The making of mountain feasts (Part 2)

Sorry this took a while!

This is part 2 of the mountain cooking series first published here—written and co-developed with Hadjie Tecson and Dekz Macapagal. Bear with me because this is going to be a very long discussion. Ha!

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Pre-cooking meat

So you’ve done your meal plan, done the groceries, and you’re ready to pack. Wait, not yet—you really can’t throw that raw sirloin in your bag and expect it to smell good after 6 hours in the bus and 12 hours of walking. Gross.

There’s a ritual called pre-cooking and you have to do it to extend the life of your meats. I’ve seen many friends pre-cook and their methods differ in little ways. Here’s a simple way of doing it:

  • Cut your meat up to serving pieces and wash it thoroughly
  • Put it in a pot with salt and pepper (sometimes vinegar and all the seasonings you want in, including an old sock if it works for you lol) and a bit of water. Fire up the stove, let it boil, and let all the water evaporate
  • Let it cool for a bit, then pack it in a plastic bag
  • Freeze the damn thing
  • Once you take it out of the freezer, wrap it in old newspapers or brown paper bags

See! Easy enough to follow even for a kitchen idiot like me. Now this is as far as it goes, because the only person who can eat what I cook is, well, me. Yay to self-sufficiency!

Packing

Dry foods like rice, pasta, and instant mixes like Quaker oats, Nesvita, and Crab & Corn soups are so easy to load. Food from scratch—a bit trickier.

  • Rice. Don’t let one person carry the 2-kg load, please. When we buy rice, we usually ask the store attendant to split it into 500-gram packs. This is so we can distribute it among the members of the group.
  • Meats. See up.
  • Vegetables. I think it’s important to note that you shouldn’t refrigerate vegetables, because once you do so, they have to stay refrigerated. Mesh bags have always worked for me in terms of keeping the moisture out, but it does leave a weird vegetable-smell in my pack. Bahaha!
  • Eggs. Sometimes, not all of them get to the campsite in one piece. If they break, they also cause one big heck of a mess, so I still put them in a plastic before dumping them to the egg holder or before burying them in rice. That 6-pc egg-holder, I got from Daiso at less than a hundred.

  • Alcohol. I implore you, don’t carry that big ass bottle of empoy. Invest in an aluminum bottle, drink light, and drink happy.

Stoves

There’s a stove for every occasion—and a stove for every mountaineer for that matter. Because my friend Hadjie is a gourmet-type mountaineer (please, forgive the Tokyo Ghoul reference hahaha), he prefers liquid multi-fuel stoves that enable good flame control and the option for simmering. Samples are MSR WhisperLite, XGK, Kovea Booster Dual Max, etc.

Good, high-output stoves, of course, come with a price. They’re big and heavy—and they are also really pricey. Haha! So, some / most of us would rather buy those that run on butane (like our other AMCI friend, Cecile Morella, who’s a fan of Kovea Spider) and top mount stoves like the MSR Pocket Rocket.

Finally, if you really plan on cooking big meals, please drop the alcohol stove and your solid fuel stove. They are only good for boiling water.

We can discuss this all day long (I sat in AMCI’s 6-hour BMC lecture and practicals on stoves last year. This was a lecture on stove operations ALONE. Six hours. Tried all of the damn fire-making machines, while trying not to burn my hair. So far, okay naman, I lived to tell the tale). HAHAHA!

Special thanks to Derek Sta. Ana for the photos. That’s his collection–because he is an adik like that.

Practice Cooking!!!

Okay. This is it. When Hadjie asked what recipes I wanted to share here, he just had to qualify: may sabaw, sauce, or dry? Dry is easy because frying should be easy. Right? Right? Haha. So he gave sabaw and sauce recipes to practice on:

Tinolang Manok

Ingredients

  • Chicken (without bones, pre-cooked)
  • Sayote/Papaya
  • Dahon ng sili
  • Ginger
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt/patis
  • Pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. Sauté ginger, garlic and onion
  2. Add sayote/papaya and water, bring to boil.
  3. Add pre-cooked chicken, continue simmering for at least 2-3 minutes, until sayote/papaya is tender.
  4. Add dahon ng sili, salt, pepper, to taste. You can use chicken cubes if you want.
  5. Remove from heat. And serve hot.

Kalderetang Baka

Ingredients:

  • Beef (Kalitiran)
  • Potato
  • Carrot
  • Bell Pepper
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Liver Spread
  • Coconut Milk
  • Tomato Onion Garlic
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Procedure:

  1. Sauté garlic, onion, tomato
  2. add pre-cooked beef, potato, and carrots.
  3. Add tomato sauce, and pour in water, bring to boil.
  4. Add liver spread and continue simmering until vegetables are tender and the sauce is reduced and thicker.
  5. Add bell pepper, coconut milk, salt, and pepper, simmer for another 2 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and serve hot!

Ready na? Whoooo p*t**na that was mahaba! Good luck mountain gourmets! And send me photos of your mountain feasts, please!

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Mt. Pulag via Tawangan: 12-hours of romancing with leeches and other gross tales

Yaasss! New year, new climbing season, new swarm of cuss words to learn in place of tangina (transl. sonuvabitch). The last one’s a resolution I made two seconds ago after realizing that I threw enough tanginas in our recent Pulag climb via Tawangan–yeah, enough to last the jail time of someone convicted with homicide.

How many times do we have to say it? Putangina, I’ve had it with mountaineering. *Keeps climbing anyway*

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Ang saya pa nila o! Pa-inom inom. Y’all be dead the following day! 😀

Now let’s talk about Tawangan because nobody ever talks about it. No, actually, let’s talk about Gina. Gina is a bloodsucking dirtbag and Gina’s kind is in abundance in this beautiful but infested trail. 

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Kung hindi lang sila madami, iaadobo ko ‘tong mga hitad na ‘to.

Tawangan, in summary, is: twelve hours of breathtaking scenery, of canopies that will dwarf people, river trekking, and well, leeches (and rain, and cold air, and suffering that’s sagad sa buto, atay, at obaryo).

To our guy friends, getting bitten by a leech is like having a period. Ayan sya, dugo lang ng dugo. But the period blood, you have to make salo. So swerte pa rin kayo. Lol.

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Believe me when I say, this place is so close to magic.

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See what I mean? I think it’s ideal for most first timers to use the Ambangeg trail, but I had the misfortune of going with a bunch of mountaineers who are looking for trouble. (Cue: Tangina mo, TL Thet Pajarillo! Hahaha!) 

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To the left is Team Leader Thet. Ano bang hugot mo? Ano ba gusto mong patunayan? You know, I barely tasted those Ritz Chips. 😀

The trek started at 5:30 AM in the sleepy village of—you guessed it right—Tawangan. Up to the second hour, it was a steady walk with a few river crossings, until we got deep enough to reach the wet core of the leech kindgom.

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We were still doing okay at around 6:30 AM. Natutunaw pa lang ang breakfast, maraming lakas, confident that we can reach the Saddle Camp in 10 hours. We were so wrong, beshiecakes.
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Then the trek started getting a bit harder, enough to remind us of the fun fun fun times at Mt. Candalaga late last year.
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Action shot! That guy with a white pack is UL legend Cecile Morella. Panis kayong lahat!

Around 1:30 PM, fatigue had set in. We had to do a short meeting to decide whether we’d still gun for the Saddle or just head to the nearer Camp 2 and get some fucking coffee. It rained for the most part of the afternoon and we were wearing some 50-peso ponchos that broke easily, so the prospect of having a roof on our heads seemed super attractive.

We were so drained by the time we reached the grassland. Zombie walk na mga kapatid. Pero may pictures pa rin.

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Gwapo pa rin, o ha! That’s Rio Hernandez, certified AMCI Tito, the owner of most of the photos used in this entry.
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Love team ng bayan at Junior Pulag!
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That’s Troy singing Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus. Kidding, IDK WTF is happening. Hahaha!

Did we make it to the Saddle? Well, no. We settled at Camp 2 and huddled at the guides’ hut–it was empty on Sunday evening, thank yeezus. At 7-ish we back to being jolly people with rice on our mess kits and vodka + tequila on the side.

In truth, I wanted to go and trek to the summit at 3AM the following day but a super bad hangover (kasalanan ko ‘to, I know haha), a persistent fever, and a swollen right foot kept me from leaving the comfort of my bivy. Gusto ko na lang magpa-stretcher pababa, pero ma-pride ako, so trek poles na lang. Hahaha! 

To the guys who summited, congratulations! Fresh nila o, pero basa medyas ng mga yan! ❤

Mt. Pulag Summit
6/17 with the Pulag first-timers not even here. Wagi! 😀

Meanwhile in camp: fried rice before breaking camp and heading down via Ambangeg. Salamat tito Rio Hernandez for the photos! Sa uulitin. 😀

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