We hauled our tents, tarps, tea and things down the south coast for a three-day camping extravaganza over the Easter long weekend. A friend had hunted down pretty much the best free camping place in all of NSW. Amongst the trees, right next to the beach, away from (nearly) everyone, it was pretty perfect.
Not counting the four or so music festivals in the years since school, I hadn't exactly spent much time in The Great Outdoors, you know, amongst The Great Unwashed, since Timbertop in grade nine of highschool. That year, we spent 60 nights camping. We fried up hunks of spicy salami (we called it donga, sounds appealing, I know) on our tiny little camp stoves, a slice of cheese bubbling on top. We used to butter sheets of Mountain Bread, spoon mounds of sugar onto the butter, fold the whole thing up into a neat little parcel, then fry the package in a pat of butter until the sugar melted into a toffee. Not many veggies in sight I'm afraid. That's what you get when you give 14-year-olds the responsibility of cooking for themselves.
This time around, things were a little different culinary-wise. In between dips in the ocean and attempts to surf the mini waves, we cooked up batches of a ridiculously delicious Easter-egg porridge, a dish thought up by Amy and Co. while brainstorming ways to sweeten their oats with no brown sugar or honey within close reach.
It poured down in the middle of our Easter Sunday fishing session, just after I had caught (and thrown back) a fish with poisonous spines. We ran back up the dunes to the camp site, peeled off our soggy t-shirts and pulled on our woolen jumpers that had been smoked to high heaven the night before while drinking too much fireside red wine. We huddled under the tarp and ate triple ginger cake with honey and lemon icing and drank milky billy tea. Pasta with tuna, chili, sun-dried tomato and olive sauce was stirred and tossed on the little camp stove, and we huddled around talking nonsense into the night and shrieking at the rogue possums attempting to nibble at our cheese and leftover steaks.
Easter-Egg Porridge: for Camping Trips or Otherwise
1 cup quick oats
1 1/2 - 2 cups milk
a pinch of sea salt
4 milk chocolate Easter eggs
Combine oats and milk in a medium pot over a grate on the campfire (or on the stove at home). Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes until oats thicken and the porridge coats the back of a spoon. If the oats start to stick to the bottom, remove the pot from the fire, or turn the heat down to low on the stove, and continue stirring continuously. Once the oats are ready, add the salt and Easter eggs and stir slowly so the chocolate melts into the porridge. Serve with a drizzle of milk and eat immediately, accompany with billy tea.