Monday, 23 March 2015

Cooking while camping

When I camp I have three main cooking options. I either use my tiny one ring gas stove, my Kelly kettle or a disposable barbecue. I have toasted marshmallows over a real log fire, but I don’t class that as cooking.
open fire camping toasting marchmallows
Toasty
Cooking outdoors is amazing fun. Even people that never camp sometimes have a summer barbecue because there is something lovely about sitting in the sunshine, or a warm summer evening, smelling the food cooking, sipping a beer…oh I want to be there now!

I am a cheap skate as you all know by now, but I admit that I did crave a Kelly kettle (aka storm kettle) for a long while and was thrilled when DH bought me one for my birthday. The joy of the storm kettle is that you don’t need to buy fuel. You just gather it on your travels and as long as you have some relatively dry twigs, grass or animal dung (yes really!) to get the fire going it’s really great for boiling water. Of course some camp sites and festivals don’t allow them, though I’m never quite sure if it’s an ‘open fire’ or not as it is technically enclosed in the metal walls of the kettle! The premise is simple, the top part of the kettle acts as a chimney to funnel the fire and heat and help the fire burn hot, while at the same time being double walled so the chimney itself is full of water! The water boils very quickly, you can use it and refill it, it’s excellent for getting hot water to cook, wash or clean, even for your hot water bottle. You can also add a pan rest on the top and use it to heat food in a pan. I’ve not yet found this particularly successful but I will persevere. The Kelly kettle is far and away my favourite thing to cook on. Easy to pack and carry, no fuel to tote around and even lights in the rain.

kelly kettle camp cooking storm
My Storm Kettle, balanced on a pan for stability and to protect the grass!
Most people use some form of gas stove to cook on. I like my tiny one ring one. It takes gas canisters that are super easy to slot into place and has various failsafe devices to ensure you can’t use it if the canister is fitted incorrectly. It is just like cooking at home. Except you only have one gas ring. I like its simplicity but remembering to take enough gas can be annoying, wind can mean you use more gas (weather type wind, not your own bean induced flatulence) I have a wind guard to try and prevent that, the cooker is quite large compared to the storm kettle.

full english breakfast camping cooking
A fry up - cooked on two, one ring cookers!
The other option I’ve used is the disposable barbecue, leaving aside the issues around the eco friendliness (or not) of a disposable barbecue it’s great for the new camper or a trial run. Most people have used a barbecue before, you know it takes a while to heat but is great for cooking meat directly on it – no washing up! Or you can use a suitable frying pan etc. Remember to use bricks to raise it off the grass to avoid scorching. You can of course buy reusable barbecues for camping and they come in various sizes and styles. I quite like the look of the bucket ones.

Always remember that however you cook when camping to do it safely. Never cook in a tent. Do not bring a hot barbecue into a tent to warm the tent. Invisible and deadly carbon monoxide can and does kill campers every year. Fire is a real risk in a tent, even a fire retardant one. Cook safely outside and away from the tent.

You can look at a range of cooking options here

And some add-ons I suggest getting, decent cutlery – I used plastic for ages and it’s rubbish, a penknife, a proper camping cook set, a toaster (yes really – it’s my favourite thing), and a wind break for the cooker. Don’t forget a tin opener and bottle opener (or check your penknife has them).

Find some simply awesome cooking and recipe ideas on this brilliant blog.