Oct 05 2016

Camp cooking doesn’t have to be boring

There's no excuse to not eat wellWho said you can’t cook and eat well while camping?

When I started travelling with Doc his food requirements were simple – meat, meat, and more meat. All of which got cooked on a barbecue plate. If he wanted gourmet, then it would get a packet of some sauce or other poured over it. Sometimes he’d stop for a meal at a local pub, or a bakery for a pie. When we went to Cape York he did a fish & chips tasting tour (the best were in Cardiff).

But for me, being able to cook while camping and travelling outback is a necessity. I’m vegetarian so stopping for a pub meal is usually not an option. Not unless I want to live on chips and, if I’m lucky, side salad. Or unless the pub is the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna.

The first time I packed our fridge for a trip there was a lot of protesting about the salad, vegetables, and “crap” that I put in. It didn’t take long for him to change his mind: about the time I brought out a platter of biscuits, cheese & nibblies after we’d set up our first camp.

When I travel I pack ingredients rather than ready cooked meals. If I have to heat something up I find it just as easy to cook it from scratch. For this trip I packed:

  • champagne-on-the-ghanSpices – 2 curry mixes, paprika, cumin, chilli, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon
  • Herbs – basil, oregano, lemon myrtle
  • Flour
  • Dried pasta. This time I brought fettucine & angel hair
  • Cous cous
  • Rice
  • Falafel mix
  • Crispbreads (I don’t eat enough bread to warrant carrying it and these stay fresh longer)
  • Dried and tinned beans – kidney beans, chick peas, black eyed beans, lentils. If I have time, and a campfire, I’ll cook up the dried beans, if not I’ll open a tin. Chick pea salads are great!
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Coconut milk
  • Fresh garlic and onions
  • UHF milk
  • Olive oil (decanted into plastic bottles so as not to carry glass)
  • Soy sauce
  • Balsamic – these last two go into small plastic bottles that come out of a travel toiletries kit

Camp cookingAll the above packed into plastic containers or bags, and into one drawer with my cooking gear and eating utensils so that it’s all together for easy access. In the fridge goes:

  • 1 litre milk
  • Cheddar cheese, goats cheese, and fetta, and perhaps a brie
  • Yoghurt
  • Olives
  • Butter (real butter, not the imitation stuff)
  • Wine (always keep the wine cold)
  • Pesto
  • Tahini
  • Real coffee, ground for my stovetop espresso maker that goes on the campfire
  • Salad vegetables – lettuce, tomato, celery sticks, cucumber, avocado
  • Whatever vegetables are fresh, easy to carry and will fit in. Cauliflower, carrots, zucchini are usually good

The only things I’ve had to top up are fresh vegetables, salad, milk and a banana to go with my yoghurt for breakfast. When I was meeting my sister for a weekend I also stocked up on cheeses, olives, crackers, chips, and nuts. It was a luxury weekend! And champagne of course.

It should go without saying that I have bottles of wine stashed wherever they’ll fit throughout the car!

champagne-at-the-captains-cottageWith the above ingredients I have cooked, either on the campfire or a single portable butane stove

  • Fettucine with lemon myrtle and olives
  • Curried vegetables with rice
  • Morrocan black eyed beans with cous cous
  • Ratatouille
  • Spicy zucchini & tomato
  • Vegetable laksa
  • Falafel with mushrooms, salad, & hummus (I really wanted a burger but didn’t have bread)
  • Goats cheese & herb damper (not very successfully as I didn’t have enough coals)
  • Cauliflower with chili cheese sauce
  • Fettucine with napolitana sauce
  • Salads, either on their own or to go with the above. Chick pea and fetta salad is particularly good

These aren’t necessarily cooked the way I would if I had a full kitchen and more ingredients at home, but you make do with what you have. And they weren’t bad.

They were bloody good actually, especially when eaten by the campfire under the stars.

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