Video #13 – Yosemite Nat’l Park and Backcountry Couscous w/ginger, shallots, zucchini

by on August 2, 2008

Couscous recipes - Backpacking Recipes

As we write this post, Yosemite National Park is experiencing devastating wildfires that have burned thousands of acres of pristine wilderness. It’s such a sad and difficult moment, for we wanted so much to share the joys of our last camping trip with all of you. Yosemite has always been a special, magical, and inspiring place for us, as it has been for millions of it’s visitors. With the fire 40% contained, there’s still 60% of hard, backbreaking work that the firefighters have to fight against. Thank you to all of the firefighters, police officers and volunteers who are working tirelessly to fight not just the Yosemite fires, but all the other California fires that have been burning over the last month. We applaud you.

Grand view of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Couscous recipes - Backpacking Recipes

We’re not going to let the fires dampen our spirits. Luckily when we were there, the fires were not in the National park yet, but we could still see the smoke encroaching the valley from surrounding National Forests. Even with a little bit of smoky haze in the morning, the sights of Yosemite’s granite monoliths, cliffs and canyons were breathtaking, as they always have been. Ansel Adams, the famous nature photographer, conservationist and early environmentalist said it best, “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.

Crossing Mine Creek, Inyo National Forest

Couscous recipes - Backpacking Recipes

Of course, our lucky canines accompanied us on this trip and lucky for them, Yosemite Valley is quite dog friendly. National Parks do not allow dogs on hiking trails, but they are allowed on paved trails, paths and roads. With miles and miles of these paved paths in Yosemite’s vast valley, the pups had a grand time hiking and visiting with many of the parks visitors and friendly rangers. We set up base camp at Bridalveil Creek campground for the 3 days and took day trips and hikes to various parts of the park. One of those days was visiting Tuolomne Meadows, an amazing spectacle of pristine lakes and meadows! The best part of the trip was hiking outside of the National Park into neighboring Inyo National Forest, which is very dog friendly. National forests allows dogs on trails and often times, even allow dogs to be off leash. So we found the ever spectacular Saddlebag Lake area and let the dogs hike, run free, and play in the waters of Mine creek (from Junction Campground).

Off leash time: cooling and free at last!

Couscous recipes - Backpacking Recipes

Here’s our little video to share with all of you:

Video #13- Yosemite National Park and Backcountry Couscous

Visiting Yosemite and Making Backcountry Couscous from White On Rice Couple on Vimeo.

When we’re out camping or backpacking, FOOD IS VERY IMPORTANT TO US. After a long days hike or climb, all we can think about is a good hot meal when we get back to camp. The days munchies are normally something quick and simple like bagels, granola, chocolate and crackers, but when it’s time to set up camp and fire up our stove, it’s all about eating well. We try our best to pack light and simple, but without compromising too much of flavor and some good stuff that makes us happy and keeps us warm. Couscous is one example of our staple meals because it is light, non-perishable, quick to cook, nourishing and satisfying to soothe our tired bodies and blistered feet.

carmelized shallots, fried ginger matchsticks and grilled zucchini

Couscous recipes - Backpacking Recipes

In the video, we share with you our version of our quick and delicious one-pot Backcountry Couscous. We will always bring or pack in some fresh, veggie essentials that are again, light, flavorful and tough enough to pack in our backpacks. For this couscous dish, we brought along some zucchini, ginger and shallots, all of which bring some fantastic flavor to our starch essential couscous. We just simply stir fried them up in our pan with a little oil, added some water, couscous and let it come to a boil. In just about 5-10 minutes, we have a hearty meal that has our much needed carbs, veggies and awesome flavors of ginger and shallots. Of course, we always doctor up our backcountry meals with extra special ingredients and this meal we added soy sauce and parmesan cheese! We can never go without our soy sauce and cheese in the great outdoors! This meal requires very little fuel and so quick that it makes for the perfect camping meal and the best part about it is that it can easily be duplicated in your home kitchen.

minced parsley topping

Couscous recipes - Backpacking Recipes

For home, and the main picture of this post, we added some extra goodies to the couscous. The recipe has all the shallot, ginger and zucchini goodies cooked in with the couscous, making it simple and camper friendly. But at home, we added some more grilled zucchini, fried ginger matchsticks and carmelized shallots on top. Enjoy!

Couscous Recipe w/ginger, shallots and zucchini Recipe

Yield: Serves 2-4

Total Time: 15 Minutes


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive/grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup diced zucchini (about 2 small or 1 medium zucchini)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced/grated ginger (about 2″ bulb)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced shallots (about 1 large shallot)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • optional topping we added in video: soy sauce & parmesan cheese


  1. Add oil to pan and add zucchini, ginger and shallots.
  2. Cook till soft and fragrant.
  3. Add water, salt, couscous and bring to boil.
  4. Stir once to mix couscous grains evenly with ingredients and remove from heat.
  5. Close lid and let sit for about 5-10 minutes, then fluff couscous and place lid on top again for about another 2-3 minutes to allow grains to cook more evenly.
  6. Add extra salt/pepper to taste or your choice of extra toppings.
Recipe Source:

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Couscous recipes - Backpacking Recipes

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Manggy August 2, 2008 at 9:27 am

Oh no! I wasn’t aware of the news. I hope it’s 100% contained really soon. It would be a shame to lose one more inch of that gorgeousness. Sigh, and I’m just off from watching “Happy Feet,” too. What a day.
Looks like you guys had a pretty much perfect trip… The kids looked very well-behaved, fun in the water, delicious couscous… Sigh.


2 Kitt August 2, 2008 at 10:28 am

What fun! For you and the dogs.

I agree, camping is best when you take good food. I’m not much for backcountry tent camping, but hut trips are great because you only need to pack a sleeping bag and lots of good chow. And wine. Decant it into a Platypus bag and you’re good to go.

You guys should do a Colorado hut trip sometime. You’d love it.


3 Lisa August 2, 2008 at 10:58 am

You guys should have your own show, really, I’m not joking. You are just naturals in front of the camera.

Thanks for letting me see Yosemite through your eyes. The food looked wonderful and so did you guys! The pups looked like they had a great time. I loved the sunscreen scence, lol.

Your pictures are just breath taking.


4 Ivy August 2, 2008 at 11:48 am

Sorry to hear about the fires. It’s a breathtaking place and it seems like you had a great time. Thanks for taking us to this virtual trip with you.


5 Tony August 2, 2008 at 12:31 pm

It’s so sad to hear about those fires… I’ve never even visited Yosemite before, but it looks so beautiful!! Your video is great, too!! I love it that you guys didn’t sacrifice flavor in the outdoors; definitely my type of hiking : )


6 Psychgrad August 2, 2008 at 12:36 pm

I hope they get the fires under control soon.

Your video is really cute. I’m going to link to this post in an upcoming post of mine. We went canoe-camping last weekend. It’s nice to see easy options for campstove cooking. I didn’t get a picture of it – but I slipped into the water too. Luckily only my pants and shoes got wet – I had my camera in my pocket and it was a close call.


7 evil chef mom August 2, 2008 at 1:03 pm

a few years ago when we went to Yose-mighty (that’s what the sous chefs call it) in one day we saw a huge bear, a dear, and a mountain lion and had a snowball fight in the middle of july. i love it there. thanks for the nice reminder.


8 Tim August 2, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Leaving today for the backcountry in Yosemite – what a wonderfully joyful way to view the world – your a great couple – dogs included – even more excited about our trip. Tim


9 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) August 2, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Looks like a wonderful time for hiking and camping, despite the fires.


10 shayne August 2, 2008 at 7:36 pm

great video but where were the dogs when you were making the couscous?


11 sweetbird August 2, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Such beautiful photos! I had family just visiting Yosemite and they said it was amazing, I can’t wait to see it myself someday.

Ditto on the fires and the amazing folks who battle them. It seemed pretty touch and go on the Big Sur fires for a while…and that’s a little too close for comfort in my book. Thankfully there’s still time left for some awesome hiking.


12 nikkipolani August 2, 2008 at 10:13 pm

LOVE those Yosemite pics, you guys. And the big smiles on your faces tell it all – glad you got to get away and enjoy some well-deserved time off.


13 sra August 2, 2008 at 10:59 pm

Oh, I’m so saddened to hear about Yosemite – I went on a day trip there five years ago. I think I even have a picture of myself with Half Dome in the background.


14 kate August 3, 2008 at 5:33 am

Diane n Todd … u guys really are so much fun to hang out with …. !!! The pictures are abso – fuc*in -lutely amazing !! i need to get my hubby in the outdoors .. hes such a typical Indian Business man, he has no time frm work !!! For now i live thru your videos n pics :)


15 grace August 3, 2008 at 2:55 pm

what a gorgeous place. it’s almost gorgeous enough to get me off my lazy bum and into my hiking shoes. :)


16 Bren August 3, 2008 at 6:25 pm

You guys are so sassy. Beautiful, really. This just reminds of me of camping trips growing up and the ones my fam is taking now without me, up in DC and MD, oh and PA. So not fair. I’ve never been to Yosemite, but I’d love to. And, you guys made it look that much more inviting. You personalized it. Not like the ad campaigns where people you don’t know frolick around! That being said, you need to sell this to the Park!! LOL. the music and video pro work! and ur voice! ha ha. were u reading a script! I love the vid!
The meal and pics were amazing! Nice job, as always.


17 Jen Yu August 3, 2008 at 10:47 pm

You crazy kids!! :) I am so jealous that you took the pups to Yosemite. Kaweah is a National Wilderness and National Forest girl herself… I wouldn’t trust her in a National Park (she’d get us all jailed). Your food prep makes us look like barbarians. We are pretty bare bones when it comes to food in the backcountry as opposed to food in our kitchen! Just think, after we see you guys, we’ll be in the Sierra – just on the other side of the range from where you were!! Love the vid. The pups are sooooo cute! xxoo


18 Renee August 4, 2008 at 1:53 am

Looks like you two had SO much fun!! I cracked up when you were playing in the water – and the sunscreen tip?? PRICELESS! I totally expected the normal tip – but on your pup?? That was AWESOME!!! Your blog rocks!! *smile*


19 Sandie August 4, 2008 at 9:27 am

Hey T&D! Love the new banner up top and as always, enjoyed this blog post AND your new video. Keep up the great work!


20 veron August 4, 2008 at 11:00 am

I’m glad you guys were able to enjoy the trip before the smoke would have clouded it. Your dogs look adorable! Oh and the couscous looks delicious!


21 Homecooked August 5, 2008 at 12:05 am

We love Yosemite too! I cant imagine how it will look after all the fires are contained. Its one of the most beautiful places I have visited. The couscous looks delicious. Very summery :)


22 Rita August 5, 2008 at 1:16 am

now that’s one healthy weekend! loving the zucchinis and caramelized onions. couscous isnt something i normally use, but i’ll look into it (gosh i sound very corporate-ish lol)


23 Donald August 5, 2008 at 1:43 am

Great pix (as usual) and a really nice recipe.

We are all hoping that they get those fires contained very soon.


24 ovenhaven August 5, 2008 at 6:15 am

You sure looked like you had truck loads of fun! The dogs look preciously adorable as usual :)


25 swirlingnotions August 5, 2008 at 4:11 pm

So, so, SO cool! It looks like you’re having a fabulous time! And . . . how did I miss that you had a Ridgeback? Did I miss that you have a Ridgeback? We lost our dear, sweet, snugglable Talisker back in March and I still get teared up when I see a Ridgeback snout.

Enjoy the rest of your trip!


26 giz August 5, 2008 at 8:20 pm

So sad when the heat and lack of rain ends up in natural devastation. The pictures are beautiful and the dogs look like they’re having the time of their lives. I suspect my little fru fru dogs would rather be at Star-barks.


27 canarygirl August 6, 2008 at 4:27 am

Cute video! Gorgeous pictures…it always seems like the majesty of places like Yosemite just can’t be captured with a camera, but somehow, you guys did it! I can feel the mist of the waterfalls from here. :) And! That is some seriously good camping grub! :D


28 megan August 6, 2008 at 7:42 am

You guys are too cute! Loved the vacation and all the pictures. Looks like a good time was had by all.


29 richa August 6, 2008 at 8:32 am

sounds like such a fun filled camping trip :)


30 sharon August 6, 2008 at 9:12 am

Wow, what great photos! The dogs look blissfully happy.

I need to come camping / hiking with you. We never have such gourmet treats!


31 matt wright August 6, 2008 at 10:05 am

Awesome stuff guys – this looks like such a good trip!

The scrolling slideshow at the end is great.. what a cool widget.


32 Pat August 6, 2008 at 5:37 pm

You guys look like you’re having so much fun! I need to get out to Yosemite sometime. Hopefully the fires will be contained soon. We’ve just moved to the Monterey Peninsula and Big Sur was in major trouble with forest fires but it’s mostly contained now–thank goodness!


33 noobcook August 6, 2008 at 11:11 pm

The “hot dogs” caption and the sunscreen tip had me in stitches XD How lovely to be able to bring yours dogs on vacation! And u guys eat better when hiking, then us when we’re at home, haha … I’m going to check if the supermarkets in Singapore sell ‘Couscous’ and try out your recipe!!~


34 Dee August 6, 2008 at 11:40 pm

I hardly cook when I’m on holiday. That’s not true, I just plain don’t. So I’m feeling a little small that not only did you cook. But outdoors. And with vegetables. I’m going to eat some chocolate now. Thanks.


35 Angela August 7, 2008 at 4:32 am

You two are adorable. I could watch your videos all day! Yosemite looks gorgeous. What a terrific vacation you must have had. I love the recipe — clearly you put a lot of thought into packing just enough to eat well (that little cutting board is perfect)!


36 RecipeGirl August 7, 2008 at 8:13 am

What treasures those videos are for you guys, especially in the years to come. I think you should be working for the travel channel. You have a nice rapport and great voice for tv :)

I don’t have a very outdoorsy kind of hubby. He’s a great guy, but he’d rather be hanging out at the 4 Seasons than hiking through the wilderness (to his credit, he does have severe allergies which doesn’t pair well with hikes). So I take my son and hike through the trails around where we live. That works.


37 Cynthia August 7, 2008 at 10:36 am

You’ve both brightened my day and put a smile on my face, thank you!


38 shelley August 7, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Hi! Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment! I had just walked in the door from eating fish tacos at Picante when I got it! I just did a follow up review on Picante, and also reviewed Bobby’s & Jason’s. Thank you for reminding me!

I actually live in SR, too! What a coincidence! There are a lot of amazing restaurants here that I haven’t reviewed yet, but I would also highly recommend The Spinnaker in Sausalito, The Yankee Pier in Larkspur, and Cacti in Novato, just off the top of my head. Also, if you ever make it up to Napa, you really must go to Cole’s Chop House if you like steak. OMG, my husband went there for our anniversary this past Monday and it was out of this world!!

Your trip to Yosemite looks amazing…too bad about the fires. Sounds like you and your doggies had quite the adventure! Loved the video and all the pictures! Your blog always makes me so hungry!!!! :) Take care! Shelley


39 Lisa (Show Me Vegan) August 7, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Your grilled zucchini looks delicious! What a great trip for you and the pups.


40 Hélène August 7, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Beautiful post and pictures. I love to eat well when we are camping or hiking. I think all the other campers are smelling my food because outdoor cooking smells so good.


41 Julie August 9, 2008 at 7:01 am

Your dogs really seem to be enjoying Yosemite. Lucky dogs! And you two don’t let camping stand in the way of delicious food. This is not the sort of food I associate with camping at all! So much better than sloppy joes or hobo potatoes or all of the other things I think of as camping food.


42 Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. February 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm

So cool!


43 SnappyGirl August 8, 2009 at 7:51 am

I was looking for a recipe to cook couscous and coming to this site I must say was a big disappointment. Your couscous looked like mush, obviously overcooked. My next question is, why would anyone grill zucchini? A veggie that is 80 to 95 % water, you end up with a limp substance that has no flavor or appeal.


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