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On the trail of trail mix

Leah Eskin

Home on the Range

January 27, 2013

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My winter camper returned from the trail with a wide smile, sore feet and a taste for gorp.

"It's the perfect food," she explained. "It has everything: protein, fruit and chocolate."

Flawless logic.

She ransacked the cupboards for nuts and seeds, like a mouse expecting houseguests. She scooped together great bowls of sunflower seeds, dried mango, roasted peanuts and chocolate chips. She pursued the ideal balance of gorp's essential elements: salty, chewy and sweet.

Just because a dish is known by the acronym for "good old raisins and peanuts," doesn't mean it needs raisins. My winter camper believes it's a rare dish that needs raisins. Flawless logic.

Indeed, wordy sorts claim GORP as a "backcronym," pieced together to explain an inexplicable, but actual, word. Logical enough.

My camper packed Mason jars of the mix to fuel her hikes from kitchen to bedroom, eventually attracting a mouse houseguest.

She refined her recipe. Seeds, she decided, are superfluous. Worse, they sink. Mango distracts. M&Ms trump chocolate chips; they crunch.

Her final formula balances salty, chewy, sweet and crunchy. It fuels the hike up a steep trail or through a long night of homework. It offers everything: protein, fruit and chocolate. Plus the flawless logic of self-sufficiency, in a jar.

Gorp
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 0
Serves: Any number

Ingredients:
2 parts roasted, salted peanuts
1 part dried, sweetened cranberries
1 part chopped dried, sweetened pineapple
1 part plain M&Ms

Toss everything together. Portion into easy-access baggies. Munch, as needed. If you're short on ingredients, go with the streamlined recipe: M&Ms. Tastes best under duress.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com.