Seasoned backpackers know that just about anything tastes good after a long day on the trails, but that doesn't mean your camp meals have to be boring: Dan Hayward, owner of the Savory Spice Shop in Boulder, is the featured guest at the Spicy Divas Cooking Lesson tonight at 7 p.m. at Outdoor Divas Boulder, 1133 Pearl Street, where he'll demonstrate how to make his Moroccan lentil stew and sweetened mint tea recipes using a simple Jetboil camp cooking system. "I guarantee if you come camping with me you're going to get something good to eat at the end of the day," Hayward boasts. "Packing some nice spices is the single easiest thing you can do to improve the quality of your outdoor adventures and turn an average camp meal into something extraordinary. If you're cooking up something spicy and flavorful and warm after a long day, you'll be the envy of anyone else who catches a whiff of it, and you might even make some new friends out there."
The event is free, and 10 percent of tonight's sales in the shop will benefit Outward Bound Denver. In addition to his cooking demo, Hayward will be bringing enough of his stew to make sure everyone gets a taste, and will give a rundown of the best spices to pack to keep things interesting over multi-day adventures.
"Spices are lightweight, affordable, and easy to take with you," Hayward says. "We get people in here all the time who are planning a trip on the Appalachian trail or heading out to conquer some of Colorado's 14ers and want suggestions on what to bring. Even if you're just planning on eating Ramen for a week, bringing some good spices along for the trip can make a big difference."
We put Hayward on the spot and asked for his top five must-have camp kitchen spices:
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"I would say you should bring some freeze dried shallots (they're very lightweight, with a lot of flavor); a nice Italian herbs blend; some freeze-dried bell peppers (all you have to do is hydrate 'em with a little bit of water); maybe a nice yellow curry; and a paprika- or pepper-based blend. I've got one blend called Wash Park All-Purpose Seasoning that's kind of like the kitchen sink of seasoning: It's got salt, black pepper, bell peppers, garlic, shallots, parsley... that could cover a lot on its own."
This is Hayward's second year presenting his cooking workshop at Outdoor Divas, and he says the Savory Spice Shop caters to outdoor adventurers year-round. Some of the shop's most popular spice blends are named after Colorado's 14ers: If you're car-camping -- or staying home -- and packing light isn't necessarily a concern, splurge for the $44 Jumbo Colorado 14ers gift set.
"When my business partners Mike and Janet Johnston moved to Colorado from Chicago, striking out on their own to start this new spice business, they wanted to name all of our stuff after Colorado places because they were in love with everything out here, from the local neighborhoods to the towering peaks," Hayward says. "We've broken our Colorado borders as of 2009 and we're coast-to-coast now, but we've kept those product names across all our locations: Colorado holds a certain mystique for people, and the names of all those big mountains we have out here really capture people's attention and curiosity."