Batch Cooking

What do you eat and drink on the playa? Share ideas, recipes and advice here.
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FIGJAM
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Batch Cooking

Post by FIGJAM » Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:18 pm

I didn't know this was a thing till I heard it on a food segment this morning.

I've been doing it for years and it applies to the playa as well.

I eat alone most of the time and would rather eat my own cooking than eat at restaurants.

Most of my recipes feed 4 to 6 people and I don't necessarily want to eat the same thing all week.

By portioning my leftovers into individual servings and freezing them, I can have what I want when I want.

Apparently most people freeze leftovers in bulk and then don't bother with them because they don't want to unfreeze just for a small portion.

Batch cooking allows for cheaper, tastier, and healthier meals whenever you want. 8)
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AntiM
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by AntiM » Thu Jan 21, 2016 4:09 pm

I do this all the time. Sometimes I freeze it all, sometimes I use my vac sealer for individual meals All depends on my motivation and energy levels at the time.

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by A-RockLeFrench » Thu Jan 21, 2016 4:55 pm

At first glance I thought this thread was titled Bitch Cooking.



For our camp, we make all of our dinners in advance in disposable, aluminum catering trays and freeze them. Lasagna, enchiladas, shepherds pie, etc. We have a chest freezer and full size propane oven/stove that goes to the burn. Home cooked meals every night on the playa.

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Token
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Token » Thu Jan 21, 2016 8:37 pm

Yeah, I thought Fig was gonna show how to cook up a batch of meth or something... Using the swamp cooler.

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Jackass » Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:00 pm

Image
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Image
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Image
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Jan 22, 2016 5:03 am

Token wrote:Yeah, I thought Fig was gonna show how to cook up a batch of meth or something... Using the swamp cooler.
That's classified!!!

It comes out orange instead of blue. :?
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Captain Goddammit » Fri Jan 22, 2016 6:11 am

So Fig, when are you going to come out with the plans for the FIGJAM Cooker?

(I'm sure there's more to it than reversing the polarity... )
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Jan 22, 2016 7:46 am

A wok or old satellite dish lined with aluminum foil makes an instant solar cooker.

I've seen these burn burgers in minutes.

Went camping once and forgot the frying pan.

Scrubbed the square point shovel with sand and fried the burgers on that.

The long handle was nice for not having to be so close to the fire. 8)
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Captain Goddammit » Sat Jan 23, 2016 7:11 am

FIGJAM you never disappoint!!!
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by trilobyte » Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:49 pm

I don't think of it as batch cooking, so much as I think of it as portioning. The key, I think, is to try and have to deal with as few partially opened things that you have to put back into coolers as possible. My gf and I have been portioning up the food we pre-cook for the playa for years. Pasta gets portioned for a single serving and then vac-sealed, for burgers I make sliders and portion them in pairs before we vac-seal, and then with the fried potatoes I make and share with campmates I portion it into a small skillet's worth.

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by dubz » Fri Feb 12, 2016 7:37 pm

I did this for the first time last year, after wanting to do it for like six years, and it was fucking amazing. We premade Thai Beef Curry, Indian Chicken Curry, and jambalaya. Then we portioned it out in 3-person meals, and froze them all. Once out there, a big hearty dinner was as simple as making a pot of rice in the rice cooker, and heating up a vacuum bag of food. It tasted no different than when I make those meals fresh at home!

Between that and meals I got when on shift, I was the most well fed I've ever been in BRC :D

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Kelsier » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:41 am

I've been playing around with this idea for camping and the burn. Biggest issue I've run into is the bags of food (vacuum sealed usually) end of floating. Anyone have a good remedy for this? I've heard of sealing a butter knife in with the food to weigh the bag down, but if I'm packing for a week, that's a lot of knives.

I suppose I could go the low tech way and just flip the floating bag occasionally, but wanted to see if anyone else has tried something that works.
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by trilobyte » Wed Feb 17, 2016 10:58 am

Most of my pre-cook stuff gets opened and put into a pan or on the grill for heating (burgers, carnitas, potatoes, etc), but the boil-in-bag stuff (like pasta) has been fine. Turn the bag over partway through, if you're concerned that part of the meal isn't getting heated.

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Jackass » Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:02 am

Use block ice only in that ice chest. Food sits up top, melt water follows gravitational laws and ends up at the bottom. Don't be lazy, check the melt water occasionally and drain as needed...easy.

Or maybe I completely misread your dilemma...
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Kelsier » Thu Feb 18, 2016 9:44 am

Yes I should have been more clear. By floating I meant when I try to reheat the vacuum-sealed food in a pot of boiling water. I intend to use Dry Ice and frozen bottles in my main cooler, so water melt shouldn't be an issue.

But if as trilobyte suggested and flipping the bags half way is sufficient, I should be good to go. I'd rather go that route if possible as opposed to emptying the bag into a pan and reheating; less dishes.
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by trilobyte » Thu Feb 18, 2016 11:08 am

That's how I'd read the post, and I don't recall either my gf and I or any of our campmates who brought vac-sealed goodies having any issues either.

For what it's worth, we recently got one of those fancy sous vide precision cookers for home. We use it with a larger water container, and since that thing is all about 'low and slow' for longer periods of time we were having issues with stuff that floated (since ideally you want everything getting even heat all through the cook time). The DIY solution I came up with on the day was to grab a binder clip and clip the edge of the plastic bag to the side of the container - that worked. My gf has subsequently gotten an adjustable wire rack thing, you can probably find a multitude of examples and options by searching for 'sous vide rack'

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Kelsier » Thu Feb 18, 2016 11:14 am

I have a Sous Vide water Circulator and I absolutely love it. It is what originally got me thinking of using this as a way to prepare the majority of my food ahead of time. Cook in the Sous Vide.... quickly chill in ice water, then freeze in the same bag. Then all you have to do is defrost, warm up, and eat. Couldn't be any easier (usually).

I've been considering getting one of the wire racks, though currently I either clip to the side like you mentioned, or find something to put on top of it, like a pasta strainer. Not the most effective option though.
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Skuzzy61 » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:02 pm

Query? If it is vacuum sealed, does it need to be frozen? Or can it get by with just being kept cold?
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Captain Goddammit » Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:41 pm

My cousins Guido and Vinny say there are several ways to make sure a big bag sinks to the bottom and stays there
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Popeye » Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:20 pm

Skuzzy61 wrote:Query? If it is vacuum sealed, does it need to be frozen? Or can it get by with just being kept cold?
That depends on what "it" is and how long you intend to keep it before eating. When you cook something you kill most of the bacteria but not all, so some is left to grow and make you sick. Bacteria growth is a time/temperature thing, the longer food is kept above freezing the more growth, the warmer the temperature the more growth. Think about the time from when your food is cooked to when you eat it on the playa. At least three days? If you would be comfortable eating three to ten day old food from your refrigerator then it might be ok if not vaccuum sealed. However, anaerobic bacteria like Clostridium, which causes botulism, thrive in an oxygen free atmosphere like a vaccuum sealed bag. Freezing stops bacterial growth. Best to freeze your playa food and keep it frozen.

Fun fact: it's not usually the bacteria that make you sick but the waste they produce. So when those little bugs shit on you, you get sick, puke and maybe die.
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Skuzzy61 » Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:02 am

Ahhh, good to know. We are still trying to figure the best way to eat. Pre-cook it all, cook it there, freeze it vacuum seal it and so on.

Appreciate the information.
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Kelsier » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:47 am

Granted I am still a Birgin, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I would suggest you consider how you want to spend your time on the playa. Personally, I love to cook, and enjoy doing one elaborate meal over the fire while camping. However my guess is with everything else going on around me, I don't see myself wanting to spend my time cooking at camp, with all the cleanup that entails. My chronic case of FOMO will most likely not want me to spend much time eating as well. That's why I like the idea of cooking ahead of time. Once the items are defrosted all you have to do is reheat. And you can even take them with you to consume straight out of the bag.

I would definitely freeze the food as stated above. Vacuum sealers will prolong the shelf life of food, but not indefinitely. I'd much rather have frozen food that I can defrost in another cooler. And if for some reason all my best laid plans end up sucking and my food doesn't stay frozen the entire time, at least it will be colder and last longer than if it had not been previously frozen.

Some meals I'm considering making and bringing:
Chicken Shwarma - Chopped Chicken Thighs and onions cooked in oil & spices. Freeze. Defrost on playa and put on Naan or Pita bread with some tahini sauce, hot sauce, pickles, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I'm currently researching ideas to keep the fresh veggies fresh the majority of the trip - Vacuum sealing (minus the freezing) might be an option for this as well, but I believe fresh veggies might need the gas exchange (as do I after eating shwarma).

Breastfast Burritos - Freeze and reheat very well, and are great for on-the-go. A good way to get your eggs, bacon, potatoes, veggies, etc. without all the prep and cleanup. These are actually what prompted me to ask about food floating. Breakfast burritos float like a cork. But simply flipping the bag might be enough.

Pulled Pork / Carnitas - Make a big batch of Carnitas and freeze some with BBQ sauce, some without. Makes for good sandwiches or wraps.

Bean and Cheese Burritos. - Easy to make, portable, and necessary for more gas exchange

Smoothies & Gazpacho - I figure these will be a great way to make sure I get enough nutrition in the draining environment. Both Freeze really well, and if consumed shortly after being defrosted, will be nice and cooling.

Anyone else have any ideas for good make-ahead-meals? I've already trolled the boards on this topic, but always looking for new ideas.
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by graidawg » Fri Feb 19, 2016 10:56 am

asparagus keeps really well on the playa, just sayin'

my delightful better half bought a vacuum sealer this year especially for playa food. She's already made me fat with her awesome brisket so i expect ot be dragging people off the street to help us eat the prodigious amount of food i expect to have this year. of course we dont intend to feed anyone except ourselves so we can ignore the need to for a permit
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by Kelsier » Fri Feb 19, 2016 11:49 am

graidawg wrote:asparagus keeps really well on the playa, just sayin'
Love me some asparagus. Just remind me to stay away from the portos near the camp that is gifting spears.
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by A-RockLeFrench » Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:24 pm

@ Kelsier: Man, I love to cook as well. Though, once I get to the playa all I can be bothered to cook is coffee, bacon and maybe a cheeseburger. There's just so much else to do!

Fresh veggies do need to breathe, that's why at the supermarket any produce that comes wrapped or bagged usually has holes in the packaging. As far as keeping veggies fresh, I recommend cabbage. Cabbage doesn't need a bag, bring a head or two (I prefer savoy) and keep inside your cold cooler, on top of everything else. Cut sections or peel leaves off as needed. Works great for salads, crunchy sandwich greens or face wipes.

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by trilobyte » Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:37 pm

Whether you freeze or refrigerate it would depend on whether you like eating frozen leftovers of that food or not. Getting ever-so-slightly sciencey, when you freeze stuff, and the water expands as it freezes, it breaks down cell walls and some stuff just ends up being mushy or doesn't taste quite as good. Other foods, it's not really a problem.... and it's all your own personal preference.

Me? Other than burgers, I don't think I freeze any of it. It gets refrigerated. I usually do all my pre-cooking and sealing in the 4 days before I leave for the playa, am out there for 2ish weeks (between pre-gate setup work and post-event cleanup) and have never had an issue with vac-sealed food going bad on me in the desert.

@Kelsier - despite being new you hit the nail on the head. Black Rock City is the land of attention deficit. During the event, there are a million blinky, shiny, awesome things vying for your attention, so you'll be hard-pressed to want to spend a lot of time preparing or cleaning up after meals. Whether it's pre-cooked or not, everything I bring is something I can have ready to eat in under 10 minutes.

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by danibel » Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:06 pm

trilobyte wrote: Me? Other than burgers, I don't think I freeze any of it. It gets refrigerated. I usually do all my pre-cooking and sealing in the 4 days before I leave for the playa, am out there for 2ish weeks (between pre-gate setup work and post-event cleanup) and have never had an issue with vac-sealed food going bad on me in the desert.
After seven years of cooking fresh food and dealing with gallons of grey water from washing dishes, I am done. I have access to a food saver and I am looking at 8 inch or 11 inch rolls (food grade - no BPA, for sure). Any recommendations?

Planning on buying some of my favorite take out (noodle dishes with veggies, some chinese), and making enchiladas-beans-rice, and perhaps a few other yummy things. I want to freeze these and keep in the freezer until I leave Monday the 29th - throw them in my food cooler with blocks and hope that they last the week. Is this possible? I really do not want to deal with dry ice, as I don't think it will last long enough anyway. I will keep the cooler iced of course, I just want to make sure I don't get me or my sweetie sick.

Also - when it comes to heating - how do you tell if the food is done? I am guessing simmer it for a bit, then pinch the middle of the bag to see if it's hot? There may not be an answer to this - because all food would heat differently?
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by trilobyte » Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:25 pm

Look for anything that bills itself as foodsaver compatible, they should all be food grade and BPA free (that's been what I've found). We have both sizes of rolls, but lately we've been preferring the pre-made bags with a zipper. They generally come in pint, quart, and gallon sizes. I like having the zipper, that way if I only eat a little of that bag's contents (pasta, for example), I don't waste food or have to find a separate ziploc to put it into.

How to reheat or tell when something is done probably depends on what you're making and how you like your food? Trial and error will guide you, reheating in the bag has always been a pretty forgiving process (for me anyways).

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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by danibel » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:18 pm

trilobyte wrote:Look for anything that bills itself as foodsaver compatible, they should all be food grade and BPA free (that's been what I've found). We have both sizes of rolls, but lately we've been preferring the pre-made bags with a zipper. They generally come in pint, quart, and gallon sizes. I like having the zipper, that way if I only eat a little of that bag's contents (pasta, for example), I don't waste food or have to find a separate ziploc to put it into.

How to reheat or tell when something is done probably depends on what you're making and how you like your food? Trial and error will guide you, reheating in the bag has always been a pretty forgiving process (for me anyways).
I thought about the zippers but so far I've read the rolls can be sealed in any size and I am planning on making all single servings. That way I can throw two or three of something in a pot if I have a guest or something. I will bring some empty tupperware to put leftovers (hopefully none!), just in case.

Trilo - You said you don't freeze, just refrigerate. No issues? I will freeze just to start the process and keep every thing as cold as possible, I just don't wanna deal with the whole dry ice cooler thing.
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Re: Batch Cooking

Post by trilobyte » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:37 pm

I've done both over the years, no issues (though I personally prefer not to freeze if I can avoid it). Your mileage may vary, but for us custom-making each bag was kind of a pain, especially as we found that most single serving stuff easily fits in a pint bag.

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