Filling In On the Small Stuff…

Out on the lake last weekend we did try to get by primarily on the MRE military meals. I took along a pair of enchilada dinners, together with one of those Old El Paso $$store bowls that I showed in a previous post.


Each of the US MRE meals comes with an FRH, or flameless ration heater. The idea with them is that you add a small amount of water to the FRH pouch, slide the meal pouch inside, seal the ziplock and it creates heat by a chemical reaction from a set of strips inside the unit. When they work, you can hear them sizzle. Ours didn’t sizzle. At all. The pouches of enchiladas barely warmed through. Fortunately, I was cooking the beans and rice in a pot over the alcohol stove. They got really good and hot. So we poured them over the top of the enchiladas, and broke a handful of Fritos over the top of everything. With the jalapeno squeeze-cheese and the salsa that came with each meal pouch, it wasn’t a bad dinner. Good and filling at the very least. Oh, and because we could take along a cooler, I had thrown in a container of sour cream mixed with cilantro paste… It doesn’t take long to figure out that it’s the little things you add in that make the difference between an MRE being just “food”, and being pretty good. [Just plain Montréal Steak Seasoning can make all the difference. I pour it into 3 inch-long sections of plastic straws that I then seal the ends of with a pair of pliers and a BIC lighter… works slick! You can also find individual packets of Mrs.Dash’s down at lot of the dollar stores]

I was very happy with the little ALOCS stove setup. I’ll try to put together a post on the various stove combos I have put together, but this one is certainly the best for more than one person. While it was not particularly important on this canoe trip, I’m very pleased with how small and compactly the whole thing fits together, while still providing a tremendous amount of utility. Additionally, that windscreen I had made works really well. There was never any fear of the flame blowing out, despite the fact that it was actually pretty windy. We could set up, and have a hot beverage in about six or eight minutes. Not exactly a microwave, but…

However, the FRHs failed us again at breakfast. We had MRE maple sausage patties, hash browns and spiced apple slices… all fairly lukewarm, but the breakfast coffee was especially good. Peets!  A nice surprise. Again, because we were not concerned with having to pack everything on our own backs, TOG had gone ahead and tossed in a French press coffeemaker in his bag. T’sruly excellent forethought on his part. I boiled up 16 ounces of water on the alcohol stove, poured through the press, and we had two great cups of coffee. I suspect we will probably make it a regular part of the gear. That coffee was just too too good. So good in fact that you could drink it black… no need for the packets of creamer. Some things, you find out you just have to suck up the weight, and go with the enjoyment.