What’s in your kitchen kit? When I became a WV leader in 2000, I was sent a basic cook kit consisting of four cooking pots (two large and two small) with lids, two coffee pots, and an assortment of utensils which included large spoons, a spatula, a Sierra cup, and other items. As the person who does all or most of the cooking on trips I lead, I wanted to make food preparation as efficient and easy on me as possible, so over the years I have added a variety of kitchen tools to make my time in the backcountry kitchen as pleasant an experience as possible.

One of the first items I added was a high quality folding knife with a partially serrated cutting edge. Conventional wisdom is that more injuries occur when someone uses a dull knife. I don’t know if this is true, but a sharp knife certainly is better and more efficient when I have to cut or chop various ingredients. My next additions had to do with coffee preparation. I am an advocate for quality coffee, even in the backcountry, so I first tried using a plastic French press coffee maker. The French press works well, but dealing with the coffee grounds, especially when wet was a problem. What I use now is a large plastic cone that takes number 6 paper coffee filters. I also have two stainless steel carafe type thermoses into which I filter the brewed coffee. This system works well for several reasons. I can set aside the used grounds in the paper filter, and they will dry out before being put in the trash. I can also make coffee well in advance of breakfast and keep it hot so when folks start getting up a fresh cup of coffee awaits them.

I have added other items to my cook kit as well, and the above represent only some of the refinements I have made to my kit. Everything I have for the kitchen kit fits in a large duffle that is easy for agency personnel to put on pack animals for transport into the backcountry. If I am leading a trip where the agency does not supply pack support, I modify my kitchen kit to accommodate the circumstances. What modifications have you made to your cook kit that others might want to know about? Post them here.

Hash browns with mushrooms and bacon bits.

6-8 cups dried shredded potatoes (available in the bulk section of most grocery stores)
2 packages of dried wild mushrooms
1 package of bacon bits (substitute sundried tomatoes to make dish vegetarian friendly)
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for cooking

Re-hydrate dried items in warm water. Allow about 30 minutes for this process. Add ingredients to hot oil and cook until tender and potatoes are starting to brown. It is important to constantly stir the potatoes as they can stick easily to the pan.

Note: The above potato amounts may vary depending on what else you might be serving with the hash browns for breakfast.