Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's Occourring? Camping Special

Hello! I've come back from a lovely weekends camping full of inspiration and excitement. I put it down to the fresh air and the hearty food. Here are a few things which I feel are important for camping in comfort:

- Invest in a good inflatable mattress and bring your sheet, duvet and pillows from home. I would also add proper pajamas - it makes it like bringing your regular bed along with you.

- Buy the best food you can afford - organic everything, artisan oat cakes, little pots of salsa from your delicatessen, meat from your butcher. Prepare and re-package everything the night before (no Tesco's bags flapping about) and put everything on one shelf of the fridge so you can quickly transfer everything to a cool bag and hit the road. Sit down and make a list - butter, salt and pepper - don't leave anything out!

- Bring the right clothes. Lots of old wooly jumpers you can layer for warmth. Woolen socks to be warm in your wellies. A waterproof coat.

- Bring proper tableware. Start collecting bits and pieces from ebay, car boot sales etc. An enamel coffee pot and mugs make breakfast so much nicer.

I love campsites! Arriving at dusk and hearing children playing off in the distance while their parents gather round campfires. I like the feeling of being a part of something and the comfort of having other peoples lights around whilst still having your own space. Lots of campsites in the UK allow BBQs but don't allow camp fires. We got round this by bringing a little portable BBQ on legs (so it won't burn the grass) and bringing a sack of easy light charcoal - instant campfire. Some glowing coals and some good food are really the only entertainment you need, though I would bring a book and some knitting too. Here is a sample menu of what you could bring for a weekend of delicious meals...

Home Made Burgers - Prepare these on the Thursday night before you go, pack them in a cool bag and BBQ them late on Friday night.

Very finely chop an onion (white or red, big or small - whatever you happen to have around). I sometimes add some shredded spring onion too. Finely chop (or grate) a tiny clove of garlic. Chop up a big handful each of thyme and rosemary (pull out any woody stalks first). In a bowl, using your hands combine the onions, garlic and herbs with the mince. Add some salt and Pepper and mix well. Whisk an egg and add to the mixture a little at a time, combining after each addition until the mince starts to come together. When it's reached the desired consistency, separate into two even sized lumps. Shaping the burgers is easy to do but hard to describe: I start of by taking 1/2 the mixture and squeezing it in my hands in a ball shape. This gets rid of any air in the mixture and ensures the burgers hold together. I do this for a couple of minutes and the texture changes from being quite crumbly and lumpy to being more dough like (yum!). Then I start slapping the mixture back and forth in my hands in a sort of 'patty cake' motion, rotating it slightly each time. Watch in amazement as perfectly rounded chubby burgers come to life before your eyes. Brush each one lightly with oil and place in a freezer bag in the fridge.

Friday late night BBQ supper for two: Burgers and Sausages
- Home made burgers (see above)
- Burger buns x 2
- 2 Sausages - if your local butcher does some special 'chili' sausages, lucky you, snap them up.
- Bag of lettuce
- Cherry tomatoes
- Various fine condiments
- Cider whilst you're pitching the tent, red wine once it's up

Saturday breakfast: Fried Egg Sandwiches
- Delicious soft farmhouse bread (white or granary according to your want) I would go for ready sliced.
- 2 x Eggs
- More delicious condiments
- Tea
- Ground coffee

Saturday lunch: Cheese and Pickle:
- Cheese (this time I went for a mature cheddar - keepin' it English)
- Oat cakes
- Piccalilli
- Crisp apples

Afternoon Tea: Home Made Cake
- I made this Spiced Marmalade Tea Loaf (big bold flavors work best in the outdoors) (not even the burnt bit was too bold for this happy camper).

Saturday Dinner:
- Whatever you can get from the local farm shop wherever you may be camping - home made burgers, sausages (you'll have to cook the whole pack - 2 each for your dinner, one each to go in your fried egg sandwich on Sunday morning). I would also highly recommend corn on the cob. Buy it fresh with it's leaves still on, these will protect them as they cook, then flake away to reveal delicious, slightly charred corn underneath.

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