We have just had the nicest weekend camping. I know camping and nice don't always seem like two words that automatically sit together but this last experience was exactly that. After our rather uncomfortable night up at Lake Tarawera (with babies crying in the tent next door and the airbed springing a leak!) I resolved to address how to make things more enjoyable. So we invested in a bit more gear, bunks for the kids, stretcher beds and mattresses for us, a proper cooker fired by a decent sized gas bottle, more chairs and a proper camp table (that folds up into a teensy bag!). The investment paid dividends! Added to that we camped at an actual camp ground, with flushing toilets, showers and kitchen facilities! (washing dishes was soooo much easier!) There was also far more to entertain the children, a lovely big playground, games room, trampoline and it was situated next to a lovely beach......my kids could play for ages in the sand! There was a great mudslide nearby, which also contributed to the fun!So all in all we hit the jackpot, and have decided we are going to have to do it more often, might even work out how we can go for an extended period! This is coming from someone who loathed the idea of camping and first slept in a tent again at the age of 35 (after doing plenty of camping with my family until the age of about 12, and HATING it!). I always thought that slumming it was a motel instead of a hotel and wild horses would never have convinced me that camping could be fun! I have Kyle Mercer to thank for showing me the light, our trip to Hot Water Beach ignited something and I havent looked back!
Kyle of course has accompanied us on most of our trips, he is the ultimate camping companion. This time he sorted out the fishing for us.....another thing you couldn't have paid me to do in past years, but was good entertainment, despite not catching anything!Okay, so getting back to the topic...camping food. This is something I am learning to adjust to, how to cook well while "roughing it"! Mostly it takes a lot of planning and so far our forays have only been very short so a bag of ice in the chilly bin has been enough to keep food for the time we have been there.
This time I made bread to take with us (there is just something about home made bread that I love! even if my home made bread has been kneaded in the bread machine!!!), a yummy cherry pie, planned to make pancakes (they were blueberry and ricotta, topped with fried bananas and maple syrup, very nice!) and a blue cheese and brocolli pasta dish, and the rest kind of evolved. (kind of scary for me to let things evolve!!!!) The pasta was a throw together of quite a few things left in my fridge and came together quite well all in all. It also served as a budget meal coming in at $14.50 and serving 5 people generously!
Brocolli and Blue Cheese Pasta
1 onion, chopped .20c
1 garlic cloved, chopped .10c
2 slices bacon $2.00
100g mushrooms $1.00
100g wedge blue cheese $2.70
1 tin evaporated skim milk $2.501 tbsp basil pesto $1.00
2 tsp cornflour .10c
1 head of brocolli, cut into florets and steamed $1.00
70 g pinenuts toasted $3.00
500g pasta shapes, cooked $1.00
Salt and pepper
Fry onion, garlic in oil, add bacon then mushrooms. Crumble in blue cheese and let melt and bubble before adding evaporated milk and pesto. Add a bit of water to cornflour to make thin paste and add to sauce to thicken. Add brocolli and warm through then add cooked drained pasta. Serve sprinkled with pinenuts.I made a very yummy cherry pie to take with us. It was to use up the last of the cherries I ordered from Cental Otago which I cannot speak highly enough of. They come from "Out of Our Trees Cherries", I have ordered them via email for the last few years, they courier them to me straight from the orchard (I love missing out the middle man!), they are extremely well priced and most of all they are HEAVENLY! We order them in 5kg lots as that is the most cost effective, they work out at around $14.00 a kilo with freight. They are export quality though and this year I have not seen many cherries in the shops for less than $20kg and before Christmas (when I got them) there was nothing under $30kg. They keep so well too, normally we have scoffed them long before they get a chance to go bad but this year I have had so much food in the house I kept forgetting about them. If you would like to order them they are still picking....their email address is email@example.com
This recipe is very much like the bakewell tart I made some time ago just with cherries plopped on top. It is absolutely rich and moist and delicious and would work well with any tart fruit, like plums, rasberries or even apricots. I will definitely use this recipe again. I served it with marscapone cream, it complimented it nicely.
115g fridge cold butter
2 egg yolks
Blitz flour and butter in the food processor until consistency of fine bread crumbs. Add sugar then egg yolks and process until it starts clumping together. Take out and bring together to form a sausage. Wrap in clingfilm and put in fridge to chill for an hour.Do NOT skip this part, it is absolutely necessary to get the best result. While its chilling stone the cherries and prepare the filling! Once ready slice into pieces and cover bottom and sides of 25cm flan dish, pushing together to get coverage. Bake blind in oven at 200c for 10-12 mins.Please excuse my manky baking tin, I had forgotten I no longer had a flan dish after breaking it last time I used it!
200g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and incorporate well. Mix through flour and almond until smooth, don't fold but don't overmix! Chill a little while then spread over baked pastry and top with 2 cups stoned cherries. Bake 45-50 mins at 180C