I have a new research project–a project similar to the ones I did on Ploughman Lunches around Victoria and Mini-Doughnuts at Farmers’ Markets . My new research involves “Trail Mixes”–you know, that ubiquitous mixture of peanuts, raisins and other cut-up bits of dried fruit. It can be called by various names, depending upon what it is composed of. I’ve seen mixtures called “Dragon Boat,” “Sweet and Savory,” “Black Forest,” “Hikers’ Delight,” and many other names, but always, with the peanuts and raisins as its starting point. It has also been called “Mountain Man’s Mix,” but I’m not sure real mountain men would ever consider munching on a handful of nuts and bits of dried fruit while hunting bears.
I’m not sure how I got immersed in this project as I’m not a dedicated hiker, kayaker or mountain climber, but I do enjoy munching my way through my trail mix while I do my urban power walks. However, in my search for the perfect mix, I have definitely developed some likes and dislikes in the mixture’s composition. Peanuts are fine but not in great numbers as some mixes are 3/4 peanuts and the rest bits of dried fruit. However, I have discovered that of all the nuts, peanuts stay the crunchiest when mixed with dried fruit. Raisins are okay but only the big, plump dark ones and definitely not those small, hard, dried ones. Dark chocolate is a must-have but not those teeny-tiny mini-chips, but those large, dark buttons that are worth at least a bite and a half when they pop up in the mix. And, especially none of those dinky pieces of white chocolate since we all know white chocolate is not real chocolate. Chunks of dried fruit such as dates, mangoes, apricots and cherries are excellent–large enough to know what kind of fruit you are eating but not so miniscule that it leaves you wondering what kind of crumb you just sent down your gullet. Bite-size pieces of coconut, not the flakes, plus a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds tossed throughout. That’s my ideal trail mix.
There are mixes that have some, but not the others. So far, I have yet to find a mix that has all these ingredients. The other day I decided to scoop up one of the mixes that looked promising. The cut-up dried apricots and big plump raisins were mingled with roasted almonds and a few peanuts. I then scooped up small separate bags of roasted pecans, dried cherries and chopped dates to later add to my original trail mix. The barrel of Callebaut dark chocolate pieces had just been refilled so a small scoop of the chunky chocolate was also added to my grocery cart.
I had taken my neighbor’s little 4 year old with me and when I told her about my “project”, her big brown eyes got bigger as she decided to make her own trail mix too. Twenty-seven dollars later, Trisha and I were walking along the beach–each of us clutching our bags of original trail mix. Mine had most of the nuts, fruit and chocolate I had been searching for. But my “apprentice” decided to strike out on her own and made her unique mix of chocolate-dipped raisins, mini-marshmallows, gummi-bears and M&M’s.
In my defence, I can only say we did have a healthy lunch and Trish’s “trail mix” did have fruit–chocolate covered or not, raisins count as fruit.