Breakfast in the Bush – yummy eggs

Bullets and Beans

Last month at the amazing Desert Knights Mountain Bike adventure I got to meet the wonderful Marion Sieberts. IMG_0755

If you have done the Mapangubwe Wildrun (now that is one for the bucket list) or many other amazing wild sporting adventures, then you would have eaten her delicious food.

Anyway, on the morning at the Orange River, she opens up the Pooitjie pot on the fire and this aroma comes out that has us all salivating.

It didn’t look like much but oh my word it was so yummy.  After getting this simple but delicious recipe that she dubbed Bullets and Beans, I had to try it out the next week when we were camping in the Tankwa Karoo National Park.

I had a very hard to please crowd, my kids and their friends.  The joy of dealing with kids is that they are ruthless with their critique and opinion and are very bad at faking it if they don’t like the taste of something.  So to say I presented a breakfast with baked beans and boiled eggs in it with slight fear and trembling would be putting it mildly.  My mum is from the UK, so I grew up with baked beans on toast as a staple Sunday night dinner but my kids are not such huge fans.

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Our beautiful bush camp in the Tankwa Karoo National Park

Anyway, as we were in the middle of the Karoo bushcamping in this exquisite valley and it was Simon’s birthday, I got up early and quickly put Bullets and Beans together.  It had to be quick and easy as the temperature was about to rise over 40degrees celsius and we still had to pack up camp.

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I had boiled the eggs the night before, so that made the process quicker and easier.  At Desert Knights, Marion had served boiled eggs for breakfast the day before and then used the leftover eggs for the Bullets and Beans the following morning.  So when camping remotely or moving camp daily, its little things like these that makes your life easier.

If you have a bit more time, making fresh Irish soda bread in the pan would be an absolutely delicious accompaniment (recipe here).  Otherwise, wraps would also work well as they travel brilliantly for those really remote trips. (overland shopping list guide).

We just did it with normal toast as I didn’t have a lot of time.  Well, the kids absolutely loved it!  The leftovers were even eaten for lunch the next day!  So Bullets and Beans will be added to my quick yummy breakfast camping list along with flapjacks, vanilla oats and the usual bacon and eggs.

So here is the recipe for a really easy yummy breakfast!

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Marion’s Bullets and Beans

Ingredients

1 onion

celery (I forgot mine and still was delicious)

1 tin tomatoes

1 tin bakes beans

eggs (depends how many you want)

Onion flakes (I used from Woolies)

Method

Chop up onion into small pieces and fry until lightly golden and translucent and add your celery  (you can add garlic too, but I forgot…yes this as well)

Add tin of tomatoes and let simmer while you peel the eggs, giving the occasional stir.

Once peeled add baked beans and eggs to the tomato mixture.  As needed to taste, add salt and pepper and some fresh herbs if you have and like.  I had some leftover bacon bits, so we added this to the mixture which was delicious.  You can pretty much do anything!

Serve on toast and adding the crispy onion once dished is the not to be missed final ingredient.

I doubled the above quantity for 7 and we had some leftovers which the kids gobbled for lunch the next day.

So, it doesn’t look or sound like much but it is yummy, wholesome and easy.  Give it a try next time you are camping and want something a little different.

Happy travels!

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Richtersveld – Fluospar Valley Review

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Setting up camp in the riverbed next to the mine.

The Fluospar Valley, like Tierhoek, doesn’t have a lot said about it online.  Again, like Tierhoek, it is part of the community initiative but we never saw anyone to pay any camping fees to.  I did find basic fees and info here.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect.  Simon had been before and raved about this old abandoned mine with Fluospar just lying everywhere and crystals that you could find scattered around.  He didn’t exagerrate!  The kids had a ball finding all different gems and rocks and then also throwing the fluospar in the fire that night where it then burns bright green.

The drive in was not too hairy and very accessible in a 4×4 and the trailer had no problem.  We got there a bit late so camped in the riverbed next to the mine as we would have gotten to the ‘official’ camp area in the dark.

We even had a light rain shower en route in, which feels like a little miracle when you are in such a barren area.  Camping next to the mine was perfect.  The kids did the obligatory scorpion hunt, but didn’t find much.

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The kids with the UV lights (and gloves) looking for scorpions

On the GPS, there was noted that there was a spring 30-40mins from the mine.  So the next morning we decided to head up and see it.  Well the drive took us nearly 2hours and the going was rough.  It was sandy, hot and the spring a bit anticlimactic.  So, I wouldn’t recommend the detour unless you are spending two nights at the mine and just want to do a day drive.  To do the drive and then still have to come back and head out of the valley severely limits your time.  If you are going to the spring and have a trailer, we would recommend off hooking it and fetching it on the way back.  But the safety is always an issue as there are herders around, but it should be fine.

We did take a drive down to the old deserted mining village.  There was the obligatory deserted old car, crumbling houses and old windmill.  You can have such fun taking pictures here.

So if you are going to the Richtersveld, I would definitely recommend doing the Fluospar Valley en route to Tierhoek before heading into the official park.

Tammy’s Top Tips 

  • Get to the area early enough that you have enough time to explore and look for stones
  • Avoid these bushes, they are complete bastards to deal with as they look soft but get stuck on everything!

     

  • Don’t go to the oasis unless spending two days there
  • There is no water or ablutions, so come prepared
  • Take time to wander the abandoned mining village
  • Find large pieces of fluospar for the fire as smaller ones dissipate
  • There are no large wild animals except for snakes and scorpions
  • Light a fire, star gaze and drink a nice glass of wine and enjoy the silence

Richtersveld – Tierhoek Campsite Review

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A panoramic view from above the Tierhoek campsite

In my previous blog I touched on the Richtersveld in general (click here to see).  Again, I am no aficionado, this was my second time going but it truly is a special place.  When looking into going to the Richtersveld, obviously the SANPARK’s area is well documented and you can pick up a phone and ask questions about the campsites etc.  But there are lots of areas outside the park which are run by communities and are still a part of the Richtersveld.  Tierhoek is one of these and like many community run sites in Namibia and Northern Cape, they seem to have been started out as a community initiative that over time has been neglected.  Regardless, Tierhoek is a must if you are happy to ‘rough it’ for a night or two as this is a stunning and photogenic spot with its soaring orange boulders, panoramic vista from the campsite, the leaning toilet (which the kids found hysterical) and an old sunken car or two.

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Jesse loved this car!  It seemed to capture his imagination completely

The sight is on a slight rise at the base of a kloof and from the campsite you look down over the plane.  The silence and the stars at night are incredible.  The first time there we got to watch a thunderstorm in the distance with lightening brightening the sky and stars lighting up the foreground it was an epic show of nature.

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The first time we camped at Tierhoek we watched this incredible lightening show

There are a few various places to camp up the little valley, but both times we have camped at the top where there are big boulders and two unused reservoirs.  The first time  there was not a breath of wind when we setup camp but maybe the thunderstorm in the distance should have tipped us off.  During the night it slowly started to pick up and our winner of a campsite became hell.  People had chucked their plastic bottles and cans into the empty reservoirs.  This means that at night the bottles and cans get blown around the reservoir forming the noisiest orchestra possible! We lay there for an hour hoping that the wind would soon stop…to no avail!  Pillows were put over heads and my husband huffed and puffed while tossing and turning – the kids typically slept on obliviously.  Simon finally climbed into the reservoir in the early hours of the morning and took the biggest culprits out, but it was a very long night!  This time we sent the kids in with leather gloves and a black bag as soon as we set up camp.  They found it hysterical chucking out the cans like missiles!

 

In the morning a fog bank rolled in over the plane and watching the big boulders turn orange around you as the sun rises is magic.  After packing up camp, we took a hike to the top of the koppie and the view is breathtaking.  There is no specific path and you can boulder hop your way up.  It is a very easy one to do with the kids and they loved the feeling of being on top of the world.

 

Another hit with the kids is that the campsite also has a network of boulder caves that they had a ball climbing through.  They start right behind the braai area and come out around 10m behind the campsite.  Send a dad in first just to check that there are no ‘critters’.  They were also seriously chuffed to find a huge scorpion when they did the required scorpion hunt with the UV light but otherwise there were no other encounters.

Seriously, if you are en route to the Richtersveld National Park, you won’t regret stopping here for a night en route.

 

Tammy’s Top Tips for Tierhoek 😉

  • Take cash, the community running the site do come past every so often.  I think it is around R20 pp p/night
  • Arrive being willing to share the campsite, there are no bookings so anyone can be there
  • No water or ablutions.  There is apparently a water source in the next valley over if needed.  We took shower bags and rigged them between to rocks.  The kids got filthy climbing through the caves and ontop of the rocks and into the reservoirs so it is pleasant for parents being able to wash them down before bed.
  • Leather gloves – always useful for picking up rocks, collecting rubbish or wood etc
  • Sturdy shoes for the kids.  Takkies for the hike and gumboots for when they go looking for creatures.
  • Definitely do the walk to the top of the koppie.  It is truly a magical view!
  • If camping at the reservoirs, check to make sure there aren’t any large plastic bottles or tins in.
  • As always, good wine and good company!

Desserts in the Desert

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There is nothing nicer than being in the middle of nowhere and being able to have a pudding that is more than toasted marshmallows.  Don’t get me mistaken, my kids LOVE toasted marshmallow squished between two Marie biscuits with Nutella.  It is my quick go-to treat when camping but a warm pudding can’t be beaten.  My son Jesse absolutely loves apple crumble and it is the biggest treat when away.  It’s also really easy to take along on long trips as tinned apples work perfectly well and the makings for the crumble just need butter brought.  It’s been a bit of a hit and miss trying to get the crumble to be more crumble like and not turn cakey.  So I have finally managed to get it right!  So here are my tricks.

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We love to throw peaches or apricots in with the apples for added yumminess

Firstly, when putting your fruit into the pot try to not add any of the juice or as little juice as possible.  This will minimize the amount of moisture lessening the steaming effect. With regards to what to use, cast iron works well but be careful not too much heat.  I have a standard Cadac pot which I prefer over my bread pot as the fruit doesn’t stick.  The crumble must not be too thick on top either.  And then the final winner, instead of putting a sealed lid on top, you put a few layers of tinfoil.  Pierce holes around the outside quite close to the edge.  This lets steam escape while still being able to put coals in the middle.  The first time I let the coals burn down and then ash fell through the holes.  So rather use larger coal pieces and rotate them.  We always take the heavy duty tinfoil on our trips, so if you have the lighter stuff be careful.

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Our first attempt with tinfoil.  Credit goes to my brilliant friend Nena, who suggested it after I moaned about the steaming!

 

It takes roughly 45mins to an hour and you need to rotate it so that all the sides get the fire heat too.  As with making bread on the fire, you just need an even spread of light coals underneath the pot.  Again, rather have too few and add a bit more than start too hot and burn it.  You will need to replace the top and bottom coals a few times during this time.  I generally make the apple crumble before prepping the rest of dinner and as soon as the fire is lit.  This is because it can go on the outside while the fire is burning down for the braai.  Any leftovers are great for breakfast the next day!

So here is my recipe.  It is more of a basic guideline.  I am no chef and more of a taste as I go and adjust.  So try it out, change it up and share with good company in beautiful places.

RECIPE

I generally make for roughly 4 adults and 4/5 kids

2 large tins apples

1 tin peaches or apricots

Drain all the juice and put in the pot.  There should be an even covering on the bottom of the pot.

If the apples are sugar free you may need to sprinkle some sugar on

You can add cinnamon sugar and raisins depending on your kids and friends

For the crumble:

4 tblsp soft butter

8 tblsp stone ground flour

6 tblsp sugar

I add some oats as we like how it makes it a bit chewy

Mix together with your fingers until the consistency is ‘crumbly’.  My standard test is if I squeeze some in my hand that it can stick together.

 

Put it over the top of the fruit.  You want a good covering but maximum of 1.5cm thick.  I then put a light sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top.  Cook until golden on the coals next to the fire.

 

Who needs Mars – go to the Richtersveld?!

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The van Nierop’s – Simon, Tammy, Jesse (8yrs) and Olivia (6 yrs)                                                              The van Lierop’s – Deon, Nena, Noah (10yrs), twins Zoe & Liam (turned 8yrs on the holiday)

My mum always says that if you want to jump off a building then maybe you should go bungy jumping first!!! She always wonders how many people have thought half way down, “flip, now this is a bad idea”.  Yes, my mum is a little unconventional.  So, for all those people who volunteered to go to Mars, then I think they should go to the Richtersveld first.  Well, that is if we are to apply my mothers wonderful logic.

This last Easter School holidays, South African schools had nearly three weeks instead of the usual one week.  So we spontaneously decided to go camping with our friends, the van Lierops. (Yes, I know! We were the van Nierop’s and van Lierop’s)  Everything in and around Cape Town was pretty booked so we suggested the Richtersveld.  Many people do the Orange River, but going into the Richtersveld is largely overlooked by families.  Well, most of the families I know have never been.

Below the kids saw their first Petroglyphs.  So sad that people have felt the need to draw on the rocks.  Maybe in a thousand years time they will be seen as ancient Petroglyphs too 🙂

From black pyramid like hills jutting out of yellow ground to huge boulder like mountains to a green river valley with the Orange River running through, it is a truly amazing place.  We built cairns, hunted for scorpions, fished, put fluospar rocks in the fire to see how they burnt green, drove to a spring up a barren river valley, saw petroglyphs, went for early morning runs, climbed up some amazing mountains and windmills, and spent quality time as a family.

We took five children between two families ranging in ages from 6-10 years and it was magical.  As a family going into wild places, this is one of pretty low stress.  We didn’t have to worry about the kids too much as there are no lurking predators.  So, if you want to go somewhere that is remote and dramatic and slightly otherworldly and isn’t going to be a one way ticket in 40years time, then we would recommend this dramatic beauty.

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I will post soon on the various places we camped and what was loved and what was seen as torment and suffering by some very vocal children.  Until then, dream big and dream different, anything is possible!

 

Irish Soda bread in a pan

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Our recent trip to the Richtersveld was magical and this is a pic from our buschcamp at the fluospar mine.

When you are in the middle of nowhere your options for buying bread at a corner shop are….well….not possible.  So you are either left with stale Woolies rolls which last so long because I dread to think what is in them.  Otherwise dry provitas or rice crackers….which lose their appeal after a few days.  Wraps last pretty long and are lovely with salads and veg.  Again, fresh ingredients are limited in the middle of nowhere and there is only so much tuna mayo you can eat in a wrap before gagging.

We do have a cast iron bread pot, but by the time you have set up camp and got supper ready the last thing you feel like doing is kneading bread and leaving to rise etc.  I always have these grand ideas to make bread everyday and pre kids I did it quite a lot on our trips.  But the reality with kids and camping make it seriously unlikely.  My time is now spent finding toys left in cliff holes or rounding up kids from chasing the locals goats up the mountain or stopping them from scorpion hunting without gloves..  The glamorous life of parenting!

Yet again my friend Elaine came to my rescue!  She gave me the amazing beer bread recipe.  I was moaning about the limited option while chatting through logistics on one of our sanity cycles (she is my cycling partner, so many hours are spent together on our bikes).  She then said her family had a recipe, one of those passed down from the grandmother to mother, where you make a semi flat soda bread in the pan and it all mixes together in one bowl and no rising and kneading needed.  I begged and pleaded and promised lots of chocolate in repayment for the recipe.  Woohoo!

So I tried it on our recent trip to the Richtersveld and it was amazing…well the third attempt was.  In typical me fashion I didn’t read the recipe properly.  I was so eager I scanned over it and assumed by the name that baking soda was used….a whole whopping two teaspoons!  The first ‘loaf’ looked amazing and I thought it smelt a little strong, but without trying it I promptly made a second (we were having bacon and eggs for breakfast).  My husband sneaked past and nabbed a piece…and promptly nearly threw up.

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It tasted disgusting!!!!!  I re read the recipe and suddenly realized it was baking powder and not baking soda.  Stupid name!!!!  It was also a weird yellow color when done with the baking soda but I had ignored that as well.

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Anyway, attempt 3 and 4 worked out a dream and what a brilliant, quick and tasty bread.  I made it a few times on our recent Richtersveld holiday.  So without much ado, here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Flour

2 tsp Baking POWDER

pinch of salt

(mix dry ingredients through with a fork)

270ml warm milk

(will flop if milk isn’t warm)

METHOD TO MAKE

Put all dry ingredients in, run a fork through and add the warm milk.

Mix together using a spoon.

I used a 25cm pan and I lightly olive oiled it but you can use butter too.  We just didn’t have much for our trip.

Pour batter into pan.  It will sort of lump in the middle.  I then dusted my hands in flour and could then spread it out on the pan with my fingers.  You sort of work it outwards.  Put over a medium to low heat and cover and leave.  When the sides start to look more ‘cooked and firm’ and you can get a spatula under, then flip.  Roughly 5mins a side….very roughly as I never timed it.

Then slice horizontally and eat warm with whatever you have available or wrap in tinfoil and keep for lunch.

I made 2 ‘loaves’ and they comfortably served 4 adults and 5 kids.  You cut the loaf into 4 triangles and then in half horizontally.  You then get 8 ‘slices’ per loaf.

As I said before, it’s the small things that make trips to remote areas heaven 🙂

 

Unexpected surprises while Bush Camping

 

In 2013 we did our first trip with Jesse (5) and Olivia (3) taking them up to the Kgalagadi.  Our campsite on the Khiding pan was beautiful with not another person in sight.  We had put very strict rules in place for how far they could move from camp drawing a line in the sand as their boundary.   They also had to be in view of an adult at all times, so no going behind cars.  So Jess gets his spade and starts digging around a tree right next to the braai area.  He played for hours there with Livi and our friends son Sven, with their dinky cars and dinosaurs.  We thought it was great, being under a tree and in the shade but little did we know.

Later that night my husband took a pee against said tree and not five minutes later THE biggest, laziest and fattest puffadder you could imagine came out of the hole where the kids had being playing!!!!!   I still shiver at the thought.  Now the rules include no holes at the base of anything!

So here are a few things we now do with the kids camping in the bush:

  • Take tape or rope to cordon off the boundary area for them.  This is not to keep animals out but to give the kids an end point to the camp area.  We just took that plastic traffic tape and would tie it from the car to a tree and back to the car.  If no tree we stuck a stick in the ground.  When their heads are down and they are involved in play it is amazing how quickly with distraction they can move and unintentionally too.  If you don’t have rope or tape then draw a line where they can’t go beyond.
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    The Matopi Camp on the way to Nossob from Khiding.  The grass was very high around us so we ‘fenced’ off the area for the kids, putting all vehicles in a half circle

     

     

  • Check where the kids are playing and digging.  In the story above we didn’t realize Jesse had started digging where there was already a hole.
  • If you are bush camping with high grass, put all the vehicles in as much of a half circle and then the chairs on the other half of the circle and then the kids to play inside of this space.
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Jesse, Olivia and Sven playing at Matopi.  You had to worry about spraining your ankle with all the holes and trenches they dug