Our house - our humble cottage by the sea - lacked indoor plumbing, insulation in its walls, central heating - comforts standard in even a basic RV nowadays I think since I don’t have one, have never desired one, will never own one.
Considering the above, sure this scribbler is perfectly qualified to remark on Tonya Hughes’ ‘Camp and Cottage Cook Book’ (Flanker Press), eh b’ys?
Early in her book while the pages are still counted using Roman numerals - xiii - Ms. Hughes stresses the importance of “constant temperature” refrigeration for campers so they don’t end up with gastrointestinal complaints, with the bowel whoopsies as a result of consuming tainted meat.
The winter we lived in the woods on Whitaker’s Point in our tar-paper shack - our humble cottage in the bush - refrigeration was not a worry. It was the coldest winter since Confederation pupped. From Christmas until Paddy’s Day the moose carcasses - Shhhhhh! - hung in the trees outside our simple abode remained frozen, solid chunks of crudely butchered meat. Mornings, Pappy dashed outside, carved slivers of meat from the handiest haunch and dashed back inside to fry them like bacon.
Still in Roman numerals - xvii - Ms. Hughes addresses campsite cleanliness: “Hand sanitizers are a great way to ensure hands are clean … ”
Refrain: The winter we lived in the woods … indoors Mammy kept our hands clean by scrubbing them just this side of bloody with Sunlight soap. Outdoors we rinsed our paws in the nearby brook, making sure we were well upstream from the pool - the pool with swirling, flushing features - we used for cruder toiletries.
I sing no camping paeans. Been there. T-shirts were unavailable, but Standfield’s flap-door long johns came in pairs.
Hey, this is a cookbook, idden it? As such, it is filled with … well, recipes, of course.
A camper’s day, as well as the day of anyone who does not like camping, begins with - what else? - breakfast.
Thanks to her daughter, Ms. Hughes is a promoter of pancakes; not just for breakfast by the way.
Even I, who - yadda, yadda - love pancakes. At times I find cold pancakes left over from my granddaughters’ breakfast, smear them with jam and eat them cold. So, imagine how tickled I was to read this line: “I would then use the [pancake] leftovers to make PB&J sandwiches for lunch.”
Ms. Hughes’ Homemade Pancake Mix recipe is on Page 5, Arabic numerals. Don’t skip it since the homemade mix can be used for more than just pancakes. For instance: dumplings - Great Aunt Mary’s Stew With Dumplings [Page 22] - and cornbread - Cornbread Cakes [Page 66].
Tonya Hughes loves pasta, pasta with names I hardly know how to pronounce - penne, rotini, fettuccini. The winter we … well, the only pasta we had was basic macaroni and I’m not certain we knew it was a pasta.
Can I say that - a pasta?
One of Ms. Hughes’ pasta recipes is Gruncle Bill’s Wilderness Spaghetti Special, a recipe whose preparation involves dumping the main ingredient on the ground before rinsing and serving.
Among my family’s Uncle Bill camping stories is one in which he and his brother returned to a campsite they’d used a week earlier only to discover they had failed to bring a most essential item - Tetley teabags! Ever resilient though, they searched last week’s fire pit, found several teabags barely singed and steeped them out again for a barely palatable cuppa.
Campers, eh b’ys!
Cook Book has a chapter of dessert recipes.
I’m a junk-jaws.
The Haystacks [Page 73] and the Swedish Oatmeal Cookies [Page 74] look good, as do the Apple Fritters [Page 75].
Apple Fritters! Yummy!
Look at the list of ingredients for the fritters: first thing on the list - one bag - one whole bag! - of Homemade Pancake Mix.
Excuse me a minute. Phone’s ringing.
I’m back, and I bet you won’t believe this.
It was Daddy’s Boy. He’s excited because he’s just bought an RV.
“Pa,” he said. “Come over on the weekend. We’ll all go camping.”
“Not going to happen, son,” I said. [Surely he’s heard me speak of the winter on Whitaker’s Point.] “But, my son, there’s an excellent cook book that I recommend.”
Thank you for reading. Oh, by the way, Tonya – love the snap of the baby in the canoe cuddy.