Over a winter of working outside, I have started to develop methods to phase out the need for a fire or stove. I discovered my body has a built in microwave that operates while I am hiking. Okay, so this is not particularly new technology, but I’m working on better ways to utilize it.
Here’s an example of a typical recipe:
At home, pre-cook quesadillas. Don’t get overzealous with the nice fatty cheese – keep them thin, and cut them into small pieces. Arrange in packaging to maximize surface area.
When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 37C climbing some fun hills. Put the package against the skin of your lower back, tucked under your waistband and insulated by your pack. Bake for ten minutes at an average hiking pace, turning once.
To consume, only take out one piece at a time and keep the package warm against your body. When eaten this way, the food stays about as warm as it usually is when eaten at home.
Personally, I see little advantage in heating foods above body temperature anyway. True, they will not warm you up in the same way, but adequate and thoughtful use of insulation should negate the need for that. What’s important to me is that it does not make you cold or lower morale, and I find a piece of food at body temperature just as satisfying as one above.
Obviously this does not work for meals that require water. I do still miss soup because the volume of water tricks me into thinking I have consumed a lot more than I really have, but just keeping well hydrated, even on cold water, while hiking and active can keep me feeling full and happy. And when on nice, warm sunny days I can still eat my powdered milk muesli in a bag.
This style of “cooking” completely eliminates my need for any cooking gear, which offers weight savings and, more important to me, a simplified gear list and reduced bulk. I really don’t miss the chore of cooking – it seems I always need the warm food to take away the chill I got while cooking it. I’d rather spend the time going more leisurely on the trail, writing more in my journal, and taking better pictures.
I have not used this style much yet, so don’t take it too seriously.