Outdoor Food is Good Food: A Recipe for Saffron Cardamom Trail Biscotti

Part one of the new food series on the Innate Gear blog, complete with a recipe for gluten free saffron cardamom biscotti. 

Treating my sea level lungs to a 10,000 foot plus snowshoe, I had donned every layer that I had packed for a trip to Colorado. Wool base layer? Check. Hooded wool sweater? Check. Puffy jacket? Check. Waterproof shell? Check. But what’s the one thing more important than layers on a cold winter day? The thermos. We had filled it with coffee before departure, a perfect complement to the saffron cardamom biscotti that were leftover from a New Year’s celebration and had subsequently become the new trail food. Being in the outdoors doesn’t mean you should count on energy bars alone: good food on the trail tends to make the adventure just a little sweeter.

Three women and an overly excited St. Bernard, bounding off trail into snow banks, we snow shoed up the trail to a small hut, with just enough space for a table and an abandoned sauna in the backroom. The table had a worn tablecloth and a journal for documenting trail stories. Guarding over the hut was a bearded man, carved into a small piece of wood. The kind of interior accents that you only find in mountain cabins.

The point of the snowshoe was a creative brainstorm of sorts. A lunch break to get outside, clear our heads and discuss ideas for the new year. In an overly digitized world, time away from the computer is essential.

We dumped our goods on the table. Three kinds of cheese leftover from an earlier dinner party, a bag of peanuts and chocolate chips, gluten free bread and the infamous biscotti.

“This is the best lunch I have had in a while,” said one of us.

Simplicity is heightened when eating in the outdoors, the most basic of meals can be the best. Ultimately, that’s because it’s not about the food, it’s about the time together. A moment spent with friends, reflecting and sharing stories.

Food is what sustains us. On the trail it’s what keeps us going; the fuel that we need to continue on. But there is also the emotional element to food. It feeds our soul just as much as our stomachs. The act of eating isn’t just a moment of physical sustenance, it brings us together with those around us, known or unknown; food is often the focal point of a moment shared together.

Offer a weary traveler one of your granola bars you stashed at the bottom of your pack and you have a new best friend, regardless of your differences.

No matter where we find ourselves in the world, we all share one thing: food. Regardless of our socioeconomic status, our religious affiliation or our race, we all have to eat. Food is the one thing that brings us together. Whether it’s a feast on the Muslim holiday of Eid or a bowl of warm oatmeal after a half-marathon, food is a uniting force, encouraging us to interact with the people around us in a way we might otherwise shy away from.

Beyond bringing us together, food has the potential to break down cultural barriers. On a recent trip to Afghanistan, there was no better moment than a shared meal. It was the chance for locals to show off their delicacies – there is no better dish than a plate of freshly grilled kebab and spiced rice – but also for me to liberally ask questions about a place and cultural that was otherwise very politically loaded.

That’s what this series is about. An exploration of food through stories and recipes that emphasize the value of eating well, with good people, no matter where we are. Whether it’s on the trail or on the other side of the world, it’s worth taking time to appreciate the holy moment of eating; you never know what you’ll discover in the process. And always bring your thermos.

Saffron Cardamom Trail Biscotti

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon saffron
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup almond meal (or finely ground almonds)
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions: 

In a small bowl, add a tablespoon of the sugar and the saffron and use a spoon to crush the saffron strands until they are broken into smaller pieces. Set aside.

Cream together butter, sugar and eggs. Add in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder and sea salt. Add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips.
Separate dough into two parts and form into two logs on a greased baking sheet. If the dough feels wet, add in a little more rice flour before you form it.

Bake at 325F for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300F. With a knife, slice the logs diagonally into 1/2 inch wide slices. Carefully reposition the slices so that the cut side is down. Bake at 300F for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven, turn biscotti to other side and bake for another 15 minutes.

Let cool. Store in an airtight container.

This post is brought to you buy Innate Gear, maker of reusable products that are meant for travelers. They are part of the essential Foodie Underground travel kit – an always have been – and we are excited to be partnering with them to bring you an exclusive series about sharing food on the trail and during your travels. 

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