Take the Inmates Out for a Stroll

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the Polar Bear Camp that my boy’s Boy Scout Troop undertakes each January. Every year, in addition to the two-three adults that camp out with the boys, there is a “safety person” nearby that is there in case someone has problems and needs to get into a shelter. This safety person often sleeps in a warm bed in a house or hotel and generally is not called.

Several years ago the scouts decided to kick Polar Bear up a notch and turn the camp into a hike through the mountains in central Pennsylvania. They still planned on being without shelter for 24 hours, but decided to add 10 miles of hiking onto it. Turning it into a hike instantly adds more danger and complexity.

First, the scouts are not always in an easily accessible place. If they are three miles into the woods and need help, it can take a while to get help there. When it is below freezing, that time becomes more critical.

Second, the amount of weight that a scout carries to a camp and to a hike is completely different. Every ounce counts when you are hiking and you have to make hard choices between comfort and weight. When it is cold, everything weighs more and you need even more to ensure you are safe.

Third, food and water are issues. If you are camping, heavier food (soup) works well over a fire but if you have to haul it, lighter food is taken. Carrying adequate water can be tough enough on a hike, but you have to ensure it is packed so it doesn’t freeze when it is cold.

For the Polar Bear hike I volunteered to be the “safety guy”. I drove a van-load of scouts to the drop off point and verified the road crossings that I would check every several hours until nightfall and then meet them at one the next morning. As snow continued to fall all afternoon and evening, I did not see any scouts (or even footprints) and then retired to my nice warm hotel room.

The next morning I awoke and stopped by the local doughnut shop and bought several dozen doughnuts and a jug of coffee to take to the crossing. We were expected to meet at 9AM and knowing that the scouts would not want to wait for me, I arrived at the crossing at 8:15. No scouts and no tracks. I checked the temperature: -5 air temp.

8:45 rolled around then 9 and still no scouts. 9:15. 9:30 and no one. One glance at my phone and I have zero bars. I left the van and walked several hundred yards down the trail. No sign of them and in the quiet, no sounds either.

10:00 and no scouts. I start to panic. I leave a quick note and drive to both the drop off point and the eventual end (another 3 miles) and nothing. I return back and still no scouts. My mind starts to go to wondering who froze, or if they all did.

10:30 they arrive. The coffee had cooled off but the doughnuts were still scarfed down. They had camped for the night and when morning came around, a few scouts just didn’t want to get out of their warm sleeping bags and caused their later start.

Several of the scouts were all hiked out and didn’t want to complete the next 3 miles, but about half decided to carry on and left up the trail. Looking at my watch, the scouts had been outside of shelter for only 21 hours and if they came into the van they would not qualify for the polar bear badge. I put it to them that they could either stay out and qualify or come in and get warm. To a scout, they all decided to stay outside and qualify for the badge.

As we needed to pick up the hiking scouts a few miles down the road, we had several hours to kill and the scouts needed to keep moving to keep warm, we decided to hike to where the other scouts would come out of the woods. Well….the scouts hiked. As I needed the van to drive everyone out of the wilderness, I needed to drive. I put the packs into the back of the van and the scouts started walking on the road. I followed with my flashers on, going 1-2 MPH. While we were in pretty isolated areas, there were a few cars that drove by and gave me quite a look. I can’t imagine what they thought seeing 5 pre-teen boys walking on the road in very cold weather with an adult in a mini-van slowing driving behind. I felt like a warden taking the inmates out for a stroll!

IMG_2471 copy - Featured Size

This dish would have been worth waiting for.


I actually had most of the ingredients in my pantry.


Toast the pine nuts. They will go from uncooked to burnt very quickly so keep your eye on them.


Wilt some spinach.


Add in the sun-dried bombs of flavor.


And the steaming pasta. Delicious!

Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

prep 15 M ∙ cook 25 M ∙ makes 4 servings ∙ source Allrecipes.com


  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 12 dehydrated sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) package uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Remove from heat. Place the sun-dried tomatoes in the broth 15 minutes, or until softened. Drain, reserving broth, and coarsely chop.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place penne pasta in the pot, cook 9 to 12 minutes, until al dente, and drain.

Place the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until lightly toasted.

Heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the garlic 1 minute, until tender. Mix in the spinach, and cook until almost wilted. Pour in the reserved broth, and stir in the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Continue cooking 2 minutes, or until heated through.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the spinach and tomato mixture and pine nuts. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

PREP 15 mins

COOK 25 mins

READY IN 40 mins


Calories 340 kcal 17%
Carbohydrates 52 g 17%
Cholesterol 4 mg 1%
Fat 8.9 g 14%
Fiber 6.1 g 24%
Protein 14.7 g 29%
Sodium 386 mg 15%

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Cheese3, Italian, kosher, Main Dish 3, Pasta, Recipes, vegan, Vegetable4, Vegetarian

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

4 Comments on “Take the Inmates Out for a Stroll”

  1. February 12, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Love the recipe – definitely making it for supper! First I read “Taking the intimates out for a stroll.” which was highly amusing, but made a lot more sense after I realized it was supposed to be inmates 😛

    I’m also a huge fan of the inclusion of nutritional information!


  2. February 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    Oh my what an adventure and how scary it was to arrive and no Scouts. I’m glad it all worked out. Love your recipe too.


  3. February 13, 2014 at 2:13 am #

    Looks great!!!


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