Greetings from Stunning Jackson Hole, Wyoming™.
I’ve used that phrase so many times in the past few days I’ve decided to trademark it. Or at least the Jackson tourism board should start giving me commission. Either way, I’m writing this post after four days the shadow of the Grand Tetons, and I still can’t believe my eyes.
As you may have guessed, I’m on vacation. One of my good friends from college, AD, lives here in Jackson. An East Coast transplant with an outdoorsy streak, she’s done a great job of acclimating to the western life and extreme weather of high mountain country. Of course, she’s also hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro, so there’s that.
A quick Jackson primer:
- Jackson Hole is the valley between the Grand Teton and the Gros Ventre mountain range, named for 19th century fur trapper David E. Jackson.
- Jackson, WY is the town, and the town is in Jackson’s Hole.
- Jackson residents elected the first all-woman city government in the U.S. in 1920.
- It is home to the National Elk Refuge, a swath of flatland where elk migrate and feed in the harsh 8-month winter.
- Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone’s oft-forgotten, but magnificent stepsister is here.
- They tell me there is skiing.
We did kayak and camp in Grand Teton National Park over the weekend. AD was excited to kayak-camp, because she normally backpacks, which means bringing as little stuff as possible. Her eyes lit up as she realized all the stuff we could cram in the kayak hulls among the tents and sleeping bags: wine, non-dehydrated fruit, yogurt, wine.
I asked if it was too cliché to make s’mores. “No!” she exclaimed. “I usually don’t because it’s just more stuff to weigh down your pack. That’ll be fun.” I got what she was saying, but how heavy are marshmallows and graham crackers?
Since in her mind we had no weight restrictions (She did mention, but glossed over, the fact that we’d be carrying these stuffed kayaks over a 200 yard portage between lakes.), we decided to make veggie chili for supper at the campsite. Oh, my arms.
Before heading out, we prepped all the ingredients for the chili and put them into zipper bags or plastic containers. Even the spices got measured and mixed into a baggie. Oil was poured into a little travel bottle for just such a purpose. AD has done this before.
Once we arrived at String Lake, packed the kayaks, and embarked, New York City was a million miles away. The portage was worth it, because on the other side lay Leigh (!) Lake. The journey was dreamlike.
I paddled gleefully, though at first with a bit of beginner’s apprehension. It had been several years since I’d been in a kayak, the last time on the Hudson River. The lake was calm, and the sun was beginning to set. Rising up from the water, Mt. Moran begged us across.
At campsite 16 in the Leigh (!) Canyon, we secured our food in the bear box while we set up our tents. But it didn’t stay there long. We were starving. As the sun set over the lake, we sipped wine and seltzer with lime (I’m like that) while preparing our well deserved camp-side meal.
Beaver Dick Leigh, that was good chili! AD says her lips are still burning, so I may have over done it on the cayenne. I get a little heavy-handed with that stuff. JK raved that he didn’t miss the meat either, this from a farm-raised Nebraskan. I take that as high praise.
Paired with backpack-ready camp-stove corn bread, this might have been one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. Chili is so easy, and so fulfilling. It’s hearty, tasty, and when you cook it in the middle of the Wyoming wilderness, pretty dang satisfying. I may never come home.
Camp Stove Veggie Chili
Serves 6 regular people or 3 really hungry campers
1 15 oz can black beans
1 15 oz can kidney beans
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein + 1/2 cup water to rehydrate
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 scant tsp cayenne pepper (I used a bit more than scant.)
1) In the oil, sauté onions, peppers, and garlic in large saucepan until onions are soft and translucent.
2) Add sugar and spices to veggies and brown for 2 to 3 minutes.
3) Add tomatoes and beans to veggies and stir.
4) Mix TVP (textured vegetable protein) in water and let rehydrate for a minute or so, and then add to chili.
5) Simmer for as long as you can stand it (at least 20 minutes is recommended, but we didn’t have that much fuel in the camp stove thingy and we were really hungry).
6) Stuff it in your face. Follow with s’mores.
Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
193.7 calories, 2.6g fat, $1.12
1 15 oz can black beans: 330 calories, 3g fat, $0.79
1 15 oz can kidney beans: 330 calories, 3g fat, $0.79
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil: 80 calories, 9.3g fat, $0.06
1 large onion: 40 calories, .2g fat, $.50
1 medium yellow bell pepper: 51 calories, 0g fat, $1.67
1/2 orange bell pepper: 25 calories, 0g fat, $.83
3 large cloves garlic: 12.6 calories, 0g fat, $0.04
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes: 32 calories, 0g fat, $1.19
1/2 cup textured vegetable protein: 160 calories, 0g fat, $0.55
2 tbsp brown sugar: 102 calories, 0g fat, $0.16
1 tbsp ground cumin: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
1 tbsp chili powder: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
1 tsp salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1 scant tsp cayenne pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
Totals: 1162.6 calories, 15.5g fat, $6.69
Per Serving: 193.7 calories, 2.6g fat, $1.12