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Trish's blog - Kotlich cooking

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Happy Kotlich Customersends news
Dear Trish
Well, the kotlich arrived in good time and we had such fun on Rob's birthday - the hottest day of the summer down here in Kent, and there we were doing a goulashup! - to the consternation of the rest of the campers but that's another story (who needs bangers on a disposable barbeque!!).
Anyway then we spent our silver wedding anniversary camping in Norfolk and tried out a few new recipes - £5 for 3kg of mussels from Marvin's Mussels in Brancaster was a highlight (though about 1.5 kg more than we needed - oh well) as was Carluccio's take on fish stew.  Our chicken casserole was seriously under-flavoured but I guess it's all part of the learning process.  We're planning another goulash (proper this time) with friends next week for Halloween and I'm looking forward to the marmalade season if I can't wedge in a kotlich meal or two over Christmas.  So - thank you!  It's been fab so far and I look forward to lots more happy times - Whitstable beach is beckoning!
Which brings me to the real subject of this email - we're definitely in for the competition next year!  We're hardy campers and love Shropshire - less familiar with Herefordshire but that's just circumstantial.  So really anywhere we can park up the VW and ideally put up the tent will be fine for us.  Rob's 50th is next summer as well and I'm afraid it will have to be a kotlich plus dutch oven event!
Do keep us in the loop about how this progresses - I'm sure it will be a hoot!
all the best
Clair
PS will try to send some pics for the album!
 

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Kotlich Cooking at the cabin

It is always really tempting to cancell or change plans when the weather looks awful. IMGP8076cabinfb All last week I kept thinking, "Why are we going?  We will all just get wet and muddy and get no jobs done at all!"  But as the week end drew nearer the weather started to change. 

We arrived late on Saturday evening after a tiring day and long drive.  As we pulled into the turning bay by the stream we breathed a sigh of relief.  We opened the car doors to the sound of rushing water.  The stream was over flowing.  The stars, yes stars, were clear as crystal and the cabin was glowing in the dark on its hummock in the trees.  We grabbed what we needed for a good nights sleep and with a rather lazy torch struggled up the hill, stumbling in the bracken,  through the Douglas fir to our warm supper and bed.

IMGP8092frontcabinfbpopupThe old Jotel wood burner with its relief of moose, wood cutters and trees, was warm and welcoming.  Our co woodlanders for the week end had prepared beautifully.  A dish of hot stew amongst the candles and lamps set me yawning.  They scrambled up to the sleeping platform, we spread our bedding in front of the stove.                                               


The week end was exhausting and satisfying.  We all took our jobsIMGP8107woodfbpopup according to our strength and skills.  My outside jobs consisted of mostly dragging branches, lighting fires and cooking, washing up, clearing narrow places with my secateurs and moving logs around.  Others improved paths, steps, chainsaw work, cleared fallen trees, propped up fences, made plans and stocked up with wood for the winter.

We had a social day when several friends and relatives turned up for a Goulash in the Kotlich.  Outdoor cooking is always a major theme of our time in the woods. Some friends say it feels as if we live there all the time we seem so bedded in.  Others arrive bringing cakes for tea, so there is yet more sitting around the fire. Others offer us showers and supper, where the warmth and hospitality of their home nearly sends us into a deep sleep.

It was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy family and work/potter together.  But I have to admit to grade three exhaustion on return and gratefully falling into bed under my douvet.

 

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Kotlich Breakfast at Bredwardine BridgeChoosing one of the hottest days in mid September to go off for a KotlichIMGP8005bridgeeatingfb breakfast was a real treat.  Five of us plus baby, enjoyed seeing the mist clear and the sun rise over the trees at one of Herefords beauty spots.  On the menu was porridge, cooked easily over a slow fire, followed by bacon on the grill (while the Kotlich was washed out) and American pancakes with maple syrup.  IMGP8012RosiemarketabridgefbThere is nothing more special than eating outside on a fresh bright day, with the sound of water gurgling over the stones, a quite large salmon splash, several canoes gliding past and a friendly family stopping to chat.  The bridge was busy with tractors and loaded trailers passing full of sugar beet.All ones senses seem to be on alert, so sounds and tastes, and sights as well, all seem to be enhanced and more enjoyable, brighter and clearer.  Ok, we have photos but I won't forget this adventure for a long time.longbridge-kotlich
   

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Kotlich Cooking Competition in Vojvodina, Serbia - we were HOT in more senses than one!

kotlich competionHow to describe this wonderful day, a crazy adventure, a friendly cook up, a wild fire party, aKotlichcompetition tastey escapade!

The team was all female, Maura, Phedra and the Kotlich Cook, the temperature, over 30 degrees in the shade, the race, to make a delicious Beef Guljash from lighting the fire to tasting, 4 hours.  There were 40 competitors with their little fires and health and safety nowhere to be seen.  What fun!

The great fire maker, or better know as the husband, got us going well and then wandered off to cheat/check up on the competition.  There was every shape and size of Kotlich and cook. Several looked as if they regularly won competitions, with long wooden spoons and big tummies with glorious aprons tied tightly around them.  Several excellant moustaches tinted red with Paprika.  We did only discover one other female competitor, it seems to be a male hobby, cooking in THE KOTLICH.  We all took it in turns to snoop and find out what the secrets were.  Some had lots of bones, others shanks of smoked bacon yet another floating peppers of multiple colours.

We had been trained up the day before by George, don't use a stock cube make your kotlichcompetitionown seasoning, peel your tomatoes and make your own tomato juice, don't use stuff from a carton, always keep the side of your Kotlich clean so you don't have loads of dark slowly burning stuff stuck to the side, and finally don't add your Paprika till 15 mins before the end, it always goes brown and bitter if added too soon.  HELP! 

When we discovered we were next to last years winner we really thought we were onto something good.  About half way through the time allotted we all tasted each others Guljash, about 4 of uskotlich competition.  "Mmmmmm nice, interesting, are you using Oregano?" was his comment!  Nothing more and no tips kotlichcompetitionas to how we might make our Guljash into a winning recipe!

The afternoon got hotter and hotter, my warning to others about not cooking a Kotlich with bare shins began to tell on me as my legs began to singe every time I attended to the Kotlich.  We lazed in the shade of our patriotically decorated umbrella as the fire died down and the Guljash cooked slower as we added the secret ingredient.  Our final touch was some dark plums picked that morning from the orchard at Stara MoravicaWe thought that this might be the winning ingredient.  I must say it was the most delicious Guljash I have made yet.  BUT obviously Backa Topola is not quit ready for a sweet and sour beef guljash yet.  We headed home tired and happy before the results were given out.  We had received our diploma for entering the competition.  It will be framed and hung in a plkotlichcookingcompetitionace of honour in my home.  When we rang the next morning we were told nothing about the guljash, kotlich competitionBUT we had won the prize for the most "happy, cheerful or merry" team!!  (I looked it up in the dictionary to make sure we really understood)  What a glory, to be the most MERRY team.

We tried many local wines, one of which was the up and coming Zvonko Bogdan, 2011 Rose which suited the hot weather, keeping us on our toes and cool inside.

 

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Into the Vineyard - Stara Moravica, Vojvodina, Serbia

Early one morning just as the sun was rising...... as the song goes.  No, kotlichcook and friends were off to the vineyard onbikesforthevineyards bikes, after a 5.30 am rise.  "It is best if we pick cool grapes so they don't start fermenting", we are told.  So we pedalled off through the Atar following the old railway line down dusty lanes to the vineyard, as the sun rose like a golden orb in the East. 

stara moravica vineyardOur leader issued us all with buckets and secateurs.  We were shown the grapes that were ready to pick, with a soft grey film on them and like brilliant jewells they hung right down at the base of the vines.

We all grovelled around on our hands and knees, the elders amongst us groaning a little and knees creeked and ankles beginning to wake up.  The children ran up and down among the vines, pointing at pigs and laughing with the birds.  It was a fairly small vineyard and that morning we were only picking one sort of grape.  I think it was an Italian Riesling.  Our leader strolled up and down the rows gathering our pickings and returning them to the main barrels where they were being stored on the back of a small trailer.  It was a delight to be out at the crack and to be "in the nature" as they say in Serbia.

Stara Moravica vineyard
Stara Moravica vineyardWe soon became hungry and the good wife provided freshly baked cheesy pogaca, much like a little chees scone, which we washed down with the most obvious morning tipple, Palinka, the Hungarian Rakija.   A long and rambling discussion took place around the barrel of grapes in varius languages with a partial translation by myself....the Serbian part.

We then mounted up and headed for the cellar where we were given a great demo on another separator,  stems one way grapes the other.  from there to the crusher, no we did nto use our feet this time.  The crusher was just like a small family cider crusher that you might find in the UK, I bet we buy them from Hungary.  The very slow turning of the crusher handle ensures that the something bitter in the skins does not get released.  It all sounded very complecated but I was reassured to see how relaxed and unsterile everything was.  We tasted grape juice from a vine that had been picked a couple of days earlier and it was really delicious.

What an adventure, something to do and taste, people to meet and things to learn, all the time out in the most beautiful early morning light that glowed around Stara Moravica

   

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