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!