If you’re camping in the wild then wild food makes sense too. That’s how rustic rabbit stew and dumplings found its way to the recipe section of Ali Ray’s new book Pitch Up, eat local.
She stopped off at the famers’ market in Hexham on her journey around the UK which was all about seeking out cool campsites and the best local food producers nearby.
“I met David Ridley, owner of Ridley’s Fish & Game at his stall.
“One side of his stall displayed fish, the other was dedicated to a wide range of game: rabbit, pheasant, grouse, quail and venison.
“It’s an old-fashioned idea that eating game is for posh folk. A glance at the prices at the stall showed me that pheasant breast can be cheaper than chicken.
“David beckoned over a fresh-faced chap in overalls. William Stonehouse lives in nearby Allendale and most weekends he and his friends catch rabbits to supply to local butchers, something they have done since they were lads. He told me he’d had rabbit stir-fry the previous night,” said Ali.
Her book is filled with ideas for simple campfire-friendly recipes and is peppered with places to camp, buy local food and the location of the local farmers’ markets.
She ventures from the Tyne Valley to Craster where she discovers Robson’s kippers.
“On my visit, I watched a little blue boat surf into the harbour on a huge wave. A white van appeared on the quayside, three boxes of fish were offloaded and five minutes later the same van appeared in the smokehouse yard.
“I find that simple, local exchange between fisherman. Seeing it continue gives a glimmer of hope for the future.”
Sea-breezy: Dunstan Hill Camping. A site about a mile from the coast, the perfect stroll for Craster kippers.
Wild beauty: Herding Hill Farm near Haltwhistle. Wigwams, lodges and bunkhouses plus a sauna, donkeys
Alnmouth Country Store for the perfect picnic pie, or an array of local cheeses, ice-creams and meat.
Northumberland St, Alnmouth
North Acomb Farm Shop sells the best of produce from the fields you see all around. Seasonal game plus home-farmed poultry, pork and spring lamb.
Campers’ Kipper Kedgree
Kippers taste especially good cooked on a barbecue out in the open air, and the added bonus is that the distinct aroma is carried away on the breeze. Alternatively this campers’ kipper kedgeree makes an occasion out of them, and provides a more substantial meal. The cream is optional, it just depends how indulgent you are feeling.
To enjoy kippers as they should be, you need to ‘jug’ them. Fill a large jug with boiling water, and simply put the kipper in head first, keeping the tail just above the surface of the water. Leave it for 6 minutes, no more, no less, and you’ll have the perfect kipper.
2 medium-sized kippers (from Craster)
50g butter (a fifth of a block), plus an extra knob to serve
1 onion, finely chopped
1 level tsp medium curry powder
salt and pepper
150g long-grain white rice
2 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and quartered
juice of ½ lemon
a handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp double cream (optional, but makes the dish much richer)
Jug the kipper in a jug of boiling water. Reserve 150ml of the water, and drain the fish well. Flake the fish flesh into bite-sized pieces and throw away the head, skin and bones. Put the flaked fish to one side.
Melt the 50g butter in a saucepan and fry the onion for about 5-6 minutes until it has softened. Add the curry powder and a pinch of salt, and stir well. Now add the rice, and stir again so that the rice is fully coated with the butter and curry powder. Let it fry for about 1 minute, no more. Add the reserved kipper water, and bring the pan up to a simmer. Pop the lid on and let it cook gently for about 12 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender to the bite. Remove from the heat.
If you haven’t already, boil the eggs for 8 minutes, let them cool then peel them and quarter them lengthways. Now add the flaked fish, lemon juice and most of the chopped parsley to the rice. If using, you can add the double cream at this point. Fork everything together carefully, trying not to break up the fish. Taste and season with salt and pepper as required.
Serve in a warmed dish, with the egg quarters dotted across the top, garnished with parsley and the extra knob of butter.
Pitch Up, eat local is published by AA Books £16.99