Thanksgiving in the Backcountry
If you find yourself itching to get into the backcountry once more before it’s completely consumed by snow, Thanksgiving weekend can be the perfect weekend to pitch the tent one more time before the snow flies. Whether you're car camping or heading into the wilderness with a pack on your back, you don’t have to sacrifice enjoying your favorite Thanksgiving dishes.
We wanted to show you that it’s possible to have a delicious, Thanksgiving like meal in the backcountry. We gathered our ingredients, packed our bags, and headed out to find the perfect spot to cook up a delicious meal using the Littlbug Junior ultralight backpacking stove.
Step 1: Prep
We may not have spent the night, but we made sure that we packed as light as possible. Weight is very important while backpacking and we didn’t want extra pounds.
We prepped most of the food at home by pre-cutting vegetables and separating them into ziplocks. Staying close to Thanksgiving favorites, we chose potatoes, onions, and brussels sprouts as our vegetables. Chopping ahead of time saved us from packing a knife and cutting board. We portioned out a cajun seasoning to add to the vegetables and packed butter to use to oil the pan. (any seasonings and oil of your choice will also work to make the perfect Thanksgiving meal).
Traditionally a side dish, we chose cranberry sauce as our dessert. We measured the proportions of sugar and cranberries needed and a zest of orange and packed them together.
We stopped by the grocery store on our way out of town to grab the most important, Thanksgiving staples - turkey and dinner rolls! We settled on a thick slice of turkey from the deli and dinner rolls from the bakery.
If you’re planning on being in the backcountry for a couple days before you enjoy your backcountry Thanksgiving, we’d recommend something that is packaged. Or at least transfer your turkey to a more secure container. For our purposes, deli turkey worked perfectly.
Step 2: Find the Perfect Spot
After hiking for a few miles we found the perfect spot on a ridge to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal. We made sure that we were far enough off the trail to not disturb other day hikers. Another enjoyable location would be near a lake or river, just make sure to respect leave no trace practices and avoid getting too close to the water while you’re cooking.
Step 3: Begin Cooking
Once our wood burning camp stove was lit, we oiled a pan and placed it on the stove to begin cooking our meal. The potatoes and onions were the first to be added to the stove since potatoes tend to take the longest to cook.
Once they reached the consistency we liked, we pushed them to one side of the pan to stay warm, and added the brussels sprouts. The brussels sprouts cooked quicker than the potatoes and we flipped them when they were half done. Lastly, we added the turkey in strips to warm up and brown. The pan contained everything essential for the perfect Thanksgiving feast.
Step 4: Enjoy
By the time food was finally ready to eat, we were hungry and chilly. Thankfully we had a warm twig stove to help warm our hands.
We chose to start the cranberry sauce while we enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner. We poured one cup of water, sugar and cranberries into a pot, and set it over the stove with a lid. Stirring frequently to avoid burning the sauce on the bottom of the pot, we waited about 10 - 15 minutes for the cranberries, sugar and water to boil down to the perfect dessert consistency.
Step 5: Clean up
Once the wood burning camp stove was cool to the touch, we dug a hole big enough to dump the ashes. We poured water over the ashes before re-burying them to ensure the coals were completely out. You can use your drinking water, water from a stream or lake if you’re close, or the water you used to clean your bowls and cookware. Once the coals are saturated, bury them with the extra dirt, making the area as flat as possible while keeping the coals buried.
We hope you can get out and enjoy being in the outdoors this Thanksgiving, and maybe even whip up a delicious Thanksgiving meal.
The Ingredients for Two
2 small potatoes - diced
½ cup onions - diced
1 cup brussels sprouts - halved/quartered
1 Tbsp cajun seasoning
¼ lb turkey breasts
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup cranberries