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.

 

 

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.

Camping Meal Plans, Shopping Lists and more . . .

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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.

 

 

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.

Top ten camping cooking tips!

  1. Take a big chopping board as it’s your entire work surface.
  2. Plastic bags are a must for marinating meat in. Space saving, effective (you can really rub the marinade in), and no need to wash up.
  3. Measure out things you might need before as you won’t be able to on site, and even premix some things – (eg mix up the dry ingredients for pancakes before you go, add milk and eggs there, for a fab, kid friendly breakfast).
  4. Partially pre-prepare a first night meal. It must be quick to prepare as you’ll be bogged down pitching the tent: prepare the side dish at home in advance (eg potato salad), light the barbeque while you’re putting the tent up (disposables are quite good for the first night) and barbecue something (eg some spiced up chicken wings) to transport you from the stress of the journey and the set up, to the zen of camping.
  5. A medium-big saucepan and a big frying pan (ideally a deepish one) with a single multi-lid for both. You don’t have to have small plastic everything when camping with a family – If you’re like us, you’re not trying to squeeze it into a rucksack and hopefully you’ve got the use of a car!
  6. Cook things that children can help prepare – eg foil food and skewers.
  7. Take some food/drink frozen in your cool box and let it slowly defrost while keeping the rest of your cool box chilled. Take some freezer blocks too – most campsites have a freezer where you can refreeze them.
  8. Take some storecupboard ingredients – they don’t take up much room.
  9. Squeeze 5 lemons and crush 5 garlic cloves and combine in a bottle. A great marinade base for almost anything.
  10. We think that camping is the perfect opportunity to have some fun while cooking, and get the children involved. It’s also the one time, they may be prepared to try something different.

Ten star bits of equipment that make family camping easier and more pleasureable – in all weathers!

  1. People often think a blow up mattress and duvet is cosier than a roll mat and sleeping bag – It isn’t! The air in a blow-up can get reallycold in low temperatures. Even worth making a fleece lining for your sleeping bag!
  2. String of sorts, pegs or hooks to hang up wet clothes, coats and generally keep stuff off the floor.
  3. Lots of ice packs for your coolbox. They’re cheap and most campsites have freezers so you can rotate them.
  4. A beach windbreak is great for general wind protection for you and the tent, and for cooking behind.
  5. A small bucket-like barbecue that you can turn into a brazier. That way you can have a camp-fire in no-campfire sites (as long as it’s raised off the ground). The Campfire is the best bit about camping!
  6. Really comfortable camping chairs (the big circular ones are great).They’re so worth the space they take up.
  7. A big plastic box for all your plates/cutlery etc.
  8. A flexible plastic washing up bowl with handles.
  9. Separate washbags for girls and boys blocks.
  10. A thermos full of boiling water (so you don’t have to continually reboil . . .) and generally use your heat wisely . . . cook tomorrow’s meat for lunch on the barbecue the night before. Save your pasta water for hot water bottles?!

Family Camping Cookbook – Who’s it for?

As camping in the rain isn’t much fun, why not spend a bit of time stocking up on all the essentials needed for a great camping experience as soon as the weather breaks – and it will, it WILL!  And obviously I would recommend our own recently released Family Camping Cookbook to help you in your planning process and inspire you with lots of lovely recipes.   

This book is for people, who rather like us, make a last minute decision to go camping for a weekend, but don’t want to miss out on good food!  First of all, let it be clear that this book is NOT designed for people who intend to pack light and have all they need foodwise for a week when they set off, and it’s certainly not about freeze dried food and survival. 

Our shopping lists give you the food you need for three meals a day for 2 days. If you have a car, you can pile it all in before you go, and if you don’t, we would advise you to do a shop once you’ve a arrived and set up camp.  (You might want to do this anyway to source good local products). 

The other way you can use the book, if you are camping for longer, is to pack the key ingredients that we recommend (which won’t take up too much space), and shop for the rest locally every 2 or 3 days. 

If you want to travel light, but don’t mind eating unexciting food, then this ISN’T the book for you – but if you’re excited by food, you’ll realise that you can enjoy it camping if you plan your meals well.  In fact camping allows you the perfect opportunities of space and time to really enjoy and appreciate cooking and food.  Whatsmore, it’s the perfect place to get children involved in cooking and enjoying food, and from our experience, they’re far more adventurous if they’re involved in the cooking, and enjoying the great outdoors.

This book is for campers who want their meals to be central to their camping experience.  It is not for people who just want to sustain themselves whilst engaging in other camping activities.

Family Camping Cookbook

Hurray!  It’s out there!  If you’re keen campers and you want some inspiration about what to cook, go and buy our book!   Just click on the link, and if you get it please tell us what you think . . . .

Lebanese Kebabs with Chickpea Salad

This is one of our favourite camping recipes.  Although, at first glance, it may appear more complicated than your average camp cooking, in reality it’s very simple.  The marinade and garlic dip both have as their base a lemon/garlic mixture, a small bottle of which is really useful to have with you on any camping trip.  (By simply adding one or two different ingredients you can create a number of dressings, dips and marinades for all sorts of different meals.)  And in addition to the lemon and garlic, really the only other ingredients are the lamb, the pitta bread, a bit of yoghurt, olive oil and allspice, and the salad. Our kids love preparing this dish, partly because they enjoy anything that involves skewers, but also because they enjoy filling their own pitta breads. It tastes great too!

serves: 4
preparation time: 20 MINUTES, PLUS AT LEAST 1 HOUR MARINATING
cooking time: ABOUT 10 MINUTES

From Family Camping Cookbook by Tiff & Jim Easton © Commissioned Photography by Ed Easton / Duncan Baird Publishers

600g/1lb 5oz boneless lamb leg or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper
warm pitta breads, to serve

marinade:
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp ground allspice

garlic dip:
juice of ½ lemon
½ garlic clove, crushed
4 tbsp thick natural yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil

chickpea salad:
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
½ cucumber, finely chopped
410g/14½oz tinned chickpeas, drained
2 handfuls of parsley leaves, finely chopped
juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp olive oil

  1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. To make the marinade, put all of the ingredients in a plastic freezer bag. Season with salt and pepper, then add the lamb and seal the bag. Rub the marinade all over the lamb and leave to marinate in a cool
    box for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
  2. To make the dip, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
  3. To make the salad, put all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently but thoroughly.
  4. Thread the lamb onto skewers. Cook, turning frequently, over a high heat on a barbecue or in a griddle pan for about 8 minutes until browned and crispy on the outside but pink in the middle. Remove the lamb from the skewers and serve in warm pitta breads with the garlic dip and the chickpea salad.

prepare ahead: Take the lamb in the marinade if you’re planning to eat it on the first night.