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How to Make Your Own Fruit Leathers

Brendon and I are really excited to be contributing some of our favourite recipes over at Fresh Off the Grid. The original post was with them and you can find it here –> https://freshoffthegrid.com/diy-fruit-leathers/.

I used to feel really guilty of our lack of fruit whenever we packed our meals for a motorcycle tour or a multi day backpacking trip. Fruit is heavy, takes up a lot of space and doesn’t last very long, so it rarely makes the cut. But then fruit leathers came along and we started feeling a lot better about what we were packing, and eating!

Fruit leathers are delicious, and easy! You can take any fruit you have laying around, puree and sweeten (or not) and dehydrate it into a nutritious, chewy, and high-energy snack.

You will want to pick fruit that is ripe or even slightly overripe. To sweeten, we like to use either honey or pitted dates. Sometimes, if the fruit chosen isn’t tart, we even skip the sweetener all together. The amount of sweetener is personal preference so be sure to adjust it to your liking.

To fill all four of our dehydrator trays we need about 6-8 cups of pureed fruit; depending on your dehydrator this could vary. Line the trays with plastic wrap or waxed paper, sometimes the puree can leak through. We start with the wrap and remove it after a few hours when it has started to dry.

I’ve shared three of our favourites but the flavour combinations are endless. We tend choose flavours based on what is on sale or by what we have around the kitchen that needs to be used up. Fortunately, we live in a region of Canada called the Okanagan, which is a fruit orchard heaven. The recipes we have included are what we need to fill only two trays in our dehydrator. We like to do two different kinds at once and vacuum seal variety packs for the trail.

Using the recipes we have given as a guide, try these other flavours: Apricot (apricots & sweetener), Strawberry Lemonade (strawberrries, lemons, honey), Apple Cinnamon (apples, honey, cinnamon), PB and Jam (strawberries and 1 cup PB). 

Have fun with it, you really can’t go wrong!

The Recipe


    • 2 cups rhubarb diced & cooked*
    • 3 cups strawberries diced
    • 1/4 cup honey

    • 2 cups blueberries
    • 2 small ripe bananas peeled
    • 1/4 cup chia seeds
    • 5-10 dates pitted

  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 3 peaches pitted & diced
  • 1/4 cup honey
1. Wash, peel and remove any stems or pits, if needed. The skin of fruit is highly nutritious so we always use the peel as well (exception: bananas, pineapples, oranges, etc).
2. Put all the produce into a blender or food processor, with your sweetener of choice, and blend until smooth.

*If making the Strawberry Rhubarb variation: The rhubarb needs to be softened so after dicing put into a pot with just enough water to cover them and cook on medium until soft, we pour everything from the pot, water and all, into the processor so we don’t lose the nutrients.
3. Optional Step: We have found if your preheat the mixture in a pot before putting it in the dehydrator it speeds up the drying time. Just dump the blended mixture into a pot and heat on medium for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Line trays with plastic wrap or wax paper. Spread onto dehydrated trays. Since the sides dry quicker, make the puree thicker around the edges – aprox 1/4”inch and 1/8” at the center.
5. Dry at 145F/63C for 6-8 hours. Another way to speed up drying time is to check after a few hours and remove the wrap/paper. When they are dried, they will be a little bit shiny and non-sticky to the touch. Allow it to cool before removing them from the trays.
6. Roll the leather into a tight roll and with a sharp knife, cut into a lengths of your choice. Wrap pieces with saran wrap, put in air-tight containers (like ziplock bags) or vacuum seal. Store in a cool, dark & dry place.

The First Two Weeks

It is hard to believe that we have been on the road for almost two weeks. It seems like not a lot of time but so much more at the same time.

We stuck to the plan and spent most of the first week laying around in hot springs and on beaches, trying to catch up on some sleep from a busy summer of prepping and planning. Slowly we are adjusting to life on the road, learning our new roles and working out the kinks. It seems like just now that our trip is really starting.

A few of the highlights so far are:

St. Leon Hot Springs

Fall is just around the corner which is the perfect time to go looking for a hot spring to relax in. The Nakusp area has a diverse range of options. If you like the convenience and ease of a well established facility there is Nakusp Hot Springs and Halcyon Hot Springs. If you like to save some money or are a little more adventurous the two natural options are Halfway Hot Springs and St. Leon Hot Springs. If you are leaning to the latter, please be respectful. If people continually abuse them access will be denied. Out of respect for the land owners and the locals we won’t provide you directions but a little online research will get you there.

The Kindness of Strangers

During our past and present travels we have found that local knowledge usually leads us on our most memorable adventures. Whether it is asking a gas station attendant for a good restaurant or the waitress at a coffee shop for a good camp site, there is always an opportunity to gain insight about the area. On many occasions people have even approached us and by taking the time to have a conversation we have been directed to some amazing places, experienced astonishing generosity, and even made some friendships. Keep in mind that not all interactions with people provide the best results but generally people have good intentions and really want to help.

Tony, the recluse, shared a friends cabin location as a place for us to camp for the night.
Matt and his son offered to share their freshly caught Rainbow Trout lunch with us.
We stayed on Wayne’s ranch one night and had a great time sharing stories and learning about ranch life, like how these wheel lines work
Waterton Lakes Provincial Park/Crypt Lake Hike

The drive into Waterton Lakes Provincial Park could be an opening scene of a Land Before Time or Jurassic Park movie. The rolling grassy hills make way to some of the oldest sedimentary rock formations found in the Canadian Rockies. Much different to the steep and jagged slopes found near Banff and Jasper.

A must-do hike in the park is the 18km round trip to Crypt Lake. As National Geographic put it, “This hike might just have it all: a boat accessed trailhead, four spectacular waterfalls, an ominous 60 foot tunnel through a mountain, and an end point at a beautiful lake.” We would add incredible scenery and views, of the above mentioned mountains, to that description.

Keep in mind there is a fee of $25 for the shuttle to Crypt landing. You should book that in advance, to avoid disappointment. This is a surprisingly busy hike, considering the difficulty level, so we would also suggest avoiding weekends (long weekends especially) to avoid the crowds.

Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump

We think it is important to take the time to learn about history and other cultures. The recommendation from a friend to stop at “Head-Smashed-In” turned out to be a good one. This UNESCO World Heritage Site provides a wealth of knowledge into the history of Blackfoot Culture & Bison. We suggest stopping if you are ever in Southern Alberta. The admission for an adult is $15.00 but if you head over to a Visitors Centre and pick up “Your Official Road Map of Alberta”, you will find a 2 for 1 coupon inside (not usable during July & August though!).

The Departure | August 24, 2017

Well, we’re here! We daydreamed about the day we would leave on ‘The 30th Year Plan’ for over 2 years and now it has come and gone. We are still trying to wrap our heads around everything – the crazy 1+ months leading up to departure, the actual departure, and even what is in store for us in the future. In short, it has been a wild and surreal few weeks.

Months ago we thought we would be able to kick back and relax the few weeks leading up to our take off. It makes us laugh just thinking about that now.

We will spare you the boring details, but downsizing, moving, and getting all your affairs in order to leave the country for over a year is similar to trying to walk a misbehaved dog down a busy street, while eating a sandwich and talking on the phone.

Somehow we even found some time in there to do a podcast with Brooklyn from The Brooklyn Diaries on Q103.1. You can check that out here —-> http://ckqq.streamon.fm/listen-pl-609?smc=3.

Going into the first week of our trip we are feeling relieved (that the chaos of packing is over), excited, and extremely loved and supported by our friends and family. Thank you to everyone who ensured we left town with a hangover.

(*Note to self: Farewell parties should happen minimum 3 days before departure.)

Dehydrated Quinoa Chili Recipe

Brendon and I are really excited to be contributing some of our favourite recipes over at Fresh Off the Grid. The original post was with them and you can find it here –> https://freshoffthegrid.com/backpacking-quinoa-chili/.

Life on the road or in the backcountry can use up a lot of energy so it is essential for any adventurer to eat meals packed full of nutrients for restoration. At the end of a full day of adventures, when the sun is setting and the air begins to cool, nothing beats a hearty and warm bowl of chili.

This has been our go-to vegetarian chili recipe for years so when we decided to try dehydrating our own meals this was one of the first recipes in the line-up. A healthy, convenient, and quality meal for anyone on the go!

Have your own favourite chili recipe? Perfect! Throw all of the ingredients into a pot, but omit the water and/or broth. Heat & Cool. Dehydrate. Package, and plan your next adventure!

The Recipe

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes 28 oz total
  • 1 (398 mL/14oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced green chiles *optional
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cane sugar (or any sugar you have on hand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper *optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (12 fl ox) can corn drained & rinsed
  • 2 (19 fl oz) cans kidney beans drained & rinsed
  • 1 (19 fl oz) can black beans drained & rinsed

1. Cook 1/2 cup quinoa as per directions on bag & set aside (makes two cups cooked).
2. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot add the onion and cook until tender, add garlic for the last few seconds.
3. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cooked quinoa, chili powder, cumin, cacao, paprika, sugar, coriander, salt, and pepper. Add the chiles & cayenne if you like it spicy.
4. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Add in corn and beans, cook until heated through.
6. Remove from heat and let the chili cool.

1. Spread the chili evenly on the dehydrator trays.
2. Dry at 145F/63C for 8-10 hours, chili is done when the beans are dry.
3. Evenly package into 6 individual portions, in air-tight containers (like ziplock bags) or vacuum seal. Store in a cool, dark and dry place.

1. Pour dry chili into the pot; add 1 cup of water per serving and stir well. Bring to a boil. Summer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

How to Make Your Own Jerky

Brendon and I are excited to be contributing some of our favourite recipes over at Fresh Off the Grid. Of course, starting with one of the most popular backcountry snack – Beef Jerky. You can find the original recipe here at –> Fresh Off the Grid.

When Brendon and I first starting adventuring together we were finding it difficult to eat healthy. Most of the stuff we would bring was processed or loaded with preservatives. It was this that lead us to making our own meals and snacks and how we came to making our own jerky.

Making your own jerky not only tastes better but is also better for you and your wallet. The cuts of meat we use vary depending on what is available or what is on sale. Ideally, you want a lean cut of meat as free from fat as possible; the more fat, the shorter the storage life of your jerky.

When slicing the meat, it helps if you partially freeze as this makes it easier and helps in getting thin, even pieces. You can cut any visible pieces of fat off at this time too. Cut with the grain for chewier jerky and cut against the grain for tender but more brittle pieces.

Once you have made the marinade and poured it on to the slices, put it in the fridge and let it marinate. You can leave it overnight or up to 36 hours. Rotate the strips every now and then to ensure even and thorough coating. We like to leave it as long as we can because we find it gives it the best flavour.

Once you are ready to dehydrate, shake off any excess marinade and spread the strips in a single later on your dehydrator trays. The drying time can vary depending on how uniform and/or thick your slices are on the dehydrator. We recommend checking your dehydrators manual. Properly dried jerky should crack, when bent, but not break. Be sure to test using a cooled piece.

The recipe has been adapted over time from a basic recipe we had found online. Each time we would slightly alter the ingredients to suit our tastes until we got it just right. We have experimented with other jerky recipes but this is the one that we always come back to.

Jerky is our go-to snack for any outdoor adventure. Whether packing food for an overnight camp trip or multiple day backpacking trip we always make sure we bring some.

The Recipe

  • 1 1-2lb beef roast (lean cuts are best & will keep longer)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon meat tenderizer (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons natural hickory liquid smoke
1. Thinly slice the roast.* Cut off all visible fat.
2. Pound slices with a meat tenderizer mallet until pieces are uniform thickness (aprox nickel width).
3. Layer beef strips in dish.
4. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over beef. Lift layers with fork to ensure that all beef is covered.
5. Cover and marinate for 12-36 hours. Turn strips over several times to ensure thorough coating.
6. Spread the meat in a single layer on the dehydrator trays.
7. Dry at 165F/74C for 6-10 hours, occasionally blotting off any fat droplets that appear on the surface. Test using a cooled piece. Properly dried jerky, when bent, should crack but not break.
8. Package jerky, into individual portions, in air-tight containers (like ziplock bags) or vacuum seal. Store in a cool, dark and dry place.

*Partially freezing the meat helps make it easier to get thin, even pieces. Cut with the grain for chewier jerky and cut against the grain for tender but more brittle pieces.

GSI Outdoors Ambassadors

Three months ago Brendon and I became GSI Outdoors ambassadors. We have been using GSI gear for years so when they approached us there was no hesitation – we were 100% in. Their gear is reliable and compact, which are two very important things for traveling for long periods of time on our motorcycle or backpacking. Not only that, they are small, private, family owned company which means they have no obligation to anyone other than their customers, reps and each other. We really couldn’t think of a better company to stand behind and we are ecstatic they chose us to be apart of their team.

Commuter Javapress.
Cup from the Pinnacle Backpacker Cooking System.
Pinnacle Backpacker Cooking System & Pivot Spoon.

We have done some gear reviews in the past (see: Compact, Lightweight Kitchen) but expect to see a little bit more about the products over the next while. Also check out: Motorcycle Adventure | A Packing Guideline and well, pretty much every post includes pictures of us using GSI products.

If you guys have any questions about any of their gear send us a message. We will do our best to answer any questions you have and if we can’t, we will find out the answers.

Mancala Game.
Commuter Javapress & bowl/spoon from the Pinnacle Dualist Cooking System.

Eaton Lake Trail | Hope, British Columbia

If you hike Eaton Lake during the recommended months (June-September), it is very likely PURE HELL is an exaggeration. We climbed 3000 feet over 4km (one way), crossing rivers and hiking crawling through mud and snow…lots and lots of deep, soft snow. Despite the difficulties we had, PURE HELL are still not the first words I would use to describe this hike. The whole way we were rewarded with beautiful waterfalls, lush forest and breathtaking mountain views. If this is hell, sign me up!

Directions: Take exit #168 from the Trans-Canada Highway. Follow Flood Hope Road and turn right on to Silver Skagit Road. Keep left at the junction for Silver Lake Provincial Park. Shortly after the road’s 16 km marker, there is a side road marked with a sign for the Eaton Lake Trail and Eaton Creek Rec Site. Follow the road a short distance, where there is a basic camp located at the base of the trailhead. There are only a couple campsites.

We made it to the base of the Eaton Lake trailhead late Friday afternoon. It was raining and our first goal was to get a tarp set up for cooking and organizing our packs for our morning trek.

The wet coastal forest is lush with vegetation, but from the amount of rainfall in the area dry firewood was not in abundance. Therefore, having a campfire was out of the question that night. We had planned for early start on the trail so an early bedtime was not unwelcome.

Not long after we fell asleep we were woken by extremely loud, continuous, bone-crushing noises. The minutes it took for my brain to figure out what was happening were some of the scariest of my life. There had been a massive rock slide just on the other side of the river we were camped at, only about a half a kilometre away. It lasted about 20 terrifying seconds. This was one of the most wild (and scariest) things we have experienced in the backcountry thus far.

The next morning we started the climb. The trail winds along a rushing creek-bank, that gradually ascends with every step. About 1km into the hike we came across the first bridge and a beautiful waterfall that came pouring out of the forest.The first 1.5 kms is a breeze. In one sense it is a great warm up for the rest of the hike. But in another, it can mislead you into thinking you’re in for a causal walk.

About a kilometre after the waterfall we came upon a nice bench beside a flowing creek. Above the bench, on a tree, there is a sign telling you that you have made it halfway. Although it says that it is halfway, this is actually where the hike starts.

The trail continues up steep switchbacks from here on out. The snow started shortly after this point, first in the shaded areas then everywhere. The combination of the steep incline, deep snow and the heavy packs made for slow progress.

Towards the end of the hike we were pushed on by the occasional glimpse of mountain peaks, and the desire to make it all the way. As you will see, when we finally did make it to the lake we were rewarded for our efforts.

We had not expected to camp in full on winter conditions, but were committed to stay at least one night. After setting up camp we set out to collect firewood. It didn’t take long to realize there was going to be an issue finding enough dry wood to get one going.

Once the sun went down the temperature dropped rapidly. It was a rush to get our dinner cooked which (sort of) helped warm us up before bed. Cold and exhausted we took a few last minutes to appreciate the beautiful, clear night sky before crawling into our hammock and falling into a deep sleep.

We woke up first thing the next morning to the crisp morning air, the sun shining over the mountains…..and frozen boots. This was a first for us. In hindsight, it should have been common sense to bring the boots to bed with us. We both crawled back into the hammock knowing we wouldn’t be going anywhere for awhile. I stuffed mine in the bottom of my sleeping bag and fell back asleep. When I woke a couple hours later I found Bren wide awake with his arms wrapped around all four boots, taking turns sticking his hands inside of them to warm them up.

It was pretty easy at this point to make the decision to pack up camp. It was a gorgeous day but with wet boots and no fire it was a recipe for disaster.

We would recommend this hike to anyone looking for a good challenge. If attempt early season consider taking snowshoes/crampons. 

Lessons learned: expect various weather
, sometimes camp should be set up where the resources are sufficient, not where you planned.

Before our descent, I mentioned how sad I was that we had to go back a day early. Bren looked over at me and said “veni, vidi, vici.” He further translated, it means, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” I love that. It perfectly sums up this adventure.

Sugarloaf Mountain | Vernon, British Columbia

Every time I drive down Westside Road this very obvious round-topped mountain taunts me, I had to climb it. We found the trail information for Sugarloaf Mountain in our Thompson Okanagan Backroad Mapbook. If you don’t have this thing, I highly recommend getting it. Or get the app, it’s even better. Anyways, this is a beautiful 4.5km (round trip) hike, a new fav for sure!

Directions: From Kelowna, drive down Westside Road towards Vernon. After Fintry & Killarney Beach you will be turning left onto a gravel road. Look for signs for the North Westside Road Transfer Station. There is also a small hiking trail sign nailed to a tree. Once you turn off, stay on the main gravel road, in about 3-4km you will see a sign for the trailhead on your left (pictured below).

It is imperative that you prepare for all weather conditions while out hiking, especially during the shoulder seasons. A prime example: when we started this hike, it was a beautiful sunny afternoon in the Okanagan but as we approached the top a snowstorm had quickly moved in.

We were fortunate the storm didn’t last too long and the fog lifted. It would have been a shame if we had missed both the incredible views of Okanagan Lake and the valley views on the backside of the mountain.

Mt. Boucherie | West Kelowna, British Columbia

We leave to go travelling in less than 5 months (WHAT!) so this summer I want to spend as much time as I can exploring our own backyard. I love where we live & I want to enjoy as much of it as I can until we leave because who knows when we will be back. Plus, I want to encourage you to get out there too. So, I’ve wrote a list of every hike I could find (using google, hikingaddictions.com, & our backroad mapbooks) in the Okanagan. I’ve already wrote about Pincushion in Peachland and Christie Falls in West Kelowna – both favourites of mine! I just took Brendon up Pincushion for the first time on Saturday and he loved it too!

Mt. Boucherie is the hike we do the most often – it is “the erosional remnant of a lava dome volcano that formed near the centre of an extensive volcanic complex, 50 – 60 million years ago.” NEAT! I feel that Mt. Boucherie is to West Kelowna people what Knox is to Kelowna people. Does that make sense? Anyways, the point is, we love it & do it all the time. There are two main access points to the trails: travelling from Kelowna on Hwy 97 turn left on Bartley Road which will then turn to East Boundary Road. You will find the trail parking lot about 1km from the highway, on the left.

The second, our personal favourite (mostly because its a 3min drive from our house), is from the Eain Lamont Park. Travelling from Hwy 97 turn left onto Westlake Road which turns into Hudson. Turn right on Guidi Road, right on Trevor Drive which turns into Lakeview cove Rd. The road will come to a t-intersection, turn right (continuing on Lakeview Cove Road) and follow up. Access to the park is easy to miss as it looks like a private driveway with a sign set well back (on your left).

I know…. way too many words…if I haven’t lost you yet… be sure to pack water, follow the trail rules, keep fit & have fun.

The Tin Poppy Retreat

The Tin Poppy Retreat is located in the Larch Hills near Salmon Arm & Grindrod. It’s a really cool & really unique 32 foot, 1953 travel trailer that has a structure built around it. The trailer is “approximately 200 square feet and is encased in a modern screened-in post and beam structure which brings the space up to 1200 square feet in total.”

This is one of those places where you will have a total different experience depending on the time of year that you go. It accommodates 5 people in the spring, fall & winter months and 8 people in the summer. In the colder months you are limited to the space of the trailer (which is by no means an awful thing) and get to enjoy the sauna. In the summer you have use of the whole structure & the sauna is replaced by an outdoor shower. Bren was determined to use the whole place anyways and bundled up each morning in his snowsuit to go sit on the couch to read & have his morning coffee.

The wood fire sauna is just outside the door of the Tin Poppy. For some reason I had thought it was a part of the main building. I liked it better this way. Big cozy bath robes were left out on the bed for us. Slippers, towels & homemade soap were also provided.

And, that is not all! We were welcomed by a card with a personal note from Maggie, some fruit (apples, bananas), granola (actually the best we have ever had), plain greek yogurt, some poppy seeds, two fortune cookies and a homemade bottle of wine! We have found that hosts of AirBnBs go above & beyond. This isn’t just a business to them, it is their hobby. The little touches are always different and unique to each place. This is especially true of the Tin Poppy.

I wasn’t looking forward to having to get up in the morning and walk out in the cold to the outhouse. I most certainly wasn’t expecting it to be one of the most joyful and peaceful moments I would have that weekend. Each morning I would put on slippers and a jacket and sneak outside with Kilo at my heels. The sun just rising, everything quiet. I would just stand outside the door looking at the view, listening to the sound of silence. It helped it wasn’t freezing, cold enough to see your breath, but refreshing. When I came back in, I would put the kettle on & I crawl back into the warm bedsheets with Brendon, completely content, and wait for the whistle. We read, we sauna-ed, we snowshoed. We ate, a lot! A content stomach goes nicely with a content heart.