"When the sun shines, make hay. Which is to say: take time when time comes, lest time steals away"
Monday, May 26, 2014
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Seek a pastime that demands the development of patience: an activity with no final whistle; no finish line; no scoreboard. Find something that you love and can lose yourself in for hours and hours without realising. These days it seems that many of us can't handle being alone with ourselves for more than about twenty seconds - just take a look around next time you're stood on a railway platform or in the queue at the supermarket and watch all of the humanity around you reaching for their phones because they're so uncomfortable just being in the present. There's real value in having to wait for a reward, be it waiting for the tide to turn, for the fish to start to rise or for the rock to dry out after a rain shower. It gives you the sort of time needed to let things settle and to subconsciously process your thoughts. Patience is becoming a lost art, and whilst there are many benefits to the immediacy of modern culture, the loss of our ability to wait for things to happen in their own god time is surely something that we ought to make efforts to salvage. It's said that patient men win the day, after all.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
It's May and, despite the long fingers of winter still doing their best to cling on, the weather is by-and-large improving. For the next six months the light is green for living a more complete life outdoors - eating, sleeping and doing all of the fun stuff in-between out in the fresh air. So, over the summer months, I hope to drop in a few posts featuring recipes that are best enjoyed when prepared and eaten outside - and I'm going to get the ball rolling with a dish that I have a personal (and so far unbroken) rule to never cook and consume under a roof: Camp Stove Hash.
Camping food often falls into two categories: dehydrated or boil-in-the-bag "mystery meals" that were invented for astronauts and are now eaten by kids on Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, or food that doesn't need a lot of preparation or cooking like tinned ravioli, packet couscous and stale sandwiches. Camp stove hash is another story, with easily transportable ingredients that make a brightly-coloured meal that I'd probably pick off a cafe menu if given half a choice. It's a two stage process though - so the first stage can be done at home before setting off if you anticipate working up a hunger and wanting to refuel as swiftly as possible. Prior preparation and all that…
Stage 1: Potato Wedges
- Potatoes - quartered lengthways, par-boiled, dusted with salt, pepper and a heap of paprika and then shallow-fried in batches until crispy.
- Equipment: Camp stove, pan, pocket knife and a wooden spoon. Fork and fresh air to eat with.
- Ingredients: Potato wedges (see stage 1), onion (optional), chorizo sausage (the ready to eat sort), small bottle of cooking oil or butter, bag of spinach, salt, pepper and paprika.
- Method: Find a level, sheltered, spot out of the wind and get your camp stove lit. Heat a touch of oil and roughly cut your onion straight into the pan taking care not to add any bits of finger or a thumb to the ingredients. Soften. Cut the chorizo into slices about as thick as a pound coin and add these, allowing them to release their bright red oil and crispen up. Tip in as many potato wedges as you want to balance out the dish or satisfy your hunger and stir the whole lot together, breaking down the wedges a bit and combining all of the ingredients - add a little more paprika at this point if you fancy it. Heat through. Add spinach a handful at a time, stirring it in and allowing it to wilt down before adding a bit more. Season to taste. Keep over the heat for a few minutes then share it straight from the pan.
Monday, May 5, 2014
Me, a big baked bean and some deep-winter wedges.
What with it having been a long weekend here in the UK and many other countries, I should really have written this post a week ago so that the classic long weekend of DIY hammering and sawing could be channeled into producing one of these wonderful little surf craft. But I've just moved house and spent the last few weeks without internet access, so now the challenge is for you to make one of these in two days instead of three next weekend…
But just what is it?
When Captain James Cook dropped anchor in a Hawaiian bay in 1778 he witnessed many of the locals riding waves lying down on wooden boards. These basic wave riding craft are called paipos (pronounced pipe-oh) and the name is derived from the Hawaiian "Pae Po'o" which means "to surf headfirst". Generally around 3 feet long, the paipo is the little brother of larger finless Hawaiian designs such as the alaia and olo, the alaia having experienced a resurrection of sorts over the past decade in alternative surf-craft circles. Travellers to and from the Hawaiian islands at the turn of the last century exported the paipo and it was adapted at various coastal locations around the world, becoming known most commonly as a "bellyboard". In the 1970's Tom Morey introduced the boogie board and foam bodyboards instantly overshadowed the traditional paipo, with just a few small pockets of traditionalists keeping the flame burning - mostly in Hawaii.
Ride anything: wave-wise and board-wise.