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Seamus K - Irish tech industry expat living in Sweden.

Tag: food

Breakfast

Homemade granola

Homemade granola

I finally found a way to enjoy oats in the morning – turn it into home made granola. Then eat with some yoghurt. Yummy.

To make it take:

  • Two cups oats
  • Half cup seeds (I used pumpkin)
  • Half cup raisins
  • Three tablespoons maple syrup
  • Half tea spoon vanilla extract
  • Two tablespoons coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt

Mix it all up, and give it about 10-15 minutes on the oven on a baking tray at 150C.

The smell alone in the kitchen afterwards makes it worth it.

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Hiking the Sörmlandsleden with a Combat HR Specialist

This week’s Meetup.com hike was a beast. We did 24km, and we did it at a galloping pace covering the distance in about five and a quarters hours, or over 4.5 km an hour. Not bad for sustained walking on rough ground.

routeMy ambition is to start doing some multi-day hikes, and I need to eat healthier,  so I have been experimenting with alternatives to the sandwiches and chocolate I would usually bring. Most people go for sandwiches (Sweden and Ireland). But a few eat hot food. So I thought it was time I brought out my stove for its first use in the wilderness*.

On a previous hike someone showed me their preferred trail recipe – boil water, add a stock cube, stir in a can of tuna. “Yum! No, it’s fine, you can have all of it”.

In the interests of research, and my palate, I went for one of my freeze dried packets. This week it was one I picked up in the US –  Mary Jane’s Farm, Lentils, Rice & Indian Spice. For snacks I had some home made trail mix, and a RawBite bar.

RawBite vs Clif - the one on top is far betterThe RawBite’s are Danish, and made with just nuts and fruit. Compared to Clif Bars, they are cheaper, lighter (50g vs 68), have 15% more calories per gram (213 vs 250 total for each), and most importantly smell and taste much much better! Snack breaks on the walk where half of one, together with a handful of the trailmix washed down with water. Then for lunch out came the JetBoil.

Prepping for lunchI boiled up two cups of water, and one went into the food pouch.  The pouch was paper based (so you can burn it if needed) and had good tear marks. It didn’t have a fill level inside, which is always a plus. And there was no way to seal the bag once the water was in. I folded the top down twice and let is sit for 10 minutes. Then the rest of the water went into a mug to make a cup of tea. Barry’s tea, with real milk. That done, I went back to the Lentils and Rice.

Freeze dried lunchWhen I unrolled the top of the bag I was hit by a wonderful aroma. Lentils and rice are small so don’t suffer from the freeze drying process. Everything had rehydrated nicely, and the texture and taste was good. Very good. Maybe it was my hunger, and the wooded surroundings, but there was no difficulty in eating up every single bite. The spices were just right, giving enough flavour to what could otherwise could have been very bland. But it certainly could not have been called “spicy” (I bring a tiny bottle of tabasco to take care of that if/when needed).

It had cost me $8.66 in REI in Dallas. It was vegan friendly and organic. The stats are:

  • MaryJanes Outpost, freeze dried foodPrice: €7.60
  • Weight: 122g
  • Calories: 435kcal
  • kCal/100g: 356
  • Fat: 1.5g
  • Approx shelf life: 24 months

If it loses out somewhere it is that the calorie value is a low. Most of these meals I have tried are over 550kCal. For that reason it is probably better as a lunch rather than a dinner option.

When I had finished it I was able to drink my tea like a proper gentleman. Prep, cooking, eating, and pack up took about 25 minutes. And it was great to have a hot lunch on a day when the temperature was about 6°C.

One of the nice things about these hikes is the people you meet. Two weeks ago I talked to a digital artist for DICE, who designs foliage for the Battlefield series of games. He spent much of the walk taking research photos. This week there was a release manager for Spotify, and a guy who had just left the British Army where he had worked as a “Combat HR Specialist” in Afghanistan. I bet you didn’t meet anyone as interesting as that today 🙂

* I have used it in parks and campsites before.

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Freeze dried food – “Good-To-Go”

Good-To-Go Thai Curry frontIn the last year or so I have been experimenting with freeze dried food. You don’t see it too often in Ireland, but gear shops in Sweden and the US tend to stock plenty of it. It’s a dining option for people spending time in the outdoors, and certainly in the US it is also marketed as an emergency preparedness thing.

As I might occasionally need to use this stuff in anger in the hills or forests. And because it makers a change from eating in restaurants. And as gear shopping is fun, I have been buying and sampling various freeze dried and semi-dried meal-in-a-bag offerings to see what is good and bad. I posted most of the results on Facebook before now. But I will move them all to this site this week.

As I was in REI on Sunday I picked up 2 dinners from the very good Mary Jane’s Outpost range. And I spotted a new vendor – Good To Go which I had not seen before. I grabbed the “Smoked Three Bean Chili” and the “Thai Curry”. This evening as I didn’t fancy going out, I used the hotel room coffee maker to boil water and I sat down to try the Thai Curry.

What is insideThe first thing I found was that this stuff needs an awful lot of water. The pouch was big, and held about 189g of “food”. That’s more than the two Mary Jane’s which were 122g and 158g each. the instructions were to open the included sachet of coconut milk powder, then add 600ml of boiling water and let sit for a rather lengthy 20 minutes. Most others I have eaten are 5-10 minutes. There were no volume markings inside the pouch so you have to bring your measuring cup to know how much water to add.

I was a bit nervous at first that there was too much water, but when I reopened the pouch after the wait it all looked fine. And boy was there a lot in the finished pouch. I have never felt like I have eaten as much from a freeze dried meal. It just went on, and on. And even better it was very very tasty.

After it has sat for 20 minutesThe rice had rehydrated well so the grains were not crunchy. There were thumb sized chunks of broccoli to provide texture and something to chew on. The best thing was the flavours and smell. It tasted like a curry, and had a lovely aroma of coconut and spices. Texture and consistency was good throughout – there were no lumps of dry powder. This was one of the best free dried meals I have ever had. I was looking forward to each bite, and it certainly didn’t taste like backpacking food.

Each pouch cost $11.50 which is a little pricey. But as well as excellent taste and quality, you do get 760kcal of food, which is about 25% more than most of the competition. It was guten free and suitable for pescatarian’s whatever they are. The stats are:

  • Price: US$11.50 (before tax)
  • Weight: 189g
  • Calories: 760kcal
  • kCal/100g: 402
  • Fat: 28g
  • Approx shelf life: 18 months

Good-To-Go are relatively new as a company, so their range just has 4 offerings right now: Bean Chili, Green Curry, Classic Marinara with Penne, and Herbed Mushroom Risotto. The Curry gets 5/5. And I will be going back to REI on my way to the airport to pick up a few more!

 

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Pancakes in Sweden. Better than in Ireland

While everyone in Ireland was enjoying their pancakes last Tuesday I had some roast vegetables. Not that I minded because in Sweden, every Thursday is pancake Thursday. And as today was Thursday it was time for split-pea soup with bacon, and pancakes.

Pancakes and Pea Soup in Sweden

Pancakes and Pea Soup in Sweden

It is served every week in the work canteen. The pea soup is a bit of an acquired taste, but there is no difficulty eating a plateful of pancakes with jam and some cream.

Wikipedia says the origin is religious and similar to the pre-lent tradition in Ireland – you ate pancakes to prepare for the coming fast. Not that I will be doing much fasting tomorrow.

I do miss lemon juice and sugar for my pancakes. But the kudos to the Swedes for deciding that this is a treat you should have once a week and not once a year. That is

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