photo of recipe: shepards pieSavory, comforting and super easy to make.  This classic dish makes a great dinner on a cold evening.

For the last two summers B and I have been spending our big vacation getaway taking Alpine Climbing classes from the American Alpine Institute up in Washington State. We learned ice walking, crevasse rescue, multi-pitch climbing, basic navigation, and we summited two peaks! Those vacations were, for me, working vacations. Spending so much time pushing myself beyond my limits is exhilarating and exhausting.

That is why this summer, I voted for a long, but familiar type of outdoor adventure: a 10 day backpacking trip in King’s Canyon. I have never been to King’s Canyon, but have been on muli-day backpacking trips more times than I can count. I am looking forward to the long days of walking, sleeping out of doors, and eating delicious food!

I have a few of my old favorite recipes that I will make like Pasta with Meat Sauce, Thanksgiving Dinner, Breakfast Burritos but I also want to bring along a few new recipes, including some new meals for breakfast and lunch. Jerky, commercial energy bars, nuts & dried fruit can get pretty boring after several days. And it is a challenge balancing the amount of calories you need each day with the amount of food you can carry.

Because of these limitations, I’ve been focusing most of my energy on dinner recipes including this new one: Shepard’s Pie. It incorporates some of my staples – dehydrated ground beef and instant mashed potatoes. I’ve also developed a new “leather” for this recipe made from wine, tomato paste and worcestershire sauce. For this recipe you will need at least two pots and a stove that simmers (not a great recipe for the JetBoil).

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Shepard’s Pie – Serves 2
1 package instant mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 lb ground beef – dehydrated*
3 Tbsp beef bouillon
3 Tbsp carrots – dehydrated
2 Tbsp celery – dehydrated
2 Tbsp peas – dehydrated
2 tsp onion – minced, dried
2 thyme sprigs
Pepper to taste
1 package or 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese (optional)

At home:
Prepare the wine leather by combining the tomato paste, worcestershire sauce and wine in a pan. Heat to a boil and set aside to cool. Once cool, pour onto plastic dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 135 degrees until the mixture has formed in to a “leather” (about 4 hours). Remove from trays and set aside.

While the wine leather is drying, combine the beef through the rest of the ingredients into a Ziploc bag and write 2 cups water on the bag with a sharpie. Add 1/2 of the dehydrated wine leather to the bag.

On the trail:
Prepare the mashed potatoes according to package directions in one pan and set aside. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in the second pan. While the water is heating, remove the wine leather from the Ziploc and stir in to the water to dissolve. When the water begins to boil, pour rest of mixture in and stir. Bring back to a gentle boil. Boil for 3 minutes, covered. After 3 minutes, spoon prepared mashed potatoes onto top of beef mixture. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Turn heat off, cover, and let sit for 7-10 minutes.

It just occurred to me that I don’t need to eat breakfast type foods for breakfast. Shepard’s Pie on a chilly morning with a cup of irish coffee might be a nice way to start the day!

*I dehydrate my ground beef with 1/2 cup of flour mixed in. The flour dries on the beef, and when it is reconstituted later, makes a nice gravy. If your beef does not have flour, you can add to Tbsp of flour to the Ziploc along with the rest of the ingredients. You can also use a beef gravy packet instead of flour, but if you do, omit the beef bouillon from the recipe.