On recommendation from Sarah and James we invested in a Ridge Monkey – a revelation in cooking, versatile, non stick and quick, because it cooks everything in a sealed environment food stays moist and tender and because very little or no fat is needed it’s healthy. So far we’ve cooked eggs, chicken in various sauces and several fruit based desserts, all with great results. We’ve yet to make toasted sandwiches and experiment with different meats, I’m told burgers, bacon and sausages all cook well. It’s also a great stand by if the weather is rubbish and too cold or wet to light the Cobb.
One of the most important things about cooking in a camper van is to be organised. Know what you’re going to cook and get everything you’ll need out of the cupboards first, this may clutter the limited work space but there’s nothing worse than trying to find a pot, can or spatula from the under cupboard when you’re in the middle of prepping or cooking especially if you have the table in place. With a top loader fridge I also need to remember to get all the chilled stuff out before piling the top of it with pans and the like.
With some imagination there are no limits to what you can cook using a wok, small saucepan, frypan, Ridge Monkey and a Cobb grill just be relaxed about mealtimes, some things take longer to prep and cook when you’re limited on space and tools. I use Notes on my iPad for recipes that are easy and tasty using a mix of fresh, dried and tinned ingredients. It’s nice to plan and cook together but with limited space I’ll usually do the prep and cooking while Alistair is great at getting the Cobb lit, pouring the wine and keeping Fred away from the food.
Our new van has a diesel hob, very different from anything I have cooked on before and at first required an element of ‘shall we try this?’ Now after several short adventures in the UK we are becoming quite skilled at mastering the diesel hob, yes it takes a while to heat up and once hot there is no real temperature control so it needs constant attention, stirring and switching pans around but it’s efficient and I haven’t burnt anything yet.
We enjoy grilled meats, fish and chicken so the Cobb gets a lot of use, simply grill as they are or marinate in herbs or spices in the fridge during the day while travelling. When deciding what to serve with grilled food the standard salad always heads the list but after several days this becomes a bore so I have developed a list of side options and always stock the cupboard with stir fry sauces, tins of mixed beans in spicy tomato sauce, baked beans, salad beans and lentils, noodles, rice, couscous and several types of pasta, all of which can be made into sides for grilled food.
I take weighed quantities of pasta, rice, couscous and porridge sealed in small bags but also take a set of cups and a measure chart for these basics in case we run short of pre weighed. Packet cuppa soups are a great standby for a quick lunch but they also make excellent sauces to cook meat, fish, chicken or vegetables in, use a good brand, don’t add all the recommended amount of water to start with and add extra herbs and spices to enhance the flavours.
The weather looked set fair for the weekend so we decided on a trip to Purbeck. Just for the adventure we opted to go via Bournemouth and the Sandbanks chain ferry. Once across the ferry we stopped for lunch and started thinking about where to camp for a few nights.
We had been to Corfe quite a few years before so we decided to try the C&CC site there and what a gem it is. Hidden away up a lane on the hillside amongst the woods. It has loads of sheltered pitches and really nice facilities. The lane means that you would struggle to get a big motorhome or caravan up there. From the site there is a green lane walk down to the castle and the village. Corfe itself is quaint and touristic and there is at the end of the Swanage Railway so you can ride a steam train into Swanage, which of course we did.
It was the first opportunity we had really had to do a nice dinner on the Cob so we decided to go culinary. We started dinner with asparagus on the griddle with a nice chilled white wine. We followed this up with a a lamb kebab salad and finally Gui chocolate cheesecake pots and nice bottle of red. A pleased what to will away an evening.
Getting through Wareham on the way home on Sunday was a bit of a mission. It seemed that everyone was heading for the coast for the day. On the way home we pulled in to Goodwood Circuit which always has a nice atmosphere when it not being used and there is plenty of space to pull up for a coffee or a picnic in the car park which is always spotless.