22 July, 2016

Eating while camping

Last night I went to a friend's house with a few other ladies associated with CAJ. At this time of year there is no schedule and it's easy to become isolated. As for me . . . well I've just spent the last two weeks camping with four guys! Hanging out with girls was just fun, though perhaps I ran off at the mouth more than I usually do?

Anyway, they had some questions about this camping. Several were about cooking: did you use a fire, what did you cook, how did you keep things cold, did you take everything with you or buy along the way?

We did cook with a fire, but we also have a compact single ring gas burner, using easily available gas cans. This was a good back up or for when we didn't make a fire like on moving mornings (when we had cereal, tinned fruit, and yoghurt), but we still wanted a cup of coffee or tea. But I didn't take a photo of it.

Here is our main stove. It was a new one that I bought unused from a local second hand store. The main attraction is that it packs very flat. But it also folds out large and you can cook quite a lot on top. Additionally, it has a lot more air flowing around it, so was generally easier to start a fire on than what we previously had, which was basically a deep metal tray with little air flow.

On top you can see our two Japanese rice cookers as well as various root vegetables in foil, one of our favourite ways to have veggies at camp.

This is how thin the stove is folded up. It's called a portable notebook!

On moving days, or days when we were not at camp we usually ate take away food from convenience stores or at stops on the expressway. Japan has a wonderful array of fairly healthy food available for reasonable prices in convenience stores everywhere. Pictured is a doria, basically a cheesy white sauce baked over rice. I think it had some meat in it, but I can't remember now. We ate this lunch in a laundromat on a wet day between our first and second campsites, obviously while we washed and dried clothes.

Here was another lunch when we were in town for the day, visiting sights. We took a picnic lunch and ate it in a multi-storey carpark. David did a great job of making it look tasty. We even had a view, to the right was out to the road, but we could see potted flowers out there! There were toilets nearby, so we had everything that we needed.
My son's face is blanked out, I don't put photos of them on my blog.

This is a classic Japanese stir fry cooking over the fire: yaki soba. We didn't have room to take food for us all for two weeks, so bought food in standard Japanese grocery stores along the way. My menu therefore held things that were easily available in most Japanese stores. 

Someone asked if we had a generator and the answer is no. We camped electricity-free. This is our cooler (Esky in Aussie English). It held sufficient cold stuff for a couple of days and we bought blocks of ice (see below) daily to keep things cold. Interestingly most stores sell blocks in sealed plastic, which last much longer than ice chunks that you might put in drinks.

One of our favourite meals was veggies in foil cooked in the fire. Potatoes, pumpkin, and carrots, but the best was sweet potato! A couple of times we had BBQ meat with the veggies, that was also enjoyed by all. Japanese butchers do the best BBQ meat: thinly sliced meat (only a couple of mm thick) cooks so fast and is easy to eat.
Here's another meal on the go, we were eating out the front of a convenience store at an expressway layover.

We even had pizza, twice! A new camping meal I hadn't thought would be possible. We made pizza on top of basic damper dough (flour, raising agent, and water) folded it over and cooked it in foil. Was so yummy the boys clamoured for a repeat.

There's nothing quite like a fire to make camping great. One day a storm blew in just after we'd finished setting up and in the middle of my starting the fire. So, in the midst of the wind and the rain (actually it was mostly rain), I stood there and fanned the fire which we'd dragged under our annex. We were able to eat dinner soon after, even though we were surrounded by quite soggy ground. 

Cooking on this fire, I believe, is my favourite camping dessert: a banana boat. A banana sliced in half lengthways and filled with chocolate and marshmallows. Absolutely scrumptious.

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