Back down the West coast of Scotland in the VW camper – and home at last!

We found the most beautiful campsite on the way back down the West coast, not far from Arisaig (opposite the islands of Muck, Eigg and Skye).  We highly recommend this site, as you are simply a few steps away from white sandy beach wherever you’re pitched – in our case, there was even a slide down to the beach! We arrived when the tide was high, but when it went down a marvel of rocky islands and sandy inlets were revealed, and the sunset was to die for!   See www.invercaimbecaravansite.co.uk

Frustratingly, it started to rain soon after we arrived (can’t have it perfect all the time!) so we all sat in the campervan for supper.  Actually, it turned out to be rather delicious – a simple cauliflower risotto with crushed crisps (a good alternative to fried breadcrumbs) and parmesan sprinkled on top.

Cauliflower and crisp risotto, camping style

olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 cauliflower, chopped

1 cup risotto rice

1 stock cube

1 glass of white wine

salt and pepper

grated parmesan, to serve

1 small packet of crisps, crushed

method

Soften the onion and garlic in the oil over a moderate heat.  Add the cauliflower and rice and coat in the oil, and cook for a few minutes.

Crumble the stock cube into the mixture, and gradually add water and wine, stirring over a low heat until the rice is absorbed and cooked.  Check for seasoning and add to taste.

Serve with grated parmesan and crushed crisps sprinkled liberally on top.

The weather was beautiful the next day, so in between checking out the glorious sunset, we cooked up a paella, the recipe for which can be found in Family Camping Cookbook.  We used sugar snap peas in this one, instead of normal peas – and we omitted the prawns as we felt we’d slightly overdosed on seafood lately!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paella

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
200g/7oz chorizo, chopped
400g/14oz/2 cups paella rice
1l/35fl oz/4 cups chicken stock
a pinch of saffron
100g/3½oz/1 cup frozen peas
large king prawns
chicken, cut into chunks
1 handful of parsley leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
lemon wedges, to serve

method

1 Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add the peppers and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

2 Stir in the paprika and chorizo, cook for 1 minute, then put the pan over a high heat. Add the rice and mix well, then add the stock and saffron and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20–25 minutes until the rice is just tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add a little water if the paella becomes dry.
3 Add the peas and prawns and cook for about 5 minutes until the prawns are pink and cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

             

 We had two lovely breakfast mornings at the same campsite, the first was a simplified version of our blueberry pancake recipe also found in our cookbook  (we used ready-made Scotch pancakes and sprinkled blueberries on top), the second a Jim special – bacon and marmalade sandwich!

Blueberry pancakes with maple syrup

For a camping trip, make up a tupperware pot of the dry ingredients.  Double or treble the quantities so you’ve got a few breakfasts sorted.

Serves 4. Makes 8 pancakes. Preparation time 5 minutes. Standing time 10 minutes. Cooking time 3 minutes per pancake.

ingredients

120g/4oz/⅞ cup self-raising flour

½  tbsp caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 egg

175ml/6floz/⅔ cup milk

60g/2oz butter (¼ pat), melted, plus a bit extra for frying

200g/7oz/1½ cups blueberries

maple syrup for serving

method

1  Mix all the dry ingredients together (preferably before you leave on your camping trip).

2  In another bowl or a jug, whisk up the wet ingredients with a fork.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet ingredients, gradually whisking them in.  Leave the mixture to stand for 10 minutes.

3  Meanwhile, heat up a frying pan with a knob of butter.  Pour 1/8 of the mixture into the pan, and as soon as it starts to set on the bottom scatter with a few blueberries.  When cooked on the bottom, flip the pancake over to cook the other side.  Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

 

 

Heading North in the VW camper: from Lincolnshire to Scotland

I’ve learnt a lot about touring since my last entry – it’s very different from camping! You’re never quite sure for a start where you’ll spend your next night, but I suppose that’s half the fun of it, and although the setting up and packing up is generally quicker than when you’re camping, you have to do it a lot more and you have to be a lot more organised about it, especially when it’s raining.  It’s a bit like doing one of those tile shuffle mini-puzzles – you have to move one bag in order to make space for another which in turn makes space for another.  But we’ve still managed to eat well!

At our campsite in Lincolnshire, we enjoyed the samphire we picked on the Tollesbury salt marshes, in a simple but delicious pasta with smoked salmon and cream cheese.

SAMPHIRE AND SALMON PASTA

dried pasta

bunch of samphire, cleaned and chopped

Smoked salmon, chopped

Cream cheese

Boil the pasta, and add the chopped samphire 5 minutes before cooked. Drain, and mix in salmon and cream cheese.

However, instead of cooking at our next stop overlooking Robin Hood Bay on the northernmost coast of the Yorkshire moors we trekked down to the town, a former smugglers’ cove, and explored its windy cobbled streets before enjoying some Whitby scampi.

 

 

The scampi itself was delicious and perfectly cooked, but it would have been even nicer in the fresh breadcrumbs Tom used in his oyster scampi!

We all went off to explore Durham the next day, when Jim and I were both at university. We tried to find some stotties for a picnic lunch, but had to make do with ordinary baps! Still, sitting on the riverbank, gazing at the staggeringly beautiful cathedral made up for our loss. From there we drove over to Corbridge where we stayed with some friends for the night – and it was quite nice to sleep in clean sheets and wallow in a bath!

From there, we headed back to the coast to Bamburgh Castle for a picnic on the beach, before visiting the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Interestingly, while we were in Durham not only did we visit the relics of St Cuthbert, but we also saw that the most complete collection of the Lindisfarne Gospels was on exhibition. Sadly we couldn’t get tickets, but we learnt enough about the gospels and St Cuthbert to know that although both the gospels and the saint’s relics were originally kept at the priory on Lindisfarne where St Cuthbert had lived and served before his death, following numerous Viking raids they were taken all around the north of England and Scotland before ending up at Durham Cathedral.  Pretty much our route!

We were keen to cross into Scotland that evening, but because we’d left it late and because it was a Friday, we knew we couldn’t be fussy about where we could stay. And sure enough we ended up at the most dilapidated, run-down caravan park – the perfect setting for a gritty movie. But it served our purpose well – it had water, we could light a fire, and our dog Roma had the place pretty much to herself.

We cooked up some pork chops, bought in Corbridge from a local butcher earlier that day, and enjoyed them with a couscous crudités:

PORK CHOPS WITH COUCOUS CRUDITÉS

Pork chops

Salt and pepper

1-2 peppers

4-6 spring onions

2-3 tomatoes

1 cup couscous

Half a stock cube

Whilst barbecuing the seasoned chops, dice the vegetables, pour just over a cup full of boiling water onto the couscous and stock cube in a bowl. Cover and leave for a few minutes before mixing in the crudités. Serve with the chops, with Dijon mustard.

For breakfast, Jim invented the eggy bread bun with bacon:

EGGY BREAD BUN WITH BACON

Oil or butter for frying

4 eggs, whisked

4 breakfast buns

Bacon

Mustard, brown sauce or ketchup

Fry some bacon and keep warm. Dip each half of the bun in the egg and fry egg side down. Sandwich bacon between each side of the bun, add condiment of choice and eat!

Fuelled on this hearty breakfast we drove all the way across Scotland past Loch Lomond and down to the Kyle of Bute to a quiet little campsite. We decided not to cook and instead treated ourselves to some scallops and fresh mackerel from a local restaurant called the Creggar’s Inn on the shores of Loch Fyne. Highly recommended!

 

 

 

Family Camping Cookbook at Number 1!!

Family Camping Cookbook voted number 1 in Camping & Caravanning’s Top Ten Reads in August . . .

Camping & Caravanning Feature

It’s not too late to get yourselves a copy!   Just click on our Amazon link.

Crispy Smoked Paprika Chicken Wings

We’ve probably cooked over 500 in the last month . . . at hugely(?!) prestigious events like the launch for ‘Family Camping Cookbook’, the Pitshanger Party in the Park, and the Little Ealing Summer Party . . . and as they’ve all been guzzled to mass appreciation, we thought we’d better divulge our secret recipe!

Smoked paprika has a very distinctive flavour and a rich aroma, but don’t worry if you don’t have any – just use pepper instead.  It won’t be the same, but it will still be very good. . .

Serves:4, Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 15 minutes marinating, Cooking time: about 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS: 16 chicken wings, 1 tsp smoked paprika, juice of 1 lemon, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, ½ tsp salt

  1. To make the marinade, put all of the ingredients in a plastic bag.  Add the chicken wings and seal the bag. Leave to marinate in a cool box for15 minutes.
  2. Remove the chicken wings from the marinade.  Cook over a medium heat on a barbecue or in a griddle pan for about 15 minutes, turning once, until the meat is beautifully charred and really crispy. If you’re using a barbecue, cook the chicken over coals that have burnt down quite significantly to prevent the skin from burning. Serve hot with Potato Salad.

 

 

 

Camping Meal Plans, Shopping Lists and more . . .

Image

A little bit of planning goes a long way on a family camping trip, especially where food is concerned. The trick is to take enough ingredients with you to give you flexibility with cooking and eating options, but not so much that you need to buy a bigger car to get it there!

In our Family Camping Cookbook we’ve divided the book into four chapters:

1  ‘Quick Escapes’ is for when you make a sudden decision to go camping for a weekend and don’t have much time to gather together a long list of ingredients.

2  ‘By the Beach’ has recipes that radiate sunshine, using lots of fresh, summer produce and delicious seafood.

3  ‘In the Country’ has heartier recipes featuring meat, cheese and eggs, and all the good things you can get from the farm shop.

4  The final chapter, ‘Festivals & Parties’, has recipes for camping with a large, hungry group.

For each chapter, we have included a list of key ingredients. So if you are going off for a week by the beach, for example, you should take what you can from the list in that chapter along with you. Each chapter also has some tips to help you along the way and three different meal plans. The first is geared towards young kids, the second towards older kids and the third towards vegetarians.

Although we have given precise quantities for every recipe, they are not the sort of recipes that require absolute precision. We’ve tried to make sure that you can measure nearly everything with a handful, a cup, a teaspoon or a tablespoon, and that more complicated measurements can be worked out roughly from the packaging your food is bought in. There is absolutely no need for scales. We have also tried to make the recipes versatile so that most of the ingredients can be substituted for something similar, depending on what you have available.

Thinking about what you want to cook and eat when you get there is also a good idea. At the beginning of each chapter we have included three meal plans, complete with shopping lists. These have been designed to minimize the number of ingredients you need to pack. They are weekend plans so that you can take and keep all the ingredients listed for the two days with a cool box and a modicum of preparation. If you’re going for a week or longer, you can start with a weekend plan and then you can simply combine meal plans and add whichever recipes you’d like.  Click on the link below to see an example of a meal plan, with it’s accompanying shopping list.

   meal plan

 Good ingredients can make all the difference, particularly when you are keeping things simple. Tinned tomatoes are a cheap ingredient, so it’s worth buying the best you can get – the difference in taste and texture is huge!

Similarly with meat, it’s worth paying a bit over the odds for better quality, particularly if you are barbecuing. Useful ingredients are those that keep well in packs, like halloumi cheese (which is fantastic barbecued), and it’s also worth remembering to use fresh ingredients that don’t require a lot of cleaning, like bananas and avocados.

 

 

Sticky Ribs with Corn on the Cob

Our recent mass cook-ups have featured Sticky Ribs – great when catering for a crowd, happily enjoyed in fingers!  Here’s our recipe:

 

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus at least 1 hour marinating

Cooking time: about 25 minutes

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 racks of pork ribs (approx 12–14 ribs)

4 corn on the cobs, husks on

salt and pepper

butter, to serve

 

STI CKY MARINADE :

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

3 tbsp clear honey or brown sugar

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp chilli sauce (optional)

 

1   To make the marinade, put all of the ingredients in a plastic freezer bag. Add the pork ribs and seal the bag. Leave to marinate in a cool box for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

 

2   Soak the corn in cold water for 20 minutes to prevent them from drying out during cooking. Cook the corn, in their husks or wrapped in tin foil, in the glowing embers of a barbecue or open fire for about 20 minutes until the kernels are tender. Alternatively, cook in plenty of boiling water for about 5–10 minutes. Peel back the husks or foil and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, remove the ribs from the marinade and reserve the marinade.

 

3   Season the ribs with salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat on a barbecue or in a griddle pan for about 20 minutes, brushing from time to time with the reserved marinade and turning frequently, until crisp and cooked through. Serve hot with corn on the cobs smothered in butter.

 

Prepare ahead: Make the marinade at home before you leave and store in a cool box for up to 1 week. You could even take the ribs in the marinade if you’re planning to eat them on the first night.

Family Camping Cookbook launched!

The second stage of our book launch celebrations happened last weekend, with a number of close family and friends attending a barbecue picnic in the secret garden of Boston Manor Park in West London.

Everyone bought their own picnic, and we cooked up some Indian Lamb Chops, Halloumi & Vegetable kebabs and Smoked Paprika Chicken Wings for every one to sample – They seemed to go down pretty well!

It was a very windy day, but the rain held off, and it turned out to be a fun event. We prepared some more marinade for more Chicken wings (I think we got through about 150 in total!) that evening for the Pitshanger Party  in the Park, which was held the following day up in North Ealing.

Here we had a stall, where we hoped to both provoke interest in our book and sell a few.  As well as the chicken wings, we had some Sticky Ribs to entice people over – with an opportunity for people to ‘taste’ the book!  We were both surprised and delighted to discover that lots of people had already heard about our book, and some had even bought it.  One woman told us all about how one of our weekend meal plans had added extra excitement to their rather rainy camping expedition.   So glad to be of service!

 

Family Camping Cookbook put to the test!

Our book-launch celebrations started off last weekend with a camping trip to the lovely Kitts Cottage Campsite (see www.kittscamp.co.uk)  with close friends.  Here was where we put the Family Camping Cookbook to the test with two other families.  Each family had three recipes from the book and had to cook for 6 adults, 2 teenagers and 7 children.  It was a little windy, but dry enough  . . . .

As it was everyone’s first camping weekend of the season, we all made sure we made use of the Equipment and Camping Store Cupboard Checklists, and then decided on the recipes.  With a couple of vegetarians and a full range of ages, we decided to mix and match a couple of meal plans.

Jim and I cooked up the first meal on the Friday night – Chicken Satay Skewers or Barbecued

Tuna with Thai dressing, both served with Asian Salad.  We felt with young kids to win over the skewers with their peanut butter dip, would go down a treat.  They certainly did!   And the tuna was delicious too (picked up from the fantastic fishmonger in East Wittering (‘Something Fishy’) earlier that morning).  Afterwards, we had Barbecued Pineapple Wedges – put on the barbecue while we we eating our main

course, and scrumptiously caramelised by the time we came to eat them! Dave and Miranda were our breakfast team, and Saturday breakfast was the must-have One Pan Full English.  Served with Dave’s special chutneys, we were in breakfast heaven (although with that many it wasn’t strictly ‘one pan’!)  And the delicious alternative for the veggies was smoked salmon and scrambled eggs . . . Yes, we were all happy campers!

Clare and Robbie and their four children were responsible for Saturday night: Lebanese Lamb Kebabs (Lahem Meshwi) or Halloumi & Vegetable Kebabs, both served with pitta bread and garlic dip.  Whilst their youngest got very busy skewering kebabs, their eldest was principle barbecue chef.  Again it was a huge success particularly as everyone, including the youngest children, were so involved in the preparing and cooking.

 

This family participation continued on in to the night as we all enjoyed a Chocolate Fondue, and listened to Clare and Robbie’s daughter, Anna B, on guitar.  (Listen to her perform her own songs on YouTube – she’s fab! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvW5zTshr1Y)

Dave and Miranda were back on duty for Sunday breakfast and we all enjoyed Apricot filled French toasts, with a few left over sausages and bits of bacon.  The perfect way to finish off our fanatastic camping weekend!  And think we all agreed that Family Camping Cookbook passed the test.