then a friend said "is that as high as it will go?" I didn't know so I cranked it up...and sounded like a rocket was taking off from our camp. BTW...just wait till you taste that stuff out on the trail...something about knowing you can't just go get a whataburger makes it taste 10x better. Another great brand is Backpackers Pantry...their chicken and dumplings is by far my favorite camp food. I don't backpack without it!

  4. Great post! Since I dislike inline backpacking stoves, I have an MSR Windpro, which rocks! Funny how none of these meals in a bag ever taste like cardboard or styrofoam. Either that or I'm just really hungry. My favorite is the Backpackers Pantry Pad Thai...good stuff!