Our inaugural evening meal was one that wasn’t on my initial list: roasted organic turkey hotdogs in whole wheat buns. This was a hit. Not only did we have the fun of cooking our own dogs, but we had the quintessential campfire meal—meat on a stick. This meal only works for the first night as there is no refrigeration, so we ate the whole package. In order to ensure that the meat is safe, we transported it frozen. By the time we arrived at our campsite eight or so hours later, they were stick ready. For dessert, we had our daily dose of dark organic chocolate and marshmallows. I also found a container of Moroccan dried olives in my fridge at home that wanted to make the journey with us, so we had olives daily as a little appetizer with our wine. I’ll keep the olives on my future camp menu.
Food that worked out well:
Mussels! Oh, my… steamed in a bit of vegetable broth and chives, these were a delicate delight for the taste buds. Neither of our older boys had had musses before, they loved them. Chloe hated them. I mean really hated them. ‘They are disgusting mom,’ she snarled with her face pinched tight. ‘Great,’ said the boys, ‘more for us.’ I have to admit, they were really quite tasty. If in a shellfish safe, red-tide free zone, it is a camping must for seafood lovers.
Green hats: This is the nick-name our youngest son has given to tortellini stuffed with cheese. Even when it is not spinach pasta, the kids still call it ‘green hats.’ I make this one with pesto, Romano cheese, and two tins of wild sockeye salmon.
Couscous! Who knew, but this rather plain dish is fast and filling. It serves well as a warm-up to the slow cooking one pot camp meal, or as part of a quick lunch, or brunch for the starving masses.
Wild rice pilaf: I cooked this with sausage and vegetables. Everyone was happy with this tasty meal.
Peanut-butter and honey wraps: Instead of bread, we ate wheat tortillas smeared with peanut butter and honey and then folded in half and smeared again before rolling into a tight tasty treat.
Shortage: I have to pack more peanut-butter and honey. The big boys wanted/ needed more protein than granola and skim powdered milk. Next trip, I’ll take a dozen eggs, more salmon, and double the nuts.
More milk: It was merely for colour by day five. Luckily, the granola had enough flavour to compensate for the lack of milk.
More chocolate: Double the ration—two squares per person, per day, not one.
More dried fruit: I packed seven days worth. We ate it in five. Pack more.
More fuel canisters: One canister per day, not one for every other day. We cooked over the wood fire to make the fuel last longer.
Meal disaster! Okay, it was a crazy idea—I’ve lived, I’ve learned. Boiling pasta in salt water when fresh water is scarce. I though, what do I do at home? I add SALT to my tap water, bring it to a boil, and add pasta… so since we have a limited supply of fresh water, I can boil the pasta in SEA water that has salt in it naturally. Note to self, note to the rest of the camping world: 1) Don’t cook with sea water. 2) If you have to cook with sea water, drain ALL of the water off before consuming. 3) If you find yourself in an instance where pasta is the meal, and you add Landjäger sausage (a very salty dried sausage), pesto, and cheese, you will find that meal is much saltier than anticipated, almost intolerably saline. One meal like this per trip will ensure that all campers appreciate every other meal you make. In my family, our youngest, despite his hunger, could not eat it, while our eldest son, Gus, had a double helping. The rest of us managed through a single serving, but only because our breakfast ration had been too skimpy.
The management of the camp kitchen became easier as the days went on and the caches became lighter. After each meal, we restrung the dry-sack that held our food and garbage back in the trees about 20 feet in the air. Though mice can climb, their noses aren’t able to detect food from that far, or else we’d have been in trouble.
Each day the sand around our campsite was imprinted with the random and thorough scurry of mice prints. Wolves, on the other hand, are known for their keen sense of smell, but they are not known for their climbing capacity. Our food remained ours.
Water, water every where and not a drop to drink. My husband comes from a rather extensive hiking background, and as such, he believes in purifying found water rather than truck it in as it is an unnecessary and very heavy load. That was all true until now. We have had a very dry spring and summer for a coastal region that is known for its rain. Rivers have slowed and creeks have dried completely. Our only fresh, and I use that term loosely, water source was an hour away over a ragged outcropping of rocks. In the middle of the day, it smelled like a failing septic field. By late in the afternoon, it trickled enough to purify our eight litres worth. But, we required about eighteen litres per day.
By the end of day two, we’d had enough. My husband Graham climbed to the highest point on the black rocks that bookended our beach, dialled his blackberry, put it on speakerphone, and held his arm in the air as he shouted to the water taxi an order for thirty-six litres of water to be delivered the next day at noon. If we’d been thinking, we’d have ordered pizza and a dozen beer as well. In the future, our charts will show the creek sources, and we’ll order our water to go in with us, but we’ll leave the pizza and beer in town.