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.

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.

Family Camping Cookbook Review

Family Camping Cookbook Healthy camping food Inspired Camping Cool camping campsiteThese days we are spoilt for choice when it comes to recipe books but it can still be a challenge to find those with the best and most versatile dishes for camping. We all want quick, easy, cheap and cheerful, but we also want the ability to produce a “Wow!” from friends and family.Inspired Camping was given a copy of the Family Camping Cookbook to flick through and sample some of the camping food recipes in return for an honest book review and we wondered if it would do the job of helping us produce a tasty yet simple camping menu for all to enjoy at the campsite, that was neither too simple or ambitious. The book contains 85 family friendly feasts that all work on a gas stove, barbecue or open fire and even gives shopping lists and advice on how to make the most of cooking outdoors, so we were off to a good start.Family Camping Cookbook Book Review at Inspired Campingcampfire quesadilla calzone Inspired Camping healthy camping food

Our first observation when we received the book was that it is not a coffee table book as it seems to have been designed to be taken out and about on camping trips. It seems durable and hard-wearing, so we don’t think it will suffer much from being stuffed into a bag with the rest of the camping gear. It’s of a medium size and full with useful information and healthy recipes so, as the title suggests, it’s perfect for families who camp and don’t have the need to travel light. As such it’s definitely not a book for backpacking or wild camping away from the shops.

The meal planning sections are fabulous. A super example is on page 63, when the reader is provided with a very bright and easy to read menu for kids, with references to pages where the recipes can be found. It then gives the reader a shopping list to take to the store so you don’t have to be bothered with the chore of writing one out yourself. These lists are incredibly useful and take away the burden of thinking about what to cook and what to stock up for. Anything that saves time when camping giving more opportunity to enjoy activities with the kids gets a BIG thumbs up from us. Actually this book would be useful at home too and not just on camping trips… now there’s a thought!

Family Camping Cookbook Healthy camping food at the campsite

Family Camping Cookbook smoked campfire aubergines

There are recipes for all ages, so even the kids could have a go at making a yummy sticky finger mess! For example on page 66 there’s Chapatis with fruit & honey and on page 169 chocolate fondue. However, mum and dad might want to think carefully about getting involved in this type of activity with the kids if they don’t want to spend the rest of their camping trip with sticky honey all over the tent and sleeping bag!

The Summary;

Good Bits… The book cover seems very durable and hard-wearing, perfect for being lugged around with your camping gear, but only if you don’t have to pack light. It ‘does what it says on the tin’ and the meal planning sections and menus are easy to read and fabulous.The shopping lists are also incredibly useful as they quite simply take away the burden of thinking about what to cook and shop for. There are recipes for every meal time for all ages so even the kids could have a go. There’s plenty of other useful tips throughout the book, including packing and pre-preparation tips.The price of the book has also been reduced if bought through our online store.
Not So Good Bits… The meals focus on fresh food, so it’s not ideal if camping light with basic provisions is a priority, you are wild camping away from grocery shops or you have no way of storing fresh food safely in a chill cabinet or cool box. However, if you are wild camping it’s unlikely you would want a cookbook at all! Some of the recipes are also a bit complicated for an inexperienced family camper, with some speciality items that won’t be easy to find on the road, but throughout the book there are helpful alternatives to these.This it isn’t a coffee table book, but we recommend it as a practical family friendly one ideal for the Camping Ready Bag if you don’t need to pack light.

So in summary this is a practical time-saving cook book that clearly shows the time, effort and hard work Tiff and Jim have put into it, which in turn will help save time and effort when camping with the family, and just for the shopping lists alone it deserves 4 stars. 

Tanya Brooks-Dowsett Inspired Camping Glamping Contributor
 A Book Review  By Tanya Brooks-Dowsett  
Tanya Brooks-Dowsett is a keen happy camper and lover of all things Glamping. Growing up near the North Wales coast and now living with her busy family of water sport enthusiasts, she lives for the beach life. Tanya is an adventurous idea generator who loves to hang out at some of the UK’s most stunning beach locations.

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Inspired Camping made easy! A free online cool camping magazine and lifestyle resource for the busy camper to inspire family adventures outdoors, by bringing high quality, cool, retro, vintage, funky and eco-friendly inspirations and news together in one place, making it the cool camping site for everyone. 

The kids loved this Camping Recipe!

Butternut Squash Tagine and Nut & Raisin Couscous

For the Butternut Squash Tagine:

1 tbsp olive oil, 1 large onion (finely chopped), 1 tsp garam masala, 1 large butternut squash (peeled and cubed), 1 garlic clove (finely chopped), 1 tsp harissa paste (plus extra to serve), 1 tsp salt, 1 red pepper (deseeded and cut into large chunks), 800g/1lb 12oz/scant 3¼ cups tinned chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp pepper, 1 handful of coriander leaves (chopped)

For the Nut & Raisin Couscous:

400g/14oz/2 cups couscous, 125g/4½oz/½ cup raisin and nut mix (such as pine nuts, flaked almonds or shelled pistachios), 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper

 Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the garam masala and cook for about 1 minute, then add the butternut squash, garlic, harissa paste and salt. Cover with a lid and cook for another 2 minutes.
  2. Put the pan over a high heat, add the red pepper, tinned tomatoes and papper and bring to the boil. Put the pan over a low heat, cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 minutes until the squash is tender.
  3. Meanwhile, put the couscous, raisins and nuts in a large bowl and pour over 550ml/19fl oz/scant 2 cups boiling water.  Season with salt and pepper and cover immediately. Leave to soak for at least 5 minutes until the grains are tender. Fluff up the couscous with a fork, then add the oil and mix well.
  4. Stir the coriander leaves into the tagine and serve hot with the couscous and extra harissa paste.

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

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.

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.