A Tale of Two Kitchens, IMK April 2016

This is a tale of three kitchens plus two BBQs in a camping ground by the sea, but as I only have photos of two kitchens, and the title has a more Dickensian ring to it, two kitchens it will be.

A Rpyal corner in Maxine's camp kitchen
A royal corner in Maxine’s camp kitchen. I’m told that the queen falls over when they go to bed, leaning as she does, on their canvas wall.

Each year we set up a huge family camp over four sites which directly face Port Phillip Bay in Victoria. Our camping season begins on Australia Day in January and ends some time in late April. Most of the workers in our group travel to the beach camp each weekend but their presence has been continual and strong this year, with Easter and the school holidays falling so early. The kitchens and BBQs pump out food all day, any time and on demand, but often the evening meals are late when we become distracted by the brilliant sunsets and each other’s company.  OK, and also the sunset drinks.

Drinks as the sun goes down
Drinks as the sun goes down

Each season, our kitchens take on rather odd themes, based on the junk we find around the local charity shops or discarded items sitting by the side of the road.

Found sitting next to the rubbish station. A perfectly funtional Sunbeam Pizza Bake and Grill in working order.
Found sitting next to the rubbish station. A perfectly functional Sunbeam Pizza Bake and Grill in working order.

My beach kitchen has always tended towards a mid-century Chinese look, but this year we have added a few touches of ‘ Greek fishing village’, along with some vintage Australiana, sourced from the fabulous Rotary Warehouse where an outlay of $2 goes a long way.

My Greek Fishing village kitchen seems to get a lot of attention from passers by.
My Greek Fishing village kitchen seems to get a lot of attention from passers by.

My son Jack found a Sunbeam Pizza Bake and Grill oven sitting next to the rubbish bin, and I know what can be baked in these ‘Toy Ovens’, thanks to Maree at Around the Mulberry Tree. When our old friend Denis came to dinner recently, we used the oven to bake potatoes and eggplant parmigiana and some Spanish styled garlic prawns in terracotta pots. I am yet to see how it handles a real home-made pizza.

My Chinese Corner with Camping Buddha
My Chinese Corner with Camping Buddha

Then various members of my family began to score freebies every week. We became the Steptoes by the Bay. Jack found and restored a discarded BBQ, followed by a clean three-man canvas tent in very good order. I found a cast iron table and matching chairs sitting on a nature strip. It’s amazing what can be shoved into the back of my tiny hatchback car. Then my daughter Rachael found a brand new stainless steel kettle. Andrew found a large square of rubber matting in good nick- the list goes on and on. People who camp by the beach for a weekend or a week often throw away new things at the end of their stay. Consumerism gone mad or no storage at home?

Antique Jaffle irons with Bits and pieces from China
Antique Australian Jaffle irons with bits and pieces from China

Maxine, my daughter in law, set up her kitchen this year in my old canvas camper trailer. Maxine should really be a stylist: she can turn the most humble of finds into marvellous decor.

In Maxine's Kitchen
In Maxine’s camping kitchen

Her area took on a nautical theme including a coffee corner complete with two old captain’s chairs, along with found odds and ends, while my son Andrew set up an array of LED strip lighting which he bought from Alibaba on-line, his favourite shop, along with an LED chandelier called Sputnik. Andrew has become the Mr MacGyver by the sea- he fiddles with our 12 volt lighting, often powered by old computer parts, and devises gadgets to make our camping life easier.

Coffee corner in Maxine's camp/glamp.
Coffee corner in Maxine’s camp/glamp.
Must have camping item- an LED Sputnik
Must have camping kitchen item- an LED Sputnik chandelier.

Food is usually simple. Jaffles filled with cheese, tomato, egg, onion, avocado or anything else are popular. Sometimes we fill them with left over bolognese sauce and call them pies. A Jaffle is an old-fashioned toastie, the name stemming from the brand name stamped on these old circular irons. Jaffles taste far better than toasties, as they acquire a golden hue on the outside as they slowly cook over a naked flame, along with a crispy seal and slightly charred edge, providing the bonus of tasty free radicals.

Daisy loves Jaffles
Daisy loves Jaffles

Another choice breakfast offering is Shakshuka, a one pan delight. The tomatoes and eggs come weekly from my home in St Andrews.

As shakshouka style breakfast
As shakshuka style breakfast

Thanks Maureen, of Orgasmic Chef, for hosting the In My Kitchen platform. I can’t seem to ever let this series go.

51 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Kitchens, IMK April 2016”

    1. It is an easy dish, especially when camping as it uses only one pan and the eggs just poach at the end. Yes, scavengers we are good at, although perhaps we should call it upcycling or repurposing for some of the junk.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That is just impressive on every level, Francesca! I love the repurposing things and creating environments. Those antique jaffle irons take me back to my first camping trips in Australia. Nothing like a good jaffle made on an open fire. Lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankyou. Jaffles and camping are almost synonymous in Australia and filled with special memories for those who are a little older. I often find myself explaining what they are to those who have only experienced the machine Toastie version.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. How lovely Francesca. All those freebies, cheapies and the ingenious making do in a lovely landscape add up to a rich experience and the children will have such great, happy memories. That was a lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jan, the special time is now over for us for another year but I was thrilled to see the children develop in the most extraordinary ways this year as they learnt to experience more freedom and love of nature. They grew too!

      Like

  3. You camp for three months? Wow…I’m not sure I could camp for three nights. You do make it look and sound very civilised though. 🙂 Here’s my question – what do you do with all the “finds” at the end of April? Do they all go home with you and your family?

    Like

    1. Some of the ‘finds’ will be discarded such as the second BBQ. I think I may keep my cast iron table and chairs- you can’t have enough garden furniture, and the mini oven which is proving to be a winner. The small op shop finds will be put into camping decor boxes until next year and either returned to the op shop for new themed gems, or used again.
      I must mention that the camp is only 1 hour and 20 minutes from home via fast freeways, so we do come and go over that time. I tend to stay for three days at the camp, then four at home. I have just returned from a 10 day stint-Easter/School holidays and it was getting hard.
      One of the beautiful things about the long stay is the sense of village life that develops. We have befriended all sorts of walkers, bike riders, local deaf folk ( old friends of my son) a homeless guy from Queensland, a family from a nearby suburb and so on. all these village people drop in for a chat.This is something I don’t get to experience, living in the country on 20 acres. xx

      Like

    1. We have lots of separate nooks to quietly sip coffee, or snooze as it can be intense with 15 or more family members and other visiting kids all the time. the recycling of junk is part of the fun- and we are all into the hunt!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, we do much the same, a tad intense at times. We love to trawl the local op show for puzzles and one of our finds was a very cool old 1960’s movie projector screen that we use to watch movies on sometimes.

        Like

          1. We still have our old projector from the dinosaur days and there are about 5 half-hour movies of the family that we can only show on the projector as we haven’t converted them yet (may never). They seem to be superior in quality to video recorder movies. We will bring them out soon but when?

            Like

  4. Australia really seems to be the last frontier in so many ways. I don’t think there’s a single beach in the US where you could just set up a camp and stay indefinitely. All is controlled as all is crowded. So idyllic!

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Like

    1. It used to be more idyllic years ago but now it is fairly regulated and costly. We must leave the beach by the end of April to let the bush recover before the next camping season which begins in October. It is relatively un crowded during the months of Feb through to April as it is off season. All the children are back at school. I choose this time as I can’t stand crowds. Thanks Mae.

      Like

  5. Ohhhhh I haven’t had enough of those free radicals this year!

    I have an old unused projector at work. I should bring it along next year for a movie night!

    These photos are gorgeous, but still don’t do your setups justice – they are even better in real life!

    Like

  6. Now that’s what I call camping in style! Love all the repurposed finds and as for the sputnick chandelier, every canvas home should have one. I love jaffles, with baked beans, especially cooked in the coals of a campfire, but a gas ring is the next best thing. Great post Francesca, oh and as for sunset drinks, the best part of the day if you ask me.

    Like

  7. Great read as usual Francesca and I love the pics. What a wonderful family community you have – you’re all very lucky and gorgeous 😎🌅💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rachael. The long party is over now- one more weekend and then we pack up. I think it has been the best year for camping, now that all the kids do more independant things.

      Like

  8. You have illustrated -beautifully- what I believe is a value add to camping-caravanning. Touches of home and/or decor. Many people espouse “take only the basics, less is more, halve it then halve it again” but it’s those select fun, personal touches which lend longevity to the experience. New op-shops to explore are also a boon… I’m excited to hear that free-cycling is also a possibility 🙂

    Like

    1. Nice to hear from you Ella Dee- i assume you are back home now. Free cycling is alive and well down on the peninsula. You are right- the fun touches make all the difference to camping.

      Like

    1. Yes, a cocktail or two, a beer or a shared bottle of crisp white. I hope they do have good memories- its a cousin fiesta every day for them, sleeping in the same tent, running amok, staying up too late..

      Like

  9. This is such a super cool post. I can’t believe you found so much ‘junk’ (treasures?) around the place during your journey… AND that the crew/family knew what to do with it (sounds like you had the perfect camping team!!!). I love old school jaffles. My husband’s mum used to have a jaffle iron at their house and we’ve been looking for it, but I’ve kind of accepted the fact that it’s probably gone forever. None of those sandwich presses give the same crispy sealed result. I must start scouring junk shops 🙂
    Loved this post. Glad that you guys had so much fun on the trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Laura, and I do hope you find one. There are some new copies on the market in camping shops but they tend to be square shaped- noooo- and so don’t look right. Some years ago, the round irons with the word Jaffle on them were bringing big money on ebay. There are other brands from that era- 50s?- so keep an eye out.
      Yes the crew all love junk- we are all on the same page when it comes to scavenging, camp decor and cooking. It was so much fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow, what a log camping trip – clearly why you are so well organised. We haven’t enjoyed jaffels for years! Saw recently how expensive the irons are and I absolutely adore your camping chandelier.
    Have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    Like

  11. I love these kitchens and that you set up for such a length of time. It takes me back to when I was a kids and we went to the coast and my Dad came on weekends. Glad to see you are recycling, re-purposing and saving things from landfill. I have one of those toaster ovens which we pulled out when we didn’t have a kitchen. Some people really have no idea how good they have it. Throwing away a perfect serviceable item – the least they could have done is donated it! I think you’ll find the Queen falls over at night due to the cheeky drinks she’s having out of that cocktail shaker ; )

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Your camping site looks delightful. If I could style so well I might convince my husband to get out with me more often!! I love the sputnik chandelier and the description of jaffles with (tasty, tasty) free radicals brings back lovely childhood memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a wonderful camping kitchen! Someday maybe I can get hubby to camp like that. His preferred method is hiking with all gear into the woods so our cooking is extremely limited. I would prefer parking right by the camp site! Those pizza ovens do come in handy, we have one too though never make pizza in it.

    Like

  14. what an incredibly fab idea to set up camp for so long. i love it! love the buddha and your recycled stuff. we used to have a round jaffle iron but now we only have a square one. i really loved the round one! aah yes baked beans and cheese jaffles…

    Like

Now over to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s