Betty’s kitchen

Firstly, who is Betty?! She is my Skoda Yeti – and I love her because she is reliable and she has a decent sized boot. You can also take the back seats out, which is very handy to squeeze in lots of camping stuff!! But on our last trip she really excelled herself… and doubled as our kitchen!

An 84 litre ‘really useful’ box with some drawers from Ikea sitting inside formed our kitchen unit. I put a little peice of wood under the box to make sure that the drawers opened easily over the lip of the boot.

The top drawer had plates, bowls, mugs, goblets, kitchenfoil, the teapot and a collapsible kettle. I also stowed a hanging toiletry bag in there which I repurposed as an organiser for our cutlery and washing-up supplies. On arrival it hung from the Betty’s boot struts.

The bottom drawer was our food store. The square storage boxes you get from Lakeland fitted perfectly. We didn’t get round to labelling them, but the coloured lids allowed for a bit of colour-coding! Jars of spices etc also fitted nicely in there.

On top of the drawers I stowed my collapsible washing-up bowls – one for washing up (black) and one for our handwash station (grey). Our chopping boards also fitted there – we have a set of thin colour-coded ones from Robert Dyas, which we are very pleased with, plus a bamboo bread board. Down the side of the drawers, I stowed cleaning spray, salt & pepper pots and Henrietta, but at the campsite these things were in use and we used this space to store tins of food. (Spot the nice perch Henrietta found in the pictures above!)

Next to the ‘really useful’ box I put my outwell storage caddy with our pots & pans and other utensils.

It was very pleasing to set up the ‘demonstration’ table (we call it that because it’s height makes it look like you are giving a cooking demonstation to those sitting round the campfire!) at right angles to Betty. At it’s highest height the demonstration table (from lifetime) was tall enough to fit the big cool box (from iceytech) underneath and still be able to open the cool box.

Our stove (primus) sat on the table and meant we had a very practical cooking space. We had thought that the open boot would give a bit of shelter from the elements, but we didn’t get the opportunity to test that out as happily we were camping in a heatwave!

R

Look what we found!

Look what we found… a nice shady spot to camp in a heatwave! We had a lovely couple of nights at Pit Hill Farm – the campsite we stumbled across when walking the Wayfarers walk in Hampshire.

We kept things simple this time. We had a new simpler camp set up to try out (more about that next time!). We also tried out some new easy camping food called ‘Look what we found”!! Very easy to use and tastey too!

Very pleased with both our finds!

R & L

The glint of a teardrop!

In our last post we mentioned seeing the glint of the tops of campervans at Pit Hill Farm and going to explore. Not only did we find campsite but a friendly farmer who invited us to come and try out the site sometime.

We also found a friendly camper and proud owner of a beautiful new teardrop camper. I’d never seen anything quite like it, so I had to take some photos for you.

So compact and yet everything you need! And stylish with it.

We everso nearly went camping at Pit Hill recently, but a bout of COVID put a rain check on the plans. Hopefully we’ll try it out soon and of course we’ll let you know how we get on.

L

Netting a nettle

When you are camping it can be fun to supplement your menu with a spot of foraging. Stinging nettles are good to forage for as they are easily recognisable… if not so easy to pick! I collect them with scissors (even the small ones on my swiss army knife will do the trick) and I snip them straight into a bag. A net bag is ideal – the sort that they now sell in some supermarket to discourage you from using plastic. The bag is lightweight and compact, closes to stop the leaves escaping and you can just hang it up when you get home and also use it to to dry the leaves. Just don’t cram it too full so that the air can circulate well to dry the leaves.

It’s best to harvest the young nettle leaves as they are more tender, and obviously you want to avoid the ones with caterpillars or other insects. Take them from the top of the plant, you don’t want the tough stalk or old leaves.

Freshly picked nettle leaves make excellent nettle tea, which is supposedly very good for you. If you look online it would seem there wasn’t anything that nettle couldn’t cure! I’m not sure about all those claims, but there seems consensus that they are rich in vitamins and minerals and are good for reducing inflammation.

Don’t worry – steeping in boiling water or cooking the nettles gets rid of the sting!

You can also use them in place of spinach in cooking – below is a picture of a tasty breakfast we made frying up bacon and mushrooms adding nettles.

Happy foraging!

L

Sometimes it’s fun to hang out in a herd!

We’ve just had a long Bank Holiday in the UK to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Two days off work seemed like an ideal opportunity to go camping… but a different sort of camping this time. Rather than a jam-packed car load, I managed to pack light:

Normally I only camp in small campsites, but this weekend I stayed in a massive temporary campsite with 36,000 others at the Big Church Festival .

It was great fun – I can’t think the last time I went to a big concert! The weather was very mixed, but Rend Collective and Melissa & Jonathan Helser still sounded great even in the rain!

I haven’t camped at a festival like this before, but as a beginner hear are my tips:

  • how will you transport your kit? If your car is parked 3 fields away how will you get your stuff to where you are pitching? My big backpack was good for this, but a trolley would have been even better.
  • where are the toilets? You don’t want to pitch too near the toilets as they might smell and you’ll hear people banging the doors all night. On the other hand you don’t want to have to walk miles to the toilet or to the water tap.
  • pack emergency loo roll. I didn’t think of this, but fortunately my buddy did. It’s unfortunate if the portaloo runs out of toilet paper just when you need it.
  • remember a water container. You’ll need something to carry water from the tap back to your tent.
  • take bin bags. Always handy to have a black bag with you for your rubbish or to double as a waterproof rug when the ground is damp… or your chair has been rained on. Little disposal bags are also handy for a little in-tent dustbin and because portaloos often don’t have bins in them.
  • remember your waterproofs. I got good use out of my waterproof jacket and also it was handy to be able to wear my waterproof trousers to sit on the damp grass in the morning when cooking and washing up. We also found a big umbrella useful for sitting under at a concert in the rain!!
  • do you want to be able to sit in comfort? We took our folding chairs and enjoyed being able to sit in comfort at the concert… but maybe you’re more of a raver than me and will be dancing at the front!
  • always pack emergency food. The first night the food vans let us down – there only seemed to be one open and naturally it had a mile long queue!! Fortunately we’d packed emergency pasta, stir-in sauce, tinned sweetcorn and tinned rice pudding. So we got out the trusty trangia and cooked up some dinner.
  • collapsible gadgets come into their own in this sort of situation. In the picture above you can see our collapsible washing up bowl doubling as a mini table! It was also very useful for washing up in, along with a tiny bottle of washing up liquid and a sponge scourer that I’d cut in half (to make it smaller & to make me feel less bad about throwing it away afterwards)
  • a battery pack to enable you to recharge your phone is very handy. Also remember to put your phone on aeroplane mode overnight – I forgot and the poor phone spent all night looking for signal and drained the battery!
  • to avoid getting lost take a flag & flag pole, so you can pick your tent out of the vast expanse of tents stretching in all directions!

Happy camping!

L

More cakes from a tin

As well as using up out-of-date tins on our camping trips, I’ve been taking my out-of-date ‘rewards’ for helping at the food bank home each week and turning them into a snack for the food bank volunteers coffee break the following week.

I’ve made a Christmas-cake style fruit cake with out-of-date tinned pineapple, hungarian peach cake, low-fat brownies with out-of-date prunes, chocolate crispy cakes with out-of-date strawberry flavoured rice crispies! None of which would be particularly suited to cooking on a campsite.

One week however I was rewarded with a tin of out-of-date raspberries and I made one of my favourite fire recipes for them & made them guess the mystery ingredient! It was a raspberry & thyme cake.

This particular one was baked in my oven at home, but it works well on the fire. I invented the recipe myself, so I can share it with you here:

Raspberry & Thyme Cake

Mix together:

2 1/2 cups self-raising flour

1/3 cup dried milk powder

pinch of salt

Stir in:

Juice from a 300g tin of raspberries

1 egg

1/2 teaspoonful dried thyme

Gentle stir the raspberries through the batter.

Put into a lined, greased 1 lb loaf tin.

sprinkle the top with 1-2 tablespoonfuls of chopped mixed nuts.

Cook for about 40 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. (If using a domestic oven, go for something like 170C. If you are using a dutch oven, use a trivet to raise the tin off the bottom of the oven, have fire just licking the bottom and have as much fire as you can on top of the oven.)

If you try it out, let me know how you get on!

And if you donate to your local foodbank, please make sure your donation is well in date, so it can help a hungry person!!

L

Goats have strong stomachs!

I’ve started volunteering at my local Trussell Trust foodbank. A lot of the food they give out is tinned and the foodbank is always grateful for donations of cans of food. Although tinned food lasts a very long time, it does eventually go out of date. Sometimes people clear out the food item lurking at the back of their cupboards and give it to the foodbank even though it is out of date by the time it reaches us. The foodbank’s policy is not to distribute out of date food – but the volunteers are encouraged to make use of it, so as not to waste it.

Goats have strong stomachs, so I’ve been making good use of this!

On our last trip we used up out of date tinned tomatoes, pineapple, evaporated milk and stock cubes. But the piece de resistance was trying a new recipe for pudding out of Jack’s tin can recipe book. It worked super well as a recipe to cook over the fire with only 5 ingredients – out-of-date condensed milk, out-of-date tinned prunes, eggs, flour, baking powder. Jack bills it as a sticky toffee pudding…. it comes out quite different to a normal sticky toffee pudding, but it is delicious and easy to make.

Pudding cooking – spot the condensed milk tin at the front of the fire & the recipe book on the chair!

I’ll be making this recipe again – I assume it will come out just as well with in-date ingredients!

L

PS I can’t find this particular recipe on Jack’s blog – but she has lots of other bargain recipes available if you want to try them out.