Camping Food

02 October 2018
Every October long weekend for the past 15 years my family goes camping. We go to the same spot with the same core group of people and often enjoy the same foods, stories and relaxation year after year. It doesn't get boring though, I look forward to it each year.

It's an opportunity to really disconnect. There is patchy to no service, no mod-cons and three days in the Aussie bush. Just a few tents, a caravan and a fire on the banks of the Lachlan river.



One of the things I love about this weekend is the food traditions baked into it (pardon the pun). I think food is such a great connector to time and place. Some of the foods we eat while on this particular camping weekend are not things I normally make or eat at home. Some foods are reserved purely for this weekend alone. This builds anticipation as well as great food traditions.

I thought I'd share a few pics and stories with you about the food from our camping weekend....

For the past six years I've been making a special baked treat to come along to camping weekend. These are a nostalgic flashback from our 80s childhood in rural NSW.  I searched high and low for an authentic recipe that tasted just like the ones we bought from the bakery back in the day. I was pretty chuffed when I found the right one. Enter the mushroom....



Now, you likely haven't heard of these little guys. Not many people have. But they, along with vanilla slice, were my go to bakery item treats on the VERY rare occasions it was on offer as a kid. These days if you find a 'mushroom' in a bakery it's likely to be filled with a lot of artificial tasting mock cream. But the 80s version was mock cream made from scratch - which is basically sugar and butter = delicious. The pastry is a cross between shortbread and shortcrust, there is a dollop of strawberry or raspberry jam in the bottom and a little sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

Each year I make a big batch to take out and we enjoy it with a cup of tea made on the billy for morning smoko (Aussie bush/farm talk for morning tea).

The other tradition-laden meal of our trip is the camp oven dinner. My dad has perfected cooking a big hunk of meat and lots of veg in the camp oven over the coals. No fancy sauces, herbs or even seasoning - just simple flavours and a hint of campfire taste.

In the early years we enjoyed the camp oven for just one meal over the weekend, but lately my dad has been spoiling us with it twice in the one weekend. Bonus.



Also on the menu is the morning fry up of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and tin spaghetti on the side. Toast is cooked over the fire and a cup of tea (or 3) from the billy washes it all down. Lunch is usually a BBQ cooked in an old plow disc with some rustic 'chips' served up with a salad or popped between two slices of bread and heartily enjoyed. There is also often a nice afternoon antipasto platter enjoyed with a few glasses of chilled wine and a game of scrabble (or 3) - my sister & I's nod to our appreciation for foods outside of the 'Aussie tucker' repertoire.

It's great now to see the kids really enjoying the different aspects of the weekend too and starting to get involved in the food traditions. This year my 13 year old niece whipped up some damper batter and we cooked it on sticks over the open fire, slathered it with butter and enjoyed it while trying not to burn our mouths. I feel a new tradition emerging....

How about you - any big family food tradtions outside the normal festive season stuff?
Did you get up to much on the long weekend if you had one?

8 comments

  1. It sounds wonderful, Laura.
    I've never done camping, but love family gatherings. They don't happen as often as I'd like though.

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    1. Camping is great Nil. I imagine there would be some pretty amazing spaces in the US to camp.
      Makes sense that family gatherings are a little trickier across continents!
      Cheers,
      Laura

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  2. love the look of those mushrooms. nope never heard of them before:) how marvellous to have traditions like the camping trips. cheers S

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    1. Family traditions are so great Sherry....especially when they revolve around food!

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  3. That all sounds so great Laura. My 'children' are in their thirties...living their lives, no grandchildren on the horizon yet. But I do remember griwing up in Qld...my parents would bundle my brother and I up early morning in the old VW beetle and drive to Cunningham's Gap. Dad would cook a big breakfast on his bbq plate, while we listened to the bellbirds and smelt the freshness of the rainforest. Great memories :) Maybe I need to initiate some new family memories soon...

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    1. Hey Karen, we actually started the camping trip 2 years before the first grandchild arrived when it was just the 'originals'. Perhaps you can get your clan involved in something...although not always easy when everyone is living their own lives.
      Thanks for sharing your childhood memories :)

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  4. Hey Laura, Yes I remember 'the mushroom'!!! I also loved the old-school neenish tarts, similar super-sweet bakery treat that you don't see often these days. Some country bakeries still do the good old stuff like a decent vanilla slice or a cream-filled lamington, but it's getting harder to find I reckon.
    I never mastered cooking in the cast iron camp oven but we still have it - I'll have to get it out next time we're camping!
    Cheers, Sally at One Family, One Planet blog

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    1. I can't pass up a good vanilla slice if i spot one! Yes, definitely harder to find - they are either filled with terrible artificial mock cream or gone to the next level in fanciness.
      I can take no credit for the camp oven - my dad is the master of that one...perhaps one day he'll share his tricks.
      Cheers,
      Laura

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