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
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.

Camp Bestival - Ella Henderson added to the lineup

Camp Bestival. The plot thickens. I’m busy planning my costume and I vary from just a bit of a wild theme to a full out dinosaur/crocodile/reptile costume. So who knows, maybe I’ll end up doing some of each. A slightly wild look most days with a full on costume for Saturday…hmmm

The line up is really exciting this year, I was already thrilled that The Kaiser Chiefs were on the bill, I love all the theatre and circus stuff and it seems like almost each week new things are being added!

My Camp Bestival excitement meter is building. Latest to join the gang is extra info on the teen den, something my daughter didn’t get excited about last year, so I’m hoping I can get her to go this year – I think the Blogging talk would be great and might get her actively blogging again, though if Rob Da Bank and the crew could arrange a talk by Zoella I think they’d have to have crowd control! Ha!

 Also now on the line-up is the lovely Ella Henderson, she’s only 4 years older than my daughter! And is best known for her number one single Ghost. Her first album went to number one in the album charts too! She started out on the X factor, finishing 6th in 2012. It will be nice to sit on the warm grass and listen to some fresh British talent.

Last year we missed a few things that are Camp Bestival staples, so will be hoping to catch them again, while exploring some of the newer additions. See you there!

All the info can be found at Camp Bestival's Website

EHU - The mysteries of Electric Hook Up

I'm not sure how long I'd been camping before I realised what EHU stood for. I'd been mostly camping at festivals to start with so it wasn't an issue and what ever the mysterious EHU I saw when booking campsites was, it cost more, so I didn't want it.

So while I don't remember when, there was obviously a day when something clicked (switch? Light bulb? haha) and I realised that some people have electricity when they camp!

If I wanted electricity I'd book a cottage or a camper van I think. If I'm in a tent then solar power is the best option, a natural way to charge my mobile and provide evening light for reading (and finding the corkscrew)

But I thought I'd blog my reasons and my pros and cons of electricity in you tent.

Plus points
  • You can charge phones and have light regardless of the state of the sun
  • You can have a fridge
  • You can use a George Foreman Grill (other electric cooking appliances are available)
  • You can have a TV
  • You can have an electric heater
  • You can bring an XBox, a Wii, etc (yes people do - you know who you are!) so kids can play on wet days
  • Pretty much your tent becomes a home from home and anything you care to bring can be used.
  • You have to get a special cable for safety in the wet etc even in the summer the mornings can be damp. You MUST have the correct cable.
  • You have to pack all the electrical things you need eg fridge, microwave, TV, DVD player etc etc and they take a lot of space in the car, can be heavy and might be fragile
  • You will either have to denude your house and all the hassle that entails or have a second 'camping' set of all the electrical things you want to take.
  • You have to pay extra for EHU
  • You miss the opportunity to switch off. Why 'get away from it all' but take it with you?

So as you know I go camping with no EHU. I take a cool box and either refreeze the ice blocks in the campsite freezer (loads have them) or buy a bag or two of ice from the supermarket during my stay. I use solar lights for the evening and also settle down as it gets dark. I read rather than watch TV or simply sip wine and listen to the rustling of the field mice in the hedges. I cook on a portable gas cooker, over an open fire or on my Kelly Kettle depending which the campsite allows. I don't heat my tent. I have camped in October when the evening temperature dropped below freezing, it was chilly fun. I carry less stuff (yes really - despite my over packing for festivals LOL) and set up is quick, I save money on the pitch and can often find a space with a late booking at less people are brave enough to camp with out EHU.

What about you? Electric hookup? Or back to nature? Am I right to camp without EHU or missing a trick?

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