Tips ‘n tricks on cooking while traveling

IMG_8556And there you are in the forrest, after a whole day of hitchhiking, cycling, walking or driving. You’re hungry and want to fill that hole in your stomach. In this piece I’ll give you some tips ‘n trick on how to cook, what to bring and finally some good recipes. 

It can be pretty hard, cooking outdoor, with just one pot on a fire. But it can also be pretty amazing to have that slight taste of smoke or fire in your food. You don’t need BBQ sauce with that! There are a couple of different ways to cook: a simple stove, on a fire, on hot charcoal or even on pinecones. Lets have a look at the stoves first.

The stove: There are lots and lots of stoves. Super expensive ones burning on all kinds of fuel and cheap ones made from just a tin can. The stove I’ve been using for some years now is a simple gel/wood stove (on the picture above). It contains a pot for cooking, a burner for gel, alcohol or any type of burnable liquid and a tray to put the pot on. In the tray the burner perfectly fits. Mostly I cook on wood, but at places where there are hardly any trees (northern Scotland for example) its handy to take some burning gel. Gel has my preference as it is much safer then liquids. I remember one day cooking in the side of my tent (already dangerous!) and i accidentally flipped the whole thing over… With proper liquid there would be flames all over directly, but with gel it just slowly drips out. Next to this, most gels available don’t produce smoke and very toxic residue on your pots’ n pans. Firelighter blocks, lamp oil and stuff with oil in it gives huge flames and lots of smoke, something you don’t want to have.

CIMG28802Check out the toxic residue on the pot!

Extra tip: Build your own stove of rocks, bricks or metal!oven

Cooking on a fire: When you want to cook on a fire, you have to keep that in mind when you start the fire. It also depends on what you would like to cook of course. If you happen to have a big pot, its good to stack logs up and make a kind of stove from logs. But make sure the logs will not burn trough when cooking!

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You could also make a bed of charcoal and put you pot on there. A quit tip for cooking on fire, keep the lid on the pot! It’s nice to have a smokey flavor but ashes in your food is not cool. The best thing to cook on a campfire is meat in my opinion. The taste of the fire really goes in the meat and to add some extra flavor you can put some pinecones or birch in the flames.

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But what could you bring? There are some foods or ingredients that are perfect for backpacking. I can tell you that tomatoes are not one of them in my opinion. They’re tasty ‘n healthy but lets face it, would you walk around with a kilo of tomatoes smashed in your backpack? Although when the tomatoes are concentrated and formed into paste they’re the best! So let me give you a list of stuff that is really worth to take.

Extra tip: cook entirely on pinecones; your food will get a great taste!Camera

– Carrots: Tasty, healthy and you can use them in every food. Also good to eat raw as a snack.

– Onions: Onions have a strong taste, so you can use a half one in every meal to make the meal complete.

– Brown Beans: Canned beans are great to eat when you need some magnesium for your muscles and to fill your stomach. Good together with the onions, carrots and other vegetables for a nice stew.

 – Garlic: Garlic is a natural antibiotic and has a very strong taste. If you feel a little under the weather on your travels, eat a piece of garlic before you go to sleep and you can notice that you feel better the next morning. Next to this, you can use garlic for nearly every food.

– Canned Fish: Nearly all types of canned fish you can eat raw. Good for a snack but also good to add to a whole meal.

– Stock Cubes: For adding a bit of taste to blend food. They have saved my life a couple of times! (Naja, saved the taste of my food…)

– Tomato Paste: This comes in handy with everything! Pasta, stew, vegetables, fish…

– Couscous: This is great stuff, it tastes good and it goes well with lots of vegetables. The only thing you have to do to cook it, is to put it in hot water for a minute and its ready! If you consider to take rice with you, take this instead. It saves you 10 minutes of boiling.

– Tabasco: Yes, it spices everything up! Even a piece of dry bread tastes better with tabasco…

– Red Wine: Not only for cooking, but also for drinking!

Next to this it’s always good to carry a salt/pepper mix, chili powder or some other spices. Spices don’t weigh so much, but they can enhance every meal! I like to buy a pack of taco mix or some other mexican spice mix, but italian herbs are also pretty damn good. These 25 grams are worth it, I assure you.

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Extra tip: coffee! It’s not food, but tell me that in the morning…IMG_80022

And after the fire tips and the food tricks some recipes. There is one recipe I tried some weeks ago in the bush above a fire and it was delicious! I tried it a week later at home and it was good, but it missed a outside feeling. So if you ever make this, make sure you prepare it outside above a fire! You can find it here.

CIMG28952Pasta del ponte: what do you need? Pasta, tomato paste, olives, capers, onion, garlic, salt’n peppa, stock cube, tabasco, red wine.

Cook the pasta with the stock cube. When it’s done put the pasta in a plate (or on a piece of paper if you don’t have plates) and put the garlic and onion in the pot with a little wine. Cook for some minutes and add the capers. After a minute or 2 add tomato paste, water and some more wine, tabasco and the salt’n pepper. Let it boil for 5 minutes and serve with the pasta. Preferably close to a bridge.

CIMG29232Brown bean stew: What do you need? Canned beans, onion, chili powder, sausage or diced bacon, a carrot, tomato paste, red pepper, mexican spice mix.

Start with the meat and bake it for some time. Now add the onion, and the carrot. Keep steering and when the onions are glassy, add the tomato paste and the chili powder. If you want you can add a little wine with the paste, but water will do too. Add the mexican spice mix and let it simmer for some minutes. When you think it’s almost done add the red pepper. It will still contain all the vitamins, and makes the stew fresh. There u go! A mexican bean stew, full of fibers and vitamins.

For more recipes you can read “The beer can cookbook“. A great adventure cookbook made by Leah, an american traveler.

Happy cooking and don’t forget your spoon in the forrest!

For more adventure / outdoor / travel stuff you can like my Facebook page!

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Be a farmer for a short time, anywhere!

I remember the moment where I felt like a proper lumberjack… Hauling huge 50 kilo logs trough a swamp in the middle of nowhere. Together with me was the farmer (a proper lumberjack), a Chinese guy, and 12 boy scouts. This moment is what you can call a wwoof experience.

I hear many people asking about wwoof, how to begin, what the do’s and don’ts are and how it is. Now I’ve been wwoofing about 6 years, and I had some great experiences. Also there were some less good experiences. I’ll tell you how to start, how to get in touch with the farmers and what to take with you. And I will advise some great wwoofing places!

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But lets say you would like to wwoof. Ok, good! How would one set that up? First you need to have a country where you would like to go to. But lets say you would like to go to sweden (I went there, and would go there again and again!). On the bottom of the wwoof international website are the other websites, like wwoof sweden. The organization is devided in different wwoof chapters all working together. On the wwoof sweden site there is a host list. You can see information, but for detailed information you have to sign up. Mostly you pay about 10 to 15 euros for a year membership. If you done this you can see the phone number, email and all that information from the farm. Now it gets exciting…

If the country is not on the wwoof list, they are probably on the wwoof independent list. These are countries who have too less farms to have their own organization. But they are still worth checking out! So you have found your farm you would like to go to. Now call them. Yes, just call them. I was a bit scared at first, what should I tell these people on the other side of Europe? Well, I told them I would like to come by for 2 weeks (stayed there for 5 months…) on this and that date. That was good. They had space for me. It can also occur that they are already fully booked, so call them in advance. For my documentary about wwoof  I had to call them 3 months before! If you do that, you have more chance they have space for you. But don’t call them too far ahead, I would say 2 moths is the maximum.

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And that was it. Now you have arranged yourself a wwoofingplace! I can advise you to call one week before you get there. In case they are not at home or forgot about you. Some farms can have up to 10 woofers at the same time, so its easy to get lost in the departure and arrival of new wwoofers. This call would also be good to ask for specific directions, if they can pick you up from somewhere (sometimes they do!), if you have to bring special things or other things you would like to know.

You got your tickets, cardboard sign, bike or freakmobile ready, now its time for packing! Do you need to bring certain stuff for wwoofing? Yes. You will be working in the field, with animals or in the bush. Take clothes that can get dirty. Proper dirty. I remember I went to a farm for 10 days, because it was apple season, and they could use people to press apples. I kinda forgot you get totally covered in mashed apples and your shirts will not be clean after that. I took a couple of shirts, all good shirts… Stupid… These shirts still have the apple juice stains in it… So take at least 2 shirts with you that can get really dirty. Same as pants and sweaters. Also hiking boots come in handy. There might be a time where you have to go trough mud, water or swamps. Or cow poo. Yes, you’re on a farm, don’t take your best shoes. Although you go to a farm with beds and sheets, I would always take my own sleeping bag and towels. You might end up with 10 other wwoofers so having your own sleeping stuff is no luxury. I would also take my tent and mat, but this is personal. I like to sleep outside whenever I can.

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Like I said before I have been wwoofing for 6 years and next to this I used helpxchange. Similar to wwoof, but there are not only farms, but also hostels, sheepherders… anything really. There were some wonderful experiences, but they all depend on your state of being and how open you are. I could share the experiences, but then I’ll be typing for hours and hours. But what I would like to share is the best places I’ve been around the world to wwoof or volunteer. Here my best two:

Rosenhill tradgard; Ekerö/Stockholm, Sweden                                                                                                                           For me this is heaven on earth. The people are amazing, the work is great and the overall ambience is beautiful. A place where you can heal, develop yourself, develop skills, make music and make apple juice in the autumn. This place is close to the city of stockholm so a night out is no problem. They have a bus you can sleep in (almost the same like the one from “into the wild”) a caravan or wooden cottages. They also have a yoga/meditation place and great food!rosenhill appels

Happy hippy hostel; Letovnik, Bulgaria                                                                                                                                      When we arrived we got offered a shot of own made rakia (type of liquor) and when accepting there was a: “welcome to the family” This is the essence of wwoofing in my opinion working like a family. This host is in a tiny tiny village on rural bulgaria, and a great place. The work i did at the time was building. After 1 day of 10 hours work in the burning sun (sometimes wwoofing can be quite hard) we got rewarded with a sauna and a dinner at a restaurant. Great place, great people, great atmosphere. Did i already say 1 of the owners is a chef and is making dinner every workday?hhh

So these are some of the nicest places I have been. I also had some nasty experiences, but this mostly had to to with not being in one line with the people of the farm. The most extreme case was in a farm in Bulgaria, where me and my travel partner were 18 hours when we decided we should leave. There was no handshake when we arrived, just a very short tour and we directly had to work. At dinner there was no real conversation mostly just rambling from the farmer, and the next day she totally ignored my travel partner. So we decided to leave. It was a hard choice to make, because these people take you in their house, but when she said: ah, its ok, the next wwoofers will be here tomorrow I really thought: well… screw you, we are not numbers!

It should be fun, so let this also be a reminder that you are not a slave; a apple and carrot is not a lunch. Especially not when you work for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is a difference to a helper and the owner of the farm in my opinion, the owner of the farm should be happy that you would like to spend your time helping him/her. But then again, I’ve had 14 hour workdays… And I did it with joy. Because the people were thankful, and this is more worth then money. Oh yeah, and they took us for a ride on their sailboat the next day 🙂

If you have any more questions about wwoofing, the farms or you would like to have some tips, don’t hesitate to ask me!

Cheerio, and happy wwoofing!

For more adventure / outdoor / travel stuff you can like my Facebook page!

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