- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Americans take to the hills and highways in August. For the serious food lover, debates about where to eat rank right up there with which national park to visit. And vacationers can droop with disappointment when there is only fast food or greasy spoons to fuel them.

Many summers ago I learned about real road food from Swiss friends who took me on a trek through the Swiss Alps. Each morning before we headed out for another beautiful village or peak, my host would pack the car with a large basket of food.

The basket was our road food: ingredients for delicious meals prepared and eaten al fresco.

Sometimes we had a marinated salad or a chilled vegetable soup. A selection of dark breads, including a fresh baguette, always peaked from our rucksack. We’d hunt down local farm stands for fresh cherries or apricots, handmade cheese or pate. Sometimes a small stove would heat a chicken or saute fresh mushrooms to go over pasta. American fast food seemed very far away.

I came home spoiled. When my husband and I decided to spend two weeks canoeing the Boundary Waters Wilderness of northern Minnesota, I was determined to bring along excellent trail food.

Three favorite recipes from that trip are still in my at-home repertoire. Of particular importance to backpackers, these recipes don’t take up much space but are tasty on the trail.

Fresh corn cakes

1 cup cornmeal

cup flour

cup wheat germ

cup instant dry milk powder

teaspoon salt

1 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Kernels from 1 ear corn

In large mixing bowl combine cornmeal, flour, wheat germ, dry milk and salt. Stir in water, oil and honey. Mix well. Stir in corn.

Lightly brush a 10-inch nonstick skillet with oil. Set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, pour in cup batter for each pancake.

Cook until bubbles appear. Flip and cook other side until golden brown and cooked through. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Sun-dried tomato pasta with feta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, sliced

1 cup chopped broccoli florets

1 red bell pepper, cubed

4 to 6 slices sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

teaspoon dried basil

teaspoon dried oregano

Salt, pepper

4 cups cooked hot spaghetti

cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Set a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add oil. When oil is hot, add leeks. Cook, stirring, 1 minute, or until soft. Add broccoli and red bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes, or until broccoli is bright green. Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add parsley, basil and oregano. Stir well, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until flavors blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with spaghetti. Add Parmesan and feta. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Campfire raclette

This treat is adapted from the Swiss ski food, raclette, for which a wheel of cheese is melted by the fire and then scraped onto bread.

1 baguette, sliced in thirds, then again lengthwise

4 ounces Gruyere or Emmenthaler (Swiss) cheese

4 dill pickles, sliced lengthwise

Toast bread on grill or campfire. Place cheese on heat-proof plate next to fire. As cheese melts, scrape off onto toasted bread. Top with sliced pickles. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES INTERNATIONAL

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