I still can’t get this damned food thing right!

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 17:39
ThreadID: 56697 Views:5493 Replies:17 FollowUps:9
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I’ve recently returned from two trips of about one week each in the bush, both trips consisted of driving from home to a bush location and staying there for a week without any contact with “civilisation” during that time so no opportunity to restock food from shops etc. The following whinge refers only to the main meal of the day; breakfast and lunch I’ve sorted out well but dinner is still causing a problem.

Originally: I planned recipes before I left and took the required ingredients with me: that didn’t work well because I usually forgot an essential ingredient and didn’t like being restricted to a set menu.

Next: took a wide variety of basic foodstuffs and my own “recipe book” – this worked reasonably well but I wasted a lot of space and weight by taking too much stuff which wasn’t used.

Last: started taking a number of packet sauces (idea was all the spices and sauces etc were in the one packet) and using frozen meat and veg plus rice/pasta for the base – problem is all the packet sauces taste horrible!

How do others handle the food thing? I enjoy my food and, especially, cooking in the bush so sausages and baked beans are _not_ an option :)

Other than that a good couple of trips although being in the High Country when Victoria had its “breezy Wednesday” was an interesting day :)

Mike Harding

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Reply By: Dunaruna - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 17:53

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 17:53
Hi Mike, before my wifes illness ruled out 'hermit' camping, we would spend weeks on end up at Winchester and Grant, we always ate like kings (and queens).

Fresh onions in a paper bag will keep for weeks in a dry dark storage, same with garlic.
For that matter, carrots, potatoes, leek etc etc all keep well in non humid climates.

What else does a furphy roast require? Bread! Not damper but proper bread. Make up the dry mix before you leave home Granule yeast), it will keep for 2 or 3 weeks. Cook it in the cast iron, pressed steel will cremate it.
AnswerID: 298885

Reply By: Member - Tim - Stratford (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 18:37

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 18:37
G'day Mike,

A bit on Better Homes & Gardens the other night gave me a few ideas. Fast Ed (the chef) threw everything for scrabbled eggs into a couple of ziplock bags and boiled it - looked ok - not sure about the plastic taste though.

It got me thinking. After whipping up apricot chicken & rice for the family tonight; I put the leftovers into a chinese container to freeze. Once frozen I'll use the ebay vaccuum sealer to seal it up and the 'AC' on the Boy's trip next week. I'll try boiling it up in the bag and eat from same - saving on washing up! Same theory will apply for spag-bol, stews etc.

I'll report back next Thurday - unless a dose of "Sal" has me in intensive care!

AnswerID: 298894

Follow Up By: Patrolman Pat - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 18:47

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 18:47
I usually pack a couple of single serve sized tupperware containers of frozen bolognese sauce, chilli con carne, chicken curry etc with me. Move them from the freezer to the fridge the day before they are needed and just pop them in a pan next day, quick and easy.
FollowupID: 565065

Reply By: jdwynn (Adelaide) - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 19:27

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 19:27

We are big advocates for precooked (home cooked, not bought) meals. It minimises energy and water use whilst on trips which is very helpful. It obviously wont appeal in terms of your desire to cook in the bush, although it will take care of your issues under 'originally', 'next', and 'last'. But you could take a mix of precooked and ingredients for other meals - personally as long as I can cook damper in the bush I'll be happy!! Not sure if it's 100% correct, but I also think precooked meals (cryovaced or otherwise) should have lesser volume needs - probably more bias towards fridge use though. Good luck - it was an interesting post to consider.

Cheers JD
AnswerID: 298900

Reply By: Member - Warfer (VIC) - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 19:42

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 19:42
Hiya Mike

Cant help with the food but would like to know your trip Itinerary,looking at heading that way very shortly...

Whats wrong with cryovac stuff,some butchers have some very nice stuff marinaded etc etc

AnswerID: 298901

Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 20:35

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 20:35
I don't want to hear any complaints until you have tried this universal meal which requires no fridge stuff, lasts for months and which can be expanded as required to suit, and really only requires 1 pot.

Note -- I'm allowed to complain cause your in the bush and I'm working.

1/ At supermarket buy 1 off leggo's Pasta meal 390g in flavour you like - my guess will be Napoletana , and also some TVP.

2/ For 1 person measure out 1/3rd cup of TVP and cover with water for few minutes.

3/ Put noodles from packet into saucepan with a little water and warm then add pasta and TVP.

Heat it all up for a couple of minutes and enjoy!
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 298913

Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:15

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:15
For us acronymly challenged people, could you please decipher TVP?

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:28

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:28
Sorry Stu

TVP is textured vegetable protien - its a dry material that keeps indefinately and is used as a healthy meat substitute.

It aborbs moisture and can be used anywhere you might use mince meat but without the side effects.

At a club christmas party once the ultimate test of it was conducted. It was used with onion to make 2 hamburgers and whilst the speeches were given we all left the table which was covered in the usual chicken and ham stuff.

The local dog walked by , eyeing everything off , and yep , it knocked off our TVP based hamburgers.

Robin Miller

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Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:34

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:34
Thanks Robin.


They were obviously of better quality that the other stuff on the table.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 22:51

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 22:51
TVP? YUK Tastes like salt and not much else.

Red desert dreaming

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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 18:14

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 18:14
I've had a box of TVP in the roof pod for about 12 months now but - honest Robin - I'll give it a try next time out :)

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Sunday, Apr 20, 2008 at 06:48

Sunday, Apr 20, 2008 at 06:48
"The local dog walked by , eyeing everything off , and yep , it knocked off our TVP based hamburgers."

- don't let the RSPCA hear about your animal testing of food . :-)
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Reply By: rumpig - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:15

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:15
another vote for pre cooking meals, freeze in tupperware container and then remove from container when frozen and vacumn seal it.

plenty of meal choices, here's just a couple of quick ones
curried sausages, cook rice on the night of eating
spaggetti bog, just the mince and sauce part pre cooked and do the pasta part on the night.
AnswerID: 298928

Reply By: vicmark - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:49

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2008 at 21:49
I too am always looking for new ideas for camping menus. A favourite of my family is marinade chicken strips with soy sauce, honey, & garlic or lamb strips with rosemary, lemon garlic marinade of which I prepare in bulk & put into mealsize zip lock bags which I freeze. We love potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, or any veg wrapped in foil & cooked in the coals.

Baked apples wrapped in foil in the coals stuffed with sultanas, bannana, & nuts are popular too. Regards VM
AnswerID: 298940

Reply By: Andrea11 - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 05:00

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 05:00
We are about to head north for 3 months and I have been cooking furiously at home and cryovacing the meals which should last all of three weeks my reason for doing this was that all of these meals will be boil in the bag so I will have 1 pot that has only had boiled water in it then I will be able to use the water for the washing up. As for the rest of our meals I will have fresh meat that is cryovacced by the butcher as their machines are much better than the home ones to ensure that all the air is out of the bags and I'm told by a butcher friend there is no reason why meat shouldn't last like this in the fridge for at least 8 weeks but that is only red meat. I do have an engle and a fridge freezer in our caravan.

AnswerID: 298965

Reply By: Moose - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 13:38

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 13:38
G'day Mike
This reply has little info regarding bush cooking - I leave that to my wife to arrange. I may actually help with the process but the planning is all hers! Not chauvinistic - just practical - I'm essentially hopeless at it. Just one comment - I don't recall too many packet sauces in my wife's camping pantry - but she does use some of those in glass jars and I reckon they take quite OK.
Why I'm really replying is just to make a comment on the replies to date and how different people interpret the questions asked. I understood your post to indicate that you enjoy cooking in the bush and that you were after suggestions on recipes for that very purpose. If I've misunderstood then don't bother reading the rest!
Some responses have totally ignored the fact that you want to spend time cooking and offered suggestions on minimising the bush cooking experience by doing the cooking at home. Interesting.
Cheers from the Moose
PS Always enjoy reading your posts and seeing what you've been up to. Take care.
AnswerID: 299006

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 18:19

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 18:19
Hi Moose

It is interesting how people interpret a post and that is both one of the strengths and weaknesses of the internet - replies which are on a tangent can lead to new ways of thinking as often as they can clog things up - I guess (as my old mum used to say) "It'll all come out in the wash" :)

Take care too Moose.

Mike Harding
FollowupID: 565204

Reply By: Nifty1 - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 13:47

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 13:47
Mike, your problem is the gin, I think. It sounds like you're not having enough. If you have enough gin, or beer or wine in the late afternoon, then your dinner always tastes good!

AnswerID: 299008

Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 18:21

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 18:21
You are, clearly, a man of much wisdom. I shall follow your advice to the letter.

Eeeerrrrr... hang on a mo... I already do that...?

Mike Harding :)
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Reply By: Best Off Road - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 14:10

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 14:10

Trying to think of food that doesn't need refrig.

Fray and Bentos Steak and Kidney Pie that comes in a tin. I reckon it would cook well in moderate coals, just pearce the tin first. Serve with some tinned spuds and tinned peas & corn all heated in the one pot.

There are some good quality tinned soups and casseroles these days also.

Bread products; Tortillas come in vac bags and last for ages. Pumpernickel keeps for ages and is a real delicacy topped with sliced hard boiled eggs and anchovies.


AnswerID: 299012

Reply By: Steve63 - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 15:01

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 15:01
Hi Mike,
If you don't preset the menu you are commiting to carring surplus supplies. You can minimise some of the space by putting spices/herbs into ziploc bags and using optional add ons like couscous/rice/pasta. A lot of things can be done as mix and match. We eat well while away. We have a few tins of muck for emergency use. I take the basis items flour etc as who knows when you may decide to have pancakes etc. For more complex things like lamb and apricot curry I premix the spices in the correct proportions and put it in a ziploc bag. So just brown onion, lamb, add spice mix, bit of water and simmer in camp oven, add tin of apricots 10 minutes before the end and you are done.

Loin pork chops can be done as an acceptable roast in a camp oven with relavent veg or done as chops.

The current menu plan (usually not consumed in the written order or as described) gives a gauge of what you need.

Items on the list include standards like chops/steak etc with veg/salad. Then roast pork, various different styles of curry, stews, stroganoffs, fricassees, stir frys, baked spuds. With a bit of forethought you can have quite a good menu. Some things have a away version that has been simplified.

AnswerID: 299021

Reply By: Mike Harding - Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 18:25

Thursday, Apr 17, 2008 at 18:25
Thanks everyone for your replies and please keep chipping in with new ones.

I'm kind of thinking that I may need to revert to my "Next" solution, mentioned in the original post, but learn to be a better cook with regard to the use of spices and herbs particularly.

Mike Harding
AnswerID: 299048

Reply By: bargainbetty - Saturday, Apr 19, 2008 at 15:34

Saturday, Apr 19, 2008 at 15:34
Hi there,

I generally do all the cooking / planning of meals when we go away and I also enjoy the cooking experience in the bush so here are some of my ideas.

1) - Go for one pot things (for ease of cleaning). Curries are great and can be beef / lamb / whatever. They generally only require meat, spices and veggies such as onion, carrots, garlic, potatoes and others that are easy to keep well. I usually make a huge curry and use the leftovers in jaffles the next day (cooked in the fire coals of course.

2) - Instead of fresh herbs (which take up a bit of space) use herbs from fresh food section of supermarket that are already packed in sachets. Saves on space and there are huge options to take. Herbs and spices (if used well) will add heaps of flavour to your dishes.

3) - Hungarian Goulash. This is a cracker and the boys love it every time. Google it and make sure you can do it in one pot. Spice it up with paprika if you love spice!!! Clue - when doing the dumplings, make sure you don't lift the lid once they are all in the pot. This ensures that they are steamed not boiled - much tastier! I can post a recipe if requested

4) - Easy carve roasts from the butcher. Again, just using one pot. Throw it all in and open a red, sit back and wait for it to cook!

5) - Fish (this only works with good fresh fish). Get a whole fish and score it. Rub in herbs such as garlic, lemongrass, coriander and anything with a thai flavour. A little oil or butter and wrap it up in foil and cook in a on the inside rack. Open and enjoy - don't over cook.

6) - Best hint is to enjoy a drink while cooking. I am also a big believer in the fact that the chef should NEVER do the dishes!!
AnswerID: 299302

Reply By: davmac452 - Saturday, Apr 19, 2008 at 15:43

Saturday, Apr 19, 2008 at 15:43

Stir fry, frozen if short trip, or the packeted fresh vegies are good too. With some rice paper this makes excellent spring rolls. Use the hot water option to soften rice paper.

Roasts are always easy to cook in camp oven, tip is dont put camp oven over coals, the coals need to go on top of the camp oven, prevents a charred mess on bottom.

Potatoes can also be BBQ'd to make chips.

Packet pastas, tortelini and the favourite sauce are good too, one pot cooking. just get rid of the last bit of pasta before coffee!

Lastly, be adventurous, anything you can cook at home without a microwave can also be done over a good bed of coals. and this is the important bit, raging flames dont cook well, hot coals do!
AnswerID: 299303

Reply By: John R (SA) - Saturday, Apr 19, 2008 at 17:14

Saturday, Apr 19, 2008 at 17:14
Like you Mike, I am not a fan of packet sauces.

I draw up a rough menu for the period, and tend to base most meals on things which can be cooked in one pot, largely consisting of a few easily stored vegies; spuds, sweet spud, onion, carrot.

The other part of our cooking arsenal is a collection of herbs & spices (unfortnuately it's not really practical to take fresh stuff, but dried jars of things like; paprika, lemon pepper seasoning, moroccan seasoning, lemongrass, cinnamon, coriander, mixed herbs, salt, pepper etc), soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, a hanful of commercial bottled marinades/sauces.

Then it just comes down to experimenting!

Good luck.
AnswerID: 299306

Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Sunday, Apr 20, 2008 at 06:57

Sunday, Apr 20, 2008 at 06:57
If you like some bread with your MEAL COOKED ON THE CAMPFIRE, and you want to save time, you can freeze the dough after it has been mixed and knocked down in a Breadmaker.

Then at camp, you only have to bake it. Get a food thermometer to check the temperature in the camp oven, to avoid cremating it.
AnswerID: 299387

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