02 December 2008
Note: Many of these articles are very old, and although the technical information is still relevant the equipment mentioned may not be (for example a Stormy cooker was state of that art in 1995, but not in 2021).
Having covered breakfast and lunch in the last two issues it’s now it’s time to cover dinner, or tea if you’re from the North. Being a huge area of receipt ideas I’ve decided to begin with the simplest and most popular bivy food of all; noodles. Noodles are perhaps the perfect shot term bivy food being very light, fairly compact, pretty high in calories and best of all quick to cook and cheap. The drawbacks of noodles are that they don’t provide high quality carbs (such as can be found in unprocessed dried food like wild or brown rice), and so aren’t great for a long term hill diet, but for most routes they are perfect, filling the stomach and providing a very effective weight to calorie meal. Preparation is as simple as it gets, just boil a small amount of water (about 300 ml for dry noodles) and add the noodles (it’s best if you break them up). If it’s not too cold and you have time to wait, or you’re using an insulated mug, then just poor on the boiling water and wait a few minutes. If it’s cold then you may need to bring the water back to the boil then let the noodles stand, but whatever way you cook them there is nothing that cooks so fast. Whatever way you cook the noodles the fuel saved compared to other dried foods is huge, as both pasta and rice not only takes longer but also requires more water. With food so simple and popular you may well be asking why write about it? Well one way to make the most of your noodles is to serve it Japanese Ramen style, which is basically a meal of soup and noodles, and is an ideal way of reduce fuel consumption, and both cooking time and eating time, important if you’re eager to get some sleep or avoid exposing yourself to the cold and the night. Instead of the usual first course of cupper soup followed by noodles (which are often drained, wasting water), both parts are combined, giving you a half, to one litre, of noodly soup. By far the best noodles for this job are Bachelor Super noodles as they give a big portion of noodles that are large enough to be split if you find the route taking longer then expected. The flavour that comes with these noodles should be discarded (and kept as an emergency drink stock), as it’s not strong enough to flavour half a litre of soup. This is replaced with a single serving instant soup (cupper soup), of which the thick chunky variety are best. Rather then just pouring the soup into the water with the noodles, add some water to the foil soup packet before the water boils and mix into a paste then add to the soup. This stops the usual problem of big globs of undissolved soup ending up at the bottom of your pan, which is a waist of taste and extremely unpleasant if swallowed! This also gives the chunky bits time to hydrate, so you don’t end up with carrot that tastes like wood chip. Once boiling, break up the noodles and add to the water, bring back to the boil then let stand. As it stands you now have a high calorie, high water content meal then has taken you minimal time to prepare. You can improve this meal in several ways, either to increase calories or taste, hopefully both at the same time. Firstly you can increase the low fat content of the meal by adding olive oil, carried in a tiny plastic bottle, or one of those individual servings of butter you get in cafes. My personal favourite is to fill a 100ml Nalgen bottle with good quality olive oil, adding chilli powder, garlic, pepper, spices and salt to the oil, giving my noodles a real zing when added. Olive oil will freeze, so you’ll need to stick the plastic bottle in your boiling water while cooking. You can add protein and fat to the dish by adding thin slices of sausage, tinned fish or cheese (those individual cheeses are good for this). Another thing that can be added is crotons, which both bulk out the food and add lightweight calories to the meal.