Cooking in advance, bringing food to the playa frozen - HELP

What do you eat and drink on the playa? Share ideas, recipes and advice here.
JulzQ1
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Re: Keep it simple

Post by JulzQ1 » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:40 am

StarShineScars wrote:
I agree. I love cooking too and made all of our meals ahead of time. First we did a trial run and cooked things, put them in the freezer for a week then reheated. You can cook, vacuum seal it and put it on dry ice. Once you get there all you need is a pot of boiling water. Cut the bag a little to vent, and boil. And yum homemade food all week. Just be sure to do what people are saying and buy a lot of dry ice. We made the mistake of not bringing enough last year and it melted a few days in. Ooh and if you do go the dry ice route pick it up at a local wholesale ice cream vendor. It's way cheaper than the grocery store.
I usually don't like cooking in plastic because chemicals leech when it gets too hot, but in all honesty, out there I don't care as much as at home. This sounds like a great idea. I didn't know you could boil those vacuum sealed bags!

I have a question for you (or anyone who's used the vacuumed sealed bags) - have you ever had any break in your cooler? I assume they're extremely sturdy w/ the chance of that being minimal. I'm a little cautious only because I haven't used them before and I'd hate for one to bust in the cooler leaving a mess.

I'm still undecided as to whether or not to invest in one. It sounds like it's worth it as it would make cooking out there even easier. The clean up would be easy too since all the food would be in bags. No scrubbing of pans. I like that.

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Boijoy
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Post by Boijoy » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:48 am

Get a good one if you do. I have a cheap one that doesn't really get our ALL the air. I the plastic doesn't seem that thick. I put all my cold food into a small plastic bin that fits perfectly inside the cooler. So, if something leaks it doesn't get into the ice.
don't forget to floss

JulzQ1
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Post by JulzQ1 » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:51 am

Boijoy wrote:Get a good one if you do. I have a cheap one that doesn't really get our ALL the air. I the plastic doesn't seem that thick. I put all my cold food into a small plastic bin that fits perfectly inside the cooler. So, if something leaks it doesn't get into the ice.
Good advice! I was reading through another thread about menu suggestions and there was some people on there that said their vacuum sealers didn't leak at all. Good to know there's a difference in quality. I think they sell them at Costco, I'm thinking I should just shell out and get it. My in-laws have one, too bad they're in another state, or I'd just use theirs.

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Boijoy
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Post by Boijoy » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:03 am

Dehydrators are fun also..you can make your own jerky & dried fruit. I CRAVE beef jerky on the playa for some reason.. salt & protein..
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JulzQ1
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Post by JulzQ1 » Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:13 am

Sail Man wrote:We used gallon jugs of water frozen, plus 2L bottles, both had drinking water in them, as the 2L melted we'd take a partially frozen one out and carry round the playa to drink. All frozen food was vacuum sealed so when we did add crushed ice to the cooler to really really really get the brewski's cold, as it melted it was clean, and we gifted that to the body rinse station across the street. We purchased a coleman extreme 6 day cooler and that one worked the best, we'll get a smaller one for this year. All coolers were off the playa upon 2x4's and covered with a silver tarp, under our shade shelter. We used the wireless indoor/outdoor thermometers to monitor cooler temps, in the morning they were approx 34 degrees on avg. and would rise about 10 deg. during the day. if you use these, make sure the sender unit in the cooler is sealed to prevent it from taking a dip in the cooler water and not working, they're not really waterproof. Before the trip put in a new battery and seal with ur vacuum sealer.
Bringing out an indoor/outdoor thermometer is such a good idea. I remember my brother would use one in his vintage refrigerator to make sure it was holding at the right temperature. I didn't even think to bring ours out for the coolers but it works great. I'll make sure to vacuum seal the sender unit.

Also the 2L bottle suggestion is fantastic too. I read about that elsewhere and it really makes sense. Again, great advice, much appreciated.

I think the 6-day cooler is looking like the best bet. The more I read about the 5-day coolers, the less impressed I am. They don't seem to keep things as cold as they state, but the 6-day has been recommended by various people. Soooo...it's all coming together.

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Absolut Jeenyus
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Post by Absolut Jeenyus » Tue Jul 14, 2009 6:25 pm

Yea we use dry ice for popsicles, frozen fruits, meats and some premade meals also. The stuff is great. I can take shit out and set it in the sun for a little bit and it thaws out in no time. I remember how fast we get the bacon to thaw in the morning. From solid rock frozen to on the plate in like 30 minutes. I am a big fan of fresh good food on the playa over frozen premade meals though.

Plus there is just something great about the idea of preparing and eating a fresh meal out in the middle of fucking nowhere.
-AJ )'(

apollometeor
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food

Post by apollometeor » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:04 am

have you thought of doing your oun canning before the burn. its not just for jelly. if you need tips on the canning prosses pm me
walking through the hallways of always

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SilverOrange
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Re: food

Post by SilverOrange » Thu Jul 16, 2009 9:08 am

apollometeor wrote:have you thought of doing your oun canning before the burn. its not just for jelly. if you need tips on the canning prosses pm me
Mmmm...canned banana bread.

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spork_the_magical
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Post by spork_the_magical » Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:50 am

We also freeze fruit juice and boxes of soy milk, along with the 2L of water. Might as well use your food to keep your other food cold!

We have two 6-day coolers and usually use one for the first half the week and the other for the 2nd half. We don't open the 2nd half cooler at all until at least Wednesday and the ice is barely melted. We have put duct tape on the late-week cooler, just to remind ourselves it's off limits!

We have had good luck freezing pre-made corkscrew pasta (slightly undercooked) with spaghetti sauce and ground turkey, garlic bread, and hash (ground meat and chunky mashed potatoes). This year we are trying meatloaf with mashed potatoes and mac & cheese and our friend is bringing pulled pork and japanese curry. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!
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JulzQ1
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Post by JulzQ1 » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:14 pm

I'm going to buy the Coleman Xtreme 6 day cooler this weekend. It seems to make sense from everything I've read here and elsewhere on the internet.

Now I'm wondering what sizes to get. We're going to buy two- one for the dry ice and the other for just the ice. Since the 6 day ones are kind of pricey in comparison to the 5 days, I may just end up buying a large 6 day cooler for the dry ice and the 5 day for the regular ice, but I haven't decided.

In your experience, what's a good size for 2 people out there with a week's worth of food on dry ice? I got a vacuum sealer, so my stuff will take up less space. I'm guessing the 58 qt is too small. Any advice?

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Post by SonOfUgly » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:46 pm

Sail Man wrote:
Boijoy wrote:Hi, I understand the Yeti coolers are comparable to Frigid Rigid & less expensive. I used a coleman extream with 2 gallon jugs of water frozen for ice. they did "ok". I did have to add ice after 4 days & they are not air tight. after last years dust storm, I found dust inside the coolers.
Ouch! 85 qt yeti cooler bout the same size as our coleman extreme is 390$ :shock:

I'll put up with any dust, though we had none as we also covered with tarpage
40 Quart Frigid Rigid
Price: $505.00

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Kacey
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Post by Kacey » Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:42 am

Vacuum Sealed Boil in the Bag works great for food that will stand up to that method...

Menu...already playa tested for a camp of 12 people...

Monday
Pulled Pork sandwiches with BBQ sauce
cous cous artichoke salad w/dried cranberries

Tuesday
Bananna Curry (Chicken )
Rice
no side dish - one dish meal

Wednesday
Sweet and Sour Basil Chicken
Tom Ka Gai soup

Thursday
Satay chicken w/ginger, peanut sauce
thai noodle with hoisin ginger sauce

Friday
Fajitas - Raspberry Chipotle (Chicken) and roasted veggies
Tortillas
no side dish - one dish meal

Saturday
Garam Masala (Chicken)
Rice
no side dish - one dish meal

Sunday
Cilantro Lime pesto chicken
Rice
Sweet Potato Chowder with lemon grass and kiffir lime

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Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:48 am

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JulzQ1
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Post by JulzQ1 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:03 pm

When I took cooking classes, we discussed what freezes well and what doesn't. Here's a list of what I learned that freezes well. Of course it's not exhaustive but if you're thinking of freezing items and bringing them out on dry ice, it's a start. -

-Cooked chicken
-Turkey
-Chili
-Stew
-Soups
-Curries
-Beef brisket in bbq sauce
-Fruit chutney
-Sauteed kale or collards
-Brussels sprouts
-Parboiled veggies.

Things with little or no salt or concentrated sweetners, a low fat content, no cheese, heavy sauces, or preservatives, most vegetable, fish, and meat deishes fail the taste test after cooking, freezing and rewarming.

Here's what I'm bringing out...

-Herbed meatballs w/ brown rice pilaf
-Italian wedding soup
-Gazpacho
-Chili
-Jambalaya
-Chicken tortilla soup
-Sweet & Sour Pork
-Shredded pork enchiladas (precooking the meat but assembling on the
-Vegetable curry
-Gluten free pasta w/ sausage
-Sesame noodle salad

JulzQ1
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Post by JulzQ1 » Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:58 pm

Thanks everyone for the advice. The dry ice/ ice cooler/ frozen bottle method worked perfectly.

Here's what I did:
82 Qt Coleman Xtreme 6 day cooler for dry ice.
40 lbs. dry ice wrapped in brown paper bags and duct taped.
3 large frozen water bottles.
Igloo 150 Qt 7-day cooler for regular ice (we didn't need one this big but it was cheap at Costco). Even though it said 7-day, the insulation wasn't as good as the Coleman so I chose to use this one for the regular ice.

I opened the cooler once a day and rotated out the frozen bottles when I remembered. I pulled out the day's vacuum sealed food from dry ice and put it in the regular cooler to defrost. Most of it was defrosted by dinner, but if it was still icy I left it sitting out for 30 min. or so before I cooked it.

I boiled some of it in the bag and some of it I just dumped out into the pan.

I reused the water to boil a few times. No need to waste water if it's not dirty and just used to boil bags.

Any leftovers from dinner were put in ziplock freezer bags and put in the regular ice cooler for the next day's lunch.

I left both coolers in our cargo van that didn't have side windows and no sun glaring in. It got warm in there towards late afternoon but I insulated both coolers w/ a sleeping bag and it worked great.

I bought the dry ice on Sunday morning and it lasted until Thursday. I took out the food that was left after the dry ice was gone and put it in the regular ice cooler. It stayed relatively frozen both Fri. and Sat.

I absolutely LOVED USING DRY ICE. I am SO HAPPY all of you gave me such great tips. I don't know why I haven't done this in the past because it was so simple, easy, time efficient, tasty, and did I mention EASY? :) Everything I made tasted excellent and held up well to freezing.

The only thing I wouldn't make again was pasta w/ sausage. Even though I undercooked the pasta, it still tasted very mushy when reheated. If I made it again, I'd just bring it out and make it on the playa since it's so easy.

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BitterDan
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Post by BitterDan » Thu Sep 17, 2009 12:38 am

Wow I had no problems with frozen pasta and sausage. It tasted great.

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SageV
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Post by SageV » Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:57 am

JulzQ1 wrote:The only thing I wouldn't make again was pasta w/ sausage. Even though I undercooked the pasta, it still tasted very mushy when reheated. If I made it again, I'd just bring it out and make it on the playa since it's so easy.
The trick with pasta is to par-boil it very al dente and keep it separate from the sauce and sausage. Then finish it by cooking it with the sauce and sausage.

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SageV
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Re: Keep it simple

Post by SageV » Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:06 am

JulzQ1 wrote:I have a question for you (or anyone who's used the vacuumed sealed bags) - have you ever had any break in your cooler? I assume they're extremely sturdy w/ the chance of that being minimal. I'm a little cautious only because I haven't used them before and I'd hate for one to bust in the cooler leaving a mess.
I find the trick there (which works just as well with cheaper ziploc bags) is to bag it and then put the bag in those reusable but disposable plastic-ware stuff they sell at the supermarket. I like to have my cooler as a source of cold water, don't like it to get stinky, and don't like spending money on expensive vacuum bags. This way things float when your ice melts, I can use cheaper bags, the stuff doesn't leach out of the bags, and the little plastic containers stack and make good bowls for prep or serving. They're reusable and cheap enough to throw away if trashed.

JulzQ1
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Post by JulzQ1 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:27 am

Thanks for the tip on keeping the pasta and sauce separate, I didn't do that. I was also using brown rice pasta which has a little different texture.

I forgot to mention that I also put water in a freezer zip lock, double bagged it and froze it before we left. That stayed frozen most of the week. I also brought a large blue-ice freezer thing and rotated it between dry ice and ice.

Before I left I bagged all of my regular ice in zip locks so it wouldn't create too much pooling in the bottom of the cooler. The bags leaked a little but not much. That along with all food being bagged made for no nasty cooler water.

I didn't have to buy ice until Thursday. If I brought out more before the event, I very well may have not had to buy any.

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BitterDan
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Post by BitterDan » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:40 am

I didn't find the vacuum bags to be overpriced as long as you buy the roll and not the precut.

JulzQ1
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Post by JulzQ1 » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:46 am

I also bought the roll. We used $10 worth of bags for the entire week, so not too bad. I also screwed up on a few and didn't seal them right. It would have been chepaer. But yah, the pre cut ones were a lot more.

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