Rachel Burden - getting prepared for a camping holiday

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 August 2014

Rachel Burden

Rachel Burden

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BBC 5Live presenter Rachel Burden lives just outside Knutsford with her husband and their three children. In the first of a quarterly column she explains why she's finding catering on a camping break something of a challenge

Summer is here and for most of us that means the chance of a well-earned break.

Holidays, for me, usually involve a big house, somewhere in France with family, an army of cousins to occupy small children and lots of willing hands to share cooking duties.

This year, rather alarming scrutiny of the bank statements has narrowed down the options. Or to be more accurate, there is one option - a tent in a field - and in a quest to get as close to the equator as possible, we’ve chosen Cornwall.

We’re not really campers. We don’t even own a tent, though we do have one I borrowed from a friend of mine last year which we haven’t quite managed to return. It was borrowed for our first ever camping trip as a family to a festival in Devon.

That was when I realised there is an enormous gap of knowledge between the families who do this regularly, and the novelty campers like us. They have things like tables, and chairs and appropriate lighting. We had a bottle opener.

I hadn’t really thought through the food situation. I’d taken snacks, but soon realised that a few cartons of juice, some crisps and a couple of penguin biscuits were not going to sustain us through 48 hours of walking miles around a festival site.

The bargain budget camping stove turned out to be a broken budget camping stove. So we ended up spending a fortune, and our limited resources of energy and patience, traipsing round exotic food stalls, trying to find something the three children would agree on.

But not this year. This time round I shall be one of the organised ones - which means taking advice from wherever I can get it. Asking around on twitter, most people responded by offering me the number of the nearest hotel. Others suggested that I pack every available space in the car boot with wine. Or tins of beans.

The best tip I got was to pre-cook a pot of something, freeze it, then cook it when it defrosts - chilli, bolognese, sausage casserole, that sort of thing.

So here’s one that’s served us well in the past...

Chicken/beef/prawn and lentil curry:

Cook onions, garlic and ginger in a pan. Brown the chicken. Add dried coriander, cumin and garam masala to taste. And chilli if the children like it. Chuck in chopped tomoatoes and chicken stock and about 100g of red lentils. Cook for an hour or so and it’s ready. It’s a good one for outdoors as, the meat and lentils should keep them going through sun, wind, rain or snow.

A final tip, picked up from my mum who took us over to Ireland most summers on the ferry and would sooner sell her own mother before actually buying snacks from the cafe, is to freeze a two litre bottle of milk, chuck it in the cool bag and use it as a fridge. Depending on the weather, you will have cool food for a couple of days, plus milk for tea as it defrosts.

Hope that helps. If all else fails, encourage your children to learn the forgotten art of foraging. From other people’s tables.

Rachel Burden presents BBC 5Live Breakfast, Mondays to Fridays, 6-9am. You can tweet her on Twitter: @rachelburden

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