“ Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble” – quote from the Weird Sisters, Macbeth.
In time with the rising sun, we three disheveled creatures awoke from our natural slumber to the smell of birnh’m wood. Leerily emerging from our secluded, nylon cave, we were presently confronted with a spectral sight: heavy autumnal mist blanketing the grassy heath with it’s chilling tendrils. In the distance we spied the source of the smoky scent. Something wicked this way comes.
And then they were gone. In one fell swoop K1 and K2 had fallen to the clutches of pyromaniacal sorcery. Coming deep from within the enveloping forest, I could hear the high-pitched, infantile sounds of excited hocus-pocus ricocheting about the clearing.
Finally they emerged. Arms laden with twigs, bark and an array of small, leaf laden branches, my children – unkempt and rather a sorry sight – were ready to get the fire burning and cauldron-billy bubbling. While my enchanted duo tended to the roaring flames and toasted away to their victorious venture, I set about conjuring my own comestible potion so as to exorcise the rumbling beast emanating from the pits of our hungry tums.
Unless one has been living in the Medieval ages of the 11th century, it is clear from the get go that Lady Macbeth (and her irresolute husband) is toast. Yet for generations the treachery of this ambitious woman’s quest for power, coupled with the beguiling charisma of the Weird Sisters, has lured many – adult and child alike – toward the rapturous repository of Shakespearean literature.
Our camping trip, last holidays, saw the conclusion of our lengthy Macbeth trancefiction. From an abridged children’s retelling and audio books to wacky re-castings and feminist takes on the text, K1 and K2 were saturated with good stories, great intrigue and fabulous Macbeth themed seasonal cooking.
I hereby present to you my bewitching recipes for The Queen’s Paste…and for a covetous rival to that regally crowned, Saturday Morning staple (the scone), Trangia Bannocks.
The Queen’s Paste (Quince Paste)
The milk of human kindness…or a villainous witch? Agnes (one of the Weird Sisters; Third Witch – Jackie French) is a sagacious woman skilled in the art of herbaceous panaceas and in bestowing upon the regal heirs the fruits of nightmarish wisdom. For those willing to heed Agnes advice – avoid digestion at dusk: nightmares ensure – the Queen’s Paste (quince paste) goes down a treat with all the yummy things in morning autumn life.
8 – 10 quinces, picked from the source (my sister-in-laws winery)
1 lemon (optional)
Brush the furry coating off the quinces using a nail brush or damp cloth. Chop the quinces into chunks and place in a large cauldron (pot) with ½ c water. If using, add the juice and rind of the lemon. With the lid on and, over a medium heat, bring the fruit to simmering point. Reduce heat to low and simmer till soft (30 – 45 minutes).
Puree’ the fruit (you can freeze at this stage if you wish to save some for later in the year). Weigh the fruit. Return to the cauldron. For every 500g of fruit, add an equal amount of sugar. Stir to combine. Simmer on a low heat until the fruit is a deep red hue (1 ½ – 2 hours). Stir occasionally to ensure the fruit is not burning on the bottom (don’t worry if it does…you can always tell people you are keeping with the fire-burning theme). Bottle into sterilised jars and serve atop your Queens Toast…or as part of a cheese platter at your next regal-esque dinner party.
The Queen’s Toast: Trangia Bannocks (makes 6 – 8 bannocks)
If I wasn’t encamped about a regional pool deck, my teenage weekend hours were tumultuously passed tearing down the white water river passages of the Murray and Mitta-Mitta rivers. It was during these years of secluded bivouacking with my other intrepid, Duke of Edinburgh kayaking cronies, that the Trangia became my most esteemed camping tool. Comprising several pots and a dual purpose lid, this light weight, aluminum stove is a must for any keen campers cooking collection.
1 c rolled oats (or quick cooking oats)
1 c self raising flour
60 g butter…guesstimated
2 tbs fresh herbs (chives, thyme, rosemary etc.), finely chopped
2 tbs milk powder
salt and pepper to taste
Butter or oil to cook
Mix together the oats, flour, salt and pepper. Rub in the butter. Add the herbs and milk powder. Add enough water to form a dough (add a little more water if too dry). Divide the dough into 6 – 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball.
Assemble the Trangia to use as a fry pan. Set the stopper for the fuel cup to ½ – ¾ open. Place the stopper firmly on top of the fuel cup. When ready to cook, light the fuel and place the fry pan attachment on top. Heat the butter or oil. Take one portion of the dough and flatten in the palm of your hand to make a round shape about ¼ inch thick. Place one or two bannocks on the fry pan. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes on each side and then flip. Repeat with the remaining portions of the dough.
Abracadabra! Serve your enchanting elixir to your hungry camping hoard topped with some Queen’s Paste and a generous serve of local brie (or other soft cheese) with a side of seasonal apples and pears.