Cooking on the road with the Prestons

With one week to go, our life on the road preparations are reaching the frenzy point and I’m at the ‘food’ stage.

As always food gives me the most challenges. Anyone that knows me knows damn well that cooking isn’t my strong point. I suffer from a complete and utter total lack of interest in that regard as I couldn’t be bothered after being at work all day. My favourite meal is one that’s been prepared by someone else.

So of course my little problem is that when we hit the road is not only do I haveto cook but I have to do so with limited cooking facilities and space for a pantry. It will be at least 3 weeks before we hit a major supermarket again and the thought of living off tins of baked beans every night doesn’t fill me with any joy.

So I arise to the challenge and with the help of serious menu planning, shopping lists and some handy accessories, I make camp cooking my friend.

We have made our camping lives easier on this trip by having both our 80 litre upright fridge in the camper and a 21 litre Engel freezer behind the cab. The addition of the freezer to our setup involved getting a dual battery system installed under the car bonnet, an extra bank of solar panels and a fridge box, so it was an expensive little ice box (bloody expensive) but it gives us the ability to travel remote for longer periods of time and will be worth the outlay.

The really, really expensive little freezer box fits behind the cab of the Cruiser

We can now freeze meat, carry frozen vegetables and carry a selection of pre-made meals which I have been busily preparing and freezing in the last week or two.

Also although our space is limited we also carry a Webber Baby Q inside the camper.  It sits on the seat and gets in the way but is totally worth the inconvenience. It is a BBQ and an oven, runs on gas and gives us so many more food options. We aren’t always able to have a fire so a camp oven isn’t as practical.

Creativity with some tin food is required because fresh ingredients only last us a few days even in the fridge and there is nowhere to replenish them. We can vacuum seal meat and left over cooked meals, but not fresh vegetables. I naively tried that once and the tomatoes and cucumbers went rotten. Which brings me to my question; can you freeze mushrooms? So many simple pasta recipes involve mushrooms and I can’t stomach the tinned variety.

Once I solve that dilemma I will have no excuses for not being able to produce delicious gourmet meals on the road and in fact a total mind shift occurs and cooking no longer becomes an unwelcome chore. Time and tiredness is not an issue and there is something magic about cooking and eating outside with the sights and sounds of the bush. It becomes about enjoying the simple pleasures in life and food is beyond a doubt one of those pleasures.

The Great Packing Conundrum

Our Trayon has wonderful merits. It’s so quick to set up and pack down, its simple, its comfortable, has ten storage locations and every place we camp at it always attracts envious glances from other campers.  There is one aspect of it though where I need it to be more like the Tardis on Doctor Who. My clothes cupboard. Kevin and I have one cupboard each as our allocated storage space. That’s for clothes, shoes and other odds and sods. This is my space.

I`m positive that every female reading this has just gasped in horror and said `no way!`.

Unfortunately this is the sum total of my space for up to 6 months of travel. Travel that will include warm weather in the North and frigid weather in the Central deserts. Every thing from swimming togs to ugg boots and beanie. Not to mention all my lotions and potions and hair brushes, toiletries, a couple of books.

So I laid out my clothes on the bed for starters. Bear in mind that this is the already thinned out, must have, totally essential pile!Its a collection of purely daggy, long wearing camping gear. Stuff that is great in the bush and around a campfire. Nothing flash enough for a fancy restuarant or a night on the town. Just tees, shorts, jumpers, tracky daks, togs and of course my ugg boots. There is no way I can leave my ugg boots behind!

ITS THE GREAT PACKING CONUNDRUM. How do I fit this much stuff in a space that small?

Kevin thinks I`m crazy getting organised 2 months in advance. He packs the day before. One jumper, four tee shirts, 2 pairs of shorts and enough jocks so that he can wear one pair inside out and then back to front before he needs to change them. Its a guy thing. He’s more interested in the tool box. I always have the last laugh though because the inevitable happens. He runs out of clothes. Then he has to wear mine. Its true . Here’s the proof.

So pretty in my purple jumper.

Anyhow where there’s a will there’s a way. Everything that was on my bed is in that cupboard. Packing pods is the answer. Everything is separated into categories and packed in a pod. Going across Northern Australia first so the winter woolies are at the back, shorts, tees and togs at the front. Even got 4 books in ready for lazy days on beautiful beaches. High five to me.

(Anything extra can always be snuck into Kevin’s box anyway. He`ll never know until he needs to wear it)