Posts Tagged camp cooking
A random find on Pinterest and a great idea for my kayak kitchen is born. Looks like I will have very fresh breath for the next while as I build up a collection of these containers for my essential spices.
When I think about Tofino, BC many images come to my mind’s eye in an overwhelming stream of memories from childhood wanderings and play on Long Beach (now Pacific Rim National Park) amongst the hippie kids and resident squatter community living a sandy lifestyle of the mid-70’s, and my more current experiences kayaking the area.
Much has changed in the little village that is quite literally at the end of the road to the west side of Vancouver Island, and much has remained the same. Time and tide are the constant though Tofino endures an annual invasion of summer tourist that whips the local routine into a frenzy. Campsites are bursting to overflow, beaches packed with wanderers and surfers. The town is populated with bus tours and backpackers. But in the fall, much like my home on Salt Spring Island, which is also a tourist destination the flow slows. Regulars in town reappear after a summer hibernation and everything returns to a normal pace.
In the case of Tofino that pace remains humming as the ‘storm-watching’ season begins. The surf warning sign is changed from low to moderate or even high, the campsites are plentiful and the air is always clear and crisp. That is the first thing that hits me each time I set out on whatever beach I am closest too upon arrival in Tofino. The air at home is still, rainforest calm scent of trees and seaweed. Out there on Chesterman’s Beach, McKenzie Beach, Cox Bay or Long Beach the air is like a chilled white wine by comparison to my luke warm Merlot air of home. West coast Pacific air immediately refreshes the spirit and it all seems somehow brighter.
Last week my wife and I revisited the place of our honeymoon and the familiar scene that welcomes us even after a two-year absence. We set up camp near the ocean and our soundtrack that first night would be pounding surf mixed with the rapid attack of raindrops on our tarp. By morning, nothing but high clouds and mild temperatures greeted us as we sipped coffee at the Common Loaf Bakery in town before heading to Cox Bay, home this year to the Queen of the Peak women’s surf competition hosting wave riders from all over, with the high content of local talent. The first day of the meet was the short boarders hitting the larger waves of the weekend following some stormy days. This was my first experience watching real surfers doing what they do best and the show did not disappoint. The joy, smiles and pure athleticism of these women was astounding. Making the paddle out through a rockery to sneak out behind the incoming sets of waves was made to look easy. The rides were in some cases long and the return paddle to get the next wave equally daunting.
This was a trip that led me to Tofino at the head of one of best kayaking destinations around, Clayoquot Sound once more without my kayak on the roof rack? Though I was not there to paddle the Tofino experiences only added to the library of lovely memories from my first sight of the endless beaches when I was still in single digits and all the way to present day when I can share the experience and love of a place with the love of my life. But next time I am taking my kayak!
Spice up your camping food.
The four of us, myself and three good paddling friends landed on Rosa Island, the gem of Nuchatlitz Marine Park at about 10:30 at night. It was early July and we still displayed our Canada Day flags on the back-end of our kayaks though out there in the coast not many would see our lingering patriotic flare. Rosa greeted me for the second time in two years on that evening after the long drive and equal time spent paddling and we all were tired. None of us could meet the fatigue dealt with by one of our group suffering from the effects of kidney disease. He was knackered but unlike the rest of us who settled for setting up tents and boiling up pouches of boil-in-a-bag goop for dinner, he pulled out all the stops. Stove set up and a camping wok with sizzling bits of chicken under a shower of spices sprinkled from small containers that he brought in an old first aid kit bag. The aroma was wild, spiced and appetizing while my indian rice and spinach lay on my plate looking pre-digested.
Since then we all stepped up to the plate and began cooking better camp meals, myself especially so much so I wrote a cookbook with some of my favorite camp cooking ideas. No more freeze-dried boil in the bag for this kayak camper!
Our kayaks now weigh in very heavy on those first few days of paddling tours, mainly due to the fresh ingredients that have pushed a bag or two of essentials to the kayak’s deck to make more room. For me, the key to a good meal is always seasoning. Not too much and never too little. The tough part is how to bring those precious dried herbs and spices? Moisture is the enemy and around here there is plenty of that. Kayaking and camping always go hand in hand with a bit of humidity or damp that can cake up your spices. My friend used old film canisters as he was the avid photographer of the group and this was in the pre-digital camera age. They worked well and were air and water tight. I have tried it all but while surfing the interweb the other night I stumbled in this. I guess I will be sucking on a few Tic Tacs this spring in time for the outdoor camp cooking season.
Over the past ten years my passion for sea kayaking has grown and opened up new directions in my life, such as the occasional magazine article and of course self-publishing kayaking books. I have two that I am quite proud. The first is my most recent book, The Hungry Kayaker, which is a combination cookbook and camping for dummies guide with the weekend paddler, or recreational camper in mind. Filled with good common sense tips to make your camping trips run smoothly as well as a healthy supply of tasty recipes that are easy to prepare both at home and in the outdoor setting.
The second is a semi-autobiographical book following myself and three friends on a tour of the rugged little know area of the west side of Vancouver Island north of Nootka Island known as Nuchatlitz. It is a word that will fill your mouth and a place that filled my senses, and aroused the imagination. Nuchatlitz is a place of ancient history, native people, and some of the finest kayaking I have done. Set in an archipelago of islands and islets bordered by two wide inlets it is a place of ghosts, bears and what we brought with us, including a wobbling group dynamic. Four guys, twelve days and some blowing off of steam from the world we left behind. Dreaming in Nuchatlitz is my paddling journey through all of the above and I would hope a good companion to anyone planning to paddle there.
Links to these books are on my newly live Books tab on the home page. I invite you all to give them a looksy. Perhaps buying a copy. If you can help keep this kayaker from having to get a ‘real’ job.