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Monday, February 26, 2007

Sudden Surprise! - The Zen of Trail Mix

(First posted to Sudden Lifestyle 08-11-06)

Everyone's got at least one secret recipe - and a reason for creating it. I share my secrets, and the reasons. This is my recipe for trail mix. Here's why.

Lots of people go with standard GORP (good old raisins and peanuts). Others just settle for whatever Raley's or Trader Joe is mixing up this week. But not me.

I do a lot of hiking and I've found that adrenaline keeps my appetite down. I never eat enough to keep my energy up on long hikes. That's why it's important to take food that's not only appetizing; I shoot for "interesting" or even "entertaining". So I look for the exotic, even somewhat decadent.

OK. Raisins and apricots are in my mix as a base, but that's as plain as it gets. This year Bing cherries are my exotic fruit. Other years I've done raspberries which don't quite have the flavor I'd hoped for, but DO produce an interesting texture.

I've never bothered with peanuts because they get stale too fast. Pecans and pistachio are my favorite nuts. They are always included. This year the pecans get some cinnamon, and the cashew get honey and sesame seeds. The pumpkin seeds are plain and need no excuse.

You have to be careful with cereal. Most of it will get kind of rubbery as it to pulls the moisture out of dried fruit. Granola works fairly well. This year it's my own blend with maple syrup, blueberries and raspberries added in. And these raspberries DO taste like raspberries.

Sugar is food too, and VERY entertaining food as a reward for all that hiking. Choc Rocks are new this year. And the Jelly Bellys have 31 flavors so it's tough to guess what you'll bite into next. Some are even a bit nasty as far as I'm concerned, but they create contrast.

And of course, each year I like to also throw in an element of Disruption. One year it was red hots, but they were literally hard on the teeth when not expected. So was the beef jerky last year (not to mention the reaction from the veggie friends).

This year I found some special Easter Reeses Pieces that were the same size and shape as Peanut M&Ms. Such deception serves my objective. And I threw in some peach and watermelon fruit chewies for good measure.

The ratios of these things are fairly important. I don't like to get heavy in any one element. Each finger-pinch should produce something different.

I wip this up each spring and freeze most of it, breaking it out batch at a time. And I like to quantify the calories, so I add them up then fill Zip-locks with 400 calories each. This helps to maintain an Average Diet.

Well, you get the point. The idea is to have fun and surprise people at the top of some mountain. I also give them away at Burning Man and other events. And it's great to take to the theater. In the dark almost everything is a surprise.

Anyway, I started passing this year's vintage out a few weeks ago. My friends have already guessed at the flavors by now. It's time to let them know for sure.

Give it a try. Or take the idea and create something YOU find special.

2006 Sudden Surprise! Trail Mix

Ingredient Weight Calories

Raisins 48 oz 4290
Apricots 16 oz 990
Bing Cherries 8 oz 780

Pistachio 16 oz 2880
Honey Sesame Cashews 16 oz 2550
Cinnamon pecans 10 oz 1900
Pumpkin Seeds 16 oz 2550

Choc Rocks 12 oz 1760
M&M Peanuts 14 oz 1980
Reeses Eggs 31 oz 4200
Jelly Beans 20 oz 1960
Peach & Watermelon 9 oz 780

Granola 32 oz 3840

Total 248 oz 30,460

15.50 lbs 123 cal / oz

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