City of Rocks, Idaho, early August 2011: Two men in their late 20s/early 30s sit at a picnic table in the shadow of the Upper Breadloves East formation as the sun sets after a long day of climbing. Their dinner is:
- Red beans and rice
- One package of refried beans
- 2/3 of a one-pound block of jack cheese
- Tapatio Fritos Flavor Twists (garnish)
I am one of these men. I eat ravenously, as if I have been pushing a plow behind an ox all day and chewing is not a necessary step in the digestion process. I say to my friend Brian,
“You know, I think if I was going to make this for a date, I would grate the cheese.”
“Oh, I didn’t even cut it. I just put the whole block in there and melted it.”
I like food. Perhaps too much. One of the greatest things about being an outdoorsy person, to me, is the long days you can put in hiking, biking, climbing, whatever, during which you burn so many calories that you can eat whatever you want afterward. I have planned climbing days in Red Rocks in anticipation of putting in a career performance at the $35 Bellagio Buffet that evening. I have eaten an entire bag of Doritos in a 90-minute car ride after skiing. As soon as I put a backpack on my back and step onto a trail, in my head, I know I deserve ice cream afterward.
I was talking to Rick Olson about the glory of bike touring and how incredible it is to be able to eat 6,000 to 8,000 calories per day, and he said, “Your body is a furnace — you can put anything in there and it just burns it up.” Hell yes, Rick. I reminisced about three Snickers bars per day, washed down with cans of Coca-Cola, monumental breakfast orders, destroying villages of food for lunch and dinner, and pounding chocolate milkshakes just before bed.
In my everyday life, I eat organic food. Lots of fruits and vegetables. Trying to win the battle against man-boobs. But If my hands touch rock or my shoes touch dirt, volume goes way up, and standards sometimes go way down. I am unashamed of white trash dietary tendencies. I am lazy. I want simple food, not food that requires me to mince garlic in the backcountry. If you are like me in any way, here are four recipes that you might enjoy. Or find completely disgusting. None of them have names.
You have enjoyed macaroni and cheese. You have eaten chili. Bring together two American classics in this original recipe.
- One package of Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese (this one; squeezable cheese sauce is easier, trashier, and tastier)
- One can of Amy’s Organic Chili
Step 1: Follow directions on Macaroni & Cheese box.
Step 2: Open can of chili, pour it into macaroni and cheese. Stir.
Step 3: Eat.
Remember that incredible Indian restaurant by your house, and the magical things they do with macaroni and cheese? Of course you don’t. Trust me, this is some fancy shit.
- One box Annie’s Shells & White Cheddar (doesn’t overwhelm the Palak Paneer)
- One box Kitchens of India Palak Paneer
Step 1: Follow the directions on the box of Shells & White Cheddar.
Step 2: Do not follow the directions on the box of Palak Paneer. Just pour it into the pasta and stir.
Step 3: Eat.
I can’t claim that this is an original recipe — I got it from a friend of a friend. I also can’t claim that you will think it is good. But it is a shitload of food, and simple enough for most men to handle.
- One 4-ounce package Idahoan Mashed Potatoes (says “4 servings” on the package, but, you know, whatever)
- One 16-ounce can of Bush’s Baked Beans
- One 15-ounce can of corn
Step 1: Follow directions on package of mashed potatoes.
Step 2: Pour in beans and corn. Stir.
Step 3: Eat.
Red beans and rice is so nice, Michael Franti could eat a plate twice. Take it up a notch with this version, created by two somewhat desperate bachelors in Idaho. Or down a notch, I guess.
- One package Knorr Cajun Sides Red Beans & Rice
- One package Santa Fe Bean Company Instant Refried Beans
- One block of jack cheese, 6-12 ounces
- One bag of Tapatio Fritos Flavor Twists (optional)
Step 1: Follow directions on Red Beans & Rice package
Step 2: Follow directions on Refried Beans package, in separate pot
Step 3: Pour refried beans into red beans and rice, stir in block of cheese. If you want to get fancy, you can cut the cheese into cubes or rectangles. It will probably melt faster. Maybe a good idea if you’re on a date.