Remember how I predicted a few more mountain-top meals and inevitable mishaps during our three week road trip across the Rocky Mountains? Well…cue MOSQUITOES. Much to our surprise, we hadn’t seen these pesky little guys at all during the first two weeks of our trip. We all but forgot about the 25% DEET bug spray for “Sportsmen” (I laughed out loud when I saw that slogan on the bottle) that my colleague shoved into my hand on my last day of work. “I promise, you’ll thank me,” she said. We had become so tuned into listening for the howls of wolves and the cracking of branches from large mammals, that we didn’t realize that bugs would be the culprits that would ultimately take us down.
We started in on a hike through the forest on the Skyline Trail in Jasper, AB. We switched back and forth for about 10 km until we popped out above the tree line. Man, what a sight! We were smack in the middle of a saddle – two ways down the mountain in opposite directions, and two ways up in the other two directions. There were patches of snow still remaining from the long winter and a few small creeks switching across each other through the pass. We didn’t see another soul during the whole trek! How lucky we thought we were; just us and a dozen or so marmots checking us out from their holes in the ground.
We made it to the campsite around 8pm and quickly made our tent so that we could settle in and watch the sunset as we made dinner. We were keeping one eye out for the big bad wolves that threatened our thoughts as nighttime crept in, so we didn’t notice the tiny terrors sneaking into our tent! All of a sudden I heard Tal practically screech, “MOSQUITOES! GET IN THE TENT!!!” Now, I should mention that, like any sane individual, Tal has a full on HATE for any tiny creature buzzing in his ears. To top it off, bugs seem to smell him from miles away, creating a cloud around the poor man, while I sit untouched. But this time? This time was different. All of a sudden these mosquitoes were in my shirt, on my face, and attempting to break down my hiking boots to get at my feet. In one bold move, Tal unzipped the tent door, shoved us both in, zipped us back up, and clapped his hands around like a crazy person until every last one was dead. Yes, dead. I’m sorry mosquitoes but it was either you or our sanity.
Needless to say, we didn’t leave the tent until dawn. I know what you’re thinking: we broke the number one rule of camping in the Rockies. DON’T cook food in your tent. But come on! I would have rather seen a Grizzly bear at that point.
Now why am I telling you this story? Well, all good meals come with a great story behind it, even if the story is sometimes ridiculous. Fortunately for us, I had prepared my classic green lentil and rice dish, so at least we were able to sleep with full stomachs that night. The best part about this meal is that it can fit in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag and will last in your backpack for several days on an overnight camping trip. Needless to say, this meal also appears regularly at our dinner table because it is as hearty and delicious as any home cooked meal.
Green Lentils and Rice
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 35 minutes Serves: 4 people
1 cup green lentils, dried
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
½ cup thinly sliced purple cabbage OR carrots
4 cups water
1 tsp cumin
¾ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup chopped parley, optional
Juice of ½ lemon, optional
1. Add all ingredients, except the parsley and lemon, into a pot and cover with a lid.
2. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low to simmer for 30 minutes until the rice and lentils are cooked.
3. Turn off the heat, add the parley and lemon juice if desired.
4. Serve, and enjoy!