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The Camping Cookbook promises to enable us to “eat like kings out of doors, with just the barest of essentials to hand.”
As with The Camper Van Cookbook, which we reviewed recently, the author of The Camping Cookbook is a professional food writer. Such experts seem to have a tendency to use a wider range of ingredients than the rest of us – so has Annie Bell resisted this temptation to produce something that’s genuinely practical for camping use?
I think she may have done, albeit for relatively short camping trips. All of the recipes can be cooked on a single burner, a barbecue or using a tripod and pot over an open fire.
In terms of ingredients, the recipes require a clever mixture of pre-prepared seasonings from home and basic foodstuffs that you might take or buy on a camping trip. The use of Frankfurter sausages (which only need to be heated, not cooked) instead of regular sausages, for example, is a good idea and one that we regularly use ourselves while away on long trips.
The book also explains the different types of camping cooking equipment that are available – from pans to portable BBQs to army style spirit stoves.
The recipes themselves are mouthwatering and have been designed to require as little water as possible and to create a minimum of washing up. This is an attractive idea for motorhome users, too, and Annie takes particular care to avoid fatty or greasy washing up. As anyone who has tried washing up a pan full of fat in a tiny amount of lukewarm water knows, it is not a good end to a meal.
Although the recipes in this book sound delicious and are pretty achievable, I would warn you to take plenty of gas if you plan to do all the cooking on a camping stove. Cooking times in excess of one hour (or even two hours, in some cases) are common. This might not be a problem if you are cooking on a tripod over a campfire, but it will use up a lot of gas if you are using a portable camping stove that uses small cartridges or those screw-in cylinders.
The Camping Cookbook is an ideal source of ideas if you want to provide delicious family meals for short camping trips. By using a mixture of fresh ingredients and ‘stuff from home’, Annie Bell has created a surprising variety of attractive dishes.