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Camping Oz-style Part 2
Cooking on Camp

"What's for dinner? Not baked beans again, please!" No way, no need. A variety of dishes can be cooked on camp without the aid of electrical appliances and a proper oven. Making do with the bare essentials might seem an annoying inconvenience, but it doesn't have to be. After all, the decision to go camping in the first place must have been some perverse desire for deprivation and to be eaten alive by insects; so preparing meals in adverse conditions can be just another enjoyable part of the experience.

There are certain aspects of camp life that need special consideration, in particular space and light. The "kitchen" will probably be a small section of the tent, or an area outside; nothing like the amenities at home. One of the great advantages is that most of the preparation and actual cooking can be done sitting down; either at the table cutting vegies, or stirring pots in front of the stove. As safety always comes first, these jobs should be away from the main traffic areas. That's not the case in the picture, but there were just the two of us with no kids tearing around. Obviously you have to be able to see properly, so cooking meals by the inadequate light of a battery lantern is not my preferred option. Night-cooking, however, can be fun if you like socialising and plan on using the facilities in the campers' kitchen which most tourist parks provide; but you may have to queue for the stove or barbecue, and there's no guarantee they'll be clean. It's better, I believe, to adjust meal times and do it all at your own camp site.


Right - what to cook? Unless there is a store handy, many of the ingredients need to be reasonably long-life. Potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas in their pods, pumpkin and onions keep well in a cardboard box, provided they are left somewhere in the shade. A bunch of celery which still has some roots not only survives in a bucket with a little water, but it will continue to grow. Eggs also last a fair time. Meat can be a problem, but there are canned alternatives such as ham, spam, corned beef, chicken if available and, of course, salmon, tuna and the like. Those meals-in-a-can look good on the label, but some of them are mainly slop and vegies with very little meat. Strained, however, the solids make for a reasonably tasty pie filling if you add extras and use the liquid as a gravy base. Flour, rice, noodles, pasta, cereals and other dried food keep for an age and provide variety. Just remember to store them in a mouse, water and greeblie-proof container. As for milk and cream, supermarkets have a choice of UHT products. A short list of basics is included at the end of this article, but if you use your initiative you won't go far wrong.

Pan-fried Meals
The usual ones are pretty straightforward and if you can buy fresh or frozen steak, sausages, burgers and bacon once in a while they are easy enough for anyone to cook, thus giving the resident chef a break. Toast for breakfast can be a bit messy and leaves crumbs all over the stove top, but there is an alternative that our kids loved - eggy bread. Just beat up two or three eggs with a dash of milk, soak slices of bread in the mix, then fry in the pan or skillet, turning as necessary. A little sugar and spice added makes a quick dessert. Stir-fries can be done exactly the same as at home; so too some of the recipes to be found on the website like: tuna & mushroom, Hoolie Doolies: Recipe 25, paella, pizza - see this month's inclusion - and Fried Spud Patties: Recipe 20.

Pan-fried Pizza

All of the above can be cooked in a frypan or skillet. Even a wok isn't out of the question if you fancy; but there are some dishes that need baking in an oven.

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