Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review - Another Fork in the Trail

Not long ago, I was fortunate to receive a review copy of a new cookbook called Another Fork in the Trail -- Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry, by Laurie Ann March. 

March is the author of A Fork in the Trail, a cookbook for backpacking and camping enthusiasts. Like its predecessor, Another Fork in the Trail is chock-full of recipes that are meant to be enjoyed in the outdoors. Unlike the previous book, all of the recipes in Another Fork in the Trail are either vegan or vegetarian, and many are gluten-free. March explains in the introduction that, after the publication of her first book, she wished she had included more recipes for those with special diets.  That's how this sequel came about. 

My own memories of camping trips as a kid bring back some interesting food memories. Kraft spaghetti dinners in a box were standard.  Add water and stir!  We also ate tons of PB&J sandwiches made with Goobers -- I'm guessing this was a space-saving attempt on my mom's part, since the peanut butter and jelly came all in one jar!  Often (especially if it was raining and he grew tired of cursing at a campfire that refused to stay lit) my dad would just drive us into the nearest town and get a pizza.

Needless to say, I was impressed by March's gourmet offerings. Blueberry Hazelnut Quinoa to make waking up at dawn a little easier? Chocolate-covered Wasabi Peas with Pomegranate to bring along on your hike? Red Peppers and Artichokes with Saffron after a day of canoeing? Black Urad Dal Burritos for those times when the fish aren't biting (and you don't eat fish?) This is not your typical camp food.

Some of March's recipes are meant to be prepared at home, dehydrated, then rehydrated in the wilderness. Dehydration assures freshness, and dehydrated foods also take up less space, which is especially important when backpacking. Other recipes are meant to be cooked at the campsite.  In this case, March gives instructions for cooking over a campfire or camp stove. If you don't have a camping trip planned, many recipes can be made and eaten from the comfort of home. Simply leave out the dehydrating and rehydrating steps. Other recipes, particularly the baked goods, would be hard to follow in an indoor kitchen. Since they are meant to be baked over a campfire or camp stove, there are no baking times or temperatures for a conventional oven.

I made three of the recipes, and all were winners.

First, Vanilla Sugared Almonds with Dried Berries. This is a great energy-giving snack. The crunchy almonds and chewy dried cranberries and blueberries are fun for kids to eat.

Next, Grilled Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa.  It never occurred to me to grill strawberries. What a cool idea! Grilling softens and sweetens the berries. If you enjoy peach or mango salsas, try strawberry!

Finally, Cinnamon Apple Crisps. I had been intending to attempt drying fruits in my dehydrator, and this recipe made my first attempt successful.  Soaking the apple slices in a water/lemon juice mixture prevented the unsightly browning that can occur. Sprinkled with cinnamon, these little rings are cute as well as tasty. My kids love their chewy texture. 

Tony and I are excited to take Jackson and Olivia on their first camping trip this fall, when the weather cools down. I have so many awesome memories of summers spent running around in the woods (Goobers and all!) and I can't wait to build new memories with my little family.  I'll definitely be referring to this cookbook when that time rolls around. I wouldn't suggest running out and buying this book if you're not a camper or backpacker, due to the unsuitability of several of the recipes to an indoor kitchen. If you only camp or hike occasionally, this book might still be worth the purchase price if you're interested in learning more about dehydrating foods, since March is super knowledgeable in that area.  And if you're a vegan who spends a lot of time in the backcountry, then of course, this book is perfect for you.

Do you like to go camping? Where are some places you've camped or hiked?


  1. What an awesome sounding book!! We do a lot of camping, and while I have out menu pretty much set by this point, it's always nice to have some new ideas!!
    (I have an Olivia too, only she's 18!!)

  2. Hi Sara,

    I came across your review of my book today while working on some promotional things. I was in the backcountry with our 14 month old daughter, Kaia, when you posted it. It was her first wilderness trip and things went well although travel time was a little more lengthy than we had anticipated. We also have a 10 year old boy named Tobias and he was a huge help with his baby sister. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the kind review and say that I am happy to hear that the kids liked the recipes. Have a blast on your fall camping trip with the little ones.

    All the best,
    Laurie Ann