Backcountry chef Theresa Calow of Alpine Kitchen Creations is always on the go. Whether she is out crushing 5.12s and 5.13s at her local crag or preparing meals for long ski traverses, she certainly blurs the line between playing and working.
Calow resides in the Canadian Rockies, but has worked all over Western Canada, from Western Alberta to the coast of British Columbia. Catering for such lodges as Assiniboine Lodge and Skoki Lodge, Calow’s workbench is more beautiful than most people’s vacations.
“I have been working and playing in the backcountry for over 20 years and I find it is the place where I am the happiest,” Calow tells ASN. “I find that cooking gives me balance between the physical aspects of my outdoor endeavors. Puttering around a kitchen in yoga pants and creating food for people to enjoy is something that has become a part of me.”
Calow’s job as a “backcountry chef” can vary from preparing food for other’s adventures (from solo trips to large crews), to traveling with groups and preparing meals while in the backcountry. These aren’t the average “freeze-dried” meals you might find at a camping store, but fresh gourmet-style offerings from bacon-wrapped pineapple with water chestnuts, to meatless meatloaf (eggplant, mushrooms, tofu and walnuts) served with mushroom gravy.
Since these meals are being carried into and made in the backcountry, Calow has to perfectly manage the weight of the ingredients, how to pack them and frequently finds herself crafting recipes on the fly using what she has. It can be a science, but it’s rewarding to see people enjoy her creations while adventuring.
“I feel very lucky to have been able to live this type of lifestyle,” Calow says. “I am usually with good friends sharing an experience or cooking for great people who have come to the mountains for an experience different from regular life. To bring these worlds together and feed people who are enjoying the mountains is really special.”
For those of us who can’t bring Calow along on the next expedition, we asked her to share two of her favorite on-the-trail recipes.
Morning Glory Muffins:
Makes 16 regular muffins.
-1 1/4 cup sugar
-2 1/4 cup flour
-1 tbsp cinnamon
-2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp baking powder
-1 pinch of salt
-1/2 cup shredded coconut
-3/4 cup raisins
-1 apple, grated
-1 cup crushed pineapple
-2 cups carrots, peeled and grated
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
-1 cup oil
-1 tsp vanilla
-Mix everything together in a bowl, being careful not to over-mix.
-Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Note: This batter freezes well, and so do the baked muffins – which are great to have in your freezer to grab and go.
Happy Trails Power Cookie:
Makes 10 large cookies.
-1 cup butter
-1 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 tsp vanilla
-2 1/2 cup flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 pinch of salt
-2 cups oats
-1 cup choc chips
-1 cup raisins
-1 cup walnuts
-1/2 cup hemp seeds
-Mix the first 5 wet ingredients.
-Add the dry ingredients.
-Mix with spoon or clean hands, until a chunky dough is formed.
-Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop on to cookie sheet.
-Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
-Note: Freeze pre-dropped cookie dough and have them handy to bake another day.
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