You don’t have to be a Masterchef to whip up a steaming cup of something delicious when you’re staying in a national park. These recipes are so simple and so good, they may even earn you a night off washing up (look, it’s worth a try).
This classic is perfect after a long hike or a day of exploring. It also requires minimal brain power. Just heat up a cup of milk (or water, if you’re desperate) in a small pot until it’s barely simmering, then stir in your hot cocoa mix and boom, hot chocolate.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can make your own and store it in an airtight container before you leave home. Combine 3½ cups sugar, 1 tablespoon salt and 2¼ cups cocoa and mix well. Add a few dashes of chilli for maximum warmth, and don’t forget the campfire-toasted marshmallows.
Did you know: The first people to drink hot chocolate were the Olmec in Mesoamerica over 4000 years ago.
THE ESSENCE OF LIFE
We’re talking about coffee, obviously. Just because you’re hours from your favourite cafe doesn’t mean you need to ditch your daily fix. There are plenty of portable coffee makers out there that are light and easy to carry, so you can make a cuppa wherever you are.
If you really want to rough it, try making ‘cowboy coffee’. Boil water, let it cool a bit and stir in two tablespoons of ground coffee beans per cup. Let it rest for 2 mins, stir, then rest for another 2 mins. Once the grind settles to the bottom, pour slowly into your cup and giddy up.
Tea is one of those things that taste a million times better outdoors, especially with some Aussie damper cooked over hot coals. It’s also great for staying hydrated while you’re hiking. Stir some loose leaf tea into a pot of boiling water and let it steep for a bit before straining, or totally cheat and pack some tea bags from home.
The beauty of tea is that you can choose a flavour based on your day. Need an energy boost? Add some honey and lemon. Want to wind down under the stars before bed? Choose chamomile or lavender. And if that campfire dish didn’t turn out how you’d hoped, sip some peppermint tea to soothe your belly.
If you really want to impress your friends, brew up some chai tea. Before you leave home, crush 8 cardamom seeds, 8 cloves and 4 black peppercorns and store in an airtight container. When you’re ready, add the spices to a pot with 2 cinnamon sticks, 2½ cm ginger, 2 cups milk and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, add 4 tea bags of black tea and steep for 10 mins. Add sugar to taste and wait for the compliments. You’re welcome.
Soup is like a meal and drink in one, so how can you beat that? It’ll warm you up and fill you up, without the need to spend hours slaving over a camp stove (ain’t nobody got time for that). Just fry some onion and garlic in a pot with olive oil and add a tin of diced tomatoes, a tin of kidney beans and 2 cups of water or stock. Then throw in whatever veggies (probably frozen, lets be honest) you have and add some dried oregano. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 mins. Done.
To make chicken noodle soup, take a BBQ chicken and shred the meat, then add it to a pot with 2 sachets of chicken noodle soup, 2 chopped onions, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2 packets of 2 mins noodles and 1kg frozen veggies. Add 4 litres water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 2 mins before serving with chopped parsley (if you can be bothered).
MULLED APPLE JUICE
This non-alcoholic version of mulled wine is perfect for a family trip or those times when you need to be up and at ‘em at the crack of dawn. Simmer 1 litre of apple juice in a pot with a few strips of orange peel, 1 cinnamon stick and 3 cloves for about 5-10 mins. Then pour and add sugar or honey to taste. You can even garnish each drink with some orange peel and a cinnamon stick if you like. Why not?
Before you get excited about cooking on an open fire, check your campground or accommodation first to see if there are designated fire pits available and whether any fire bans or other alerts are in place. Always be fire safe and leave the site exactly as you found it, so you don’t impact other visitors, wildlife and the environment.