Dining on the Playa - What do you bring to eat?

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Dining on the Playa - What do you bring to eat?

Postby Major Mallet » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:13 pm

So, what food do you bring to the playa? What tips do you have to make the “dining in the dustâ€
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Postby BAS » Sun Mar 18, 2007 8:15 pm

Well, here is more of a DON'T: don't bring EAS meal replacement bars and leave them unprotected in a cooler full of ice! The glue they use on the packages is water soluable (dissolves in water-- I can't seem to get the spelling right). The bars then melt into disgusting goo which will float on the surface of the melted water and get onto everything else in the cooler. Pretty disgusting, and learned the hard way last summer....


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Postby phil » Sun Mar 18, 2007 9:15 pm

Louise and I bring regular food that we cook on our gas stove. We also bring HeaterMeals for those time when cooking isn't possible, but we need a real meal (hypoglycemia).

Many people seem to live on ramen, though.

Dining in the dust is a pleasure with your friends.
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Postby sacred573 » Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:11 pm

I'm a 20 year old bachelor. I am most certainly not going to luck pots and pans and shit so I can cook food. Just seems to difficult to me. (But I rarely cook at home, too.)

I'll be bringing bread, and peanut butter, and things that don't have to be heated. Maybe bring a cake that can just be cut and munched on.

Oh... I want to bring lots of fruits and veggies. (Figure I could store them in a cooler and keep ice in it.)

I figured it would do me good to have a light diet for that week. Fasting and placing strict diet retrictions have often been done to encourage spiritual experiences.
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Postby K-mom » Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:46 pm

Just don't bother trying to ration out those fruits and veggies; eat them the first few days. I don't know how but that environment will wither anything away regardless of ice and coolers.
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Postby lizzizy » Sun Mar 18, 2007 11:34 pm

We had pretty good luck with apples, oranges, and carrot sticks last year, but the less hardy veggies and fruit had to be eaten in the first 2 days.

Our camp doesn't cook terribly often, but a favorite is grilled cheese sandwiches, particularly at night when its gotten cold. The warm melty cheese is great.

During the day when its hot, we stick mostly to munching on cereal (sans milk) and other non-perishables. We also brought along some canned fruit that we kept in a cooler. It tastes really good on a hot afternoon.
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Postby The CO » Sun Mar 18, 2007 11:58 pm

Some faves from 10+ years of desert cuisine:

Some kind of juice blend (odwalla, genesis, bolthouse, yer own fave)- 1 or 2 a day instead of fresh fruit. Keeps as long as you need it to, vitamins good for you, etc.

MREs are good, but not to the exclusion of anything else.

Canned soups/chili/ravioili is easy to cook in it's own can.

Boiler omlets (eggs et. all in a good ziploc, boil. recipes abound)

Bisquick can make a variety of goods out there. Pancakes, fried biscuits.

Rice/almond milk does not beed to be refridgerated until opened.

Bacon is never bad. Cleaning up after it can be.

Pasta & chili can be homemade & frozen before heading out for good home cooked meals, and can be boiled in it's own ziploc in a pinch to reduce dishes.

Falafel, cous-cous, look to middle eastern dishes. They have been cooking in the desert for some time.

I know they have a bad rep, but instant mashed taters are a treat out there. Not at home.

Single serve fruit cups!

Jerky.
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Postby Toolmaker » Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:23 am

This years menu includes

Porterhouse steaks
Filet Mignon
Hamburgers
Shrimp
Tuna
Salmon
Babyback ribs
Sausage
Assorted veggies
Assorted ramen style "bowl noodle"
Cashews
Honey roasted peanuts
Eggs
Pancakes
Creamed chipped beef
Scrapple
Bread and rolls
Lots of water
Earl grey tea
Green tea
Chimay Triple
Gatorade
Bawls
Vodka
Orange Juice

Some dehydrated meals as a backup in case I fell lazy one day
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Postby Dork » Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:32 am

A few general tips:
Bring less fresh food (anything that could spoil) than you think you will eat. Your appetite will be reduced by the heat and there are often people giving out really good food to their neighbors. If it goes bad, it will spend the rest of the week and the drive home stinking things up. If you have something that will only last a few days, make sure it's finished off! Give it to someone else if necessary.

With packaged food, bring as much as you like, but only bring things you would eat if they were sitting on the shelf at home.

Bring only foods you've experimented with at home. Put it in the fridge for a week and heat it in a pan on the stove or let it sit in the sun like you would on the playa. If it doesn't taste good at home, it won't out there either.

I don't do any cooking out there anymore. It's more crap to bring, more cleaning to do, and more waste water to deal with. I eat things that taste good after sitting on the hood of my car for a while to warm up, or that taste good straight out of the cooler. Chili, mellons, grapes, M&Ms, nuts, burritos (buy the good ones, cut in half, and freeze), canned soup, crackers.

Anything that goes in the cooler MUST be in a ziplock or other reliable sealed container.

Do not bring any uncooked meat unless you're prepared to handle it carefully.
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Postby Mushroom » Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:11 am

I was thinking of bringing Meal Replacement Shakes (they're kind of like SlimFast). They come in a tin so they're easily recycled as long as I leave the labels at home. I usually have these here at home for breakfast and/or lunch. Good idea or bad idea?

Oh and sun cooking is awsome I used to do it when I was a kid in my backyard hotdogs were my fave!
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Postby Dork » Mon Mar 19, 2007 3:26 am

Mushroom wrote:I was thinking of bringing Meal Replacement Shakes (they're kind of like SlimFast). They come in a tin so they're easily recycled as long as I leave the labels at home. I usually have these here at home for breakfast and/or lunch. Good idea or bad idea?

I wouldn't suggest ONLY eating those, or doing any other radical change unless you know your body can handle it, but as one meal a day they sound perfect.
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Postby gyre » Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:09 am

I've kept fruit all week and milk too.
Spoil yourself.
Albacore tuna in the foil is easy to carry around.
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Postby robotland » Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:48 am

http://www.spacefoodsticks.com/spacefood/index.html

They're ba-a-a-ck! I'm disappointed that they're not "sticks", even though it's, uh, PART OF THE NAME. *sigh*

Bigtime activity around the smoker, come late August. Giant batches of jerky and, this year, salmon!
The recent boom in precooked and prepackaged room-temp entrees has made many choices possible. Browse the canned meat aisle. I tried one of the no-fridge turkey-stuffing-potato pods last year and determined that the hood of the car just wasn't hot enough to get it up to eatin' temp although I left it there ALL DAY, so be prepared to eat as-is or improvise. Precooked BACON is available in several forms. Although disposing of the can and oil is a problem, smoked oysters or mussels are mighty tasty.
Dried pineapple and other fruit. (Dried mango is revolting, though. A shock, considering how exquisite they are when fresh.)
I used to cook in restaurants and co-ops, and still sometimes feel the need to make GIANT batches of something like gumbo, soup or spaghetti sauce- If you do this sometime before going Home, freeze a bag or two of your home cookin' to use as cooler ballast and then consume as they thaw...Make room in the freezer for the bags to lay flat, and stack the bags with paper towel between them so they don't stick together. DO NOT just lay the bags on the freezer racks, as they will bloop down around the rack wires and lock into place for eternity. I just can't seem to break myself of this stupid habit!
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Postby Zhust » Mon Mar 19, 2007 6:17 am

Plan your food on the hottest days of the year. That is, on those days where the temperature gets over 90 degrees (Fahrenheit that is, you silly Venusians) consider what it is you want to eat. I found this to be a good suggestion -- particularly for things that you're not sure about. I experimented with crunchy granola recipes and checked to make sure I'd like it when it was hot out before I made dozens of batches to bring out.

I'll also echo the "eat fresh fruit fast" sentiment: For anything that has a short shelf-life (fresh fruit, bread, cheese), I'd estimate that it will spoil 3 times faster out there.
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Postby skygod » Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:53 am

I ate a lot of bratwurst last year.
I'd cook 6-7 of em at a time everyday on my little propane grill, and hand them out to my neighbors. Sizzling brats smell great!
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Postby phil » Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:10 am

I have no problem cooking every meal and cleaning up afteward. For those that do, drop by
http://www.cieux.com/bm/quickMeals.html
and take a browse: MRE and MRE-style self-heating meals, boil in the bag or pour boiling water in the bag meals, ramen, survival rations, and a link to Minimus, a place that sells person-sized everything - toothpaste to condiments.

Many of the sites we mention offer gluten-free, whatever vegetarian variations, kosher, Thai, Indian, and so on.

MREs have a full day's ration of calories, salt, and fat in each meal, which is too much for us, but probably fits the needs of many burners. Other self-heating meals provide a meal's worth of calories and such, so read each brand for details. Louise and I have used HeaterMeals for years - they're self-heating meals that have from 500 to 900 calories per meal. Some people hate them, though, so try out a meal or two of whatever you think might appeal before you go to the playa with a week's worth and find you can't stomach them.

If you can boil water, ramen, Cup O' Soup, Oodles of Noodles, and the like will get you by for a day or two till you get bored out of your mind or starved.

Survival rations are sort of cookies made for sailors who are stranded in mid-ocean. I've forgotten what brand I've tasted, but they're not bad as a taste standing at the counter. I've bought 2400-calory bar, and I'll see what it's like trying to eat more than a taste. I've seen them offered in 1200, 2400, and 3600 calory bars.

I understand that many people have no problems skipping meals and eating snacks for a week. What many people do _not_ appreciate is that many people at Burning Man have dietary issues that require meals at more or less regular intervals: diabetes, hypoglycemia, and the like.
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Postby Mushroom » Mon Mar 19, 2007 2:56 pm

[quote="Dork"][quote="Mushroom"]I was thinking of bringing Meal Replacement Shakes (they're kind of like SlimFast). They come in a tin so they're easily recycled as long as I leave the labels at home. I usually have these here at home for breakfast and/or lunch. Good idea or bad idea?[/quote]
I wouldn't suggest ONLY eating those, or doing any other radical change unless you know your body can handle it, but as one meal a day they sound perfect.[/quote]

I definately was not planning on having these as my only staple, but rather jsut doing what I do here (at home)

I'm so glad someone posted about space food I have been looking for that for years now, the only thing I can get around here is strawberries (and apparently Im the only one of my friends that actually likes the stuff and eats it on a regular bases.

and if anyone can fiigure out why I can't quote things in little boxes like everyone else please let me know.
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Postby Dork » Mon Mar 19, 2007 3:10 pm

Mushroom wrote:and if anyone can fiigure out why I can't quote things in little boxes like everyone else please let me know.

Make sure "Disable BBCode in this post" is not checked when you post. You can also go into your profile and turn on "always allow BBCode" so it doesn't get checked by default.

Kind of a bug... it should uncheck that option if you quote someone or use the formatting buttons above the post. But I digress...
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Postby Mushroom » Mon Mar 19, 2007 3:15 pm

Dork wrote:
Mushroom wrote:and if anyone can fiigure out why I can't quote things in little boxes like everyone else please let me know.

Make sure "Disable BBCode in this post" is not checked when you post. You can also go into your profile and turn on "always allow BBCode" so it doesn't get checked by default.

Kind of a bug... it should uncheck that option if you quote someone or use the formatting buttons above the post. But I digress...


thx :) it worked
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Postby diane o'thirst » Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:59 pm

To me, Yo-to-Go Smoothies and Horizon choc milk steri-paks are indispensible. Same with oatmeal and hot cocoa mix: they come in paper envelopes so MOOP isn't much of an issue with those as with the steri-paks.

I bring meat, Antarctic winter-frozen, but I endeavour to bring as much lean, boneless as I can. Meat this year will be turkey legs, SAUSAGE IS THE NEW BACON!, and maybe steak and some chicken for quesadillas. Brought some Omaha Steaks last year and they were wonderful. I've done the elaborate camp kitchen deal in the past and it's out of my blood now, so my camp kitchen is pared down, lean, mean, and still kicks ass.

We've had good results with potatoes in the past but their prep tends to create greywater, so I'm opting out of that as a starch and bringing apples, rice and couscous for my complex carbs this year. We've also had excellent results with peaches, honeydew melon (the ORG minions are wrong, melons do indeed get eaten out there), strawberries, grapes, peppers and oranges. Yes, bring oranges. They are wonderful and you can use the peels to give your shelter a nice orange potpourri scent, or to rub on your feet to cut the Playa.

You can also do that with limes. A cool lime wedge rubbed on your poor Playa-dusted soles and tootsies during Sunstorm in your shade pavilion is next to heavenly. Bring a bag of limes for cocktails, and another for your feet and face. Citrus zest mixed into your pancake batter is a nice zingy touch.

Omelettes are very good. You can put anything in them.
Cheese is another favourite. Quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches of your own (Bianca's is dearly missed), over salads, over chili, on grillburgers, in an omelette. If you want to deal with the greywater and make pasta, parmesan is de rigeur and it keeps nicely. Melted brie with apple slices and crackers is a wonderful munchly treat for those up-late-chatting-with-campmates-and/or-neighbours sessions.

Pizza can be grilled! Did you know that? And grilled pizza is very good.
Tortillas — IMO, shouldn't be bought, bring the flour and water and butter and make them fresh. Thirty minutes from ingredients measured to being digested and they can be used as plates and/or utensils. No cleanup.
If you get your grill hot enough, like flames licking up the sides from underneath, you can even make naan, the Indian flatbread made with yoghurt. It takes a little longer than tortillas because it's yeasted, but boy is it a hit.
Coleman makes ovens that sit on top of their burners so you can do hearth loaf bread if you have one of those. Tip: go to Home Depot, get a small field tile (6") and place that on the oven's rack. Let it heat up along with the oven and load your bread on the tile, chased with a squirt of DRINKING water for steam. Et le voilà — steam-baked, oven-sprung breadbowl.

I'm mostly concentrating on soup and oatmeal for my dinners and breakfasts this year. I got a slow cooker so I'm making one or two batches of soup a month and freezing them in Ziplocs.

It sounds awful but I like frogmore stew. No frog meat in it, don't know why it's called that, but it's serious yummy. Cut-up sausage, shrimp and corn. I like to spice it up with red peppers, but then again I'm a big peppers fan.

Perennial kitchen equipment:
• Gas stove, of course. Make sure it works before packing it, give it a test run. That works fine for up to five people, but if you have more you should probably spring the $100 for one of those big standup propane cookers with the iron grilles.
• Wok, naturally,
• Turkey deep fryer. Can be used to fry a turkey, or filled with soup, stew or chili if you're feeding twenty or more people. Can also be used for pasta if you want to deal with 3 gallons of salty, dusty greywater after dinner.
• Dutch oven, of whatever size.
• Cutting board for meat,
• Cutting board for onions/garlic,
• Cutting board for everything else,
• Bowls, preferably plastic or copper if you have them. They recently found out that copper does a better job of killing microbes than stainless steel surfaces so scramble your eggs in a copper bowl and saw goodbye to salmonella,
• Chef's knife, pasta server, spatula, tongs, carving knife, bench scraper,
• Teakettle.

Last year I found a wonderful piece of equipment at the Sportsman's Guide, they called it a tri-level dutch oven but it's really a combination hibachi and potbellied stove. Did most of my dinners on that. It's a little bit of a learning curve because it's a basic implement, but the results rocked.

Okay, I have a candlelight vigil to get ready for, I'm going to stop here before I go off!
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Postby CapSmashy » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:01 pm

I am probably going to be loading up on canned meats, pre-cooked packaged rice, udon soup in a bowl, working out some spice blends and soy sauce for seasoning, yummy yummy sausages, jarred/canned roasted bell peppers, sundried tomatoes and lots of fruit cups. I'll probably pack lots of extra fruit cups because they are always a really big hit and something people tend to forget. I've made friends for life on camping treks when I whipped out some cold Mandarin orange slices and handed them out to neighbors.

And the breakfast food. Eggs, smoked sausage, cheese and taters all mixed up into a wonderful pile of awesome yumminess and of course, Tang. I'll probably have a dedicated breakfast cooler considering the length of the stay out there.

Costco has roast beef in a can. Normally, the idea of canned cow used to scare me because of its ultra high sodium count and just the idea of it being beef...in a can. The Costco stuff is low sodium (well, low for meat in a can) and after experimenting, is actually quite tasty.

So I think a lot of my mainstay diet will be either beef or chicken, mixed in with sauteed bell peppers, garlic and soy sauce served over rice. I can whip it up in about 10 minutes on the stove, its quite filling and since it tastes good at home in the kitchen, it will be exquisite when living out of a tent.

That in and of itself is quite a curious phenomenon... I took some Dinty Moore beef stew cans camping once. I would never have tried this stuff at home, but it looked like a good plan for camping with. After a hard day of running, jumping, swimming, etc. that canned beef stew was the most incredible thing EVER! I wanted to lick the can out but my tongue would not reach the bottom. I made some at home a few weeks later and it was very blah. It has never let me down while camping though and there are always a can or three packed in my food crate.
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Postby gyre » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:23 pm

Canned fruit and fresh fruit is great out there.
Bananas will dry out eventually, but I had a mango I forgot to eat and kept it all week and ate it at home.
Best mango ever.
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Postby phil » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:29 pm

I like canned fruit and canned fruit juice; V8, too. Lots of water and electrolytes in fruit juices, I figure.
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Postby robotland » Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:29 pm

CapSmashy wrote: I took some Dinty Moore beef stew cans camping once. I would never have tried this stuff at home, but it looked like a good plan for camping with. After a hard day of running, jumping, swimming, etc. that canned beef stew was the most incredible thing EVER! I wanted to lick the can out but my tongue would not reach the bottom. I made some at home a few weeks later and it was very blah. It has never let me down while camping though and there are always a can or three packed in my food crate.


A SERIOUS omission to my "favorites" list. I stand appended. Furthermore, I miss the big red thumbprint that USED to grace the top of each can.
Dang! I could go for some NOW! That spongy meat....the uniform, yet savory liquid...
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Postby skygod » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:01 am

CapSmashy wrote: I've made friends for life on camping treks when I whipped out some cold Mandarin orange slices and handed them out to neighbors.

You are so right about the orange slices. I bought a case, 24 I think, of these little cans, Del Monte mandarin slices for pretty cheap at costco and I would always take a few when I went out on my day's playa trek. They have a pop-top. People would brighten up and smile when I gave it to them. Out on the dusty desert, those sweet, bright wedges are like life itself on your tongue. It's like a circus in you mouf!
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Postby Major Mallet » Wed Mar 21, 2007 5:47 pm

Wow - some great suggestions and ideas here - especially about handling fresh fruit and other fresh fruit substitutes. Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply. I also really like the idea of gifting fruit cups. I was going to bring extra AA and AAA batteries to use as gifts but I think I will bring some extra fruit cups as well. Pretty slick idea.

Now, are there any more food thoughts /stories / insights out there?
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Postby Dork » Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:07 pm

If you can find a good one, pineapple is wonderful! Lots of waste, so slice it up at home and put it in a sealed container. It lasts the whole week in a cooler. Canteloupe also can be sliced and stored, though it will get a little mushy by the end of the week.

Summer sausage, crackers, and cheese make great easy snacks. Hard boiled eggs, or even deviled eggs are great for breakfast, eat them straight out of the cooler.

Small packages of snack food (crackers, pretzels, etc) are handy for hanging out with friends at night. One of my camp mates brought many packs of fish crackers and they disappeared quickly.
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Postby gyre » Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:14 pm

I found powdered guanabanana mix.
I'm sure they have mango and so on as well.

Irradiated meats can be kept in the plastic until ready to cook without cooling.
Same with milk and other things.
I just bought mango juice from brazil in cartons.
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Postby Mushroom » Thu Mar 22, 2007 7:41 am

pineapple? ahhh death! death on the playa! lol I'm alergic to pineapple.

anyhow (sorry I never miss an opportunity to call pineapple death) I was actually wondering what you use to wash your dishes... I mean I'm a vegetarian so I was fully prepared to eat it all raw, but seeing as it may not all last I was thnking about eating mexican style but even for that you still need utencils etc to cook the food, I'm not worried about a little bit of grey watter but soap doesn't evaporate am I taking this stuff home with me or is there yet another trick that I haven't heard about?
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Postby Lassen Forge » Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:19 am

Paper plates and bowls (the paper ones, not the plastic or plasticized type, like chinet) burn in burn barrels. You can even go so far as having a stack of paper coffee cups. But that's the way to go. Get the thick ones as they'll stand up better. Burn them and be done with it. Same with paper towels - A bit extravagent, but burnable, which *does* make a dif.

Bring your own set of metal eating utensils from home, and rinse them in not-very-soapy water (see below). Same with cooking implements - use *very little* soap and rely on the hot water instead as your prime cleaning power.

Also... Doc Bonners will evaporate to a thin crust which is also burnable/biodegradable. I prefer the unscented baby soap for dishwashing and whatnot, but that's a solution. Also works good for showering out there.

Water spread thin on a largish black plastic tarp will evaporate surprisingly well. Then you roll up the tarp (which has the food and soap residue) and include in your non-burnable, non-recyclable trash.

Now. IF you make a dry-ice freezer, you can make up things like Vegi Chili, pasta sauces & pasta, Soups and/or stews, etc. ahead of time and freeze them in Heavy-Duty (so they don't sog out when used to cook in) ziploc sandwich baggies (or seal-a-meal gigs if you feel extravagent). Transport them up in your DI freezer, thaw, heat in boiling water or in a pan (once thawed), and enjoy.

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