Howdy to all of you super-outdoorsy souls who are planning your menu for this summer’s camping, climbing, rafting, bicycling, kayaking, or hiking trip. It’s a general truth that dehydrated meals are the way to go when you’re going to be carrying any kind of weight on your back or in your boat . . . and it’s also a general truth that while some of these ready-made meals that you buy in expensive outdoor stores are pretty darned good, others are, at best, kind of mediocre. Why not set mediocrity aside and start each day on the trail with a fresh and energizing cup of Bircher muesli? It’s easy to make, it’s healthful, and it tastes great!
Bircher muesli is one of those meals that tastes good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is a healthy and creative choice that tastes good if you roughly follow the script of oats, fruit, coconut, honey, nuts, berries . . . you get the idea. It’s made of good stuff that is easy to pack and you can prepare it in advance of the trip. And the best part? Muesli doesn’t require any cooking, which makes it an ideal choice for those trips that are going to include some dry camps. Easy, healthy, tasty, and easy to prepare . . . you can’t get it wrong.
I started packing my own version of Bircher muesli the summer that Mitch the Mobius joined the trail crew as Camp Cook. This particular crew worked trail up in the high High Country so the work season was short. We made summer base camp at one of the high lakes once the snow receded and the supply horses could make it up the trail. We operated as Trail Rovers who did trail maintenance, cleaned up camp sites, and packed out a whole heck of a lot of annoying garbage from the High Country. Depending on the destination, one might have to pack some overnight gear to cover the necessary miles — but, as a rule, we all generally did our best to return to camp each night to eat around the fire and sleep in our roomy, canvas wall tents.
We actually had it pretty good in camp, as it was stocked at the beginning of each season with gear and supplies, compliments of Sam, Jim, and Katy — our much-appreciated district pack horses. At the beginning of the summer, we had brief and glorious access to butter, eggs, cheese, and cream . . . and we even had an ice cream maker for our season-end Ice Cream Feed — the snowfields providing us with just enough “ice” to “freeze” the cream. Albeit, the ice cream ran a bit on the soft side, but it was pure 100% wilderness luxury.
Mitch the Mobius was what you would call an Unknown Quantity. He came from Havre, Montana, and was a self-professed jack-of-all-trades. I don’t know about the veracity of his self-professing, but one thing we were quick to learn about Mitch: He was an Ace Bull Shitter who ruled camp with a Mighty Spoon. What Mitch made, we were to eat . . . all according to the Rules of Mitch. And that was that. His was a simple system: Whatever we didn’t finishing eating the night before was added to breakfast. Whatever we didn’t finish eating at breakfast was added to dinner. And so it went. This might not sound that bad, but think back to your past few meals. And imagine combining them all together. Trust me. It’s a bad idea.
Mitch wasn’t that great of a cook to begin with . . . and then add to this fact Mitch’s Recycled Leftovers . . . well, dinner started to feel more like a punishment than a satiating pleasure. Example: If you’ve ever had Montana chili added to your morning oatmeal, you’ll know what I mean. Think about it. Do you add brown sugar and milk to the concoction? Or Tapatio sauce and alfalfa sprouts? Or do what we ended up doing and that was to add nothing at all and simply eat it for its value of mixed-media sustenance. It was always a tough choice, one that we didn’t feel we should have to be making. I mean how hard is it to make a simple, decent, edible meal?
No matter how much complaining we did, Mitch stuck to his Zero Tolerance Policy of Leftovers. Mitch added dinner macaroni to breakfast scrambled eggs, and he then added said macaroni-scrambled eggs to beef barley soup for dinner. There was no end to the ludicrous chain of combinations. Leftover Morning Coffee was used as the liquid ingredient for dinner cornbread –> coffee-cornbread went into the next day’s breakfast pancakes –> coffee-cornbread-pancakes went into dinner biscuits. I think you get the idea. You had the sense that what had been served as our first meal our first night in camp was still morphing itself in Mitch’s Petri Pot of Anthropological Proportions — resulting in an enduro of marathon indigestion that would only end when we ate our final camp meal in early September.
The more we complained, I swear, the more we were subjected to Mitch’s One-Man Campaign of Retaliation and he made even larger portions at meal time . . . meaning that even more Special Ingredients were destined to be added to Mitch’s next Mazy Meal. And on it went. We were caught up in Mitch’s Infinite Mobius Meal Plan of Frugal Retribution. As I could see it, there was no solution to the dilemma other than to take up fasting.
This is when I started to make my own Bircher muesli. I could guarantee that I was going to start my day right with food that wouldn’t sucker-punch my gut later in the morning. And it was simple. I would soak my muesli in my mess kit the night before and hang it in the bear bag. Voila! Instant healthful breakfast awaiting my morning.
The rest of the crew became privy to the Revelation of my Bircher meusli breakfast and, before you knew it, we were all hoisting Survival Quantities of muesli up the cable in the bear bag each evening. The result? We weren’t eating Mitch’s cuisine quite as desperately and Mitch’s leftovers started to back up on Mitch in a big way. Even Mitch couldn’t think of what to do next with his Salami Corn Salsa French Toast Chicken à la King if we weren’t going to consent to eat it.
Plus, the side benefits of us planning on muesli for breakfast is that we could snack on some of the raw ingredients for lunch when we were out on the trail. Muesli: a win-win choice. And a big Paleo Prize for us Rebels with a Righteous Nutritional Cause.
It all came round right when the district’s horse wrangler came up the hill to pack our gear out for the season. It was Tradition that the wrangler would come bearing berries for pie and cream for the ice cream maker. All of us were quite vocal, along with some strident cussing, that Mitch was not to lay the breath of a single fingerprint on our end-of-season Berry Pie a la Mode. No, as much as we all knew the rules of the trail to respect Camp Cookie, Mitch was not going to throw a tangle into our Ice Cream Soiree.
Which just goes to show the power of Tradition. We were willing to endure substandard, mean-spirited, frugal, gut-bomb meals for an entire season . . . but mess with our pie and ice cream? We became a pack of mama bears protecting our beloved cubs. The season was drawing to a conclusion, and we realized that we had somehow survived Mitch’s splenetic temperament and gastronomic combinations, for better or for worse.
I am happy to say, Mitch didn’t return to camp the following summer. We heard that he fell in love with some gal from Missoula whom he met while grocery shopping in the meat department of Safeway and they were fixing to get hitched. I wondered if she knew what she was getting into, what with Mitch’s extreme frugality and hard-line philosophy, but who can say what wins out in the ways of love? And food to boot? Certainly not me. All I have to say is congratulations and best wishes to the couple.
All Mitch matters aside, here is one really simple recipe for Bircher muesli to make at home. Once you read through the ingredients, you are going to see why there isn’t really any specifically-measured list of ingredients for this home and camp winner. And I don’t know a lot about Gordon Ramsay, but I am thinking that he knows his way around a muesli recipe.
Bircher Muesli Recipe
A healthy breakfast from Food Network star Gordon Ramsay.
1-3/4 cups low-fat milk
1 tbsp runny honey
2/3 cup low-fat plain yogurt
Apple juice to taste
Step 1: Put rolled oats in a bowl and pour on milk (or enough to moisten). Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, ideally overnight.
Step 2: Coarsely grate an apple over the oats, discarding the core and seeds.
Step 3: Stir in honey and plain yogurt. Add a splash of apple juice or a little more milk to loosen the mixture if it is too thick. Serve drizzled with a little more honey and topped with fresh berries and toasted walnuts.
Recipe taken from https://houseandhome.com/recipe/bircher-muesli-recipe/
AND . . . FOR YOU GOOD HIKERS, CAMPERS, GLAMPERS, RAFTERS, CLIMBERS . . . ETC.
If you are camping, hiking, etc. . . .
Don’t worry about the yogurt. You can bring powdered milk or you can bring a container of almond, coconut, hemp, or rice milk in its stead.
Substitute dried fruits for the fresh fruit and brown sugar for the honey.
I make the oat mixture ahead of my trip and then add almond milk when I get to camp. Muesli can be eaten by soaking it first overnight or soaking it when you are making your coffee or by eating it raw. It’s your choice! That is the beauty of muesli.
Here’s my general recipe:
- rolled oats: start with about 2 cups and then go from there, depending on how many other ingredients you add
- nuts: walnuts, almonds
- seeds: sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp
- dried fruits: apple, apricots, pineapple, golden raisins, cherries
- coconut, shredded or flakes
- quinoa flakes
- puffed amaranth
- cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of vanilla
Have fun with this! And check out the containers below for carrying your muesli mix and for your milk of choice.
As always, Boots here hoping that you will have happy trails and palatable meals to boot!
Life is a lively event. Get out in the high country, drink coffee, and get to it! What’s stopping you?