"You've come camping? Here? On one of the most exposed parts of the British coast? HA! You fool! Can you feel my windy buttocks buffeting your face? Watch then, as I sit on your tent and squash it with them! Hahahahaha! Can you hear that snapping? That's your tent poles that is! That will learn you for using a cheap tent! Whoops, there goes your hat! AND YOUR EVENT SHELTER! Ha! Oh joy! Oh joy, joy, joy!"
Needless to say our first camping holiday with the twins was a bit of a trial. Not an unmitigated disaster mind. In the company of very good friends and with the aid of copious alcohol, bags and bags of 2p coins for the arcade and stereotypically English stiff upper lips, we did manage to have a most excellent time. And the children certainly loved it. They even went into the sea, the nutters. Personally though, when we finally left Devon, I was just a little bit disappointed that I didn't get to do as much cooking in the Great Outdoors as I would have liked. I had plenty of ideas and I had even bought a copy of Josh Sutton's Guyrope Gourmet to try out some of his recipes. But trying to read the damn thing out in the open, with pages whipping from left to right was nigh on impossible. In the end, I just popped it back in tent and took to standing in the gale, whilst sipping stupidly strong scrumpy and flicking V's back at the sky.
We did have a couple of breakthroughs at breakfast time, which came in the shape of bacon and black pudding butties and some eggy bread. And we also managed to rustle up one meal in the evening, namely my mate John's infamous chowder. I was pretty insistent that we made this actually. Largely because John has been bleating on about this fabulous seafood stew he makes whenever he goes camping, for like, forever. And largely because I have always been intrigued by the juxtaposition of the ingredients within, which mainly consists of very expensive and luxurious lobster, coupled with dirt cheap tinned potatoes. By all accounts, this recipe was borne out of sourcing what is available in Mortehoe and as you might guess, there isn't much. A pretty well-stocked fishmonger, come fish and chip shop. And an efficiently stocked camp shop. Oh, plus three pubs. I did wonder if I should point out to John that the camp shop sold fresh spuds but after seeing him gamble up to the till with a silly grin on his face and an armful of Happy Shopper tinned new potatoes (59p), I felt it was a risk worth taking.
And it was. Given that in reality, we used very little to pep everything up - this meal basically consists of lobster, fish, water, wine, onion and cream - it tasted bloody amazing and was testimony to the simple approach when cooking. Served up in a mess-tin for authenticity, it was rich, indulgent and life-affirming; a cor-blimey smack on the lips to be mopped up with bread slathered with butter. My only addition when preparing and helping to finish at the end was to issue a small smattering of capers over the top, which gave just enough spike to help cut through the silky broth.
After licking the remains of the sauce out of the mess tin using my stubby digits, I threw the lightweight vessel into that ferocious wind, roared at the top of my lungs and turned my back to it victorious. Moments later, the mess-tin returned and hit me on top of my delicate head. So in the end, nature won. But if you do ever go like to camping yourself and have access to a decent fishmonger, and some Happy Shopper spuds, you really should try this recipe. It will blow you away....he he geddit? Ha ha ha.......ah fack it.....
Lobster, Fish and Happy Shopper Camp Chowder - serves 4 adults and 2 children
2 lobsters, cooked
750gms of cod fillet, sliced into goujons
250gms of gurnard fillet, sliced into goujons
2 tins of Happy Shopper New Potatoes, drained and cut in half
1 onion, finely chopped
300mls double cream
1 large glass of white wine, possibly 2
Bread and butter to serve
If cooking this outside, first make a perimeter around your cooking area to shield you from the wind. Use cars, trailers, windbreaks, jackets and chopping boards to ensure that your Campingaz single burning stoves work efficiently. Keep a flagon of strong Devonshire cider handy to keep you sane when everything blows off the table.
Now, break up your cooked lobster and remove as much meat as possible from the claws, legs and head. Crack the tail and peel and cut the flesh into chunky medallions. Reserve the meat in a pot of some description. Then place all the lobster shell into another pot and filled with approximately 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil on your gaz burner and simmer and reduce for about 45 minutes. This will form the main part of your stock.
When done, place a frying pan on the burner, add a splash of olive oil, then the onion and gently fry until translucent. Add the wine and reduce by half and then add some of the stock. John was the master of ceremonies at this point and carefully adding the shellfish stock by the ladle, taking his time. Whereas I would have dumped the lot in but I expect this was to gain maximum efficiency from the gaz or gas or whatever.
Then add your Happy Shopper spuds and the cream and begin to reduce further. As the stock thickens, pop the lobster in to warm through and then add the fish. Cook for about another 5 minutes.
When ready, serve in mess-tins or bowls, add a crack of black pepper and a scattering of capers if you so wish. Add a slice or two or bread and butter and off you go.
Enjoy whilst the sun goes down and eat quickly. As the wind tends to turn things cold very soon.
|Happy Shopper Spuds|
|Lobster and Cidre|
|Essential for camping|