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.

 

 

Continuing up the West coast of Scotland in the VW camper to the Loch Torridon area

We really feasted on the sea in the Loch Torridon area, with an abundance of mackerel, pollock and shell-fish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We gutted and filleted the mackerel we caught immediately on the boat . . .  The best way to do this (to eliminate the messiness of bones) is to first cut off the head and tail and then insert a knife along the back if the fish, on one side of, but as close to, the back bone as possible.  Then open the fish out and remove the guts form the middle.  Then, as demonstrated in the picture below, slip the knife under the back-bone and slice along to the other side and remove.

The finished product is shown in the picture below right, ready for cooking . . .  or not as we decided with some of the fillets . . .They were so fresh, we sliced bits off and ate them raw with soy sauce as sashimi.  Our friend Lucy, couldn’t get enough, it tasted so good!

 

 

 

 

 

My son and his friend had particularly big catches.  The pollock, on the left, we turned into a delicious South Indian fish curry.  Pollock is not as overfished as cod, but makes a good alternative – It’s not quite as tasty, but perfectly good in a curry.  The recipe for this can be found in our Family Camping Cookbook, which although not as widely available as last year can be found in many major book shops as well as online.

 

 

 

 

 

Keralan Coconut Fish Curry (South Indian)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 onions, finely sliced

4 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped

1 in of ginger, finely chopped (optional)

1 fresh green or red chilli, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried chilli or chilli powder (optional)

a bunch of fresh coriander chopped

3 tsp garam masala or other curry powder

400g/14oz tinned tomatoes or 5 ripe fresh tomatoes , diced

400ml/13floz (1 tin) coconut milk

800g white fish fillet (Cod, Haddock, Kingfish, Pollock, Hake)

250 g cooked or raw large or king prawns, optional

juice of ½  lime (optional)

seasoning

method

1 Soften the onions in the oil over a moderate heat for 10 minutes. Then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and  half the fresh coriander and cook for a further 2-3 minues, stirring while you do it.

2 Add the garam masala and stir in to coat the onion mixture. Then add the tomatoes, the coconut milk and plenty of seasoning and simmer over a low heat for 20 to 30 mins.

3 Add the fish by placing the pieces gently into the sauce and stir carefully so as not to break up the pieces. The fish should take five minutes to cook. If adding cooked prawns, add them just a minute before the fish is cooked to allow them to heat through. If the fish is not skinned or boned, carefully remove from the pan and scrape the skin off and try to pick out the bones.

4  Then put the fish back in the pan, add the remaining fresh coriander and serve with boiled basmati rice or Indian naan bread, and a  squeeze of lime on top.

 

 

 

We were also fortunate to harvest yet more lobster, crab and langoustines, which we boiled up and enjoyed.  This time we brought them to the boil in cold, salted water to cook them – boiling the langoustines for only one minute, the lobster for four and the crab for seven.  Delicious simply with Lucy’s homemade mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon!

Because it was quite early in the season to harvest crab up on that area, there wasn’t that much meat in the crab.  However, there was certainly enough to make Thai crab cakes, recipe below.

Our final day in this area was beautiful.  We caught yet more mackerel, and cooked them there and then on the beach.  Fuelled with a simple mackerel sandwich – it needs nothing more than a bit of salt and pepper, between two slices of brown bread – we walked the seven mile walk home from where we had been brought by boat!

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Crab Cakes

  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 250g/9oz crab meat
  • 1 bunch roughly chopped coriander
  • 4 spring onions finely sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 handful bread crumbs
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 tsp sesame oil & sunflower oil for frying
  • sweet chilli sauce
  • salt and pepper

method

  1. Combine the chilli with the crabmeat, coriander, sesame oil and spring onions. Crack in one egg and mix well, then stir in half the breadcrumbs.
  2. Form the crab cake mixture into patties. Place on a tray and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes before cooking.
  3. Dredge a crab cake in the flour, then dip into the remaining egg (beaten) and coat in the breadcrumbs. Shake gently to remove any excess breadcrumbs. Repeat with the remaining crab cakes, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the crab cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until crisp and golden-brown all over. Transfer the crab cakes to a baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until piping hot all the way through.
  5. Serve the crab cakes with sweet chilli sauce.

Back to mainland Scotland in the VW camper!

A beautiful drive round Loch Lomond took us to the wonderful Comrie Croft in Perthshire (www.comriecroft.com) which we highly recommend as a fantastic place to camp (or glamp!) just over an hour away from Edinburgh and Glasgow.  We stayed in a fully equipped kata (Nordic tent) just because we never had, and loved sleeping on sheepskins with a wood-burning stove keeping us warm.  They’ve also got a little farm, and fantastic mountain bike trails to keep everyone entertained.

For us though the main focus as ever was our supper, and we cooked up some delicious marinated lamb steaks, which we had with quinoa and roasted pepper salad:

 

 

 

 

Yogurt Marinated Lamb Steaks with Roast Pepper salad

For the Lamb Steaks:

4 lamb steaks

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp yogurt

1 tsp garam marsala

salt and pepper

For the Roast Pepper Salad

4 peppers

4-6 medium tomatoes, diced

1 onion, finely sliced

olive oil

vinegar (or lemon juice)

salt and pepper

For the Quinoa

1 cup dried quinoa

salt and pepper

Method

Combine all the lamb ingredients in a plastic bag and leave to marinate in a cool place for as long as possible (at least an hour).

Meanwhile, roast the peppers over a hot flame until charred and softened.  Leave to cool for a while, and then to peel them place them in a plastic bag and rub until all the skin comes off.  It’s fine for some to stay on as it adds to the charred flavour.  Deseed and slice.  Add to the other ingredients with oil, vinegar and seasoning to taste.

Next cook the quinoa by boiling in cold water.  Drain and season, and toss with a little oil.  Cover and put to one side.

The coals should have burnt down a bit by now – perfect for the steaks.  Put them on, season and barbecue to your liking.

Serve with the quinoa and salad.
After Comrie, we headed off to friends in Aberdeenshire. We roasted some of their pork loin lightly marinated in soy sauce, ginger, garlic and chilli. We then brought the marinade to a simmer and and served with rice and brocolli.  A great quick supper!

 

 

From there we headed back West past Loch Ness,along the beautiful Five Sisters route towards the Kyle of Lochalsh.  We stopped in a campsite near Morvich but instead of cooking, went to the local pub in Kintyre and enjoyed our first Cullen Skink (Smoked haddock chowder) of the trip – Recipe below!

Cullen Skink

An authentic Scottish recipe from www.clans.org.uk

A soup from Cullen in Morayshire using smoked haddock for a rich flavour.

Ingredients

- 1 large smoked haddock of around 2 lb
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine.
- 1 and a half pints (900ml) milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 8 oz mashed potato
- Salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- Chopped parsley
- Water
- Toast as accompaniment when serving

Method

  • Cover the haddock with water in a shallow pan with skin side down.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes turning once.
  • Take the fish from the pan and remove the skin and bones.
  • Flake the fish and return to the stock.
  • Add chopped onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  • Strain off the stock and keep it ready – discard the bay leaf and keep the fish warm.
  • Add the milk to the fish stock and bring to the boil.
  • Add mashed potato to make a rich and thick soup.
  • Add the fish and check the seasoning – add more if needed.
  • When serving, add the butter in small pieces so it runs through the soup.
  • Serve with chopped parsley on top, and toast by the side

And over to the Isle of Jura in the VW camper!

We’ve been on Jura for the last six days, and have continued to enjoy the great food of the British Isles . . .

Here we are picking mussels off the beach which we later enjoyed after 2 days of rinsing in nets in the open sea.  Our moules marinieres recipe below can be found in Family Camping Cookbook.

MOULES MARINIERES for 4

2kg mussels, scrubbed and rinsed

55g butter

2 onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp pepper

2 handfuls of parsley, finely chopped

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

method

Soften the onions and garlic in the butter over a medium heat.  Add most of the parsley, the wine and 2/3rds cup of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the liquid has reduced slightly.  Tip the mussels in, cover and cook for five minutes until all the mussels have opened. Discard those that do not open, stir in the rest of the parsley and serve with crusty bread.

Lots of fishing opportunities also meant lots of opportunities for grilled fish – both trout from the loch, and mackerel from the sea.  From the excess mackerel, we made a delicious pate, similar to the sardine pate also in Family Camping Cookbook.

MACKEREL PATE

Mackerel, cooked, skinned and filleted

Cream cheese

Lemon juice

Salt and Pepper

Method

Combine and add quantities to taste.  Serve with crusty bread and crudités.

 

But the highlight of the week wasn’t cooked by us -  A magnificent sea-food platter of freshly caught lobster, langoustines and scallops!

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.

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

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 . . . .