Posts tagged #cooking

Adventures In Smoking

Assembling the pieces

Assembling the pieces

After a recent fishing trip I found myself furnished with a rather fine rainbow trout; it didn't feel like a whole-cooked fish kind of night so I thought it was the perfect time to have a crack at smoking. I managed to cobble together a smoker from things I had lying around and made a recipe inspired by the Whole Larder Love book and various episodes of River Cottage. It was surprisingly easy and I'm very happy to report that the results were spectacular.

Building Your Smoker

  • For the main chamber of the smoker I used the tin from some Royal Dansk Danish Butter Cookies, the kind you always find yourself with but can never quite remember where they came from. I pierced holes in the lid to let the smoke out.
  • For the smoking rack I used a baker's cooling rack and cut it into a circle the same diameter as the tin. I left a couple of centimeters on a few of the horizontal bars and bent them over so that the rack sat away from the bottom of the tin.
  • I put a couple of handfuls of shavings into the bottom of the tin. There seems to be a lot of discussion about the best wood to use for this, but I had a pile  left over from carving spoons which I used, it was mainly birch.
  • For a heat source I had the burner from my Trangia. You can use a gas hob or stove top but I didn't want to stink the house out with smoke so a portable option was preferable.
Ready

Ready

Cooking Method

  • Firstly I descaled, cleaned and filleted the trout.
  • I made a rub that was 2 parts salt and 1 part brown sugar and gave the fish an all over coating. This was left in a sealed Tupperware container overnight in the fridge.
  • The next evening I washed the fish, removing the excess rub and patted it dry.
  • I placed the fillet inside the tin skin side down, closed the lid and lit the burner.
  • After a couple of minutes smoke was billowing out of the holes in the lid. I gave each fillet about 10-12 minutes which seemed perfect.
The finished piece.

The finished piece.

The fish was moist and tender, and it crumbled perfectly. It had a deep-infused smokiness and that salty smoked-fish tang. It was so morish I wolfed the first fillet down immediately. I saved the second for breakfast and had it on an English muffin with a poached egg. Perfect.

Posted on March 6, 2017 and filed under Recipe.

Tips from the Archive #010

Robert J. Kelsey -  1974

Robert J. Kelsey -  1974

A quick tip by Robert J. Kelsey from his wonderful book "Walking in the Wild - The Complete Guide to Hiking and Backpacking". This might be controversial to some, in fact many ultralight hikers argue to the nth degree about the finer points of Esbit and Hexamin vs alcohol to avoid just this, but this old tip is interesting and worth some further investigation.

Tip #10 – The Pot Black

Whatever cooking ware you choose, prepare it properly for cooking. That means blacken the exterior! I will brook no argument on this point from spotless-pan paranoids. A pot blackened with good hardwood soot, which is shiny black and sticks to the pan, distributes heat more evenly and does a better cooking job.

Never scour the outside of such a treasure. Simply wipe off any loose soot and spilled food with a damp paper towel. Put each kettle in its own plastic bag and nest them, then put the whole collection into a master cloth bag.
— Robert J. Kelsey - Walking in the Wild, 1974
Posted on September 4, 2014 and filed under Tips from the Archive.

Campfire Sausage Stew with Thyme Dumplings

Sausage Stew and Dumplings

Sausage Stew and Dumplings

Stew is one of my staple outdoor dishes; it's very hard to mess up and the results can be spectacular. This time however, I wanted to up the stew ante and nudge my culinary comfort zone a little further by taking on the mighty dumpling.

Ingredients

For the stew

  • 6 Really good sausages (I normally go for something herby and porky, preferably from a good butcher)
  • 2 Large white onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 Large carrots, sliced
  • 10 Small new potatoes, chopped in half
  • 1 Pint of stock (I used a couple of beef stock cubes)
  • 1 Can of cheap beer
  • 1 Bottle of expensive cider
  • Worchester sauce
  • Thyme
  • Oil for cooking (something with a high burning temperature, sunflower is fine)

For the dumplings

  • 1 Cup of self raising flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 50g Cold butter cubed
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp chopped thyme
  • ¼ Cup of milk

Method

I cooked my stew on a campfire in a suspended Dutch oven, it needs to cook for several hours so make sure there are sufficient coals. I started with a big hot fire with slow burning wood and let it burn down. You can, of course vary the height of the oven and even cover it in coals if the heat is needed.

Sautéing and Grilling

Sautéing and Grilling

1. Lightly heat the Dutch oven and add the oil. Sauté the onions, do not let them brown - they should soften and go translucent.

2. While the onions were cooking, I put the sausages on a rack directly over the flames to seal and brown the outside. They don't need to cook through as this will happen later. I managed to tilt the grill in such a way that the oil and juices went into the Dutch oven for extra flavour.

3. Once the sausages are browned add them to the onions and pour in the stock, beer and cider. I added a good spoonful of thyme and a few good glugs of Worchester Sauce. Give it all a good stir and bring the oven to the boil, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

4. By now the broth should be coming together nicely and slowly reducing. Add the vegetables and return the stew to the heat, give it a good stir and cover, then cook for another 30 minutes. Mix up the dumplings.

5. To make the dumplings, pour the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub it in until it resembles breadcrumbs.

6. Add the herbs and the egg, and mix with your hand, adding just enough milk so that the mixture comes together in a sticky dough.

7. Check the stew, it should have reduced considerably making a thick, rich gravy; if it is too dry add a little water or stock. Give it another stir and then add large spoonfuls of the dough directly onto the top of the stew. Try and place them a few centimeters apart as they will puff up as they cook. Replace the lid on and cook for another 15 minutes.

8. Check the stew. The dumplings should have puffed up and increased in size and the stew should be thick and rich. I prefer the top of my dumplings to be crispy so I buried the Dutch oven in coals and  blasted it for another five minutes.

9. Then it is done. Serve quickly and eat heartily.

Stew and Dumplings Finished and Ready to Serve

Stew and Dumplings Finished and Ready to Serve

The stew is hefty and flavorsome, the dumplings sticky, doughy and morish. Shared between two we were both stuffed and had enough for lunch the day after. I'm not sure why I was so fearful of campfire dumplings, they were foolproof and a simple way of getting a delicious and filling bread course to my stew, with little effort.

Posted on July 6, 2014 and filed under Recipe.

Campfire Beef Bourguignon

Campfire Gastronomy

Campfire Gastronomy

I'm often asked about campfire meals I make, I consider myself quite a freestylecook,as such I don't really write things down. I'm not qualified by any means, but I worked in kitchens throughout school and college and consider myself pretty confident in the kitchen. This is the first time I have ever consciously made notes and honed a recipe to share.

Camp Fire Beef Bourguignon

Camp Fire Beef Bourguignon

Beef bourguignon is one of my favorite slow cooked meals, I think its pretty perfect for permanent camp or cabin cookery. Simple and delicious. Something you can throw on a fire and leave. This recipe is loosely based on Larousse Gastronomique's traditional dish.

Ingredients

  • 2lbs (just under 1kg) braising beef (rump)
  • 6 Rashers of thick-cut fatty bacon
  • 3  large onions
  • 3 cups (750ml) red wine (nothing too expensive but something you would drink)
  • 2 cups (500ml) beef stock
  • 2 Garlic cloves crushed
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Flour (for dusting and thickening)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Method

To start you will need some decent coals so make sure you build your fire big with suitable wood and let it burn down to cooking coals. This meal is slow cooked over a few hours so be sure to have a large stock of wood so coals can be replenished.

  1. Roughly cut the beef into large chunks and dust with seasoned flour and put you dutch oven on the coals to pre-heat.
  2. Cut the bacon into large strips and fry in your dutch oven
  3. Add the beef, two of the onions sliced roughly and the garlic and brown them all
  4. Add the wine and stock , the herbs and season well
  5. Cover and gently simmer for at least two hours; until the beef is meltingly tender and the sauce has thickened. Give it a try and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  6. Once you think it is ready slice and fry the remaining onion and add it to the pot, continue cooking for another 20 minutes
  7. Serve with camp bread (either bannock, damper or flatbread.)

The dish came out very well. Tender meat with a thick delicious sauce. It was also incredibly easy. I hope, this inspires some of you to try something new on the campfire.

Posted on September 13, 2012 and filed under Recipe.

Tips from the Archive #004

Dutch Oven Cooking Temperature

Dutch Oven Cooking Temperature

This one is a goody,  especially for the outdoor gourmet. It comes from Viv Moon's Outdoor cookbook. This is my go-to outdoor cookery guide. This particular tip is great for anyone trying to master the dutch oven.

Tip 004 – Dutch Oven Temperature

There are various methods around that some camp cooks use to judge how hot the camp oven is, the old, but tried paper testing method being a fairly good gauge.

Paper Test–put a piece of paper such as brown paper bag (not newspaper) inside your preheated camp oven. Within a few minutes it turns:

Dark brown–oven is very hot 240-300˚C [465-570˚F]
Light brown–oven is hot 220-230˚C [425-440˚F]
Yellow–oven is moderate 180-190˚C [355-375˚F]
Pale–oven is slow 120˚C [250˚F]
— Viv Moon - Viv Moon's Outdoor Cookbook, 2002

Hope this helps.

Posted on August 25, 2012 and filed under Tips from the Archive.

Damper

Damper

Damper

Damper is an iconic Australian bush bread - a staple for stockmen, swagmen, drovers and indigenous Australians alike. It is similar to bannock but is traditionally cooked directly on campfire coals or in a Dutch oven. The recipe is simply water and self raising flour, but everyone seems to have their own unique spin. The recipe I followed is from Viv Moon's incredible "Outdoor Cookbook"

Basic damper recipe

3 ⅓ cups self raising flour
Pinch of Salf
Beer (any kind)
Place flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre

Add any other ingredients you wish to add. Mix in enough beer to form a soft pliable dough. This is usually more easily done with hands rather than spoons. If the mixture feels too moist, sprinkle over more flour. If too dry simple add more liquid.

Do not overwork the mixture as it will become tough

Roll into a ball shape that will fit into your camp oven. The camp oven can be lined with foil to protect the base, if desired.

Place in a moderate preheated camp oven and bake for at least 20 minutes before checking
— Viv Moon - Outdoor Cookbook
Mixing the Dough

Mixing the Dough

This was very simple and very tasty, I followed Viv's recipe to the note. I used a trivet in my oven just to lift the bread a little and get the heat circulating. As ever with a Dutch oven it took a while to get the really good coals ready but it can't be rushed. I preheated the oven and dropped the dough in, checking after 20 minutes - the bread had risen nicely and giving it a tap I got the tell-tale hollow sound. I added more coals and increased the heat to try and get a little more colour and gave it another ten minutes.

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

The results were great. It seemed to rise more than bannock but didn't quite get the colour of the skillet bread. Taste wise it was light, fluffy and delicious. We ate it with campfire chilli and had enough left for breakfast the next day. I will definitely be making this again.

Head to head against bannock I preferred damper; although it tasted similar it was a much lighter bread. It does however take longer to cook and requires a camp oven not just a frying pan or skillet.

If any body else has tried damper or has their own spin on it I'd love to hear about it.

Posted on July 4, 2012 and filed under Recipe.

Bannock

Cooking Bannock

Cooking Bannock

Living in a city (a small one none the less) I rarely get chance to have a fire and it just didn't feel right making my first bannock without one. Fortunately I was invited to New Hampshire to make maple syrup. This was the perfect excuse to try out my frying pan bread skills.

Bannock is an easy to make, no nonsense bread. Although it has Scottish roots it was also a favorite among native Americans as well as hikers, woodsmen and outdoors types. I came across a great number of recipes online and in various publications, they all have a similar base with other flourishes. The most detailed documentation was in Bradford Angier's "Home in Your Pack."

Angier's basic recipe and his method are as follows.

One cup flour
One teaspoon baking powder
One fourth teaspoon salt

Mix these dry ingredient if starting from scratch, taking all the time you need to do this thoroughly. Have the hands floured and everything ready to go before you add liquid. Make sure your frying pan is warm and greased.

Working quickly from now on, stir in enough water to make a firm dough. Shape this, with as little handling as possible, into a cake about an inch thick.

Lay the bannock in the warm frying pan. Hold it over the heat until the bottom crust forms, rotating the pan a little so the loaf will shift and not become stuck.

Once the dough has hardened enough to hold together, you can turn the bannock. This, if you’ve practiced a bit and have the confidence to flip strongly enough, can easily be accomplished with a slight swing of the arm and a snap of the wrist. Or you can use one of the plate from your cooking outfit, sliding the bannock onto this and reversing the frypan over the plate and turning both together.

When is the bannock done? After you’ve been cooking for them a while, you will be able to tap on one and gauge this by the hollowness of the sound. Meanwhile test by shoving in a clean straw or sliver. If any dough adheres, the loaf needs more heat. Cooking can be accomplished in about 15 minutes.
— Bradford Angier - Home in Your Pack, 1965

I made a double batch and also added: fresh blueberries, 3 tablespoons of butter and an extra pinch of baking powder. These are all Angier's recommendations for a tastier loaf.

Bannock Ready To Eat

Bannock Ready To Eat

I cooked exactly as advised and the results were fantastic. Crusty and toasted on the outside, fluffy in the middle with small blueberry explosions. Awesome with a little butter and some maple syrup. Looking forward to experimenting with different flavors. Cheese and olive spring to mind.

Posted on February 28, 2012 and filed under Recipe.

Treeless Maple Syrup - The Results

Treeless Maple Syrup Testing

Treeless Maple Syrup Testing

So the verdict is in. A few weeks ago I went about creating "Treeless Maple Syrup" - this was a recipe of Bradford Angier's that I found in “Taming the Wilds.”  As advised I left it to mature and this morning the frying pan went on and the secret pancake mix was made up.

The syrup had taken a strange turn, the sugar all sank and solidified leaving a strange coloured liquid on top. I gave it a good mix and it became thick and caramel like. Once on the pancakes it was actually surprisingly good. A little gritty and extremely sweet, without any hint of potato. My fellow diners both found it "passable, with a weird texture" I was very happy the results. It doesn't really shine a light on maple syrup but a servicable replacement if you cant get hold of the real stuff.

Maple syrup season is nearly upon us and we have been invited to a syrup cook-out in New Hampshire, so my maple syrup adventure continues.

Posted on December 5, 2011 and filed under Recipe.

C. William Harrison's 1965 Gear List

First book of hiking

First book of hiking

Found in Harrison's "The First Book of Hiking" published in 1965, this concise yet poetic book is beautifully illustrated by E. Frank Habbas.

Here is a list of items that should be included in the pack of any hiker who expects to be on the trail for several days.

1 mummy-type sleeping bag (or from three to four lightweight wool blankets) 1 poncho 1 pair camp moccasins or sneakers Extra underwear, shirt, wool socks 3 bandanas 1 pair extra extra bootlaces Canteen and drinking cup First-aid kit Snakebite kit Antiallergin kit Soap, towel, tissue, and other toilet articles Waterproof matches Pocket or sheath knife Rope (25- or 50-foor length) Insect repellent Flashlight and candles (preferably plumbers candles because they burn longer) Cooking kit (nesting pots, frying pan, forks, spoons, can opener, scouring pads, paper or aluminium plates Sewing kit Mosquito netting Camera and film
— C. William Harrison - The First Book of Hiking, 1965

I particularly like the sound of plumbers candles.

Posted on November 30, 2011 and filed under Gear List.

Trangia Storm Cooker

Trangia Storm cooker, Model 25

Trangia Storm cooker, Model 25

My love affair with Trangia began at a very early age. My dad had owned one since before I was born, although he wasn't much of a hiker he is a "Swedophile" and a lover of robust, well made kit.

My early years camping with him and my brother we're more about car camping, we had a two burner stove which was somehow rigged up to the same gas bottle my dad used for his blowtorch. This often led to an ignited hose coming loose and flailing violently around the tent for a few exciting seconds before we could kill the gas and begin firefighting operations. Highly entertaining at the time but on reflection actually quite dangerous. At this time the Trangia was used more for its pots and pans. But as we got older and our holidays became more adventurous, we ditched the giant four person tent, the gas cooker got left at home and the Trangia became the workhorse.

The Trangia company has been around since the mid 1920's;  founded in Sweden by John E. Jonsson and his father-in-law, they started out making household cookware and also developed a range of camping sets, kettles, mess tins, fry pans, mugs and plates.

The Trangia name is a shortening of the village name Trångsviken, a small town in Sweden where Trangia is still based, it is combined with the initials "IA" - "I aluminium," translation "out of aluminium" or "in aluminium."

In the late 1940's there we're few truly portable camping stoves. The ones that were available ran on solid fuel tablets in one form or another. There were spirit burning stoves on the market, but these we're intended for indoor use to supplement a wood fuelled stove.

When visiting a sporting goods shop in Östersund Mr. Jonsson was asked if the meta-stoves (a brand of all-in-one solid fuel stoves) were any good. He replied "Yes sure, but it would be better off with a stove that was run with methylated spirits" This became the mission of the Trangia company and lead to the birth of their Storm Cooker.

Their plan for the Trangia stove was simple

It had to be a stove for the average person, easy to use, easy to clean and it would contain everything you need to cook one meal during the camping trip, and the coffee pot was important.
— John E. Jonsson

In 1951 the first Trangia stove, the model 25, was finished, and looked almost identical to the current Trangia. The company had taken what had gone before and refined it. This constant evolution continues to this day encompassing cutting edge materials and the accommodation of new burner types.

Trangia Storm cooker, Model 25

Trangia Storm cooker, Model 25

Over the last 50 years hundreds of people have bought and loved Trangia stoves. This beloved piece of kit has written itself into the history books of hiking and will continue to do so. As well as this its burner construction has been used as a template for numerous ultralight stoves. The simple, reliable, safe, indestructible construction and constantly evolving design of the Storm Cooker has ensured that it will firmly stand the test of time.

I finally bought my own Trangia in 2005 after many years of borrowing others'- a smaller model 27, and it has been a companion on every multi-day hike I have done since. Even though there are newer, lighter, more efficient stoves none will hold such a place in my heart or my backpack.

Using My Trangia on the Overland Track

Using My Trangia on the Overland Track

Much of this information and imagery was sourced from the Classic Camp Stoves forum with the help of Spiritburner and his many contributors. He put a lot of legwork in and was able to get in touch with Malin Svensson from Trangia who provided much of the historic details.

Trangia timeline courtesy of Malin Svensson.

1925 -The company Trangia starts to produce cooking ware for households
c1935 - produces the first camping set, no 24
1951 - the first prototype to the Trangia stove was finished, model 25
End of 1950's - the Trangia stove comes in a smaller model, 27
Early 1960's - the holder for the burner moves from upper to lower windshield.
1964 - 1976 - Produced the larger burner for the Military Mess kit for the Swedish Army (the kit is not a Trangia item)
1969 - fry pan in nonstick
Early 1970's - hooks and the ring on the windshield is changed to stainless steel
Early 1970's - the handle is now made with holes
1979 - winter attachment for the burner
1987 - saucepans in nonstick
1985 - Mini Trangia, originally made for multi sport competitors
1988 - Gas burner is available to the Trangia stove, manufactured by Scorpio & later Epi Gas
1988 - the windshield is manufactured with bayonet coupling
1993 - sauce pans and fry pan in Duossal (stainless steel/aluminum)
1995 - the Gas burner is made by Primus
1998 - sauce pans and fry pan in Titanium
2001 - multidisc 27+25 is available
2002 - Multifuel burner from Optimus
2006 - new thinner material in sauce pans and windshield,Ultralight aluminum & hard anodized
2010 - Multifuel burner is made by Primus
2010 - Trangia Triangle is available
2010 - Trangia is already a registered Trademark but now the Trangia Stove is also a registered 3D shape which protects the stove from unlawful copying.

Posted on November 13, 2011 and filed under Classic Kit.