Black Rock Camping Day 2… banana cake and lamb in the camp oven (not at the same time though)

camp oven lamb
Black Rock Camping Day 2

It was a bit of a broken sleep last night as I was awoken numerous times by the pitter patter of a good hit of rain dropping to us from somewhere above. *Fun camping fact #1 – although the sound of rain dropping on a tin roof is nice, and somewhat therapeutic, the sound of rain dropping on the family tent is not.

I got up, mildly freaking out as to whether we had stowed our camera and other water resistant items. All good… we are getting a little wiser with age apparently.

Camp breakfast was one of many pans of bacon, eggs and sausages and pots of coffee and tea, all consumed to a background rendition of “let’s yell and scream heaps even though it’s only 6:30am” as recited by the Unruly Monkey-like Special Needs Children Choir. Beautiful. Welcome to the bush, fellow campers.

The kids were more than happy to clean the bowl… no washing up for us
The kids were more than happy to clean the bowl… no washing up for us

The cake in it's new home amongst the coals
The cake in it’s new home amongst the coals
That is some good looking shit right there
That is some good looking shit right there
And yes, it did taste as good as it looks
And yes, it did taste as good as it looks

Banana cake in the camp oven was next on the agenda, as we had never attempted cooking a cake in the coals before and let’s face it, if you need to subdue a group of unruly monkies what better way to do it than with bananas or a product that is a derivative of said bananas. We were prepared for this uprising of small monkey-like children and feeding time at the zoo went down a treat! This cake was kick-ass.

Chalk one point up to the clearly smarter adults. That’s one-nil suckers!

The unruly crew
The unruly crew

The men folk drank away the afternoon while the ladies made the tents look pretty and started to prepare our next meal… well, maybe it didn’t go down exactly like that… or even remotely like that, but I did get my ass into the kitchen (camp table near the fire) because I give not a fuck about the location, I just know that being in the kitchen is my time to shine. The cooking begun, we did manage to encourage a sneaky beer or two past our bearded lips just for the sake of it. We may have been glanced that “what the fuck are you doing” glare from a wifey or two but there was five of us men folk so that really didn’t mean a thing to us right now – power in numbers, strength of the brotherhood, dib dib dib and all that shit. We would face our respective lectures on our drive home I was sure but for now, another beer please my good man.

And then the wind and rain came suddenly and mercilessly as if I had just deemed their prize winning turnip nothing but a fraudulent, fiberglass butt-plug. They worked in unison swiftly to dampen our spirits and our spare underwear, but we battened down the hatches in a fashion worthy of a “sea farers hatch battening badge”, and then the rain left us and I finished cooking my camp oven roast lamb. But it wasn’t just camp oven roast lamb; it was camp oven roast lamb, adorned with camp mint sauce and root vegetables, worthy of a “damn tasty assed camp lamb roast award”. But I’m sure you don’t really give a shit about my crappy awards now, do you?

A few herbs make all the difference
A few herbs make all the difference

Oh dear good lord
Oh dear good lord
Ready to go
Ready to go
The mint sauce really lifted this meal way out of the realm of sausages, white bread and tomato sauce
The mint sauce really lifted this meal way out of the realm of sausages, white bread and tomato sauce

LAMB SHOULDER IN THE CAMP OVEN (for 4)

1 small lamb shoulder (about 1.5kg), bone in for the flavour and to give the kids something to gnaw on
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaf
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
1 bulb garlic, sliced through the middle horizontally
A couple of handfuls of root vegetables, all cut similar size
Mint sauce, to serve

• Rub the lamb down with the herbs, spices and seasoning
• Put it in the camp oven with ½ cup of water and cover with lid
• Move a few coals out of the fire and nestle the camp oven into these, shovel a few more coals on top. Leave it for 2 hours, occasionally turning camp oven and replacing coals
• While the lamb is getting sexy, make some mint sauce just so everyone knows how much of a bawsss you are
• After 2 hours add vegetables and garlic to the bottom of the camp oven and return to the coals for another hour or until everything is tender and delicious
• Carve it up and eat it with mint sauce, washed down with the finest booze your esky has to offer

CAMP OVEN BANANA CAKE (with dubious measurements)

4 eggs
250g unsalted butter, softened by the morning sun
4 cups self raising flour
4 super ripe bananas, chopped or mashed
1 cup sugar
Milk to make it into a thick cake batter consistency – probably about 1-2 cups

• Get the kids to mix this one up so as to keep them occupied for a few minutes
• Cream sugar and butter
• Add eggs
• Add bananas
• Add flour
• Add milk
• Bake on low coals in a lined camp oven for 45 or so minutes or until cooked. I’m sure a cake tin and domestic oven will do the job just fine, too

K.

I’ll be back tomorrow with some more camp goodness.

*If you like the idea of camp oven cooking and you want to know more, there are some fine folks who have created a facey page that is all about the answers you seek. You can find it here

Camping, camp seasoning and camp food… and the passing of a great man

One of our favourites; Black Rock camp ground, Northern NSW
One of our favourites; Black Rock camp ground, Northern NSW

Everyone should go camping.

Even if you think you won’t like it, you should just try it once… just for me (Unless, of course, you have agoraphobia. If you have that you need to stay at home because I don’t want you freaking out my kids with all of your yelling and shit).

There is something about camping that my words will not let me explain to you. There is something about the air combined with the hum of the ocean combined with the lingering smoke. It is the crispness of the morning as the mist slowly reveals the surface of the river. It is (now that I have spawned) watching my children watching the fire as their own father did when he was a child… as did his father before him. It is the absence of the sounds and smells of the civilized world. And, it is the way I am made to feel at home like only the bush could do for a man with a beard such as mine.

When cooking breakfast for a crowd, employing the use of your family size paella pan is recommended
When cooking breakfast for a crowd, employing the use of your family size paella pan is recommended
Fresh sardines on toast… just waiting for a splash of home made tomato sauce
Fresh sardines on toast… just waiting for a splash of home made tomato sauce
Obi contemplating fire
Obi contemplating the goodness of fire

And of course there is the food.

As long as there is some kind of receptacle that may hold dead wood, which may in turn be set alight using nothing more than a regular household cigarette lighter or matches, that is. This installation, that we shall refer to as “the fire pit”, is then used as a source of heat to cook said food and also warm both your earthly being and spirit (I have found that a hip flask is also good in such occasions – not the cooking, but the warming of body and spirit). The food you cook on a set up like this cannot be repeated in an ordinary household kitchen. Why? Simply because you do not have a word fired stove. Every whisp of smoke that floats gently over your food, caressing it with it’s loveliness, is camping gold.

A big, fat rump cooked in the coals
A big, fat rump cooked in the coals
Liberally sprinkled with camp seasoning and served with roast potato, pumpkin, carrot and onion all cooked in the coals… we are not heathens
Liberally sprinkled with camp seasoning and served with roast potato, pumpkin, carrot and onion all cooked in the coals… we are not heathens

Which brings me very neatly to my next port of literary call; camp seasoning.

As we sat around the fire (not singing a chorus of “Kumbayah” thank fuck. I would have quite possibly punched myself fair in the nuts if that had have gone down) drinking our tea, we spoke about the taste of a brew from the coals and just how damn good a simple cup of tea can be when licked by the wisps of smoke that shall be affectionately known as “camp seasoning”. I definitely come for a world where everything can be made better by a dose of smoke. A big hit of tasty, tasty, smoky sexual emanation from the coital union of wood and flames.

Another cracking breakfast; fried chorizo and tomato...
Another cracking breakfast; fried chorizo and tomato…
With eggs chucked in the same pan. Hell yeah!
With eggs chucked in the same pan and once again, a good hit of camp seasoning. Hell yeah!

I’m getting aroused.

But that’s my camping experience. It’s a different beast for different people, I can understand. As I walked along the dunes today I did notice a lot of solar panels and I-pads to keep the kids occupied. Not for me, but I say that as I type away on my laptop… now contemplating the irony of the situation… now contemplating what irony is… now remembering the line from the BBC classic “Blackadder” when Baldrick suggested that irony was “just like tinny and coppery… just irony…”

And that shall segue me nicely, but with a heavy heart, into my next subject; the passing of one of my all time favourite actors slash comedians – Rik Mayall. A legend of many BBC classics such as “The Young Ones”, “Filthy Rich and Catflap”, “The Comic Strip” and, of course, “Blackadder”, in which he played the boisterous Lord Flashheart – purveyor of anything male a woman may want for. RIP Flashy. Woof, Woof!