The Camping Cookbook by Annie Bell

As promised here is my review of Annie Bell’s latest book which we took with us when we hauled ourselves and our four kids off to the Isle of Wight for a fresh air adventure over the half term week.

I have one to give away so leave a comment at the end of this post if you’d like it and I’ll do a draw next  Sunday 20th June and pop the winner’s shiny new book in the post on Monday 21st!

This is a beautifully written, evocative book which instantly brought back memories of The Famous Five and Swallows and Amazons which I devoured as a child (and which my children, disappointingly, won’t touch with an oar dripping with sunlight never mind a barge pole). From page one I was re-captivated by the romance of camping and raring to go, I added the book to the Belly column in my 7Bs, made up camping marinade, packed the camping store cupboard (hers is much the same as my own with the addition of jerk seasoning but without sweet chilli sauce) and set off.

The book is really well laid out, all the dishes are practical and most can be cooked in one pot on a burner or fire, there are sections for Cowboy Brunches and Famous Five High Teas, ideas if unexpected guests pop into your camp for drinks and bedtime comfort food (cocoa laced with rum…onto a winner there!).

The photographs (taken on location in the UK and France) are gorgeous showing idyllic camping scenes with crisp, cream canvas tents and blazing sunshine. The family play cards, sit on gingham table cloths and drink tea brewed in a teapot.

Annie doesn’t mention inclement weather with more than a passing whisper but when we were faced with the inevitable torrential downpour on day one the book came up trumps. Breakfasting on pitta pockets oozing with melted dark chocolate and supping coffee made for happier people than would otherwise have been the case!

I have to admit to adapting the recipes mercilessly mainly because we are veggies and the book is not but also because that’s what I do. The book lends itself well to this; crispy duck hash with scrambled omelette went down a treat (with quorn replacing the duck) and Frankfurter Goulash was yummy with veggie frankfurters. The recipes are delicious and unpretentious and they can all be cooked in a field with the minimum of fuss and equipment.

If you are a person who casts your line and hooks things out of the water there are ideas for what to do with your catch. If you are a Glamper ( a new one on me but apparently with the recent increase in popularity of a holiday under canvas/nylon this is a new breed, the glamorous camper, I will never achieve this) there are Glamping Sausages which come with a side order of oysters, crushed potatoes and a green salad. There is Chicken Tagine with Pine Nuts and Raisins and Cowboy Coffee Beef alongside Baba Ghanoush and Feta with Pistachios in Honey. Desserts include Crepes Suzette and Peach Crumble. They can all be done, they are all possible and they make for camping like kings.

Above all, this is a book which puts the joy into camping cooking. It is lovely to flick through and drool over, it comes with a practical plastic cover and it made me dream of wild camping away from the crowds. I want the children to gather sticks so I can cook Tumbet and cous cous over a beach fire then we can lie on our backs looking at the stars before eating a supper of Pirate Bananas followed by a mug of cocoa and Best Biscuits for Dunking.

Annie Bell’s Camping Cookbook has earned its place on my B list and will be coming with us again in a few weeks time. I think it will end up well-thumbed and bookmarked with food stains and loose pages, all the signs of a good cookbook!

If you want to win a copy of this book I have one to give away, leave me a comment telling me why you love/hate cooking while camping and I will draw the winning name out of a hat on 20th June! If you don’t want to win it please still leave a comment because I love them and they make me happy, just tell me you don’t want one because you hate camping/cooking/both!

This post is also written as part of Suzie’s Kindness Club over at New Day New Lesson as it is my copy I will be sending out to the lucky winner (a copy kindly given to me by Annie’s publisher Kyle Cathie) and I am going to go out and buy myself another!


Filed under Camping, Chris Cooks, Holidays with Kids, Reviews

40 responses to “The Camping Cookbook by Annie Bell

  1. What a nice idea. Did you link this post up in the linky that went up today?

  2. I love camping, it is my thing to do with the boys. I dont mind cooking whilst camping, but this book would bring so much needed inspiration to our lifes, plus MadDad cooks all the breakfasts on holiday and 20th is Fathers day, so you never kno if “he” win this then I may never ever have to cook on holiday again!!

  3. Thanks for this review, I was intrigued by it in your earlier post about getting prepared for camping and it didn’t disappoint!

    We are trying really hard to be more adventurous with cookery and as it’s not a skill that comes naturally to me I’m grateful for any helpful books and advice! Camping is one area where we’ve found it difficult to think of things are different and yet easy to cook in limited conditions or without ready access to a supermarket so it sounds like this book will be really helpful – I may even buy it if I don’t win! We already love camping as a family, and being able to cook really good food as well would just top it off.

  4. What a great review! And this looks like the exact book I’ve been looking for. Every year we go camping for four nights, as there’ve always been too many of us to afford a hotel and pricey amusements, and so that’s our vacation. The main activity I find myself planning for is all the cooking. But it’s all become so boring and uninspired, and as the kids grow older, their tastes aren’t as easily satisfied. This year, only four of the kids are coming along, late next month, but I want to make it the best trip ever, and not spread around my stress over mealtime.

  5. I hate cooking when we camp. When they all inquire what is there to eat, I get blank faces, all that is said is ‘oh’. The book sounds like the inspiration I need, as the only veggie in the family being able to adapt is very cool. Although I doubt that I would ever serve food to the boys within a 100m of a white canvas tent!

  6. Have to say this sounds really good and as I’m hoping to camp through Europe with our three kids a copy would be really handy!! :-p

  7. I think every camper should take my hubby with them on holiday. We’ve just returned from France and although we were in a static mobile home (I know…it’s cheating) old Ray Mears did all the shopping and cooking on the barby: I was on washing up duty, more’s the pity.
    We are booked to go again in the summer so some culinary inspiration for my own hunter-gatherer would be ideal!

  8. Helen Harrison

    This looks like a great book!

    I would actually eat anything whilst camping, but my family are a different matter. We usually go for typical BBQ fodder or some kind of pasta/veg/sauce concoction. It’s a good job we only manage 3 days max!

    We definately need more inspiring meal ideas. I will certain try the chocolate pittas, and hopefully I’ll be able to try the other recipes too😉

  9. The thing I struggle most with whilst camping is the lack of refrigeration. We don’t often have hook up and if we take the plug in cooler box it has to be turned off over night so the car actually goes in the morning🙂
    Milk is still a big morning and evening issue with my LM, I’ve never quite figured it out really – any ideas gladly received and I’d love that book, pop me in the draw please!

    • I use campsites that have ‘freezy block’ exchanges – get a new few each day for about 20p while yours refreeze, works for us – we never use electricity, just a cool box.

    • I have taken to buying only what we need to avoid the refrigeration problem! Many campsites will freeze your freezer blocks for you and Annie Bell suggests asking local shops to pop them in their freezer for a couple of ours if you are somewhere without this facility! (Not sure I’d have the nerve!) You have been popped in!

  10. I don’t actually go camping but you make it sound so much fun. I think I would go only to eat the pitta pockets with chocolate…

  11. veryanniemary

    As soon as you mentioned rum in hot chocolate you had me smiling! That is what I would order at a little alpine cafe on the slopes in austria where I skied ooooh – 20 years ago. I would go to the top run, ski to the cafe, warm up with a hot chocolate and rum and then weave my way down to the village…..not easy on skis – but I practiced – a lot….

  12. Sounds really good. We love camping and are actually taking C on her first camping trip this weekend.

    We do tend to eat the same things over & over though so this looks like its a really handy book to have when you’re lacking inspiration!

  13. Thanks, what a great review! I hate cooking when we camp: we all feed on large salads, sandwiches, fruit and all things that should not be cooked, but the book sounds like the inspiration I need!
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    ricettebarbare at gmail dot com

  14. as a camping enthusiast this looks like a book I really can’t do without!! What a great start to a summer camping season to have some new recipes!

    I love cooking while camping but also like it to be one pot/pan cooking!! best is obviously a fried breakfast! and I have a camp toaster which I adore, (and a whistling ktetle for tea!) some new recipes would be fun!

  15. Helen

    Well what a perfect post! I love camping and I live and breathe cookbooks! The sense of achievement from making and eating a mere bacon butty when on a campsite is second to none! Just love it! Fairly new to camping (I have to admit I am verging on the realms of glamping!) new cookery ideas will always be welcome! Hx

  16. What I hate about campsite cooking is the washing up afterwards! I like my creature comforts and the dishwasher is high on the list. It’s also a real drag when it’s raining. What I love about the cooking is the sense of achievement when you have actually produced something edible in very primitive conditions! On a few camping trips with friends we all take one meal pre-cooked that can just be reheated. I did one of Nigella’s stews (sadly very meaty) and we didn’t eat it until the Sunday. It was delicious!

  17. ps I’d love the book as we are going camping for my birthday a week on Friday x

  18. Josh

    Hi there!

    I’ve just returned from a beautiful three day camping trip and we ate really well.

    This cookbook sounds fantastic — using the least amount of cooking materials required is ideal but that doesn’t mean having to eat noodles for your entire adventure!

    Thanks so much for your review.

  19. Deb

    Oh you sold me when you mentioned pitta pockets, chocolate and coffee. Sounds fab!

    Cooking is the one thing I have a problem with camping. Well, that and the rain!

    • Those pitta pockets….nom nom nom!! I’ve popped your name in! (She doesn’t really mention rain but you don’t want to read about it when your sitting, sheltering from it!)

  20. Oooh this book sounds like it’s right up my street – we’re trying camping for the first time this summer and I was thinking it would be McDonalds and KFC all the way lol This might save me from a week of junk food!

  21. would be great for us as we love camping😉

  22. I’m with Heather, above. After a few glasses of wine, it takes a lot of motivation to go and wash up. I envy the families that have trained their kids to do it! Would love a look at this book – we do two pot cooking with lots of biccies, home-made cake (like the ‘Happy Campers’), fry-ups and ignore the rules about too much junk food!

  23. Pingback: And The Winner Is… « Thinly Spread

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