Sometimes, you get home from the store, dump a bunch of groceries on the counter and spend hours cooking before settling in for a grand feast.
And sometimes, you’re in the back of a Jeep, sweat caked over your body, trying to use what little remains of your food supply to scrounge up a meal.
“Outlandish: Fuel Your Epic” by Morgan Sjogren. Velo Press, $24.95. Available on The Running Bum.
“Outlandish: Fuel Your Epic” is a book about the latter.
Author Morgan Sjorgen, a former elite track athlete turned trail runner, has embraced the off-road lifestyle. From the Rocky Mountains to the Southwest, she’s been on one adventure after another, giving her plenty of material to fill “Outlandish” with 25 locally inspired recipes and 50 different burrito combinations perfect for the backcountry.
“This cookbook is as much a guide to fueling for endurance and adventure under the most extreme (and beautiful) circumstances as it is a collection of the incredible adventures I devoured along with each burrito, sometimes solo, sometimes with my best friends,” Sjorgen writes in the preface.
You won’t find nutrition facts or calorie counts, she warns, but rather recipes gathered from friends, local cultures and her childhood, made with what’s available, whether foraged from the wild or from the aisles of a gas station.
Watching the Silverton 1000 race from a hillside led to a recipe for foraged dandelion greens with wild raspberries recipe. Burro racing in Creede reminded Sjogren of her mother’s old “Monkey Dogs.” Whipped up chilaquiles provided sustenance for tackling the Tundrathon Triple, three major peaks in Silverton. A day of skating across the frozen Island Lake in the San Juan Mountains was topped off with Alpine Alfredo Pasta. And a recipe for Bagels Rancheros came after Sjogren entered the John Cappis 50K Fat Ass, a race she knew she couldn’t finish (only 5 people did).
Thankfully, you don’t have to compete in an ultramarathon with 19,000 feet of elevation gain to appreciate these recipes — although they might taste better if you do.
Makes 2 bagel sandwiches
Serious hunger typically doesn’t set in for me until 1-2 days after a massive endurance event. Six hungry runners packed into Tyler’s tiny cabin in Silverton and ate these the day after the John Cappis 50K. I do not remember if we ate it for breakfast, second breakfast, a snack, or dinner–just like the miles, it all starts to blur together after a while.
12 oz. bacon
2 everything bagels
A few spoonfuls cream cheese
1 handful shredded cheese
Green chili sauce
Get a skillet over medium heat and cook up the bacon–the whole pack because you know you and your friends will eat it, or you can save it for another meal.
Once bacon is fully cooked, set aside. Pour out a bit of the grease into an empty beer or bean can.
Toast bagels in the remaining grease. Once golden, set them on top of the bacon.
Pour reserved bacon grease back into the pan and fry the eggs. While eggs cook, spread cream cheese across each bagel half.
Top bagels with fried egg and 2-3 strips of bacon. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Smother this fat ass with plenty of green chili sauce.
Serve hot and eat with a fork.
Note: To feed more friends, just add in an extra egg and bagel per person.
Alpine Alfredo Pasta
Makes 2 bowls
A domestic goddess I am not, but an Alfredo snob I am–especially at altitude. This hearty dish is stick-to-your-ribs comfort food after a long day out in the elements. It’s easy to cook up a classy pasta dinner from the road or campsite. You just may want to stash a box of red wine under your seat for such an occasion.
Spatula or large spoon
1-lb. box pasta, any type
Sauce from scratch
1/4 cup butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
Sautéed veggies, steamed broccoli, grilled sausage or chicken
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fill the pot with water and place it on one burner. Get your noodles boiling!
Start the Alfredo sauce by melting butter in a saucepan over medium heat on the second burner. Once it’s melted, add garlic and cook until slightly golden.
Pour in cream, mix, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir cheese into sauce until it’s melted. Add sautéed veggies, steamed broccoli, sausage, or chicken, if using.
When pasta is finished cooking, strain the water. Use the pot lid or a plate to cover the top and leave just a slight opening to drain the water into another bowl or container (reserving it for washing dishes or drinking).
Season the Alfredo sauce with salt and pepper and extra Parmesan, if desired; then mix with the pasta.
Makes 2-3 plates
This adaptation on the classic Mexican breakfast dish is every peak bagger’s dream. A few eggs,
salsa, and the remains of a bag of smashed tortilla chips are all you need to stoke your fire with
a zesty morning meal. Of course, you can class it up with cheese and avocado too.
2 Tbsp. fat
3 large handfuls tortilla chips
2 cups red or green salsa
Optional toppings: Shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro
Heat the fat in the pan over medium. If the chips aren’t already smashed, break them up into
bite-size pieces. Add chips to the pan and toss in the fat until golden.
Pour in the salsa and bring to a simmer.
Once the salsa begins to be absorbed into the chips, crack the eggs into the mixture. Using a
spatula, scramble the eggs until they are fully cooked.
Remove the pan from the heat. Divide between two or three plates, sprinkle with cheese, sliced
avocado, and cilantro if you have them, and devour immediately.
Foraged Dandelion Greens with Wild Raspberries
Makes 2 warm salads
Tyler and I created this dish with the simple ingredients we had on hand and what we found that day to make a superfood-loaded meal. Dandelion greens are dense with nutrients–especially vitamins A, C, and K and folate–and are available at most specialty markets. Reduce their slightly bitter taste by soaking them in cold water before cooking. Or substitute other greens, such as chard, kale, or spinach.
Packets of precooked rice are handy for recovery carbohydrates, easy storage, and quick cook times after an adventure. To make it more filling, top with some protein (canned or grilled salmon would be fantastic).
1 large bundle dandelion greens
2-3 Tbsp. coconut oil or other fat
Half of 1 onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 package precooked brown rice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup raspberries
Optional protein: Cooked salmon, chicken, or steak; egg or tempeh
Slice dandelion greens into thin ribbons and soak in bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Drain and save water for cleaning up dinner.
Add coconut oil to a warm skillet on medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic.
Add precooked rice and toss with the oil, onions, and garlic to cook and soften for a few minutes.
Add the greens. Turn heat to medium-low and cover to wilt the greens.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with raspberries and top it off with cooked protein, if desired.
Makes 2 dogs
While I have now graduated to more refined prerace meals such as Avocado Toast or Pop-Tarts, in the beginning there was the Monkey Dog, a creation my mom made up one Saturday morning during my childhood. Typically, the entire family would get up before the sun, gather our gear, be it for a road race, track meet, swim meet, bike ride, or beach expedition, and make a quick breakfast to take on the road. Sure, you could eat a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich, but once you’ve had a Monkey Dog you will understand its genius and never return.
2 slices bread
1 spoonful peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
Optional toppings: Nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, shredded coconut
Spread untoasted bread with peanut butter. (Do not toast the bread or your Monkey Dogs will crack and fall apart in the steps that follow.)
Peel the banana, break it in half, and put one half in the center of each piece of bread.
Drizzle with honey and top it off with whatever tasty toppings you have on hand. Fold bread in half to form a bun around your “dog.”