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Xtreme Gourmet book review

Wed 16 Dec, 2015 1:34 pm

Sonja Muhlsimmer has recently released the eBook version of her cookbook Xtreme Gourmet aimed at raising the standard of bushwalking food. It is a fantastic book. I have not seen anything that comes close to the ideas in this book. The print version is not far away and it should do well.

Sonja has (at least) 3 strengths that qualify her to write the book. She was first a chef with a passion for flavours and food. Then she morphed into a food technologist and the excellent photos in the book reveal she is an avid outdoors person from wayback. The book starts with a quick whiz through the basics of nutrition then has a look at 5 different food groups with suggestions of dried versions that are suitable for bushwalking. There are a lot of ideas here you could use to spice up you own recipes - Crispy bacon bits perhaps or dried capers. She has suggested menus for 7 and 14 day trips. Impressively the 7 day menu has a different meal suggestion each day for breakfast lunch and dinner.

The heart of the book is the recipes. These are attractively presented with lots of colour pictures and tables of ingredients with weights and cooking times. A typical Sonja meal has the ingredients divided into 2 bags you pre prepared at home. It is obvious that a lot of effort has gone into the recipes - they often have a fair list of ingredients to maximise the flavour but mostly condense down to these 2 bags. There are clear instructions of what to do at home and what you need to do in the bush. In a brilliant addition at the back of the book are some print-yourself labels to stick on the bags with brief instructions of the typical 2 steps needed to cook the meals. And make no mistake this is cooking - not just rehydrating. It does require a bit more effort than just pouring hot water into a foil bag and will use a bit more fuel. There is a lot of variety here - chick pea patties,buckwheat pancakes with Nutella, cracked wheat salad, savoury shallot pancakes. It beats the pants off the stuff most of us eat. There are some vegetarian modifications suggested and each recipe has a calorie count so you can make sure you have enough energy to cope with your exertions. She has 2 recipes including my favourite bushwalking food Lup Chong ( sweet Chinese sausage - if you didn't like it you didn't cook it long enough so the fat renders down).

Its a timely book. I found it disturbing that even on the first night of a walk through the Overland Track most people in the hut opened foil packets. This book shows it doesn't have to be so. There also seems to be a trend from the ultralight end of bushwalkers to go ultralight with food as well as equipment and only take 50% of the calories they actually need i.e. effectively starve for the duration of the trip. A few basic facts on nutrition and calories are worth considering.

As you can tell I am a big fan of this book. Its great. I have no connection with Sonja other than I paid $20 for her eBook but if she offered me a spot on one of her trips where she was doing the meals I wouldn't hesitate.

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Re: Xtreme Gourmet book review

Wed 13 Jan, 2016 7:57 pm

I pondered dehydrating vegetables briefly but maybe if i look at this book i will have to reconsider. Thanks for sharing. I will wait until a print version comes out though as i am reluctant to buy something sight unseen.

That said, I have a few tricks of my own up my sleeve which don't involve dehydration.
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