Thursday, May 30, 2013

Coming home from camping

Moon rising above the camp kitchen.
Camping was a blast.  It was everything I remember it not being as a child. Well, except for the massive amounts of rain, I remember that from childhood camping.

I think the biggest difference for me was having proper home style food instead of rushed undercooked camp stuff and sugary snacks.  That and I had an absolutely awesome group of people to hang out with.
For the meals I followed pretty close to the original plan, only cutting down on the cooking on the first day.

Tending the sourdough starter by moonlight

There must have been something extra special in the air, because the sourdough starter I took camping with me became extra lively.  It had more of a sweet flavour than the sour flavour I get at home.  It made some fantastic pancakes and flatbreads.  Will be taking sourdough camping from now on.

instant coffee - neat idea, but not as good as homebrew

My friends camp kitchen.  It folds up nice and small, very efficient.


pancakes and strawberries

Monday, May 20, 2013

Camping menu idea, or Will cook for ride share.

Camping, perhaps one of the weirdest things in the world.  People actually choose to sleep, away from home, in the wild, with a thin wall of cloth separating them from whatever rats or larger monsters lurk in the darkness.

But, then again, so long as I can bring along my trusty pots and pans, I can use it as an excuse to cook some very nice food for myself and others.

In fact, I got out my camping stoves the other day and started practicing cooking on it.

The first stove I'm brining is an alcohol stove for boiling water.

Basically the kettle is too small for the stove, so I used a metal trivet to stabilize it.  Should be good for boiling water for coffee  tea or doing the washing up.

I absolutely love this stove. It's a little butane stove, like the type you find in dorm rooms.  It has excellent temperature control and a very sturdy base, but I do wonder if it's going to be a bit too windy for it.

Other than it's a delight to cook with, the thing I like best about this stove is it has a lock/unlock feature for the butane gas canister.  Although pretty obvious when you think about it (it's the lever that has the words 'lock' and 'unlock' written beside it), most prying hands (of the child and adult variety) can't figure out how to turn on the stove when the gas is disengaged.  One canister lasts roughly 2 to 4 hours.  So, I figure one canister per day and one for luck ought to do it.

As for food, I'm hoping to keep the cooking simple, costs down but get the best results.

Here's my tentative menu work in progress at the moment.

Day one, drive up in the late afternoon

Snacks for dinner, probably onigiri (rice balls with filling) which are light but wholesome.  We will be tired from driving and setting up camp, so don't want to make anything too fancy.  Possibly BLTs instead.   Some grapes make nice car eating food.

I would love an idea for dessert once camp is set up, perhaps something with fruit.  Wonder if I can make a fruit crumble on the stovetop... (runs off to try it).

Day two, busy but relaxed

Breakfast: Sourdough pancakes with Strawberries in balsamic glaze.  Maybe a banana.

Price... about $1 per person for the pancakes, another $2 each for the toppings (I'm taking a small bag of organic flour instead of using my regular stuff, that ups the price quite a bit).  So, not the cheapest meal in the world, but easy enough to make.

Time - make the strawberries first, then heat griddle while mixing batter.  keep the pancakes covered with a towel as they come off the stove, and by that time, the strawberries should be ready.

Lunch: Ploughman's  sandwich.  Onion marmalade, cheese, lettuce,  butter and  bread.  Put some cold cuts and maybe a tomato or two on the side.

Price - about 20 cents each for the bread, another 5 cents for the onion, cheese is the main expense ... &c.  Probably $1.50 to $2 per plate.

Time - onions can be done in advance, but are better fresh and take about 30 min to make.  While the onions cook, I can assemble the rest of the ingredients and create a build your own sammie situation.

Or I could just do bread, cold cuts, cheese and veg, which is basically no cooking - and seems more and more likely at this point.

Dinner: Lamb Curry and flatbreads.  Really looking forward to this one, as it's one of my current favourite meal.  Add some cucumber salad for more veg and freshness.

price - 2 people only need about 1/4 lb meat.  so that's about a dollar, plus the tomats, potats, carrots, and onion, another 2 dollars.  Sauce, bread &c.  Cucumber salad, lets say a dollar.  About $5 or $2.50 per plate

Time- About an hour and a half.
Make the bread dough and leave to one side covered. Fry the onions while preparing the other veg.  add veg for a min to get them started, then brown the meat, add the sauce, add the tomats and wine/water, then let simmer.  After half an hour, roll out the flatbreads, remove curry from burner, heat griddle and cook flatbreads.  Wrap breads in towel to keep warm.  Put curry back on burner and bring up to boil.  Serve.

Day three, going home day

Breakfast, sigh same as yesterday.  Hope she doesn't mind terribly.  But I really hate breakfast as a rule, and this is about the only thing I feel like eating or cooking.

Lunch, cold cuts, bread, lettuce... basically any leftovers and some bread.

Snacks for the drive home.

Speaking of snacks.  I'm thinking scones or workman's cake (like a pound cake) make a good quick energy thing.  Apples, cured meats, crackers, &c.  That should be more than enough.

Emergency food: Broth Cubes.  Just add warm water (hot is better).  Makes an awesome start to all sorts of meals, like bread soup (broth, butter and bread - a thousand times tastier than it sounds.).  Also a good chunk of bacon - It's home cured and extra smoked, so it's quite shelf stable.  I'll probably pack it frozen in one big chunk though, just in case.

My goal was to minimize the amount of stuff I need to keep cool (finish it up by the end of Day 2), as most of the cold cuts I hope to bring are shelf stable at room temperature for a few weeks.

So... if you were going camping, would you enjoy this menu?  Or more to the point, would you enjoy having someone else cook this for you?   I know it's not hotdogs and marshmallows  but it is good wholesome food that I enjoy making.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pasta Day - Japanese noodle soup

Japanese noodles (dry udon I think) with dashi broth, ume pickled plums, green onions and spicy sprinkles.

Probably not the most impressive pasta dish in the world, but excellent for soothing an upset stomach.

I used Kombu Dashi which has no fish in it (basically you simmer some seaweed), so this version of noodle soup is vegan friendly.  Probably the most expensive part of this dish is the ume at about $1.25 each, but it wouldn't be any good without it. All the other ingredients come in at under a quarter, so in total, $2.75 per bowl.  Not the most affordable, but for how calming this is on the tummy, well worth it.