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?!