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C: Alright, we just started recording.
M: Yeah.
C: More than hi. Hello. And welcome. Yeah, I got it. Don't worry. Hello and welcome to Christine's kitchen!
M: (Laughs) Please do the actual intro though.
C: A cooking show that doesn't exist and never will! Okay, you're giving me quite the look.
M: You broke patterns!
C: Hello. And welcome to Foss and Crafts.
M: A podcast about free software, free culture and making things together!
C: with my co-host, Morgan...
M: ...and my co-host, Christine!
C: Well, what are we talking about today?
M: Today we are talking about dehydrated meals. And we're talking about this now because you recently released a video on the internet.
C: Partly because I was very impatient because you were having a phone call, but eventually getting a little bit bored in between. And I was like, "you know what?" I had some of the dehydrated meals out, and I'm like, "I'm just going to start recording a little jokey cooking show about all of this". And so it was Christine's kitchen, a cooking show that doesn't exist and probably never will. And I recorded these little clips and at the last Hack & Craft, I put them together and then put them online. And people actually seemed to enjoy it. I mean, like 150 views, not like a ton of people, but like, you know, enough.
M: Yeah. And we'll link that in the show notes.
C: Yeah.
M: So when we say dehydrated meals, what are we talking about here?
C: What we're really talking about here is you have a meal that is ready to go, ready to eat. An MRE, basically, jokingly. It's a meal that, you know, all you have to do is just add hot water, and then you just wait. And then you've got a meal that's ready. So you can carry around some dry ingredients, and you can have a thermos or take the zip lock and put it in a mylar bag and people have been telling us that's a good strategy and pour hot water into it, and then you just wait a little bit. And there you go, fully cooked meal.
M: Yeah. So the off-the-shelf variations of this idea that you're probably familiar with are something like Cup of Noodles, or they make those instant mac and cheese things that you make in the microwave
C: And backpackers and camping folk, the camper folk, as they say, the folks who do the camping...
M: Do they say that?
C: ...the folks who do the camping, yes, you can go to a camping store like an outdoor store, and you can buy these ready to eat meals, but they are expensive. And you can also buy less expensive, these emergency meal things where you can actually get a pretty good deal, like a massive amount of food, but probably not that high quality of food, in dehydrated form.
M: So why would you want to have dehydrated food?
C: One of them might be camping. You might be worried about disaster striking, and you want to have some food on hand in case you're afraid of weather striking or maybe a zombie apocalypse or something like that. I don't know.
M: It's a good method of food preservation.
C: That's a very serious one. You maybe have too much stuff in your garden.
M: Yeah. So you had too much kale.
C: Other things perhaps, spinach,
M: Spinach, turnip greens...
C: Turnip greens. Yeah, we've dehydrated a lot of turnip greens. Yeah. It is easier to grow turnip greens than it is to grow like the thing that people think of as turnips I feel.
M: Yeah.
C: So...
M: The main one that we use it for is travel.
C: Yeah, traveling. That's the main purpose for us. And sometimes also you're just lazy, and you're like, I don't have any food in the freezer, any food in the fridge. What do I get? And you're just like, okay, well, we've got these things that normally we would eat while we were traveling. And there we go. Back up, just heat up some hot water.
M: Yeah. So you may recall we mentioned this, these dehydrated meals when we did the episode on the van that we converted into a camper because that is a really easy type of food for transporting; it's shelf-stable.
C: (Snaps fingers) And you may recall the one contribution I made to the van was this very thing we were talking about in this episode.
M: (Laughs)
C: Morgan did everything else in the van, but I provided the food.
M: Yeah. And then the other thing that's related to travel is that it's a good way to maintain your dietary restrictions or be cognizant of your dietary restrictions.
C: That's right. You can bring your own food in your own form. And if you have like, you know, just a backpack that just has a bunch of these things in it...
M: Mhm.
C: ...all you have to do is find someplace that has hot water. And you know, either whether you're using a mylar bag or that you're putting the thing in, or you're using a thermos or whatever, that's all you need is just, to find hot water.
M: Yeah. So for us being vegetarian, sometimes it is difficult when you're traveling to find places that have good vegetarian options.
C: It's not just like a giant pile of fried carbohydrates and cheese.
M: Yeah. We're vegetarians who spend a lot of time in the Midwest. So--
C: That might be everywhere in the US though.
M: That's true.
C: Carbohydrates and cheese. That's like, if it's not salad...
M: it's not Wisconsin-specific, but it is very Wisconsin.
C: It is very Wisconsin. That's correct.
M: Yeah. And also like, if you are traveling via plane, and you want to have meal options and not have to pay like $20 for a small hamburger at the airport, this is something that you can get through TSA easily.
C: I also have made batches of these things. And since you can make them in such large bulk amounts at once, you can just pour them in a mason jar. And I have given them to friends who have just left them on their desk and then at lunch, they're like, "Oh, it's time for some meal". They just grab a scoop and just scoop out some meal into a thing, pour some hot water in there. And they're like, "Oh, it was so great when I had that, I didn't have to think about lunch, I just scoop out some meal", you know. And the final reason is because it's fun. And also because it can maybe kind of disturb and weird out the people around you where you're like, "look at this bag full of this desiccated substance. This will soon be chili".
M: Yep. So Christine, how did you get started making dehydrated meals?
C: Well, initially, my friend Aeva was going camping, and she asked me, "Hey, you know, we went out and like, I just felt like I really wish that we had some dehydrated vegetarian MREs. And I bet if anybody could figure out how to make vegan MREs, it's you, Christine, I want you to try to figure this out". And I'm like, "ha, ha, ha". I'm like, "Oh, that's actually a really interesting puzzle". And I started looking up all the things, and I'm like, "I bet I could do this". And I didn't know anything about backpack cooking and stuff at the time. And then I kind of started reading up on that.
M: And then for a period of time, I was living in Madison while Christine was here in Massachusetts. And Christine liked the idea of the "whelp, it's time to dish out a cup of meal" plan when I wasn't there to eat with her. And she got really into this gruel diet.
C: That's right. It was great. Just eating lots of gruel all the time. And you know, just make a trough of gruel. And then you just grab yourself a ladle, scoop it out.
M: And then eventually you realize that, you know, that gruel was starting off with dry ingredients to begin with.
C: Yep.
M: So you don't necessarily have to make a trough and have like the whole trough of gruel already prepared. You can just make small amounts.
C: Aren't we making this sound delicious with the "trough of gruel"? These are terms we use in our own household, because we think they're funny. Anybody listening to this is either going to be too disturbed to possibly be interested in this by now, or they're the type of member of our audience who's like, "I'm very disturbed and this is awesome. This is what I want to do."
M: Well, and I mentioned earlier the Cup of Noodles or like the Kraft Easy Mac, but those are fairly boring. And one of the benefits of making this yourself is that you can make it as interesting as you want to make it.
C: And you can make a shocking amount of varied foods as we will get to.
M: Yeah.
C: And then we just started doing it when we were traveling, including, especially with the van.
M: Yeah!
C: And we have a portable water heater that can collapse. And so we would just grab something from the "kitchen", which was a plastic filing cabinet with a dowel keeping it shut. And it was just one of the meals that I made. And then we just dump it in a thing. And great thing about these Thermoses is that some of them have fold-out spoons, and they also can keep things hot for six to eight hours. So you could just pour the stuff in there, let it sit. And then later on, you're like, "Oh yeah, it's time for food". And we just pull it out. And it was hot and ready.
M: Yeah. So if we're on a road trip, before we start for the day, we would pour our lunch dehydrated meals into our thermoses, pour the hot water into the thermoses, and then just let them sit there for however many hours until it was lunchtime. And then we could just pull over, eat lunch, and we didn't have to worry about finding a place on a road trip that was vegetarian-friendly and, not just eating Burger King Impossible Whoppers for every meal.
C: Not a healthy thing to do. Don't recommend it. Don't recommend it. Sometimes when you're on the highway, though, it's impossible to find like anything healthy. Like, so yeah, it would be a relief that we could supply our own things that did not make us feel sick after repeated consumption.
M: Yeah. And we also didn't have to leave the area of the highway to go and search of something we could just pull off at a rest stop and eat the food we already had.
C: Yep.
M: So what kind of meals have you made, Christine?
C: Well, I've made everything from a very simple vegetable soup. If you watch the video, you'll see this thing I first open up and say like, "here's some soup", and it's this dry mix of things I called fog soup, which is kind of like a creamy potato soup with a bunch of vegetables in it. But the most classic, I feel, dehydrated meal is chili, right?
M: Mhm.
C: And very easy to make dehydrated.
M: So we did do our own variation on that Kraft Easy Mac. We've made multiple variations on mac and cheese, with this
C: Even a vegan one.
M: So we've made a vegan mac and cheese. We've made a kind of just plain mac and cheese. My favorite is the mac and cheese Florentine, which has dehydrated spinach and I think chickpeas?
C: Yeah.
M: Yeah. And it's really good. And then the one that you'll see in that video, if you look it up, is the one we call nuclear mac and cheese because it uses the bright orange cheese powder, and it has peas in it. So the kind of bright orange plus green thing reminded us of like--
C: Nuclear waste facility.
M: But like the Simpsons version of a nuclear waste facility.
C: That's right. Yeah. So that one's Nuclear Mac. And then you can combine those two previous things, and you get...
M: Chili Mac! So you take the chili base, and you add in the quick-cook macaroni noodles.
M: Yeah. And, if you want, some of the cheese. I actually just make both of them, and then I just combine the end of it together. But you can also make--look, we got kind of into the junk foodie side with the Mac and cheese stuff, although it's not that bad, depending on how you make it, especially the vegan ones. But then, you can also get into spaghetti bolognese, which we make vegan, it uses TVP. And then a channa masala. So a chickpea curry. And then there's a channa saag, so the channa masala has a tomatoey kind of base and the channa saag has a spinach in it--chickpea curry. And then I made this kind of mixed up shepherd's pie. It's like when you get shepherd's pie, and then you just mix the mashed potatoes right in.
M: Yeah, that one's really good too.
C: That might be that was one of your favorites, right?
M: It's one of my favorites for like, meal-meals.
C: And then I made kind of a beef stew type thing. And I also managed to make an American style, diner style biscuits and gravy. Yeah. And that was a collab project.
M: Yeah. That was collaborative because I made hard tack.
C: Yes.
M: Which is...
C: If we're not sounding like survivalists, like we're waiting for the apocalypse enough already, let's talk about adding a hard tack to your dehydrated meals.
M: Yeah. So if you're not familiar, hard tack is the kind of carb that they used to use on transatlantic ships.
C: Also in the military, in the Civil War and the Middle Revolutionary War.
M: Yeah, basically historically when you had the need for something that was shelf-stable and long-term, and it didn't have to be good, it just had to exist for long enough to keep your soldiers or sailors or whoever alive.
C: And you can't bite into it without it destroying your teeth basically.
M: Yeah.
C: So you have to moisten it up somehow.
M: Yeah. So we figured since hard tack already needs to have hot water poured over it before you eat it if you don't want to break your teeth anyways, it seems like a great ingredient for a dehydrated meal.
C: It freaking worked great, actually. Yeah, that was awesome.
M: Yeah. You've made various types of gruel.
C: Yeah. Breakfast porridge, other people don't like the term gruel. Look, if you listened to this podcast before, you might know that I am a defender of gruel
M: Or potage,
C: potage, maybe a term that also disturbs some people less. But yes, porridge, that is a word that people are more used to.
M: Yeah.
C: So yes, I make various kinds of porridges. And if you get dehydrated milk, whether or not it's vegetarian or vegan or whatever, you can make it nice and creamy. And you can also-- I would add freeze-dried fruit to it.
M: Yeah, freeze-dried berries.
C: Yeah.
M: Yeah.
C: Yeah. Free dried peaches.
M: Yeah. Or granulated honey.
C: Yeah, granulated-- You can get dry honey. This is the thing you can get. We're gonna talk about ingredients in a little bit.
M: Yeah.
C: You can get dry honey.
M: You know what you didn't include on your list?
C: What?
M: The dessert.
C: Oh, yeah, that's right. I managed to make a cookie dough.
M: Yeah, just add water cookie dough.
C: Yeah, that's right. Chocolate chip cookie dough. Yeah, that's pretty good. Anyway, so that gives you an idea of the smattering of recipes you can make. You can make anything pretty much.
M: Now we've taken these dehydrated meals on several trips at this point. And I think that the biggest takeaway that we have from that is to have some variation for yourself so that you don't, you aren't just eating the same dehydrated meal over and over and over again.
C: I mean, I think I can never get sick of spaghetti bolognese, but that is correct.
M: And I could probably eat the mac and cheese Florentine for every meal. But then again, having the fog soup is really great if you're sick or say, carsick and your stomach's a little unsettled.
C: And maybe you feel like you should be putting some sort of delicious channa saag or something like that, mixing it in. And look, I do actually like a variety of meals. It's just that spaghetti bolognese is delicious.
2023-05-31 02:14:27 +00:00
M: So now that we've talked about the what, let's talk about the how. We'll do the easy answer to that first. How do you actually make these if you're on a trip, and you want to make yourself a meal?
2023-05-31 02:14:27 +00:00
C: Well, by "make" I assume here, you mean you already have one, and you want to rehydrate it, right?
M: Yeah, you're on the road. You've got some source of hot water.
C: Well, right. Well, first of all, you need a source of hot water, right? So we usually bring our little fold-out hot water kettle, and then you need something to heat it up in. We usually use a thermos of some sort, and they have ones that are pretty much made for this that have like these collapsible spoons. They're very nice. You can also actually heat it up in the plastic bag. I have never done this. I find it a little bit weird, but I might try the thing that people have suggested online, which is, you use a mylar bag, and you put the plastic bag, the Ziploc, you've got the food in, and then you pour the hot water into the Ziploc. And then you just shut the mylar bag and just let it cook.
M: Yeah.
C: Somebody on the Fediverse was saying "we put it in our coats"...
M: Oh yeah, because then it keeps you warm.
C: "And then we call it a food baby".
M: That's kind of amazing. Other things that you can do it in, sometimes when we're at home, we just do it in coffee mugs or--
C: And you can throw it in the microwave to make it cook much faster too.
M: Yeah, we also use mason jars sometimes. I crocheted little cozies to go around our mason jars to retain some heat.
C: We could also do the method that you have never permitted me to do, but why not? I think we should try it sometime, which is, you take a mason jar, pour the water into it, and then you shut it, and you put it in the dishwasher, and you turn the dishwasher on and (laughs) you (indecipherable). There's a whole genre of dishwasher cooking.
M: I have--
C: Morgan is very opposed to this.
M: I have not allowed this to happen at this point.
(Both Laughing)
M: I don't know. It probably would work. It's just--
C: Disturbing?
M: The thing that you use to clean your food stuff should not be the thing that you also use to make your food stuff.
C: So you say, so you say, and yet sometimes we boil hot water and clean out our thermoses on the stove.
M: That's true.
C: So you could do the reverse... Anyway, it's not hard to reheat these. That's basically the point.
M: So once you have your meal thing prepared, you have your dehydrated food, it's easy to rehydrate it and eat your meal.
C: Exactly.
M: Now, the slightly more difficult thing: how do you do the food prep for making these?
C: Definitely more difficult than the two. But I'm the one that does it, so...
M: Hey, I have done it too.
C: That's true. You have done it. Mhm.
M: We spent one New Year's Eve.
C: It was my birthday party.
M: Well, we did one for your birthday party and then one on New Year's Eve. We spent hours making six different types of--
C: Oh, I do remember we invited a bunch of friends over for my birthday. They were like, "what do you want to do for your birthday"? I'm like, "let's all make dehydrated meals". And people were like, "is this really what you want to do for your birthday party"? Everybody did have fun.
M: They got very into it. And we sent people home with mason jars of dehydrated meals.
C: That's right. So you need dehydrated ingredients. We'll talk about how you can get those in a moment. But assuming you have them, assuming you have the proportions, all you really need is a mixing bowl. And you just scoop things out in the proportion that is appropriate to the recipe. Now figuring out a recipe is its own thing, right? But once you have the recipe, you just multiply it by the number of servings you're expecting for each one of the proportions, and you just dump them into a mixing bowl, and you mix it up, and you're done. It's all you have to do. Scales up so easily.
M: Yeah. So we tend to make very large batches of these, and then we got some gallon size mason jars that we store meals in.
C: And if you want to take it to go, then you can scoop some out into individual plastic baggies and then bring them with you--however you want to do things.
M: Or there's the option where you just keep a measuring scoop in your large container that you're storing your dehydrated meal in. And then when it's time for you to have some meal you just--
C: Scoop out some meal.
M: That's right.
C: So hey, look, if you've got some sort of executive dysfunction issue around food it can be great. If you have very food pickiness stuff, you don't have to eat ramen.
M: Mhm.
C: You can build your own solution to things.
M: Or if you just don't want to have to make decisions every day.
C: You can just scoop out some fog soup, and you're done.
M: Yeah.
C: But yeah, it's really easy. You just mix the ingredients together, basically, and you're done. Now figuring out a recipe--because you have to have a recipe. Figuring out a recipe, what I do is I just take a small mug or something like that, and I take the ingredients and I either look at or just think about the recipe I want to make and the ingredients I would normally use.
M: And how you would make it if you were making a regular meal.
C: That's right. And I put in kind of the proportion of the ingredients. And then I'm like, "is this right"? And then I put some hot water into that container, that mug or whatever, usually stick the microwave to accelerate it, so I can try it faster. And then I see is this right. And then I'll know if I got the proportions right, so I can scale it up later. And if it isn't right, then you just tweak it a little bit until you've got the new recipe. I love doing that. It's actually a really fun, very malleable tinkering experience to come up with a recipe for one of these things.
M: Yeah. And you can make a lot of things this way.
C: Yeah.
M: So let's talk about how we source our ingredients. I think one that's easy that we didn't put on this list here is spices.
C: Yeah,
M: Your spices are already dry goods.
C: Well, I mean, usually spices are dry goods. Sometimes people have fresh spices.
M: Sometimes people have fresh spices. That's true. I'm not discounting that. But it's really easy to find spices in dehydrated form already.
C: It is the easiest way to find them these days usually.
M: Yeah. So you can use whatever spices you would use when you're cooking normally.
C: That's right.
M: So as for the other ingredients, one way that you can do it is to buy pre-dehydrated foods.
C: Yes. So you can buy, of course, you can buy dehydrated vegetables and stuff like that. You can find those, but there are actually already dehydrated foods that you might not even think about, especially these things in kind of a "quick" category. So for example, quick cooking oats and quick cooking rice, those are actually just really parboiled oats and rice.
M: Mhm.
C: And you can buy those and use those. Also, sometimes if you go to a food co-op or if you go to a hippie grocery store, sometimes they have those bulk bins, you can sometimes find some interesting things in there. Like, for a while, I was-- I've made the chili in several ways, but I've sometimes made it with-- they have a refried bean mix.
M: Mhm.
C: You can just use that. They have a hummus mix sometimes?
M: Yeah, that's helpful for these.
C: Depending on what you're making, like, I've made some interesting, weird things that would not be a normal recipe I would make, but we're like, "oh, let's make a creamy chickpea thing". And it was delicious. There are also all sorts of other things that you can go online, and you can find some weird things. So they're--
M: Oh, wait, the one of the easy ones that you can get in any grocery store that we use a lot is instant mashed potatoes.
C: Instant mashed potatoes. There is a preservative in the one that we've gotten that I'm slightly suspicious of, but I still use it anyway. I made this fog soup out of it and plenty of people eat instant mashed potatoes. But also the rest of the ingredients that we're talking about with the parboiled rice and stuff like that, there's actually usually surprisingly not much funky going on there. They're just literally they've been cooked fully and then dehydrated before you bought them so that they would rehydrate quickly.
M: Yeah. And then you can go online and find all kinds of weird stuff.
C: So we will be talking about dehydrating your own food shortly, but there are certain types of foods that you might want freeze-dried, right?
M: Mhm.
C: So for example, peas and corn do not rehydrate well if you dehydrate them yourself. Like they're very difficult. They're kind of notoriously difficult to get...
M: Because of the sugar?
C: I don't know what it is, but they just get kind of hard and sticky. And it's really hard to get them-- you really want to basically make a creamed corn base that you basically rehydrate if you want to do corn. And then you have to do a more complicated method. But getting freeze-dried corn and freeze-dried peas just solves that whole problem. There's also all sorts of weird powders you can find online, lots of dairy products have powdered versions. If you watched the video that I posted, you'll see my cabinet full of weird dairy powders that I found.
M: We've got like five different types of dehydrated cheese.
C: That's right. Including dehydrated cream cheese.
M: Yeah, which is great because we usually don't have bagels or cream cheese in our house. Because we eat it rarely, but sometimes you want it.
C: And then you can just have cream cheese on demand.
M: Yeah, and it's shelf stable.
C: Oh, god, dehydrated goat's milk! But they also have stuff like dehydrated coconut milk. You use that for the curries, and you also can get dehydrated honey and dehydrated molasses. It's kind of funky. Dehydrated tomato powder is the killer. That's the one you really gotta get.
M: Yeah. Well, and there's also dehydrated butter and egg-replacement stuff.
C: Yeah, dehydrated butter is wild. Yeah, you can get dehydrated eggs.
M: That's true.
C: Dehydrated egg replacement, but also dehydrated eggs. If you're not vegan, if you're ovo-lacto vegetarian, then some of these options I just described.
M: You can also do most of this stuff if you are an omnivore too. It's just we are vegetarian, so our frame of reference is vegetarian.
C: But, meat does not super rehydrate as great usually. So lots of even omnivores end up using TVP, textured vegetable protein or sometimes called TSP, textured soy protein, which creates a very convincing kind of ground beefy, especially if you get in the granule form type thing, which is what I use for the spaghetti bolognese. It's great. So you can get that. Of course, you can also get bullion powder and stuff like that. And nutritional yeast, nutritional yeast shows up all the time in the savory things I make.
M: Yeah, I think that covers most of the ingredients that we purchase. So let's move on to things that you can dehydrate or make yourself.
C: Right. So you can dehydrate all sorts of stuff. Spinach is probably my favorite one to dehydrate of vegetables. And actually, I really like to get frozen spinach and dehydrate it.
M: Mhm.
C: I throw it in the microwave for a few minutes just so that it breaks apart. And then I stretch it out on the dehydrator and dehydrate it. Now what we did not talk about is what equipment you want to dehydrate with, right?
M: Mhm.
C: So you can use an oven and set it to the lowest temperature possible. But we have, if you really get into the stuff, you might get yourself a dehydrator. I don't recommend the 90s Bronco style dehydrators. They suck.
M: Yeah, like the round ones.
C: Yeah, but Excalibur dehydrators are awesome. If you are just experimenting with this stuff, just use your oven, set it to the lowest temperature possible. Maybe even just leave it open slightly so that it's even lower than it's supposed to be, whatever.
M: Sounds safe.
C: But it's probably fine. But if you really want to get into this stuff, I think the Excaliburs are the best option basically.
M: And there's other methods of dehydrating too. Like you can dehydrate things in the sun.
C: Yeah, you can build solar dehydrators. Yeah. And people have been dehydrating things in the sun for millennia. But yeah, all sorts of vegetables dehydrate. Some of them better than others. Some of them you will want to get freeze dried or whatever.
M: And generally, you want to get it as thin as possible...
C: Right.
M: ...before you dehydrate it, because the chunkier it is, one, the harder it is to dehydrate it and to the harder it is to then rehydrate.
C: That's exactly right. That's right. My kitchen is full of things I've dehydrated vegetable wise, but it's often helpful to either dehydrate things that, if they are things you would normally cook, to cook them ahead of time, then dehydrate them or if they are vegetables, oftentimes just them having been frozen. Like if you've ever bought frozen spinach, and then you just let it thaw, you'll notice how it's kind of mushy compared to other forms of spinach. Actually, that's great, right? You know, freezing actually breaks down some of the structure of various types of food. So even without them being cooked, they will oftentimes be in a better form to be rehydrated after the fact. So spinach, it's great to buy the frozen stuff and then just use that. But if you don't want things to be raw ingredients, if you want them to be so that they're ready to go when you rehydrate them, then you want them to be processed in some form, either frozen and then defrozen, or you might want to steam them ahead of time.
M: Mhm. And for this, as we mentioned earlier, this is something that we often do if we have a good output from our garden, and we've got too many greens of some sort...
C: Yep.
M:'s good to dehydrate them so that they don't go to waste.
C: That's right. But the interesting thing is that there are several things that you can make quick cooking that you normally think of as dry ingredients.
M: Yeah.
C: Right. So pasta and beans are both examples of this. You can get both of these in what you normally think of as dry form, but you can transform them into a much faster-cooking dry form.
M: Yeah, because if anyone's ever tried to make soup, like a bean soup with just regular dry beans that you get off of the shelf in the grocery store, that takes like--
C: Takes a long time.
M: --hours--
C: Takes a long time.
M: --or days.
C: Unless if you're using a pressure cooker or whatever. But you can just open a can of chickpeas or whatever. You could also use a pressure cooker to cook a ton of dry chickpeas. And then once they're already cooked, you spread them out on a tray, and you dehydrate them. Same with pasta. Pasta is dried, but if you cook it fully, and then you dehydrate it again, it turns into quick-cooking pasta.
M: Mhm.
C: And actually these things, all of these ingredients we just described are also just helpful to have on hand in your kitchen. If you're in the middle of cooking something, and you realize you're low on an ingredient, you can just be like, "Well, I have the quick-cooking version of that and just throw it in at the end of the meal" and just bulk up whatever that relevant thing was.
M: And it's really useful to have quick-cooking pasta on hand anyways, in case you have a really busy work week, and you need to make yourself dinner, and you don't want to wait for pasta to boil.
C: Yeah, I just sometimes make things in a skillet, I just throw the ingredients in there, and then I just throw in some quick cooking pasta, and then I'm done. Yeah.
M: Yeah.
C: Yep.
M: And then you've got sauces under dehydrating as well.
C: Yeah, so if you're going to be dehydrating-- most things are fairly solid, you know, you just spread them out on the trays, and you dehydrate them. But for some things that are very saucy or liquidy or whatever, you need something to put them on to kind of dehydrate them so that they don't get all over the place. And the Excalibur, for example, for instance, has these very nice nonstick trays that you can put on there. They basically almost feel like fruit roll-ups.
M: Mhm.
C: It's kind of weird. And then you can make fruit roll-ups on them. But if you don't have that, you can also use parchment paper.
M: Mhm.
C: Parchment paper is great for this. Yeah.
M: So if you would rather just make your sauce, like you have your recipe for sauce that you use in your regular life, you could make your sauce recipe and then dehydrate the sauce.
C: That's right. And in fact, a great idea can sometimes be to have tomato sauce or whatever, dehydrate the tomato and not even a tomato sauce that's spiced. Let's say you want to make your own, you can make your own powders of some of these things by dehydrating them, using the dehydrating wet things method. And then you use a coffee grinder to break them up. But for anything you want to do like that, and for most of these things, you probably want to put silica gel packets in there. You can buy food-grade silica gel packets online for relatively cheap. You can reuse them also. You can take them out, and you can dehydrate them again. I don't always. I try to. Basically, they end up absorbing moisture, right? And so you can put them in, you can take them out of the package and stick them in the microwave, but you can also just throw them into the dehydrator or your oven and just deehydrate them.
M: What usually ends up happening in our house is we start a jar that's labeled as used silica gel packets. And then either we forget which one is the used one, and they get mixed up, or they just sit there, and we'd never remember to--
C: I did it once.
M: Yeah.
C: I did it once. And you don't have to do this too often. So, but yeah, yeah. But anyway, silica gel packets are great. They help with making it so that your stuff doesn't either clump together, and they also keep it so that some of this stuff stays good for forever.
M: Yeah. So, how and where did you learn how to do all of this stuff?
C: Well, there are various blogs you can find online. One of the ones that I found later in my journey that I will recommend to others is Backpacking Chef. We will link it in the show notes. That is, I think, the best resource that anybody has done on how to do this stuff. But that's not where I started learning, I found that later. There are some great techniques that are on there though. I think I actually started just by experimenting before I watched anything.
M: Mhm.
C: And then I started watching videos of other people doing things. But I just kind of took the ingredients and started messing around and thought, I can do this. And then I started watching videos. I started watching videos and got really into videos of people dehydrating things. And at one point, I remember pulling you into the living room, and I was watching a video of like--
M: It was this woman whose garage was just lined with shelves. And one half was all of the things that they had dehydrated and preserved.
C: It was like floor to ceiling, dehydrated stuff.
M: And that part was amazing.
C: That was awesome. And then it had the "up next" thing. And it was like, a gun cache or something.
M: Yeah, it was like, "check out my gun cache". And I mentioned to Christine, "you need to watch out with things like this. Because it seems like this is the algorithm trying to indoctrinate you".
C: You-- let me actually put this the way that you said it. You're like, "Christine, you have to stop. This is how people get indoctrinated into white nationalism!" So yes, the funny thing is, is that you get the most extreme ends of the political spectrum when you're talking about people getting into creating dehydrated meal stuff. Like there are--
M: Because you have the very far left--
C: Hippie--
M: Hippie, like, the anarchist co-op.
C: Yeah, like backpackers who, you know, yeah, they're very, environmentally conscious. And then you have the people who are waiting for the apocalypse, and they make jokes about the zombie apocalypse sometimes, but they're actually maybe talking about something else. And it's sometimes a little bit disturbing. So you just cross the whole range of the political spectrum and find all that stuff. But you, audience member, don't have to do that if you don't want to, you can just go to Backpacking Chef Blog to read about that. It's pretty good.
M: And you made a blog post about some of your dehydrated--
C: No, I made a video. That's all I've done.
M: Oh, I thought that you--
C: Did I make a blog post?
M: I thought you made a blog post with some of your recipes.
C: I think that I thought about it. And I think I just never did. I think I've just been teasing the internet about doing it for forever.
M: Rude.
C: Yeah. Well, sometimes I'm rude. Well, we got anything left? Is that it?
M: Yeah. So if you see us--now that we're at the point in the pandemic where we're maybe going to some places in person again--if you see us at a conference eating out of a thermos, this is probably what we're doing because that is our go-to travel food.
C: Hey, look, you can just bring an entire week's worth of food in a not too large portion of your backpack. And then, you know what you're going to have, what you're going to eat. You can eat food with people if you want to. You can also be prepared with your own thing. And you can kind of delight and weird out the people around you and say it by pulling out this bag of things and say, "see this? What does this look like? This desiccated powder, this soon shall be chili or spaghetti bolognese or channa masala" or whatever. And then you make it and then people, they can't believe it. It's amazing.
M: Although sometimes if you do that, and it's a porridge or gruel, and you say, "what do you think this is?" And it's a mysterious white substance in a bag.
C: Oh, yeah, I did decide that it was not a good idea for me to bring a bag full of a bunch of white baggies of mysterious white substances that I was about to bring through international travel. And I'm like act--
M: And it was really just like gruel.
C: It was just gruel. But then I was like, "maybe I shouldn't bring this through an international travel checkpoint where they probably think this is going to be drugs". But in fact, it's just delicious.
M: Or if you're going through an international travel checkpoint for that matter, you maybe don't want to bring anything that is like berries that have been dehydrated because they're like, "Oh, no, they're seeds".
C: Well, that's an interesting topic because they don't actually care if they've been processed.
M: That's true.
C: They're worried about the ones that have not been processed, but it might be hard for them to tell.
M: I don't know. You've been stopped for That's It bars before.
C: It's so inconsistent.
M: Yeah.
C: Yeah. Yeah. And then I've also marked a sheet, and then they were like, "Why did you mark this? This food has been processed. You're just wasting our time."
M: Yeah.
C: So look, look, international borders, a strange place, full of strange rules. I'm not going to be responsible for you bringing your dehydrated desiccated white powders across the border.
M: (Laughs)
C: So choose what things to bring. Maybe just bring spaghetti bolognese on those trips.
M: Or Mac and cheese.
C: Yeah. Don't call it Nuclear Mac maybe, if you're really afraid of--
M: Don't label it "Nuclear Mac".
C: Don't put the nuclear symbol on the Nuclear Mac. Yeah. Anyway, anyway, you never know who has a sense of humor and who doesn't.
M: I would say if you're talking about customs agents, just assume they don't have a sense of humor.
C: Any customs agents listening to this episode?
M: That's not to say that you don't have a sense of humor. That's to say I would rather assume that you wouldn't find it funny than to assume that you would and--
C: I stand by it.
M: (Laughing)
C: Customs agents listening to this episode, I stand by it. And that's it. We're done with the episode. Bye.
M: Thanks everybody. Bye.
C: Foss and Crafts is released under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.
M: It's hosted by Morgan Lemmer-Webber and Christine Lemmer-Webber.
C: The intro music is composed by Christine Lemmer-Webber (meaning myself), in MilkyTracker, and it's released under the same license as the show.
M: The outro music is Enchanted Tiki 86, composed by Alex Smith of the Cynic Project, and is waived into the public domain under CC0 1.0. See for more information.
C: You can get in contact with us on the Fediverse,, on Twitter as @FossAndCrafts, or you can email us at
M: We also have a chat room. Join our community on #fossandcrafts on
C: If you'd like to support the show, you can donate at
M: That's it for this week.
C: Until next time, stay free.
M: And stay crafty.
M: (Chuckling)
C: That would never be our garden because you would never permit me to grow kale in our garden.
M: That's true.
(Both laughing)
C: The umm, the umm (laughing) [the cat] is being very funny. Uh, umm... But but but also. Well. (Stammering) You-- I don't know if you-- Oh you mean-- I was gonna-- I had-- So-- How about-- How about-- I-- We-- You-- Do you wanna--
M: I didn't know you had a plan.
C: Do you wanna do your favorite which is the
Both: The Mac and Cheese Florentine?
M: Yeah.
C: You know, like, some sort of hippie grocery store?
M: (Chuckling)
C: Cats!
M: Stop it!
C: Cats!
M: Sorry, the cat just jumped onto the couch claws-first, right next to my head.