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The people who give you their food give you their heart. ~ Cesar Chavez
Laughter is brightest in the place where food is good ~ Irish Proverb
Cooking and eating food outdoors makes it infinitely better that the same meal indoors ~ Unknown
The e-mail to my Saturday hiking club announced that I was a trail taste tester for Outdoor Eats. I invited them to join me in tasting my first taste test. My e-mail included "post hiking treat - think churro" and "a possible dessert for my long walk next year."
My best friend, M asks, "Will it be like the churros we had in Madrid? Crunchy, cinnamon warm dough, and dipped in thick chocolate?"
"No," I typed back adding, "Who carries a deep fryer on a thru hike or eggs and heavy cream to make a mousse?"
"Then I don't think it is a good name," she wrote.
"Think churro inspired. The recipe is called a churro pie."
|Three Creek Metro Park,
Columbus, Ohio by BEMS
COVID made us change our three trail hiking routine. We became explorers of all 23 trailed Metro Parks. Since then we've continued to traverse clockwise around Columbus several times. We learned that our city's park system is home to over 230 miles of trails showcasing central Ohio wet lands, prairies, streams and woodlands.
Last week the club chose Three Creeks Park to hike. The park is named for the three way confluence of the Big Walnut, Alum and Blacklick Creeks. These waters then flow into the Scioto River, then the Ohio and will eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico. Three Creeks is one of several parks located in the southwestern corner of Franklin county. Most of the trails here are paved for multi-use, dog friendly, and ADA accessible allowing everyone to enjoy the outdoors.
Saturday morning, the trail was moderately crowded. The Army Reservist group just finished up their run as I got out of my car. The men, drenched in sweat, were dressed in full camos. Looking at them made me hot and I hadn't even started my hike yet. Club members joined me and there were other hiking groups starting like us. We were getting our miles in before the Buckeyes played later that afternoon.
|Three Creeks Metro Park
Columbus, Ohio by BEM
We chose the trail loop that led along one of the creeks and circled around two fishing ponds home to Canadian geese. The loop is forested with giant sycamores, maples and oaks and a meadow filled with yellow plumes of goldenrod, purple asters, and exploding white puffs from the milkweed. We gave a wide berth to all flowers, because the honeybees and yellow jackets were out in force, loading up on nectar for the long winter months. I remember the crows who followed us along the path. They squawked at us as we passed perched high up in the trees. They never let us get too far ahead of them before taking flight. I watch them hold out their wings and gliding on a jet stream before landing ghostly sycamore trees several yards ahead of us.
by Julie Lariso
Steaming cup of champurrado,
panecitos, cinnamon churros---
mmm, mmm! Delicioso!
Lovebirds chirp: Pio! Pio!
Larios, Julie. and Julie Paschkis (Illustrations) "Market Breakfast." Delicious! Poems Celebrating Street Food Around the World, Beach Lane Books. 2021. www.goodreads.com/book/show/54304190-delicious?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=vO0HfbDibO&rank=3
Churro Pie Recipe Taste Test
I can dive into the science of eating outdoors: vitamin D, increases endorphins, reduces stress... (you probably already know this). Somehow eating outside things just taste better. My hiking club was excited for the opportunity to be part of a taste test. This was the first time we had an after hike treat.
Oh! I need to mention my hiking friends are foodies. Their palettes have been shaped by the Columbus' food scene. I'm not sorry for busting the fallacies out there claiming that most of our restaurants serve-up Midwestern meatloaf, mash potatoes and gravy or there is a Wendy's hamburger shop at every corner. It is the opposite; Columbus has a diverse selection of foods. My city is blessed with international transplants who are sharing their recipes. Plus there is an assortment of chefs that are experimenting by blending their traditions...Mexican with Chinese. My hiking friends love a wide assortment of foods, spice blends. I wasn't surprised to their reaction to the taste test by identifying ways to improve it.
|Pre-trail pack-up by BEMS
Your recipe for Churro Pie took only three minutes to prepare: dump pudding spice mix into bowl, stir in the water, crunch the cereal and graham crackers (note: carrying these items in my backpack helped start the crunching process), and serve it up. I want to stress the process was sped up by having the ingrediencies prepared before the hike. All you had to do was dump, add water and stir. This pre-hike prep also cut down on carrying extra weight in my backpack (weight coming from all the food packaging). When I weighed the ingredients before packing it up, it came in at 5.8 oz. It sounds like a lot, but keep in mind, the pudding package states it serves 4 people (1.45 oz/person).
|Churro Pie by BEMS
I have to agree. The cinnamon was overpowering. From a nutritional standpoint, I look for calcium food sources on the trail - it helps with my leg cramps. Adding the milk to the pudding would provide me with with an additional source calcium versus popping a supplemental pill. The milk can also add a fat source and protein too - needed in the winter months.
I made the recipe again following the suggestions of my hiking friends. The second time, I added 1/4 cup of dried milk to the pudding mixture. I kept the water amount the same. I also only used the cereal. And for M, I had a small container to drizzle chocolate syrup on the mixture.
Taste test 2: comments: "The milk tones down and rounds off the spices. It demonstrates what Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton said...fat enhances the flavors." "The drizzle of chocolate is a nice touch - gourmet on the trail." "I like this better, It isn't so sweet." "You have the crunch from the cereal and the smoothness from the pudding...really tastes good. I like it much better this way."
I intend on using my revisions to the recipe on backpacking hikes. I also plan on bringing the extra cereal as a "snack" to be paired with nuts and dried fruit and this dessert.