Food/Drink: What worked - what didnt

What do you eat and drink on the playa? Share ideas, recipes and advice here.
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Sic Pup
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Food/Drink: What worked - what didnt

Post by Sic Pup » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:33 am

Being a food-centric individual my short list of what worked and what didn't from a sustenance perspective:

Let me preface to say that I travel cross-country in a small vehicle and do my perishable shopping in Reno on Sunday. I have a cooler for beverages and another for food. I iced the food when I purchased on Sunday, again on Tuesday and once again on Thursday.

As usual the dozen eggs, the tortillas, the TJ frozen fried rice, cheddar shreds and the assortment of cheeses (more next) provided the basis of my meals and were quite enjoyable.

I could not find a suitable cheese selection in either the Reno TJ or Savemart so found myself at Whole Foods which I found surprisingly accommodating to burners. Ample playa-specific stuff stocked outside, employees dressed as burners, a huge "Where are you Frum?" poster with pins to mark your home town up front. It was worth the few cents more for the acknowledgement if nothing else. I grabbed a cave-aged provolone, a Catamount cheddar (my fav) and a pepper-crusted Toscano which were all awesome. Spendy but I'm worth it (for that week, anyway). I'm adding WF to my list of must stop places if for nothing other than the specialty items.

The frozen shredded and dried mashed potatoes also hit the spot. Well worth the few minutes to fry up the potatoes to have crispy hash browns with my eggs in the morning. This year I bought a full dozen with me which worked out well with 2 each day Tues-Sun,
ordinarily I would never eat that many eggs over the course of the week (actually month). The canned roast beef hash really hit the spot mid-week.

The cooked in 3 minute pasta really wasn't worth the bother of keeping the pot of water intact and dust free (camped solo with just enough evap pond to dissipate my cleansing overflow). Although the mid-week aglio et olio was awesome it had more to do with the salty anchovies than the pasta which remained on the wrong side of al dente even after cooking an additional couple of minutes (and I like my pasta al dente). Going forward I'll probably just grab a few frozen pasta bags from TJ.

I could find no shelf-stable bacon in Savemart (sold out) and grabbed the last package in TJ. In retrospect I could have done without (sacre bleu!), it was nice in my breakfast burritos but I don't think it would have been missed. I ended up with 6 of the 15 slices on Sunday so I gorged on a bacon cheddar quesadilla for lunch.

I brought shelf-stable milk for the mashed potatoes but moreso because I read Fishy only had the chocolate variety for her muesli. Alas, I never did get it to her and it remained in my bike basket along with the bubble wrap I brought for her to the M&G. It was eventually gifted to DPW along with the bulk of the beer, the tomato juice and vodka that I never cracked open. They wanted no part of the bubble wrap (which I should have used on the water...he he).

I'm not a big drinker (obviously) and rarely, if ever, drink cold beverages apart from an occasional beer now and then (I probably by 2-3 cases of the course of a year) so next outing I'm not bothering with the bulk of the second cooler. I ended up forcing beer into my neighbors and passer-bys hands (some required more assertion than others) and ultimately donated about a dozen cans to DPW. I drank but one of the 3 two-buck chuck bottles I bought and brought the other two home with me (NY state requires a separate store for alcohol hence, none of our supermarkets, TJs, or WFs carry anything but beer).

I ended up with an assortment of pickled items, olives, giardiniera, anchovies, etc. that I was going to combine with the cheeses as an antipasto when I had planned on camping with a camp. As my neighbors never seemed to be around at the same time it was just too much to open up. I also somehow never cracked the peanut butter which is usually a go-to item on the playa for me. I barely touched the cheese in the can crap (mainly because I had the luxury of the real thing).

The special brownies I brought and the awesome laced cookies I was gifted blew my ass out to the extent that I spent half the day (twice) just chilling in my chair watching the world go by (which does have it's place, IMO).

Water - I brought too much. They were selling the 2.5gal jugs in two packs, I had figured 5 for the week and had already comitted to dropping off 2 to a burner coming in on the bus so I ended up buying 4 packages (20 gals). I left 3 in the Hotel Rug camp and ended up with an excess of 1 and a half containers (even with washing my hair daily) on Sunday. I figured I would consume most of it on the drive home but ended up throwing something on top of it and draining most of one into the back of my vehicle. Luckily I had the foresight of lining my cargo area with a tarp before embarking on my journey which negated any negative repercussions. In retrospect it would have been nice to received a thank you for spending the 45 minutes trying to locating the sign that pointed to the camp of the bus-arriving camper when I was already anxious about locating a suitable spot for my camp but that won't prevent me from helping out again in the future.

I'm probably going to sit the next one out and spend some time rethinking how I will burn going forward. It'e a big time commitment to drive from the East Coast and if weren't for the visiting of friends and relatives en route I don't think I'll do it again. Thinking about either storage space, going really minimal or RV (gasp!) in the future (which is dependent on whether I hit the lottery or not in the interim).

One thing is for sure, if I ever drive again I'm going to plan out meals along the way. I found it damn near impossible to eat decently at roadside rest stops and even the few times I ventured into actual restaurants left much to be desired (although I did find some pretty awesome Thai food in Nebraska of all places).
"Enjoy every sandwich" - W. Zevon

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by AntiM » Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:38 am

We usually bring shelf stable bacon, but I had some sealed frozen bacon in five~six slice packs I'd done myself. We don't do frying, so Larry baked it in our propane oven in foil lined pans. Perfect, and clean up was simple. My one pack of sea salt and celery juice cured shelf stable bacon is something like seven or eight years old now. Yikes.

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by 666isMONEY » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:01 am

Canned soup (lentil), canned vegetarian chili and beans (with lotsa sodium I added rolled oats to these or ate crackers to complete the protein), canned peaches, bananas, salty peanuts, granola bars, 12-pack of good quality beer (slightly warm, was kept under blankets), 2-liters of wine, vitamins and potassium pills -- didn't lose any weight (must-have-been the booze), didn't get sick, had beer and wine left-over.

(I was on a one-month vacation eating this, Burning Man before going home.)

No refrigeration or cooking.

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by TomServo » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:06 am

Worked:
T-posts..of course!
Nashua Duct tape
Boiling grey water in burn barrel...would have worked better if we started at beginning of week
BLOODY MARYS!

Didn't:
Standard evap pond for 50 people
12 volt batteries and trickle charger
Iowa burners in camp
anything worth doing is worth overdoing..

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by AntiM » Fri Sep 13, 2013 7:18 am

TomServo wrote: Didn't:
Iowa burners in camp
Yeah, I hear they're tough and chewy if not parboiled first; best prepped off playa, then vac-sealed and frozen. Heat on the dash.

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by SouthernExposure » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:19 am

Our camp has a communal meal each evening with 4-6 people handling one evening's meal. I volunteered to make gumbo and our Wednesday night group went for it. I did not want to make it totally on the playa as it can take up to 4 hours of babysitting and I had better things to do with my time out there. I did not believe that the final product would be particularly palatable if I went the route of freezing as it would wind up being frozen and thawed several times before we had it. I finally settled on pressure canning 4 gallons of gumbo in quart mason jars. The gumbo was in perfect shape when Wednesday rolled around and all we had to do was add roux, heat it up and make rice.

I know that most people don't have a pressure cooker/canner, but if you know someone who does, put this in your potential bag of playa tricks. :mrgreen:

SE

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by trilobyte » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:35 am

Our food situation is pretty dialed down, an pretty much everything worked as well or better than expected. Here are a couple notable exceptions worth sharing:

Food truck eats :D In the last week, time ran really short for us for a lot of reasons, and we lamented not being able to pre-cook a few more things. While scrambling during the last few days, we grabbed lunch at a favorite BBQ food truck, and asked them if we could get a couple pounds of their finest to go. We put it in a ziploc bag, and then kept it in the cooler. To us, good BBQ leftovers are always a treat, whether it's just the occasional forkful, making sandwiches, or mixing the meat in with another dish. Afterwards I mentioned it to a friend of mine who runs his own food truck, and he smiled and told me to swing by the next day. Bam, he hooked us up with a couple pounds of his amazing pulled pork (which takes him nearly a day to prep).

Bread cooler :cry: We do a bread cooler every year and it works wonders. It's an older low-tech cooler, and we don't fill it up with ice, just enough to keep it cool inside (like a refrigerator). For a couple reasons I'm not that clear on, the decision was made to have that cooler also serve double duty to keep some of the booze bottles cool. That meant more ice, and I suspect we had other hands (besides Pandorra's and mine) in the cooler as well. Somewhere in the week we ended up losing a loaf and a half to meltwater. Totally a user error issue, as the bread cooler has worked for us many years in the past. We'll do better next time.

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by Sic Pup » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:54 am

Nice tip on the pressure cooker/canning, SE. I really ought to educate myself more.

It occurred to me I missed a whole "genre" of food packaging: the foil packed stuff. I had some beef fajita burrito type thing from a mex food distributor named after a city in Texas that was decent enough in a warm tortilla with melted cheddar (but really what isn't?). I had purchased but never opened the shredded beef (both varieties) that Lemur found in another thread, I just wasn't craving that sort of protein. This year I went with canned tuna sans liquid which I liked better than the foiled wrapped stuff but it was properly more psychological than quantifiable.

As for BBQ I did have some sort of pulled pork sandwich filling that was packaged like Compleats (it may even have been that brand for all I know), again not bad considering the environment (and the warm tortilla and the cheese) but I'm sure nowhere in the same universe as Trilo's score.

Oh, and for the first time ever I was disappointed with my long awaited visit to In N Out. The first time in a half dozen visits. Don't get me wrong it was a serviceable meal, just not up to expectations (and certainly nothing to worry Shake Shack or even 5 Guys).
"Enjoy every sandwich" - W. Zevon

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by tamarakay » Fri Sep 13, 2013 9:58 am

We had a campmate go into Reno during the week. I gave him money to bring back some steaks. They were fabulous.

The rest of our food deal needs to be better. Our push to improve this year will be our kitchen arrangements. Needs improvement on all fronts.

I spent most of the week on edge. Just irritable and not comfortable in my skin. When I was getting out of the shower at the hotel in fernley I saw I had two hormone patches on. Crap, no wonder. I was Pms level of hormones all week.

What worked was having great camp mates, new ones and repeat offenders, whom I love and love me. Dye day was wonderful and fulfilling. I will be compiling lists and thoughts on how to improve the process. Pictures up soon!
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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by trilobyte » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:05 am

Spam and corned beef hash also get high marks for me as shelf-stable breakfast food. Anything that can be prepped on playa with minimal work or time is a win in my book, bonus points for not needing to eat up cooler space.

Another thing that worked well again for us was having a couple campmates do an ice run for the camp each day. I let whoever was up for the task use my trike (with it's big basket in back), or we had a dolly that converted into a cart if they preferred to walk (we were only a block away from Arctica in the 9 plaza). By combining into a single order it not only minimized the number of campmates who were spending time queueing for ice, but also minimized the number of people in the line.

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by VultureChow » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:20 am

Fresh baked cinnamon rolls worked great. Love my little camp oven.
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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:22 am

Sic Pup wrote:Nice tip on the pressure cooker/canning, SE. I really ought to educate myself more.
Just be real careful when you google recipes for that thing.
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Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by Lonesomebri » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:35 am

What did not work, me taking care of my own eating.
What worked, reading here that next year I will be a frequent visitor to Sic Pups spread.

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by Dr. Pyro » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:54 am

VultureChow wrote:Fresh baked cinnamon rolls worked great. Love my little camp oven.
I don't remember being offered any freshly baked cinnamon rolls. Not good enough I guess. :cry:

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by danibel » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:29 am

What worked:
Two coolers. One big one for food, the second for drinks. Drinks include Kern's nectars, beer (modelo and sierra nevada), "fizzy" waters, and some hansons soda. We actually have three coolers, another is for the dairy for ice cream, but that is out of my daily management. I went camping in Big Sur a few weeks before the burn and found out that my old food cooler had cracked and was replaced with a new Coleman Extreme. It was great.

The Trader Joe's Asian Veggies and tofu for dinner one night. My camp does a dinner every night up until Saturday. Sunday and Monday dinners we are on our own. By the end of the week I need as much fresh as I can get, and these little tubs of veggies do OK if kept in the cooler at the top (so they don't water log). I cut up some vacuum packed tofu and then cook it all up in ghee in a huge pan and yum. The rest of my meals are sandwiches and cereal. I bring a lot of snacks. Two bags of chips and TJ's reduced guilt gauc. Hummus and crackers. Yogurts. My boyfriend loves cheese, so I bring string and swiss. Toby's Tofu Spread, this is a vegan egg saladish spread. Works great on crackers and bread, not sure if it's sold everywhere. Nuts and Lara bars worked in my playa bag, but I need to improve my walk about snacks.

What didn't:
The eggs. I didn't want to cook in the morning this year. I just didn't feel like it. I will bring them again the future, they just didn't get cooked this year. Avocados, I brought 4 and only ate two on sandwiches. I brought home every canned food I had. I didn't crack a single one. Though, it made me feel better to know I had two days of canned meals on Sunday when the rain armageddon warnings were sent out.

Next year I will probably do about the same set up kitchen and food wise. I could use a bigger kitchen table though. Right now I bring two heavy card tables, one goes to the camp communal kitchen and the other by my van with my own small set up. The compost bucket has become a must have.
In dust we trust.

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by VultureChow » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:31 am

Dr. Pyro wrote:
VultureChow wrote:Fresh baked cinnamon rolls worked great. Love my little camp oven.
I don't remember being offered any freshly baked cinnamon rolls. Not good enough I guess. :cry:
Excuse me. I offered you one every time. You don't do processed sugar. But you did enjoy my breakfast steaks.
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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by forty_eight » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:42 am

Picnic diet was in full effect

Trader Joe's Marcona Almonds with Rosemary

Food fit for baby burner jesus, lol

Letting the bread "breathe" worked

Those grilled cheese sandwiches, oooof

Most of our grey water came from the cooler

So, using that differently is something for us to consider

Especially since we kept it super clean

Another thing we've been liking on camping trips: Jimmy Dean's pre-cooked sausage

It's shrink wrapped, so once you get rid of the cardboard box it's fairly compact

Cooks quickly with very little mess

It was our only 'fresh' protein

Would like to do grander food, but it's a complicated cost-benefit calculus

Progresso Italian Wedding Soup

I mean its pretty good, but we found it VERY good out there

One thing that I am really grateful I did

I kept the food flowing sorta forcing my wife to on-board calories

She was skeptical of the PB&J but it gave us both a quick needed lift one afternoon

We kept the coolers off the ground and covered in a double-lined fleece

It kept the ice way intact

We'll bring that setup for all future camping trips

And, now I'm hungry :)

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by forty_eight » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:43 am

Capri Sun drinks

They began completely frozen

A nice treat all week

I'm addicted now

I drink them at work on the down low, lol

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by Asquared » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:54 am

worked:
2 coolers - 1 for food, one for drinks. ice run every day for both.

string cheese (!!!!) i ate at least 2 every day
yogurt - so perfect for breaky + a hard nola bar to dip in it
whole grain torillas
cabbage - stayed fresh all week long, can eat plain or wrap a string cheese in it, make a burrito, whatev. PERFECT fresh food.
tomatoes - we didn't bring enough :(
foil packed tuna - i dont usually eat tuna, but made an exception for an easy protien. this plus a string cheese, some cabbage, a tomato in a tortilla. yum.
nuts, chips, apples, pickles for snacks
champagne for morning mimosas

didn't work:
never touched the whole box of canned food
only cooked breaky once - no need for eggs, bag o'veg etc.

i found the yogurt/nola bar for breaky, a "burrito" and some snacks were about all i ate in a day. that and beer, champagne, and gin.
i felt great too. weird.
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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by AntiM » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:03 pm

48_love wrote:
Most of our grey water came from the cooler

So, using that differently is something for us to consider

Especially since we kept it super clean
Clean cooler water is not greywater. You may sprinkle it as dust abatement. A dab of bleach can't hurt. There's a thread about it on here somewhere.

We used our cooler melt for footbaths and to fill the swamp cooler bucket. Next year it will also be part of the hand washing allowance.

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by danibel » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:08 pm

AntiM wrote:
We used our cooler melt for footbaths and to fill the swamp cooler bucket.
I do this too. I love a cold foot bath!
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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by SouthernExposure » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:12 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:
Sic Pup wrote:Nice tip on the pressure cooker/canning, SE. I really ought to educate myself more.
Just be real careful when you google recipes for that thing.
Good point on this subject and thanks for bringing it up. Not all recipes heed the following warning.

It is highly recommended that NO foods or soups containing gluten (pasta, rice, flour thickener such as roux) be pressure canned. The starch substances can harbor and protect the botulism bacteria from the temperatures and pressures generated in the canner. The bacteria is anaerobic, meaning it does not require oxygen to live and reproduce. The growth of the bacteria and their associated toxins in a canning jar would go unchecked and would worsen the longer the jar sat on a shelf. In my case, I made the gumbo base just before I left for the playa and made the roux (flour browned in oil) and carried it separately, adding it as we started heating the gumbo in camp.

SE

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:16 pm

And I thought the worse t hat could happen was a knock on the door by the FBI...
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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by SouthernExposure » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:23 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:And I thought the worse t hat could happen was a knock on the door by the FBI...
FBI = Fatal Bacteriological Ingestment Agents?

I really didn't know anything about this until I started researching recipes.

SE

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:28 pm

SouthernExposure wrote:
theCryptofishist wrote:And I thought the worse t hat could happen was a knock on the door by the FBI...
FBI = Fatal Bacteriological Ingestment Agents?

I really didn't know anything about this until I started researching recipes.

SE
especially bad when they knock on the back door...
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Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by delle » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:34 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol:
Worry is a misuse of imagination

She had blue skin, And so did he.
He kept it hid And so did she.
They searched for blue Their whole life through,
Then passed right by- And never knew.”

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by Dr. Pyro » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:08 pm

VultureChow wrote:
Dr. Pyro wrote:
VultureChow wrote:Fresh baked cinnamon rolls worked great. Love my little camp oven.
I don't remember being offered any freshly baked cinnamon rolls. Not good enough I guess. :cry:
Excuse me. I offered you one every time. You don't do processed sugar. But you did enjoy my breakfast steaks.
You're right of course VC. I just need a reason to snivel and complain because it's in my DNA. I appreciated all you did. Thanks!

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by VultureChow » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:15 pm

Dr. Pyro wrote: You're right of course VC. I just need a reason to snivel and complain because it's in my DNA. I appreciated all you did. Thanks!
My meager contributions are far outweighed by everyone who works all year to build a bigger and better camp each year.

Besides, you can atone tomorrow. And now I'll be thinking about goddamn cinnamon rolls during my fast. Awesome.
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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by forty_eight » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:05 pm

AntiM wrote:
Clean cooler water is not greywater. You may sprinkle it as dust abatement. A dab of bleach can't hurt. There's a thread about it on here somewhere.

We used our cooler melt for footbaths and to fill the swamp cooler bucket. Next year it will also be part of the hand washing allowance.
This has been noted!

I had resolved to treat my cooler water as greywater after having some half 'n half leak several trips ago. It was pretty foul.

Our reaction and correction for that incident is what made me start thinking there were probably viable alternatives.

I was panicked about things hitting the playa, too. I was going State of Nevada zero tolerance status. :D

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Re: What worked - what didnt

Post by TT120 » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:07 pm

Everything worked perfectly for me.

Monkey huts worked better than I thought. My friend and I put our huts at a 90 degree angle to each other and then set up a 10 x 10 pop-up in front of them. It made a perfect little shaded area to hang out in.

Old ratty carpet pieces in the shaded area kept the dust WAY down and the inside of my tent remained pretty clean.

3 cooler setup worked very well. 75 pounds of dry ice in a 150qt marine cooler kept water ice and steaks frozen for several days. I had ice for the other 2 coolers through Thursday.

Figjam bucket coolers worked awesome. Kept my tent cool and sleepable any time of the day. They also worked well just pointing the vent at myself while sitting in my chair. The battery lasted all week without even breaking a sweat.

A new to me old craigslist tent that I could stand up in was a godsend. It was very nice being able to stand up in my tent.
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