Final preparations for the Gibb River

This will most likely be my last blog post for a few weeks. We’re unlikely to have any cover for phone or for the net after we leave Derby tomorrow night, so won’t be able to make, or receive phone calls or emails from anyone. If anything occurs that’s urgent, we’re heading to Derby tomorrow to stay overnight, then heading in an Easterly direction across the Gibb River. I’m sure the police will locate us via the grapevine if the need arises, but I’m sure that’s not going to be necessary…

Our itenary has changed a little as the planning has progressed. As it stands at the moment we expect to be making our way towards Drysdale Station over the first few days, then we’ll be at Drysdale for 20th and 21st June, Parry Creek on 24th and 25th, Bungles, 26th and 27th, Cape Leveque 30th June – 4th July, then Banana Wells from 4th July – 8th. Then back into Cable Beach. We hope we’ve allowed enough time.

It’s going to be a bit of a trial to fit everything into the ute most likely, that’s this afternoons job. Then, tomorrow morning we have to move the food from the main caravan fridge to the portable Engel fridge, that’s going to be an even bigger trial.

We’ve decided eating out where possible is the way to go, and for the times we’re in a campsite relying on our devices, we’ve kept our meals simple. We’re only taking one little portable gas ring with disposable gas bottles, one large lidded frypan, and one small saucepan. The saucepan is for boiling water for hot drinks and washing dishes. The large frypan is for all dinners, which will be one pan affairs.

I’ve made and frozen bolognaise for four nights, which I’ll heat up with some fresh zucchini (courgettes for my European readers). Then when it’s heated through I’ll stir through some pasta which is also pre-cooked and frozen. I’ve chopped some chicken thighs for another four meals, which I’ll stir fry with some spices, carrots, cabbage and canned pineapple, then add a little bit of rice (also pre-cooked and frozen.) Hopefully it’ll be a reasonably edible sort of fried rice. I’ve previously tried freezing the bolognaise and pasta, or rice dishes as a whole. They re-heat very well in a microwave, but in a frypan they end up all mashed together, so now I freeze the pasta and rice separately to stir through at the last minute.

For the remaining two or three meals I’ll make a bechamel sauce in the large frypan, then add some defrosted, pre-cooked brown rice, some dried peas, a small can of corn, and a can of tuna. When it’s heated through sufficiently, I’ll turn off the gas and top with tomato slices and some more grated cheese, and leave it till the cheese melts. If I was making this at home there’d be fresh veges in it, and at the end I’d pop it under the grill to brown,  but this trip is going to require improvisation. In fact all the meals are very much improvised from what they’d be if I was cooking them either at home, or in the caravan. if there’s one thing I’ve realised over the years, it’s that cooking is more of art than an exact science – so having to improvise appeals to my artistic side!

For breakfast were taking a couple of tubs of Greek yogurt, which we’ll have with either some soaked prunes, or canned peaches, and topped with chopped nuts and seeds. Lunches and snacks will be either corn thins or vita wheats with cheddar cheese and chutney, or with canned fish and sliced tomatoes and cucumber. We’ll be taking some fresh apples and mandarins too. All very basic, but I’m sure we’ll get though, and will be looking forward to a proper home cooked meal, and a nice big fresh salad by the time we get back to Broome in almost a months time.

We’re only taking our alumium travel mugs for tea and coffee, and we’re not taking any glasses. I suspect the things I’ll miss most are China cups, our crystal wine glasses (yes, we travel with crystal wine glasses in the caravan), and a ready supply of ice for my water. Those little luxuries will be all the more appreciated when we return.

I’m going to keep an old fashioned travel diary to record the trip, so as I can post about it accurately when I return. Paul’s taking the camera, so we should have plenty of photos too. Yeh! Number one bucket list destination is about to be experienced. Sooooo excited! Watch this space, I suspect there’ll be plenty of the best photos yet coming very soon…..

A day of cooking

Cooking on the road is different than cooking in a house. Consideration needs to be given as to what is cooked inside the caravan, and when. Fish, curries, and other highly fragrant meals aren’t pleasant in your bedroom! Additionally, cooking anything that requires several hours heats up the caravan considerably more than it does a household kitchen. Meals are more often than not something that we cook up quickly outdoors, with barbecues being the obvious choice.

Sometimes we miss the slower cooked meals, and will spend a day lazing around the caravan, doing normal household chores like washing, and doing some good old ‘slow cooking’ to stock up the freezer. Nothings cooked quite the same as it is in a household kitchen, as can be seen from today’s effort. Cooking in a confined space with limited  bench space and cooking implements means making do. It doesn’t look as pretty, but still tastes okay.

The bedding’s been changed, and all the linen’s freshly laundered and drying in the sun. Don’t you just love the smell of sunshine on your sheets after a day of drying in direct sunlight.

A rich, red bolognaise is simmering in the electric frypan outside, almost ready to portion up for freezing in small meal size quantities. I’ll cook up a box of penne to freeze in similar sized portions separately from the bolognaise. If we’re in a place without power I find it better to have the sauce separated from the pasta. After both are defrosted, I’ll heat the sauce in a large saucepan first along with any vegetable additions (frozen spinach if nothing else is available), then at the last minute stir through the pre-cooked pasta.

Sauce ready to freeze in meal size portions.

Later this afternoon I’ll cook a roast chicken with veggies. The left over chicken will make us a salad tomorrow, and also provide some cooked chicken and left over veggies to add to another couple of meals. As you can see everything is cooked in the one frypan. Firstly the chicken, then the potatoes and pumpkin. Then at the end I place the cauliflower and broccoli flowers stalk down with the flowers supported by the rest of the roast. Not as I’d do it at home, but it works a treat in the caravan situation.

A one pan roast dinner – cooking is very different on the road.

Paul (our bread baker) has made a couple of  loaves . He makes his own recipes in a Panasonic bread maker. He slices them up before freezing.

Yum, I’ve just been handed a crust from this fresh loaf spread with butter and honey.

And to top it off, a batch of pancakes for today’s enjoyment – what a pleasure!


A stack of irregular shaped pancakes cooked in the electric frypan

Pancake topping – chopped banana and fresh mandarin in a sauce of mixed maple syrup and bitter orange marmalade.

We’re fortunate that our caravan has a good sized fridge and freezer. I don’t know how people manage months on the road with only a tiny fridge. Our fridge is usually full, and that’s without drinks. We use the Engel for our drinks and for any spill over of fresh produce that won’t fit in the fridge.

We have almost two weeks ahead of us without power, firstly a week at Cape Range National Park, starting tomorrow,  followed by almost a week of free roadside camping as we make our way to Broome. Starting out with all the laundry up to date, and a freezer, fridge and pantry well stocked with the ingredients for easy meals is going to make the trip easier. We’ll  be out of range for phone and internet as of tomorrow, so if things go quiet – it’s only because we haven’t any internet connection. I’ll update with where we are and what we’re doing as soon as technology allows me to.