“I promise that I will do my best, be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the guide law”
– The girl guide promise.
The Lady Stradbroke Cup was the defining event on my childhood, Girl Guide calendar. So revered was this competition – by us and all those units in neighbouring boroughs – that it defined our weekly activities for most of the year.
From knot tying and gadget making to campfire cook-offs and canvas tent assembly, week by week our unit would gather at the local hall to do our best and cultivate our skills in the fine art of self control: many a charcoaled meal dish and collapsed bivouac. Whilst our redoubtable and jolly leader, Lyndy, had an outwardly unflappable mien, her competitive spirit was fierce. To return home with anything less that a podium position flag – a prized adornment for the sparsely decorated hall walls – would be seen as a crime against queen and community.
The competition itself was always one fueled with anticipation and great excitement: a chance to put our polished skills to the test. However for me, it was always Lyndy’s farm-house, pre-practice camp-out that took top billing. When all the pitching, pegging and bed-rolling was complete, ponchoed up and huddled about a robustly built bonfire, our selected patrol would belt out some traditional Australian folk songs and toast our way to sugar laden victory via the humble marshmallow on a stick.
Taking advantage of some unseasonably warm…above 10oC…weather, last month saw the kids and I throwing modern conveniences to the cooling southerly winds and heading for the hills in a last ditch effort to enact a girl guide esque camping venture before winter. Putting those well trained little hands to the test, K1 and K2 adeptly assembled our cosy, four man tent before setting their pyro spirits upon the campfire. While my little workers fashioned a scorching set of cooking coals, I did what gardening mothers do best: prepared a ‘Gette Fuelled Salad to pad the insides of my camping crew’s ravenous tums.
‘Gette Fuelled Salad (Serves 4 rapacious campers)
If you want to do it the old Girl-Guide-school way, then you’re gonna have to start your cooking ventures early: atleast an hour before you wish to use the hot plate. From my earliest camping memories, I have always started a fire by creating a kindling tee-pee about some easy to light fuel (bark or paper).
Once the fire is searingly hot – due to the energetic commitment of your kids in keeping the flame burning on smaller sticks and thick bark gathered from home – you can throw some logs upon the flames to create a slower burn and, ultimately, the hot coals more suited to cooking.
Of course, there is always that public gas BBQ if you’d rather take advantage of some modern conveniences!
3 – 4 courgettes, halved lengthwise (or width wise if you are using large courgettes like my heirloom variety)
mixed salad leaves, sliced or torn into large chunks
garden herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, oregano and chives), enough to make a couple of tablespoons when finely chopped)
½ c pot set or greek yoghurt
2 tbs fresh taragon, dill or feathery fennel tops
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
Oil the hot plate
Heat the hot plate over the hot coals to sterilise the surface…you never know who was there before you arrived (such as some very generous campers who thought our fire pit could benefit from the addition of some errant cans: disposed of responsibly upon our return home!). Place some oil over the surface and lay, cut side down, the courgettes. Cook for 10 minutes or so (depending on how hot the plate) and then flip. Place the slab of haloumi onto the coolest part of the hot plate.
Flip after a couple of minutes…or when you smell the alluring aromas of a nicely toasted curd. Leave to cool until you can handle with ease. Meanwhile, finely dice the herbs and throw in with the salad leaves. Slice the courgettes on an angle. Dice the haloumi into ½ – 1 cm cubes. Toss together. Serve, drizzled with dressing, alongside a slice of your best homemade, Waltsana Matilda Sourdough Bread and some bangers. Dig in!
Of course, no camping trip would ever be complete without the Lady Stradbroke Cup standard marshmallow…bread…sausage…and anything else you can put on a stick…toasting session upon my D.I.Y toasting attachment.