Monday, 30 April, 2018 (All day)
Fun Recipes for School Camps

Cooking up a Colonial Storm…. Fun School Camp Recipes your students will love making!

Today’s reality TV cooking programs – where chefs rush to a well-stocked pantry and select from exotic meats, aromatic herbs and fresh fruit and vegetables – are a far cry from the original colonial Australian kitchen. This camp, get back to basics with your students and enjoy a Masterchef moment – colonial Australia-style!

Tonight, the kids in your school camp will clatter and clang their way into the camp kitchen, grab a plate, and then be served a hot and nutritious two or three-course meal.

They will have no idea that just a few generations ago, their peers would not only have hunted down their dinner, but helped cook it.

Boys of yesteryear would likely have spent the afternoon trapping wild birds, rabbits or fish from the hills and creeks surrounding their home. The girls would have been working away in the kitchen all day, kneading dough for the bread, gathering eggs and peeling vegetables dug by hand from the garden.

When they finally sat down to dinner, it would have been a fairly plain affair; most likely a plate of boiled or roasted meat with bread, dripping and perhaps some mashed potato, turnip or swede.

The history books show that the first settlers to Australia did it tough. Greeted with a harsh climate and parched soil, many of the fruit and vegetable seeds and saplings that were so carefully packed and brought over from Great Britain withered and died before producing a single crop. For many families, rabbit, wild birds and potatoes were dietary staples.

In the early 1790s the first female free settlers arrived in Australia. Slowly and steadily they worked alongside their husbands, brothers and fathers, building homes, planting permanent gardens, raising livestock, bringing up families, and creating and shaping communities and towns.

The kitchen – and more particularly the stove - was the heart and soul of the colonial Australian home. It was in the kitchen that food was prepared, stories swapped, deals negotiated, tea made and friendships forged.

If the house was lucky enough to have a bread oven as well as a conventional stove, its inhabitants could enjoy freshly-baked bread, pies and cakes – something they may have taken for granted in their country of birth, but a real treat in their new homeland.

Masterchefs of yesteryear…..a school camp exercise for students.

There was no popping down to the shop for some fresh milk or a pound of sugar in times gone by…..everything had to be planned.

How would today’s students cope with the life of our colonial forebears? As you sit around the campfire making billy tea and damper with the recipes provided below, chat with students about meal and food preparation in colonial times.

  • With no fridges, how did early settlers keep food fresh?
  • Where did they get the water to wash their dishes and prepare their meals?
  • Much of what the early settlers needed to prepare meals was sourced from the land around them, but where did they get dietary basics such as sugar, salt and flour? Discuss distances and journeys.
  • Discuss a typical meal plan – what would colonial families have eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Bush Damper

Damper is basic bread that can be cooked over a campfire. The bread originated in colonial Australia more out of necessity than gourmet appeal. Stockmen were often away from home for weeks on end and had just a camp fire to cook on and basic provisions such as dried beef, sacks of flour and salt to work with. The original damper bread dough was made from flour, water and a good pinch of salt. This is a slightly more appealing version, with milk and butter added.

You will need

  • 4 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • of butter or margarine for greasing the pan
  • Extra flour

What to do

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
  2. Pour in the milk and mix to create a soft ‘dough’.
  3. Grease the camp oven or round baking pan and dust with flour.
  4. Place dough in the camp oven or pan.
  5. Cut a cross in the top surface of dough.
  6. Close lid of camp oven and bake in the hot ashes of your camp fire for about thirty minutes. Alternatively, wrap portions of the dough around a strong stick. Hold the damper stick above the hot coals and turn the stick regularly.
  7. Allow to cool and then cover chunks of the bread with butter and jam or golden syrup.

Billy Tea

Billy tea was the name given to tea that was boiled in a large can over a fire by our drovers and early settlers. Often, green gum leaves were added to the infusion for extra flavour. The name most likely originated from the cans that were used to transport ‘bully beef’ on Australian-bound ships.

In Australia, the billy has come to symbolise the spirit of exploration of the outback. This is beautifully expressed in the first verse and chorus of Banjo Patterson’s Walzing Mathilda: ‘And he sang as he watched and waited ‘til his billy boiled…’ Billies also feature in many of Henry Lawson’s stories and poems.

Warning If you plan to use hot water, make sure you practice with cold water first. Adults should always supervise.

You will need

  • A billy can or metal bucket with a strong handle
  • Water
  • Tea leaves

What to do

  1. Fill the billy half to three quarters full of water and add the tea leaves. Place over the coals of a fire, on the edge of the fire.
  2. When the water has heated up, and the tea is ready, carefully grab the billy handle with an oven mitt or other suitable insulator.
  3. In a clear area, well away from everyone, swing the billy can quickly around in a full circle three times, bringing it back up past your knee then back over your shoulder, so it completes a full circle each time. This motion will drive all the tea leaves to the bottom of the billy so you can pour the tea without filling the cup with tea leaves.
  4. Pour the tea and enjoy.