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

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.

Anticipating tasty camping trips ahead

I got a new cookery book for Christmas – and I’m hopeful it will provide inspiration for some good camping meals!

Long-life ingredients are ideal for camping when you have limited space in your cool box. I’ve already adapted some recipes from Jack’s earlier book (A girl called Jack) for previous trips. So I’m hopeful of some new inspiration for 2022’s camping trips!

As you can see, I purchased some tins to start trying it out straight away!! The first recipe I tried was tasty, but not ideal for campfire cooking as it was a pie!

L

Top camping tip #2

Here’s another top camping tip idea we came up with recently… pack a thermos flask to save hot water!

Nothing happens quickly on a campsite, but boiling the kettle seems to take forever! We spend a LOT of time waiting for the kettle to boil… although perhaps thats because we spend a lot of time drinking tea and coffee!?!

Once it has boiled, put any hot water you don’t use into a thermos flask. It will stay warm enough for washing up, or if you want another cuppa later, then using warm water in the kettle will save precious camping gas!!

R

The most important meal of the day #3

Sometimes we think it would be nice to have something lighter for breakfast … but it’s generally only a thought. We pretty much always end up having a cooked breakfast when we are camping – usually a fry up.

Sometimes we pack breakfast cereal. This is a good option if some of your camping party are the type who wake up hungry and can’t wait for the fire to get going and food to cook! The downside is that you need to store the milk for it. Long life milk could be an option, but we’ve a super cool box (which is just as well as one of the goats is a bit of a milk snob and likes fresh milk!!). Even so, milk is bulky.

Porridge is a good option, especially on chilly mornings. Even better it can be made very successfully with powdered milk, which is a versatile camping staple. I use a cup of rolled oats, 2 tablespoonfuls dried milk powder, 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt, boiled up on the stove to serve 2.

And of course porridge can be jazzed up in numerous ways – adding raisins is one of our favourites, or a sprinkling brown sugar on the top. Alpen museli also makes a good sprinkle topping. Or how about a swirl of cinnamon? Or stir through berries or chocolate chips? I like that ginger you get in syrup finely chopped and stirred through, but the other goat would not approve of that!

An alternative take on porridge is to make baked oats over the fire. This is oats (2 cups), sugar (3 tbsp), milk powder (3 tbp), baking powder (1 tsp) and a pinch of salt mixed up with an egg and some water (1 1/2 cups) and baked like a cake. Add some raisins and this also works well as a tasty snack for elevensies.

Being as you’re on holiday – how about treating yourself to pancakes?

Banana pancakes work well for breakfast: mash 2 bananas then stir in 4 heaped dessertspoonfuls of self-raising flour. Next stir in an egg, 2 dessertspoonfuls of sugar and 2 of milk powder. Thin the batter using 200 ml water and then cook spoonfuls in an oiled pan, turning to brown both sides. The end result looks like little scotch pancakes and taste delicious on their own as breakfast or with a little drizzle of maple syrup to make a dessert.

And who says you need to be camping to enjoy these breakfasts – I had banana pancakes this morning!

L

The most important meal of the day! #2

I hope the post about fried breakfasts whetted your appetite?

A fry up isn’t the only way to do a cooked breakfast when you’re camping – here are a few more cooked breakfast options…

1) Shakshuka

This is a good vegetarian option – eggs poached in a tomato sauce with spinach or kale.

2) Omlette

This one is a mushroom omlette with tomatoes and spinach as a side. Mushroom is my favourite omlette and mushrooms also transport well for camping. I think the trick for making a good omlette is to cook it in butter. I cook whatever’s going in the omlette first and then add more butter to the pan. When the butter’s all melted I add the eggs which I’ve already beaten with a splash of water & salt and pepper.

3) Breakfast stew

We’ve been refining this over our last few camping trips. Basically it’s a fry up in a pot!! This is our best attempt so far – chipolatas, chorizo & mushrooms fried, then add baked beans, barbecue sauce and tinned cherry tomatoes, get it boiling and poach some eggs in the sauce.

Sorry if you’re now feeling hungry!

L

The most important meal of the day! #1

I’m sure someone such as your mother or grandmother probably told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Certainly breakfast is a very important part of camping!

So here are a few breakfast ideas to inspire you.

The classic fry-up

This is our default camping breakfast. We like other things… but often you can smell the bacon from your neighbours and inevitably you feel a bit jealous. We mix and match to keep things interesting – here are some of our favourite options:

sausages – chipolatas are the best as they cook quickly and are less likely to result in the burnt on the outside, raw in the inside phenomena!

bacon – cooked until it is nice and crispy, who can resist the smell of cooking bacon?

eggs – fried or scrambled. When I make scrambled eggs, for every egg I add a knob of butter, a splash of milk and my secret ingredient a knob of cheese!

mushrooms – a favourite of mine, roughly chopped and cooked in a pan with some butter. If you are doing a vegetarian breakfast you could also add a little finely chopped onion and some handfuls of spinach.

baked beans – not my favourite, but the other goat likes them. Fortunately you can buy half sized tins for exactly this eventuality!

tomatoes – cut in half and cooked briefly on both sides to mimic grilled tomatoes

bread – either bought, or if there’s plenty of time I often make damper bread in the dutch oven over the fire.

fried potatoes – always cut them into smaller cubes than you think is necessary to be sure they cook through

potato cakes – made with leftover potato from the night before or with instant mash, mixed with butter and flour and dry fried

griddle scones – good to rustle up out of stock ingredients (self-raising flour, egg, milk) and fried, my favourite varity have shredded cabbage in them too!

orange juice – I think this is an important accompaniment as the sharpness of the juice cuts through the fatty fry up. I get the longlife fruit juice when we’re camping as it makes storage easier.

a pot of tea – I don’t do anything before tea, let alone cook breakfast in a field!

More breakfast options to follow in the next post.

L

PS don’t forget to pack the ketchup! (I often do forget, much to the other goat’s disappointment!!)

Damper bread cooked in the Dutch Oven

Tasty camping lunches

Over lockdown, in anticipation of better days, I’ve been trying out new recipes for our camping trips!

Tasty lunches can be particularly tricky to plan out. You want something light, especially if you had a cooked breakfast not so long ago! You also want something that’s transportable with ingredients which won’t go off if you’ve only got a cool box not a fridge. Warm lunches can be particularly welcome if the weather’s a little chilly.

Here’s my latest find – quesadillas!

These are super simple – you just need tortillas (the soft kind – I used wheat ones), grated cheese, any other fillings you fancy and a frying pan.

Place cheese and other fillings on the torilla, pop another tortilla on top. Lightly oil your pan and heat on a medium heat. Cook the tortilla sandwich until the bottom is crispy and the cheese is melting. The melting cheese will help hold everything together when you flip it with a fish slice. Once the other side is also golden and toasted, transfer to a chopping board and cut into wedges.

“Queso” is cheese in Spanish and you need that to help them stick together, but in terms of fillings you could try adding to the cheese how about:

slices of tomato

sliced mushrooms

chopped olives

sliced spring onions

sliced avocado

spinach (although can be bit fragile to transport when camping)

wild garlic

ham (but be careful of how you store it if you’ve not got a fridge)

thinly sliced onion

…basically anything you fancy! I’m going to make these this weekend and try adding capers, because they transport so well for camping and I think the little bit of acidic bite will cut through the rich cheese well.

Different types of cheese are also worth trying – guyere works particularly well, but for camping I usually take pre-grated cheddar as it’s easier.

I’d love to hear your favourite quesadilla fillings – leave a comment if you want to inspire me!

L