"Hey, I'd Eat This At Home" Book Review

For most people, being comfortable at home is easy. Fancy a snack? Stroll to the kitchen; take a knife from the drawer to slice what’s left of the loaf of bread. You’d like something with it? Grab some cheese and salad from the fridge, and whatever else looks good. It doesn’t take much. When the ingredients are gone, you can run to the store for more. Away from home those routines changed. You paddled or hiked to this pristine beach, nobody in sight, and you want a snack. You could eat anything, but your choices are limited to what you brought. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Your choices are limited by the ingredients you have, but the greater your imagination, the more choices you have.

I’ve known Michael Gray for more years than I have fingers, and I’ve run into him in all corners of the country in different seasons. He is like a monarch butterfly, with north-south migration routes on both the east and west coasts. Wherever he pauses, he unpacks a little food, a zip-lock with something marinating inside, a tiny bottle of olive oil, a remnant of a smoked fish. Want to eat? Out comes a small cutting board, a sharp knife, a clove of garlic, and half a red pepper; next a small pan and burner. Within a few minutes the smell of gourmet cooking rises into the air. We could be outside a cabin in South Carolina or on an Oregon beach-it doesn’t matter. It is the same kind of experience. Michael knows how to combine whatever simple ingredients he has into enticing dishes, wherever he is, and he knows how to carry all he needs.

Michael’s expeditions, camp-cooking demonstrations, and seminars at sea kayaking symposia have become legendary. They are so popular that people often don’t realize Michael belongs on the outside of the seminar tent, not inside. What he shares in techniques and tips, what he rustles up with a pinch of seasoning, is what he rustles up when he is in his real element; multi-day sea kayaking or canoeing, hiking, fly-fishing or simply on the road. He eats well wherever he is.

Being realistic, he needs to know how much he must carry if he is only catering for himself or how that changes if he is with five others. He needs to know when to eat things, which ingredients will still be edible after a week on the water, and which herbs and spices are easy to carry. Cooking on expedition is an art. You carry everything so you do not want to waste anything. Leftovers are like dollars in change from a twenty dollar bill. Michael is the ultimate make-a-meal-out-of-leftovers cook.

For years people have asked Michael how they might remember all the tips and tricks, the details they need to know to cook like he does. “I’ll write a book!” he’d reply with a laugh! For years people asked “Have you finished that book yet?” He’d grimace. Writing a book is like raising a child, with all the awkwardness and joy and investment of time. It took years before Michael finally settled down to it. Now he has achieved a monumental task, grabbing a many-legged monster and pressing it between covers.
The essence of Michael’s wilderness catering, food preparation, cooking, and seasoning is here, along with a series of recipe ideas. Browse the book, pick a recipe you fancy, and jump into it with both feet! The world of living out and living it up is all yours!

Author Michael Gray, from my hometown of Beulah, has written and just published the definitive camp-cooking book. In addition to his many tasty recipes, he write about what to include in your camp kitchen, what’s important in making camp coffee, and how to select portable produce. This is a well written, literate book that’ll help to spice up your next paddling adventure. Order it from Michael’s website www.uncommonadv.com or from www.amazon.com for $18.95.

Russell Farrow writes “Getting this info from Michael is like getting a private guitar lesson from Eric Clapton!”

Submitted by George Granlund

New to Kayaking?

Don't know how to get started? Which boat to buy? How to learn without embarrassment? What if it tips over? Do I have to roll the kayak?

We were all beginners once and we'd be happy to help you with the basics. Before you even buy a boat, why not stop in at our monthly meeting (see the Paddlers Calendar) for some friendly advice from experienced paddlers. Whether you're interested in calm afternoons on one of Michigan's beautiful lakes and rivers or two weeks in the wilderness, we can help - we've been there.

To ask any questions or to contact the group for any reason, please send an e-mail to Eastcoastpaddlers@gmail.com