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Camping and Cooking

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Well, Lesley and I will shortly go on a major outback trip. Part of the time, we'll leave the caravan and camp a bit rough using the ute and a tent.

My grandson, Nicky, is staying with us over the school holidays so the two of us went camping in a clearing off Bunga Pinch Road in Mumbula State Forrest, about half an hour from home, as a  try out of equipment and systems for the big trip.

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The timber around the small clearing that provided our camping spot was iron bark, stringy bark and ash, iron bark being predominant and closest to our campfire, so we had some pretty good wood, making for a hot fire with great coals for cooking.

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Toast for lunch, roast lamb chops and veggies for dinner, hot, fresh bread baked in the camp oven for supper, toast for breakfast and fried eggs and toast for lunch. That's pretty good eating for a low key camping trip, huh!

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The tent went up alright and Nicky gave Grandma's new stretcher a run.

Making a start on this photo story, the wireless modem and external aerial with the laptop worked successfully.

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Nicky videoed the bread making during daylight hours and photographed with flash, the later part of the baking process. The photos on on this page are his creative work.

Bunga Pinch Road follows a ridge with a steep gully on either side. We camped just off the road, which is really just a bush track, and had a great walk down the hill, struggling through the undergrowth at the foot of the incline. The gully falls steeply with small waterfalls quite close to each other and would be a frightening sight in a flood, I reckon.

Baking Bread on a Camping Trip

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There's far more control, baking bread at home with the fan forced electric oven. I bake bread by hand at home to get the feel for the process when out in the bush and have taken out first prize at the Bega show, the past two years, for my bread. The challenge is to replicate the process in the camp oven in the coals. At home it's 200 deg C for 35 minutes for my full size loaf.

The recipe below is for basic French bread, the standard for artisan bakers the world over. Very simple bread, of course, and that's it's strength.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups plain flour (bakers flour)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • level teaspoon salt

Method:

  • Put the flour, yeast and salt into the bowl and give a bit of a mix.
  • Add the water and mix to a dough.
  • Flour the board and your hands and tip the dough out.
  • Kneed the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, adding flour as necessary to stop sticking.
  • Place in a bowl with a plastic bag over, in a warm place, to rise for a couple of hours. The volume should double.
  • Flour the board and your hands again and tip the dough out kneeding (knocking down) for a couple of minutes to release some of the air and to bring the yeast into contact with all the flour.
  • Place in the camp oven and allow to double in size again.
  • Prepare a hot bed among the coals, not too hot, and place the camp oven there. Put half a shovel of coals on top of the camp oven.
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Keep in mind that flame is your enemy. Keep the burning part of the fire well clear of your camp oven.

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The bread should take about 35 minutes to bake. A good indication is when you start to smell the aroma of fresh, hot bread wafting around the campfire, give it a few minutes longer and then remove. If you smell the bread in say 15 or 20 minutes, the fire is too hot and will likely burn the bread. Get it off real quick and inspect.

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