Appalachian Trail Mix Recipe

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SANDRA KOCHER
Syrian Salad adds parsley, herbs, and tomatoes to the basic mix.

About nine years ago, a college student named Craig
Bumgarner stopped along the Vermont section of the
Appalachian Trail, whipped up a tasty casserole, and shared
the meal with veteran hiker Edward B. Garvey. Ed, who had
already walked the many miles of the Trail from Georgia,
was on his way to Maine. Later–when Mr. Garvey
described his more-than-2,000-mile trek in the book
Appalachian Hiker (Appalachian Books, 1971. $4.95)–he wrote enthusiastically about Craig’s
delicious, protein-balanced trail mix recipe that combined two grains
and one legume. Backpackers all over the country
soon began experimenting with variations on that original
recipe.

The Basic Mix

To prepare this lightweight, nutritious dish, you’ll need 2
cups of brown rice (short or long grain), 1 cup of barley,
1 cup of lentils, and 4 teaspoons of salt. Then, add 2
parts water to 1 part Mix, bring it to a boil for 1
minute, reduce the heat, and
simmer–covered–for 40 to 60 minutes. (You can
cut the cooking time if you pre-crack your grain ingredients
in a grinder or a blender.) One cup of the dry mixture
(which can be packed in individual-serving-sized plastic
bags before you hit the trail) will–once
cooked–satisfy two very hungry hikers or three
or four less active people.

And, although the basic Mix is scrumptious, other
ingredients can be substituted or added when you’re in
the mood for a change or just want to cook up a special
treat. I’ve tried a number of variations on the recipe over
the years and have come up with these three personal
favorites:

Herbed Tomato Blend

In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of Mix, 1 teaspoon of sweet
basil, 1 tablespoon of parsley, 1/4 teaspoon of oregano,
and 2 1/2 cups of tomato juice to a boil for 1 minute, and
then reduce the heat to low. Cook the mixture for about 50
minutes, stirring occasionally, and–if desired–sprinkle
grated Parmesan cheese on top before serving. NOTE: The
proportions mentioned are for dried herbs. Triple the
quantities when these ingredients are used fresh.

Mushroom Curry In-The-Pines

Heat 1
tablespoon of butter (or vegetable oil) in a pot and stir
in 1 chopped onion (or 1 tablespoon of dried onion flakes)
and 1 teaspoon of curry powder. Next. add 2 1/4 cups of
water, 1 cup of Mix, and 1 package of dry mushroom soup (or
substitute 1 /2 cup of dried mushroom pieces and 1/2 cup of
milk powder). Stir the curry well, and bring it to a boil
for 1 minute. Then, reduce the heat (or place the pan over
a few glowing coals), add 1/2 cup of raisins, and let the
dish simmer for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finally, serve the spicy treat with peanuts, sunflower
seeds, and/or grated coconut.

Syrian Salad

This is a variation on the popular Near Eastern salad
called tabouli, which is traditionally made with bulghur
and served with tender, young grape leaves.

First, cook 1 cup of Mix in 2 scant cups of water until the
ingredients are soft and all the liquid is absorbed (about
50 minutes). Then, pour it into another bowl or pot and
toss in 1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley, 1/3 cup of diced
mint, 1/4 cup of chopped green onion, 1 or more tomatoes
cut in small pieces, 1/4 cup of olive or other vegetable
oil, and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. (Dried parsley, mint, and
onions may be substituted for the fresh ingredients if you reduce the given amounts by 2 to 3 tablespoons
each.)

Toss the salad gently and chill, if possible. Then, serve
your backpacker’s masterpiece with fresh lettuce leaves.
You’ll find this dish makes a tasty sandwich filling too, especially if it’s served in pita bread.