Curried sausages on the campfire (but easily adaptable for the home kitchen just in case you didn’t figure that one out for yo’ self)


Welcome to another thrilling installment of “the things my ma cooked for dinner when I was a kid and now I cook them sometimes because I am disgustingly in love with nostalgia”.

The ol’ curried sausages were on high rotation as a midweek dinner option during my years at home. Woolies snags, a bit of Keen’s curry powder (one of the only “spices” in my Ma’s pantry. Seriously, I made a spice rack for my year 8 wood work project and it was home for the Saxa salt and pepper, and Keen’s curry powder. That was it), an onion and a couple of other bits and pieces all came together in the big pot to make our bellies very happy indeed. A scoop of either under cooked or over cooked rice on the side and dinner was sorted.

I have made it a little different because that’s just what I do but I think even my Ma would agree that the essence of the thing is still there.


CURRIED SAUSAGES

Serves 4

600 g sausages (beef or lamb is my choice but this is also perfect with pork, chicken or “of no specific origin” snags)
1 onion, large dice
5 garlic, roughly chopped
1 ½ tbls Keen’s curry powder
1 capsicum, large dice
1 zucchini, large dice
1 x 400 g tin diced tomato
1 x 400 ml tin coconut milk
Salt and pepper
Natural yoghurt, mango chutney, coriander and steamed rice, to serve

Heat a splash of oil in the pot that you will be cooking your curried sausages in. Add whole sausages and cook over medium heat for 6 – 7 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove sausages and set aside while you get the rest of this thing going on.
Using the same pot as the sausages were cooked in, sauté onion and garlic until starting to soften a little.
Add curry powder and cook out for 1 minute.
Slice cooked sausages into 2 cm pieces and return to pot with all other ingredients.
Simmer for 30 minutes over med – low heat.
Check seasoning and get it on the table, with garnishes somewhere also on the same table.
Camp fire or stove top, it’s Keen’s curry powder for the win.

Braised beef cheeks in drinkable red wine


At one time in the past I was of the opinion that the wine I used for cooking would not be the wine I would consume myself. In fact, the wine I used for cooking would be bottom shelf, cheap as, nasty assed goon*.

My opinions on more than one thing have changed in the last 20 years.

My opinion on the type of wine I should be cooking with was certainly not passed over by the opinion audit.

Now I am of the opinion that the wine you would like to cook with is also a wine that you would like to drink in your face. Maybe not necessarily that bottle you’ve been saving for your 50 year wedding anniversary, and certainly not a bottle you might drink at a teenage wedding or possibly a college art exhibition opening, but more of a “had a couple of drinks already and now I’m gonna pull you out of the cupboard and drink you all up” type bottle.

So that is the wine I have used to braised these beef cheeks for you right here today.

I have had the pleasure of using the fire to cook my dinner, but you can certainly use a pot on the stove top for yours.

The start of something good

Get a bit of colour on those cheeky cheeks
Add some sautéed mushrooms
Get it on a wooden camp table and serve some drinkable red wine in a mug to go with

BRAISED BEEF CHEEKS IN DRINKABLE RED WINE

(Serves 4)

1 kg beef cheeks, each cut into 3 pieces (a nice butcher will do this for you. A mean butcher will spit in your eye and then tell you to piss off)
100 g pancetta, sliced
1 onion, chopped roughly
3 carrots, cut into 5 or 6 pieces each – keep it chunky, keep it real
8 large cloves garlic, left whole and charred slightly on the coals (or raw chopped garlic will do just fine)
1 long red chilli, sliced
1 bottle of red wine
1x 400g tin diced tomatoes
500 ml beef stock or water
500 g button mushrooms, cut in halves or quarters depending on size
Salt and pepper

Heat a splash of oil in a heavy based pot or cast-iron camp oven over a medium-high heat. Add pancetta, onion, carrots, garlic and chilli, and sauté until starting to brown a little.
Add beef cheeks and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté beef cheeks for 10 or so minutes until they are browned and tasty bits are starting to grip a little on the bottom of the pot.
Pour in the wine, tomatoes and water, and stir to get all of the good bits off of the bottom of the pot and into the gravy.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 3 hours, stirring every half hour or so.
(While the beef cheek simmering is going on you can sauté your mushroom in a little oil and butter until they are browned. Set aside)
After 3 hours add the mushrooms to the pot and stir through.
Cover and simmer for one more hour.
Check that the beef cheeks are tender – they should be ready to be cut with a spoon by now. If not, simmer for another 15 minutes or until soft, adding a splash of water if the gravy starts to thicken up too much.
Serve with mashed potatoes, jacket potatoes or potato bake and green beans if you have some.
Eat it.

Damn well delicious

*Goon. Aust slang. Cheap arsed boxed wine. A wine one might drink in their teenage / university days.

Really tasty campfire pork and other campsite stories

campfire roast pork
It should be known that it is not very often that we will set up our tent at an actual caravan park. Very seldom in fact. I would (will) go so far as to say unless it is the only option, we ain’t going to do it.

This was one such occasion when it was our only choice, kinda like being left with that one 56-years-young cougar when the nightclub lights come on…

Jennee did the righteous thing by going out early to set up camp, as I would be catering for a party in the hills, and it would most definitely have me well into the night.

I did finally make it to that campsite though. After battling darkness, tiredness, a bad sense of direction (something I can only now far-from-happily admit I possess) and attempted ambushing’s by several bridge trolls, I got there. Safe arrival in the middle of the night is always an occasion that requires a mild celebration at the very least, so I cranked the fire back up to a small sun and consumed a few beers.

In the spirit of all things holy I was having myself a good time.

Sometimes, when you venture into that mysterious Stepford Wives-esque world that is the inner circle of the caravan park (trailer park. Yeah, you’re getting the gist of what I’m saying now, right?) in the middle of the night, you awake to a totally different world.

The night dwellers, carnies and swamp rats had scurried back into the underground homes prior to being licked by the first rays of morning sun, but there was still “the others”.

“The others” resided almost solely in caravan parks. They were renowned for their hoarding of volumes upon volumes of 1980s Mills & Boon novels and collections of random little side-show-alley-prize fluffy toys (paraphernalia from their time on the big top circuit, no doubt). From the moment they would awake each day they waited eagerly to get their daily dose of “the Hoff” in his glory years as some bloke on that one show about the lifeguards… Our neighbor for our stay was nothing short of poster-woman for these people.

As soon as Jennee pulled up next to the semi-permanent dwelling in her semi-suburban mostly-soccer mum car the neighbor was up off of her rocking chair on her recycled pallet wooden verandah questioning the very notion that someone would be camping next to her van. “They said there would not be any one camping near here,” she said. “They said they would not let anyone camp near here.”

Jennee had no solution except to quickly erect our tent like the boobies “au natural” would erect a certain part of a young man’s anatomy.

I did not know it yet but I was definitely afraid of the lady next door.

In the same breath I spoke about my fear of the strange woman next to us and how she would possibly come into our tent this night and horribly dismember us with her neighbor’s garden spade, I realised that she was probably so desperate for her solitude as she was sheltering her half goat, half man son from a world that couldn’t love him, and he was truly the one I should fear for he has tasted human before and he was damn keen to taste it again…

What was I talking about? It didn’t really matter. It never really matters…

I did start this little anecdote with the purpose of telling you about a lovely piece of pork I was given by a lovely lady named Sally who farms a few old breed pigs and was curious to know if I would like to use those very pigs in the restaurant. Yes Sally. Yes I would like to use your pork. Very tasty shit indeed!

There, I’m done.

If you can be assed, it's pretty nice when you make some bread to go with your dinner
If you can be assed, it’s pretty nice when you make some bread to go with your dinner

Tasty, crunchy crackle up front, fields of green out back
Tasty, crunchy crackle up front, fields of green out back
Really tasty pork
Really tasty pork
Roasty vegetables with a bit of dukkah so they know we love them
Roasty vegetables with a bit of dukkah so they know we love them
Carve it up. Do it quickly
Carve it up. Do it quickly
Just eat it all up now
Just eat it all up now

CAMPFIRE PORK ROAST with VEGETABLES & ZA’ATAR (serves 4)

1.5kg rolled pork shoulder roast from Sally
1 onion, sliced roughly
3 medium potatoes, chopped kinda chunky like you would for a roast
1-2 carrots, chopped kinda chunky
2-3 zucchini, chopped kinda chunky too
5 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat edge of a knife
Salt & pepper
Za’atar
1 camp oven or witches cauldron

• Season the skin of the pork. When you think you have seasoned it enough you should probably season it a little more
• Place pork into camp oven resting in medium (170-180C) coals, rotating every 30 minutes for 2 hours
• Add vegetables, and a splash of cider if you have some in your hand, to the bottom of the camp oven and get it back into some coals. Put a few coals on the lid so the crackle starts to get a little sexy
• After 30-40 minutes it should all be smelling pretty fricking nice so maybe carve that piece of pork up, sprinkle some za’atar over the vegetables and eat it in your face
• A very nice piece of pork indeed

Have some billy tea
Have some billy tea

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 food and other interesting stuff

Where has your favourite food-blogging filthy-mouthed pirate been? Been camping, that’s where.

I guess the definition of camping could be a lot of different things to a lot of different people… much like the phrase “no, you may not enter through my back door”.

For some it is a reason to avoid showering for a few days, drink some rum, and eat mighty white and Woolies sausage sangas for every meal. For others it means they will leave home with nothing short of the Ritz Carlton in tow, hot shower and flushing toilets are not an optional extra. And for others still, a lonely goat pulling a goat skin covered wagon (made from the last lonely goat’s bretheren no less) and cooking over a campfire is their life. Gypsy carnival folk are a fine example of this… but to me it is an opportunity to relax, hang out with the fam, throw a line in, maybe go for a swim and cook up some kick-ass food in an idealic kitchen boxed in only by beautiful nature and shit.

A typical camp day goes thus; I put on my ever-so-flary Elton John sequened one-piece, spend and hour getting my hair just right, then I… oh, not that camp day! I get up early to cook the family breakfast. A personal fave is something that goes by the affectionate moniker of “camp breakfast”. Bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms and beans all cooked in the same pan and then served by simply chucking forks in said pan, then placing pan and a few pieces of chunky char grilled toast in front of the ravenous hoardes. With breakfast done we’ll be off for a fish or maybe an early a.m swim, then return to camp to get something cooking slowly in the camp oven* for the evening meal, and maybe whip up something for lunch while I’m there. This is usually enough to get Jennee to break the shackles of her comfy chair and good book, and hop onto a dirty old log to eat. Then it’s another fish or swim or some other kind of nature focused type activity while the evening meal gets sexy.

Fire is about the only neccessity for me when I’m camping. It conjours up memories of weekend camping trips for me as a child. And watching my kids poking the fire as I write this with a good old fashioned pen on paper type scenario, the innocent facination with the greatest discovery in our world thus far (Yeah you read that correctly! Penicilin can get fucked. I’m allergic anyway. Seriously. That stuff takes me to a bad place) is obvious. They are addicted… as am I… as was my father… and his father before him. And yes, it is all fun until someone steps on a hot coal. But that is a lesson very quickly learned if your IQ is anything above 4.

Get the kids to put the tent up and get yourself a beer
Get the kids to put the tent up and get yourself a beer
Make a little mix of sea salt and pepper to take with you. We are not heathens!
Make a little mix of sea salt and pepper to take with you. We are not heathens!
chicken and lamb with tomato, onion, carrot and anchovies
chicken and lamb with tomato, onion, carrot and anchovies
Cook it in the camp oven
Cook it in the camp oven
I want to eat that
I want to eat that… and the potatoes that are roasting in the coals in the background
I am going to eat that
I am going to eat that
I am eating that
I am eating that
To quote Aussie box office hit of the ‘90s, The Castle, “how’s the serenity”
To quote Aussie box office hit of the ‘90s, The Castle, “how’s the serenity”

We didn’t even brush our teeth. Mostly because I forgot the tooth brushes,but we happily piggy backed in a “stick it to the man” with that. Don’t tell Jennee though because she’s pretty picky about oral… hygeine that is.

*the camp oven. A large cast iron pot with lid, for cooking on an open fire. The Australian version of the witches couldron.

Camp food (cooking with wood) part 1…

Camp oven roast lamb with cannelini beans, tomato and olives

Camp food? Cooking with wood? Oh my how the images flow into my head…

Cooking with wood (hehem) is something I am a fan of, in more ways then one. Hey, I’ve told you before, food excites me, yeah. If I may indulge myself (going to anyway); the last few or more posts we’ve put up have been from holidays, camping trips and weekends at other peoples houses. Yet we still keep writing, eh. I never asked for a holiday from good food, oh contraire. I think I spend considerable time spruiking the opposite. Maybe the name of this blog, or my subtle-as-a-sledgehammer-between-the-eyes comments are a clue. Maybe not.

Was that even a segue? Who knows? WGAF?

So I ask you, what virtue of cooking on a wood or coal fueled fire isn’t to be appreciated (or what’s not to like about cooking with wood. Hehe)? You get to light a fire for start. How is that not fun? Unless you’re 10 and you set fire to the block of land next door and the fire dept. has to come and put it out and then your mum gets hella pissed at you and you still remember how bad you “got it” 25 years on… There couldn’t be too many chefs out there who would not agree with the merits of a wood fired grill or oven. Mmm, smokey goodness. I don’t like them anyway…

The actual story about camping.

There’s the rolling sound of the ocean licking the shore (yeah. I did good at making that sound pervy eh?), birds having a happy time waking you up at 5am, the ocean to swim in, the river to swim in after you go in the ocean so you don’t turn into a walking salt-flat, a wood fuelled combustion cooking and heating system AKA. The fire, cooking on the aforementioned fire, the enviro-friendly composting toilets, faecal matter caked to the sides of the bowl… other peoples faecal matter… that fat bogan chick who just got back from a boar hunting trip up norths faecal matter… no flush in site… OK. There may be one or two things about camping I’m not so into, but I’m going to let that slide. The food we cook on the fire more than compensates.

This night we decided it would be leg of lamb in the camp oven, with cannellini beans, tomatoes, olives, anchovies (you guessed it) and herbs.

Camping mis en place. Bring some cool shit. It’s not that effing hard people. Unless you’re trekking through the Himalayas with only a backpack in which case you’re excused. Unless #2, you spent three bucks a day on a Sherpa in which case load him up. Get your three bucks worth dammit. Those guys love carrying shit for fat American tourists*… it’s not that I don’t like fat American tourists. It’s just that, well, nobody likes fat American tourists. The skinny ones are heaps nicer. Bahahahaha… haha… ha… ha… hmmm.

Dig upwards Grazza. Dig upwards.

Once your piece of lamb has reached the glory stage of its time with you, add the onions, garlic and anchovies and cook out until the onions are soft and starting to caramelise.

And then the rest goes in. A tin of crushed tomatoes, a tin of cannelini beans, olives, parsley and rosemary that I picked from our garden on the way out because I am a bit of a wanker like that…

Let it simmer kid. Let it simmer.

Note the camp salt and pepper mix there. Leave the saxa on the supermarket shelf and mix up some sea salt with freshly ground pepper. Stupid not to…

Eat it with only the light of a kerosene lantern to illuminate the path from the plate to your mouth. Leave your plates etc. out overnight so all the little night creatures can clean them for you. Then go to bed, we’ve got fuck loads of nothing to do tomorrow…

*Fat American tourist. Jennee commented that this term will probably lose me a lot of my American followers and I should take it out. I normally trust Jen with these sorts of things because she has a heaps better gauge for what’s fit for human consumption. Not this time though. You guys must realise by now that this is a big laugh to us. And if you don’t then you should go away because you smell and you make me want to self harm J