My best friend Amy travels to India fairly often. She goes for work and often returns with beautiful fabrics, interesting art and most importantly, spices. A few years ago she brought back an amazing cookbook titled The Food of India. For her birthday that same year, I gave her my services of cooking for a dinner party in her honor. I told her she could choose any cuisine, from any country. She chose Indian. That book came in very handy, along with my years of reading and experimenting with everything Madhur Jaffrey has ever written.
When I moved to New York City in 1987 I was awestruck by the vast amount of ethnic eateries. Coming from Ohio, I had not experienced anything like the food world I found below 14th Street. Chinatown was a wonder to me, the markets filled with things I had no idea what they were. Walking up 1st Avenue from Houston Street you could smell the turmeric and ginger wafting from the Indian spice markets. One day I ventured down a few stairs to one of these small groceries stocked with bags and bags of colorful and fragrant spices. I was so excited, I bought close to 20 pounds of 30 different spices. At that time I had never even cooked an Indian dish in my life, but I knew that I would.
My first experiences eating Indian food were on 6th Street, having dinner with Amy. We often frequented Rose of India, a tiny little restaurant that had a very funny tradition of turning on crazy disco lights and playing really loud Indian music when it was someone’s birthday. Besides laughing hysterically, it was during those dinners I realized my new found love for Indian cuisine. Neither Amy or I could get enough of the delicious flavors and usually over ate to the point of barely being able to walk home.
Since that time, Indian restaurants in New York City have changed as well as flourished throughout the United States. I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic Indian restaurant right here in Kittery Maine, Tulsi, although I do miss Rose of India. There was, and is, nothing quite like it.
As I plan and create my next few dehydrated meals for Good To-Go there is no doubt that I will include my love of Indian flavors. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to make raita or if I can. I will be trying out marsala dishes, dals and tandooris. I believe the most beneficial learning tool for me to create the tastiest and most authentic Indian dishes would be for David and I to grab our packs and head East. Ah, India, I hope to come see you soon.
You’re back, great! Or maybe it’s your first read through our second Good To-Go blog.
Either way, I’m happy you’re here. As I begin blogging I feel the need to give you a bit more history behind why I’m writing and how I got here and who the other players are in our GTG world.
We did not plan Good To-Go, it evolved. Some people make a plan to start a new business and then it happens. I did that for my last job. I planned to be a caterer in Southern Maine, my husband built me the facilities and then I catered. A couple years into it I realized catering really wasn’t my thing. I was having much more fun on my time off. Any chance we could get, my husband and I would head to the mountains to hike in the backcountry.
You have a lot time to think when your hiking. Both my husband and I are builders and problem solvers so most of our thoughts and conversations were about how we could change our careers and what we would actually do. David thought we should make a product. What this product would be was anyone’s guess. We would throw out ideas to one another, none of them seemed to stick.
At that same time, we found ourselves with a 10 day window that I wasn’t catering and David could get off from work at his job as an ER nurse. We started planning our trip, a 7 day loop through the Adirondacks. I had never been out for that long of a stretch and meal planning became my newest obsession. David assured me we could exist on rice and beans, mac and cheese with tunafish, GORP and oatmeal. That sounded awful to me.
I started playing around with my table-top dehydrator. First with fruits and veggies, nothing unusual, just making light food that would keep during longer trips. But I started thinking “If this stuff dehydrates, why can’t whole meals?” I took my old standard comfort food recipes and gave it a shot. Some worked, some didn’t, most needed to be tweaked but I felt it was possible. We took out three different meals on that Adirondack trip. Funny, looking back at it now, I never really tested if they would rehydrate alright. I just kind of thought they would. Luckily they did, being I didn’t pack any other food for us other than my granola and homemade energy bars.
I continued making our homemade dehydrated meals, taking them on trips, sharing them with friends, all the while still trying to figure out my next career move. Friends started requesting my meals for their own trips. I would happily cook up a few batches and send them on their way. Again always going back to, “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?”
It wasn’t until my after my first sailing trip that I noticed the light bulb hanging over my head. I don’t know how to sail so my designated job for our 7 day outing was to be the chef. Perfect, I thought. I’ll cook everything at home and bring my dehydrated meals.
That way we could save money by not paying the crazy island prices for food. More importantly, after a day of sailing, I wouldn’t have to go below to the galley and slave over dinner. Boil a pot of water and “Voila” dinner is served. I did spend sometime in the galley, squeezing limes with a fork for mojitos, but the crew was thirsty and needed refreshments.
After David and I parted ways with our friends in Tortola we headed to St. John for a few days in some Eco-Tents. We hiked around the island and it was during that time we realized, “Maybe people would buy this! Would they?” We didn’t know it at the time, but this was the beginning of Good To-Go.
Manhattan 2008- Food Obsessed City Girl Chef seeks companionship. Loves to travel and eat. Socialize and eat. Cook and eat. Garden and eat. Open to anything that involves food.
Maine 2008 – Avid Outdoorsman seeks companionship. Loves to hike in the backcountry. Ski in the backcountry. Take shelter in the backcountry. Eat in the backcountry. Open to anything that involves the outdoors.
What happened when these two met?
My Name is Jennifer Scism. I’m 49 years old and love food. I began cooking when I was seven. The meals I made at that age were spaghetti and meatballs, fried rice, and Swiss cheese fondue. Since then I’ve expanded my repertoire with the help of hundreds of cookbooks, a degree from the French Culinary Institute in NYC, working side-by-side with many talented and well regarded chefs, and an amazing 9-month tour around the world in search of great cuisine. I opened and ran Annisa Restaurant in Greenwich Village for 10 years. I was the GM and Sommelier and all around Girl Friday.
After living for 23 years in New York City, I moved to York, Maine, in 2010 to live with my husband, David Koorits. David and I met a couple years before in 2008. We were polar opposites, but, as they say, opposites attract.
David had spent the past 10 years of his life in the backcountry. He was a wilderness EMT, a ski patroller, and a commercial diver. He worked with troubled teens in wilderness settings and as a Hot-Shot fire fighter out West for 3 seasons.
Meanwhile, I was refining my wine pairings and expanding my closet of designer dresses, but deep down I was missing one major thing, the outdoors.
When I met David, I realized he was the missing link. I was soon outfitted from head to toe with quick-dry clothes, hiking boots, rain gear, and a 70-liter backpack. Our first overnight together, the first of my lifetime, was high above Crawford Notch in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It rained the entire time and I was completely overwhelmed by the weight of my ENORMOUS pack, but I had the time of my life. I was dirty, wet, and smiling from ear to ear. Six years and hundreds of trail miles later, I still love the moment the packs emerge from the basement in preparation for our next adventure.
A few things have changed since that first outing, most importantly, the size of our backpacks. We’ve scaled everything down and hike as light as possible. That being said, the last thing to change was our food supply. Cooking and loving food the way I do, I refused to pack in the freeze-dried meals I had tried in the past. I just wasn’t loving them. On short trips we would hump in fresh ingredients and I would labor over the stove at the end of the day, making dinner. That had to end when our trips got longer and the weather warmer. I then started playing around with my table-top dehydrator and several of my favorite comfort food dishes. After almost two years and much trial and error, what we hike with us today is now available for everyone to enjoy.
Good To-Go. Real Food. Real Adventure.
We look forward to sharing more of our experiences with you as Good To-Go grows. Both David and I are storytellers and love to gab so we’ll have to edit one another or this could get lengthy, but we’ll make it fun for sure.