Saturday, 28 April 2007

Happy Campers

For the last few days we've been away from home - Hubby and I thought it would be a good idea to give the whole 'family camping' thing a dry run nearer to home before we go off for a proper holiday later in the year. Karl is a seasoned walker and camper (he's done the Coast to Coast and everything) and is therefore pretty experienced at this outdoor living thing, but I haven't been camping at all since my parents used to take my brother and me 'Eurocamping' when we were young.

We stayed at Brynich Caravan Park and Campsite, near Brecon. Not too far from home (just in case) but, especially since it was our first time, we all did really well. It was an absolutely brilliant site, with great facilities. We wished we could have stayed longer, as by the time we got sorted out, it was time to pack it all up and come home again. Boo! Still, we tried out the tent (a Vango Aurora 400) and the Coleman stove Karl got for his birthday (on which he cooked a mean fry-up) and have plenty of ideas for next time.

After a late night last night, when no-one but James had any supper to speak of (we stopped for lunch during the day and ate loads) I had a rummage in the freezer and dug out a pack of beef mince. I thawed that and thought I'd better make an effort. I'm particularly pleased with this casual, savoury mince dish, which I made up as I went along tonight. It only uses one pot and better still, we were all able to share it. I put James' portion in the mini-blender and just whizzed it slightly, keeping most of the texture. He took a bit of convincing at first, but once he'd got used to the new sensation he loved it and quickly got the hang of doing a bit more chewing. Hopefully he'll be able to eat it "as is" by the time we go camping next, as this would be a fab meal to cook on the camping stove.

Savoury Mince with Peas

1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
500g beef mince
1 red pepper, diced
400g can chopped tomatoes
100g frozen peas

Heat some olive oil in a large pan and soften the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Fry the mince, until browned, breaking it up as you go. Add the peppers, then tip in the tomatoes and mix well. Turn the heat down, cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn the heat back up again, then add the frozen peas. Cook, covered, for a couple of minutes and then take the lid off the pan and let any excess liquid bubble away.

I served the mince with salad, grated cheddar cheese and some pitta bread, warmed in the oven (though if we were camping I'd warm them in a frying pan). Christopher is very keen on pitta bread, and after Karl suggested we took it to eat while we were camping (as it doesn't really suffer from getting a bit squashed as other bread does) he's got even more so. James is very keen on a piece of bread to chew (or suck, more often than not) so it works well for him too.

It's always such an anticlimax when you get home from a holiday. I love being at home, I really do, but I'm already planning the next 'getaway'. It's so nice to always have something, however small, to look forward to.

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