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Food For Thought with Karen Ramsay

This entry is part 19 of 21 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #38

Food for adventure riders is always an interesting topic. A lot of times if you ask people what they eat when they’re out riding for a few days, pubs and cafes feature heavily.

Some trips husband Dave and I seem like we’re just on a coffee-and-cake binge (well, he does ride a BMW). Other times we’re completely self-sufficient, just topping up the supplies to do our own catering.

Now, by no means am I an expert here,but perhaps I might give you an idea or two.

Dinner is usually the main meal, with time to sit back, cook, eat and talk about the day.


We haven’t gone down the path of dehydrated or vacuum-packed food.

Apparently, the notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is a myth started by a cereal company to sell more cereal. We’ve gone through several different breakfast options, including crispbread biscuits with Vegemite, cereal with powdered milk, breakfast biscuits and muesli bars. Our current, and favourite,option is bircher muesli. I bring a plastic container with a mix of oats and raw muesli. In the evening we put some into two containers with lids, add liquid, and by morning it’s ready to eat. Individual serving containers of fruit in juice are good for this, or we use the larger one that will do four servings.

Cereal with milk powder.

When we’re out of juice, water is fine,and perhaps some condensed milk or dried fruit to fancy it up a bit.

In an attempt to cut down on dishes and so forth, we’ve tried different ways to organise this breakfast. One way is using a travel cup for breakfast and cuppas.

It works reasonably well except for the fact I’m not very sociable until I’ve had a morning cuppa, and I prefer to have a coffee before I eat.

Dave’s ANZAC biccies are always a hit.

Cold shoulder

When it comes to lunches, we’ve had some memorable ones – like flat bread with hot-and-spicy Spam and raw onion.

Or my personal, never-to-be-repeated favourite, crispbread with Vegemite and kippers. Mostly though it’s wraps with some sort of filling. Depending on when we’ve last stocked up, the fillings could include a sachet of tuna, salami, a leafy salad mix or fresh or sundried tomatoes.

We’re gradually working out which items we can carry that’ll last a few days, as long as it’s not too hot. Things like a knob of salami, hard cheese – such as pecorino romano – and boiled eggs. If we’re travelling in hot weather they can go into a cooler bag and be kept cold by buying some frozen meat. Friends of ours have said they’ve found some places where they’ve stayed in a town, bought some meat in the afternoon and the shop has frozen it for them overnight. They pick it up in the morning, ready to go.


Dinner tine

If we haven’t treated ourselves to a pub lunch, dinner is usually our main meal.

We’ve got the time to sit back, cook, eat and talk about our day. A simple meal would be a packet of flavoured couscous or rice with a tin of tuna. If we have access to plenty of water it might be rice or pasta with tinned tomatoes.

Our latest craze has been cooking in foil on coals. We’ve tried a range of meats and they’ve all cooked perfectly in the coals.

So do whole, unpeeled sweet potatos,spuds, carrots and onions. It’s like a roast dinner every night, and I think we both put on weight last trip because we were eating so well.

One of the most ingenious and strangest ideas came about when the person in question didn’t have any cooking utensils with him. Not to be deterred, he found an old metal rake at the camp site, sterilised the rake head in the fire, then skewered the fillet on it and cooked it to perfection.

Some riders have their catering well organised.

Buying is good, too

Of course you have to have snacks.

But adventure desserts are also a thing!

For a huge sugar high you could try a wrap with golden syrup or condensed milk (or a combination of both). Fruitcake seems to keep for ages and travels well.

On our last trip Greg and Ness provided everyone with individual steamed puddings; all we had to do was heat them in boiling water for a little treat.

One trip we did I had a brilliant idea of how to have fresh greens. I got some sprouts going before we left home and had the intention of putting them out in the sun when we stopped along the way. It would appear I miscalculated the impact of some of the tracks (or perhaps just the movement of the bike itself) and ended up with a jar of mush. I’d love to hear if anyone has had success with travelling sprouts.

Then there’s the issue of your rubbish.

Carting a stinking tuna tin in your pannier until you can find a bin is never nice.

With tins, we’ll chuck them in the fire after dinner. In the morning, the fire’s out (or we put it out) and the burnt-out tin is a lot more socially acceptable to take with you. Making sure you’ve always got a sturdy rubbish bag on hand is a good idea too.

Another consideration is putting money back into local communities, particularly those across this wide brown land impacted by droughts or fires or flooding rains. And when there’s such a growing culture of good cafes and pubs, then we’re ‘helping’ lots.

In hot weather food can go into a cooler bag and be kept chilled with some frozen meat.

What I’ve learned

• Sprouts don’t travel
• Chocolate appears to remain reasonably edible after numerous meltings
• Dave’s ANZAC biccies are always a hit
• There will always be that one tin that does at least four trips with you before getting eaten
• Cooking in foil under the stars is the best

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