Friday, 7 September 2007

Why Weight?

The morphic resonances of the bloggersphere never cease to amaze me. Just as the American Bushman was posting ‘unloading superfluous gear’ BoB and I were having a conversation along similar lines. As well as using his visit as an opportunity to give me the Opinels he told me the location of a long-time-no-see Trangia stove that he didn’t have a need for. As things do, the conversation rambled round to talking about the lightening the load, travelling with as little kit as possible, while still having everything you need to look after yourself. I showed BoB the amazing Anti Gravity Gear site and the caldera stove system, which is basically a Trangia that’s been seriously slimmed down.
BoB said he’d seen an article from the 1950’s where guys going on a climbing expedition carrying framed rucksacks had wielded up the holes in the frames, enabling them to use their frames as fuel bottles.

As even the most cursory look at the scouting and hunting technologies of the first nations shows, the need-for-speed in backcountry travel is as old as backcountry travel itself. Saxton Pope took instruction from Ishi’s in the art and science of travelling light.

‘In our early training with Ishi, the Indian, he taught us to look before he taught us to shoot. "Little bit walk, too much look," was his motto. The roving eye and the light step are the signs of the forest voyageur.
The ideal way for an archer to travel is to carry on his shoulders a knapsack containing a light sleeping bag and enough food to last him a week.....This will weigh less than ten pounds. With other minor appurtenances in the ditty bag, including an arrow-repairing kit, one's burden is less than twenty pounds, an easy load...... If you have a dog, make him carry his own dry meal in little saddle-bags on his back...

Nessmuk was also an early devotee, taking it as a focus in the classic Woodcraft and Camping.

While I was looking for a downloadable copy Nessmuks book for you I found Nessmuking, a site about super lightweight canoeing with this interesting ‘gear list’ challenge.
How light can you get a 35-day pack?

Last word goes to Mors Kochanski
"The more you know, the less you carry."

The Fish Pie Guy

Inspired by The Wild WoodsWoman’s recent post I thought I’d tell you my recipe for a really great fish pie.

While The Northern Monkey may mock our southern eating habits even he was forced to admit, " now that's some pie"

It’s an old cockney pie recipe, but with a bit of Italian twist, it can be something from the ‘bachelor scissors’ range (nothing gets ‘em out of their clothes faster).

First the spuds – as many spuds as you serve to the number of people you making the pie for – if I’m making it for Mrs SBW’s dad (major spud fan) lots of spuds.
If I’m making it for Mrs SBW’s friends (all on the Atkins-ish) less spuds.

However many spuds you’re using, the important thing is; you cant slice them thinly enough. I use a Madeline but you can use a food processor or very sharp knife.
Then soak them in cold water for five minuets, to get rid of the excess starch.

The Fish
I like to use smoked fish but really anything you’ve got is fine, you can even use other seafood’s as well or instead. I use about a Kilo (two pounds) per pie but you can use less or more.

Hard boil some eggs and then slice them – minimum of one per person

Some cheese is nice – I use a mix of Parmesan for bite and Cheddar for texture.

The White Sauce or in cockney cookery ‘The Liquor’
Melt a tablespoon or big blob of butter in a pan with a splash of oil and stir in some flour.
If you use .00 flour from the deli you’ll get a much smoother sauce than if you use regular baking flour from the corner shop.
When the flour is well mixed into the melted butter let it cook for a bit –but not so long that it changes colour.
Pour in half a cup of milk and stir it like a crazy person until it’s well mixed with few or no lumps.

Keep adding milk until it looks like you’ve got enough sauce for the size of pan you’re using. At this point the sauce should be a bit thinner than you want it to be when you serve it as there will bit a bit of evaporation while it’s in the oven.

Pass the sauce through a sieve – making a lumpy sauce isn’t a crime – serving a lumpy sauce is!

For the simple version:
Add Peas and or Parsley

For the ‘bachelor scissors’ version:
Rinse and squeeze Capers then add them
Finely chop and add at least five anchovies - if you thought you didn’t like anchovies you’ll be surprised – the pie doesn’t taste of anchovy but will have a ‘deeper’ flavour.

Now put the whole thing together

Pour a little sauce into the bottom of your ovenproof dish.
Lay the pieces of fish over the bottom of the dish
Put the cheese (or mix of cheeses) on top
Lay the slices of hardboiled egg on top
Pour on more of the sauce.
Working from the outside of the dish lay the slices of spud in a neat spiral of overlapping slices, working in towards the centre of the dish. Sprinkle a very small amount of oil over the top.

Bake in a hot oven 200ÂșC (or 392F) until the spuds on to are brown and crispy and the pie is hot all the way through.

For the second time you serve this pie to the same people, you can put a further twist on it by adding some Smoked Bacon or Pancetta. If you’re doing a dinner party (or making them to reheat for lunches at work) you can make the pies in small individual dishes.

Serve with white wine.

On the subject of whine
Bushwacker Jnr tried to turn his nose up at the pie
SBW "food is love"
SBW Jnr "no dad toys are love"
He did eat it and begrudgingly admitted it was 'quite nice'.