Cooking outdoors was a means of continued existence to our distant ancestors. Bring winter into the mix and it ramps up the aspect of survival even further.
Nevertheless, modern day luxuries and conveniences of quick to cook adventure meals and energy bars often win the valuable pack space on outside excursions. But there are still ways to cook fresh, tasty dishes up in the fells, no matter the weather.
- Plan the meal appropriately – When the weather is colder the last thing you want to be doing is sitting still next to your camp stove with a recipe that is better slow cooked.
- Prepare your ingredients – It's great relaxing and taking your time in the summer prepping vegetables for the pot but in cooler conditions speed is preferable.
- Only take what you need – Fresh food often weighs more than the dehydrated adventure packs, so you don’t want to be carrying up a full larder. Decant things and portion out to save on mass and space without compromising on flavour.
- Reuse and recycle – Old hair wax pots, toiletry bottles, yoghurt pots, old camera film canisters all make great containers for spices, garnishes, prepped ingredients, sauces and typically have a strong seal to avoid spillages.
- Consider what you are bringing back – Using heavy containers means you have to carry heavy containers down again. Pots and tubs that fit inside each other when empty will cut a lot of space in your rucksack. By pre-prepping ingredients there shouldn't be much (if any) rubbish to bring down - LEAVE NO TRACE.
- Take a sealable bag – This can be an old plastic shopping bag or something that can be washed. Ziplock or an old drybag will also suffice. It is good to keep contents that may leak in both on the way up and on the return journey to save your bag.
1 small white onion, 2 garlic cloves, goats cheese, veg stock, butternut squash, 140g arborio rice, oil, salt & pepper
Roast the butternut squash at home at 180º until soft and allow to cool. Once cooled scoop out 3 tablespoons into a container. Finely dice the onion and garlic. Heat some veg stock (homemade or stock cube) and store in a flask before heading out. On a low heat, soften the onion in the oil and then add the garlic. Add the rice and coat. Add stock a little at a time and keep stirring until absorbed then add a little more. Continue this process until the rice is soft but with a little bite (al dente). Add in the roast squash and stir through until hot. Season to taste.
*Serve without goats cheese for a vegan option
1 large white onion, 2 celery sticks, 3 bay leaves, 2 green peppers, 2 chicken breasts, 200g kielbasa sausage (or smoked sausage), chicken stock, cajun spices, 3tbspplain flour, 3 spring onions, fresh parsley, oil, salt & pepper
Season and roast the chicken breasts for around 25 minutes at 180º. Allow to cool and cut into cubes. Finely dice the onion, celery and green peppers (deseed first), pack together. Finely dice the spring onions and parsley for garnish later. Heat some chicken stock (homemade or stock cube) and store in a flask before heading out. In a larger cooking pot on a medium heat add the onion, celery and peppers to some oil. Cook until browned and transfer to the smaller pot. In the used pot, add the flour, bay leaves and bit more oil and cook into a paste. Keep cooking and stirring with a small splash of stock until golden and then add the spices. Combine and then gradually add the stock until saucy. Return the veg to the pan along with the chicken and sausage and bring to a simmer. Season appropriately and serve with spring onions and parsley as topping.
Photo credit: Kenny Block
Trail Cook, Hiker and Wildcamper based in Ambleside, Lake District
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