It’s that time of the year again to pack-up (all but the kitchen sink) and go wild! Yes, it’s time to go camping! If your family is anything like mine then a camping trip always begins and ends with the question: “What are we going to eat?” Through many years of trial and error, I have honed packing, and cooking, in the bush to a fine art.
Here are some of my top tips:
Cheat (well)! Buy as much as possible in the way of pre-marinated meats (steaks, sosaties and ribs), pre-mix breads, ready-made curries and salads. There will be less to pack and ultimately, less to wash up! But mostly it provides variety to your meals.
Always pack boerewors. It’s a lifesaver on any camping trip – perfect for feeding hungry kids in a flash or making a spectacular farm-style breakfast for champions (remember to buy frozen or freeze it before you go, this way it will last longer).
Don’t forget the potjie. Aside from a lekker, slow potjie lunch, you never know when you may need to boil some extra water, whip-up a pasta or even make a nice hearty bowl of Jungle Oats. It always comes in handy.
The braai grid is a must. It is an essential piece of camp equipment when cooking over the coals and most campsites don’t supply one.
Oh, and don’t forget Ouma, rusks that is. There is nothing more delicious than a really rich tasting rusk dunked in your coffee in the morning as you huddle close to the fire for warmth.
And last, but not least, make sure you have stocked up on plenty of biltong and droëwors. This has saved my neck (and my reputation as a camp-guru) on more than one occasion.
Okay fellow campers, now that you know what’s on my checklist, I will expand on my last tip: Biltong!
I always make sure I have a good supply of this salty meat snack on hand. And believe me, it isn’t easy keeping little (and big) hands out of the stash. After all, we all know it’s the ultimate padkos (road trip) snack. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that it is an essential camping ingredient!
I hear you (shout), considering it as an ingredient to cook with may seem like sacrilege – but think about it, it’s packed with flavour, rich in nutrients and needs no refrigeration at all. I will admit, I was rather hesitant at first, having grown-up in a family where we guzzled the stuff, by the fistful, straight from the greased-stained bag. So how does one get to the point where you forgo all reason and tradition and throw a handful of biltong into a pan of well whisked eggs?
Let’s just say it started, or ended, with a warm cooler box of melted ice and a few bloated packets of bacon surfacing suspiciously from the depths like something from a horror movie. And how did it end? Turns out, pretty damn tasty! Here are a couple of my favourite camping creations using biltong. The recipes work best using wet, fatty biltong for some reason, I think the fat just adds flavour.
BILTONG AND POTATO OMELETTE
This was my first foray into cooking with biltong and I must say, it’s still one of my favourites. I use cold, leftover potatoes from the night before (the kind wrapped in foil and cooked in the coals), but baby potatoes work just as well.
Olive oil and or butter;
1 onion, sliced;
4-6 cold, cooked potatoes, cut into chunks;
2 tsp (10 ml) Ina Paarman Garlic and Herb seasoning;
1 Tbsp (15ml) Ina Paarman Potato spice;
3 handfuls of Cape to Cairo fatty, wet Biltong;
8 free-range eggs, whisked;
Salt and milled black pepper; and
Mrs Balls Chutney, for serving
Heat a cast iron pan or pot (Dutch oven pot) over medium hot coals or gas.
Add a good dollop of butter and/or oil and fry the onions and the potatoes until they are golden and beginning to crisp up.
Sprinkle over the seasonings and give it a stir.
Fold through the biltong and pour over the eggs.
Place the lid on top and dot over a few coals, this allows your pot to cook like an oven by creating heat all around (If you don’t have a lid wait for the bottom to get nicely browned and well-set then flip the whole lot with the help of a plate).
Cook for another few minutes, checking occasionally, until the egg has set.
Allow to cool slightly off the heat, then slice and serve with lashings of your favourite Mrs Balls chutney.
Kim’s Top Tip: You can replace the biltong with cold, flaked snoek too.
This is a great recipe because it is uber-versatile. You can make Roosterkoek (griddle cakes) by cooking small buns on a braai grid straight over the coals. Or try Stokbrood (stick bread) by wrapping it around a stick or Potbrood (pot bread) by cooking it in one of our flat-bottomed potjies. But for me, nothing beats a steaming hot vetkoek (fat cakes) slathered in butter and chunky apricot jam or better still, shredded biltong!
1 packet (410g) Gourmet Cravings Roosterkoek and Stokbrood mix;
2 Tbsp (30ml) Cremora powder (inside … not on top);
¼ cup (60ml) melted butter (plus extra for serving);
1 cup (250ml) Cape to Cairo shredded Biltong (plus extra for serving);
Large pinch of salt;
Sunflower oil, for frying; and
All Gold Chunky Apricot jam, for serving.
This takes a while to prepare, so munch on some biltong while waiting for the dough to rise.
Mix the flour mixture (reserve a little for dusting), Cremora, Biltong and salt in a large bowl.
Add the butter and enough luke warm water (1- 1 ½ cups) to the dry ingredients (just enough to create a soft, pliable dough and mix well).
Knead for 5 minutes then set aside to rise until it has doubled in size. This is where you should eat biltong.
Knock the dough back and shape it into golf ball-size pieces.
Allow the balls to rise until doubled in size again.
Heat the oil in a Potjie over medium coals or gas.
Fry the Vetkoek in batches until golden and cooked through. Drain them on kitchen paper and serve warm with plenty of butter, jam or more powdered biltong.
Kim’s Top Tip: Use ½ kg strong white flour and 5g of instant yeast if you don’t have the Gourmet Cravings Roosterkoek & Stokbrood mix.
Kids adore these toasties and what I often do is let them each cook their own toastie over the fire in one of our braai essentials, Jaffle Makers. A heavy pan works a treat for these but you could do them on a grid too, just remember to keep the heat low and slow so that the cheese gets all oozy and melty.
8 slices of white country loaf bread;
Lots of butter;
Couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese;
2 handful Cape to Cairo of wet Biltong;
A small handful of basil leaves;
Wellington’s Sweet Chilli sauce;
Knorr’s Aromat, for seasoning; and
Yet more Butter for frying
Lay the bread on a board and butter each slice liberally.
Divide all the ingredients between four slices and finish each off with a good squirt of Sweet Chilli sauce and a seasoning of Aromat.
Sandwich the bread with the remaining slices and butter the outsides.
Heat a pan over medium coals or gas and fry the toasties until well browned and the cheese is melted.
Serve hot out the pan, with a warning of molten lava-like cheese!
Kim’s Top Tip: Try using thinly sliced left-over steak for these too.
BEETROOT AND BILTONG SALAD
It’s always nice to have something fresh amongst all the smoky, braaied (bbq’d) food and that’s where this salad comes in. The greens aren’t essential, but they do lend a nice crispness to this salad. The tortilla is also completely optional, but it is a great way to use up the odd tortilla that is lurking in your cooler box.
1 red onion, sliced;
¼ cup (60ml) Knorr Greek salad dressing;
Mixed salad greens of your choice;
1 jar (405g) Koo Beetroot slices, drained;
2 handfuls Cape to Cairo sliced moist Biltong;
100g soft cheese like feta, goats or blue cheese; and
1-2 tortillas, toasted over the coals until crisp.
Pour the salad dressing over the sliced onions and set them aside to soften and pickled in the vinegary dressing (for about 30 minutes).
Tip the salad leaves onto a plate and dot over the beetroot slices.
Scatter over the Biltong and cheese, then spoon over the onions and the dressing.
Finally, crumble over the crisp tortillas and serve.
Kim’s Top Tip: This salad is delicious served with our delicious, thick cut, aged Blou Bull rump steaks or sticky pork ribs.
And there you have it; it doesn’t sound half as frightening or sacrilegious, now does it? I bet you are actually wanting to try some of these recipes now too. So go-on, I dare you, you won’t be sorry!
Here’s to happy camping, cold drinks, hot fire’s and many laughs!