Travel & Feasting Blog

The Compass & Ladle camp kitchen essentials

The Compass & Ladle camp kitchen in all it's glory

Aug, 2017: When you’re packing the car for a camping trip, what gets packed in your camp kitchen essentials? Probably some barbecue tools and a grill plate; some plates, cups and cutlery; and almost certainly an esky (cool box for non-Aussies). Then the tomato sauce would definitely go in (I prefer Heinz Big Red) some sliced white bread and butter; and of course your preferred dead animal (or grilling vege for the vegetarians among us). Finally you have a few choice beverages, as lets face it, you weren’t born a camel! Whatever your camp kitchen is, you don’t want to get too crazy with it. Keep it simple right? The Compass & Ladle camp kitchen essentials are basically the same. Well, kind of…

Camp kitchen essentials: cooking kit

When we first bought our Bertha we were lucky that she already came with some cooking kit. But inevitably, over the past few months our camp kitchen has grown just a touch. We already had a barbecue kit and cast iron frypan and to this added a bread tin, grill plate, grill tripod and were gifted a big dutch oven (thanks Mr Nel!). We also bought an AMAZING set of welding gloves as no one likes burnt hands when stoking the fire. We replaced the little butane cooker with a two burner stove top and 5kg gas bottle. Fold up table, more comfy camp chairs, plastic beakers, wine goblets, plates and cutlery, two chopping boards, two pots, a thermos for making yoghurt and a rolling pin for making flat breads….the list goes on. If Fi gets her way the next ‘essential’ bit of cooking kit will be a pasta machine….and, I’m not even joking.


Some of our cooking kit....notice the awesome red welding gloves: camp kitchen essentials

Some of our cooking kit….notice the awesome red welding gloves


Camp kitchen essentials: the pantry

Our pantry is where things start getting slightly out of hand. Sure we’ve got the basics but little by little those basics invited some friends, the friends invited family and they invited their pets. We’ve got four different types of flour, two types of oil and at one stage had four different types of stock (now only three). We’ve got celery seeds and cinnamon quills, ground cumin and garam masala, bayleaves and cardamom pods. Then there is the white sugar and the brown; the baking powder and the bicarb of soda; the vanilla essence and the mixed seeds (for multigrain bread). Did I mention the sushi vinegar and nori sheets? I’m sure many are thinking that there is no way this stuff can be classed as essentials, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. You never do know when a dash of oyster sauce will be exactly what you need!

The Compass & Ladle pantry...well, at least some of it: camp kitchen essentials

The Compass & Ladle pantry…well, at least some of it


The pantry from above: camp kitchen essentials

The pantry from above


Camp kitchen essentials: the bar

Overlanding through Africa can be exceptionally thirsty so one really must have a well stocked bar. Here in the Compass & Ladle camp kitchen, things are no different. Our freezer pretty much always has a bag of ice ready for G&T’s. Then of course we have a bottle of gin, cans of Schweppes tonic and more cans of bitter lemon (Fi’s not crazy about tonic). Obviously there are fresh lemons plus two types of passionfruit cordial. Naturally we have a ready supply of beer and more often than not we’ll have three casks of wine (of the 5L variety, red and white). And, after spending a fair whack of time in South Africa we have developed a bit of a taste for brandy so felt we should have some of that. Oh, and then there’s the scotch (only because rum is a little tougher to find) and vodka (because bloody mary beef rocks!).

Now serving at the Compass & Ladle bar...minus beers, the freezer full of ice and the cocktail shakers....just kidding: camp kitchen essentials

Now serving at the Compass & Ladle bar…minus beers, the freezer full of ice and the cocktail shakers….just kidding


At first we thought having a 60L fridge freezer in our car was excessive. Not anymore. Camp kitchen essentials

At first we thought having a 60L fridge freezer in our car was excessive. Not anymore.


Camp kitchen essentials: what we like to cook….and drink while cooking

By now you’re probably all thinking we’re a bunch of complete greedy nutbags. You might also be asking what on earth do that do with all that stuff. Well, what we do with it is exactly why we need it. All of it. There’s fresh baked banana bread for breakfast, or maybe some home made yoghurt; and then flat breads with some salad for lunch. We might feel like an Indian feast with fresh chai and goat curry or a good old chicken parmigiana with corn flake crumb. Pot roasted lamb is super tasty a few days later as shepherds pie, and pot roasted chicken goes just nicely in chicken noodle soup. G&T’s for sunset, beers while on a game drive or a nice hot cocoa spiked with a good hit of brandy.

Fi is becoming an absolute gun at turning over ripe bananas into outstanding banana bread: camp kitchen essentials

Fi is becoming an absolute gun at turning over ripe bananas into outstanding banana bread


Chicken parma with corn flake crumb was one of our early successes in the Compass & Ladle camp kitchen: camp kitchen essentials

Chicken parma with corn flake crumb was one of our early successes in the Compass & Ladle camp kitchen


Very few of these things would be possible without the full and complete Compass & Ladle camp kitchen essentials. And you know what, that’s just the way we like it!

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  • Reply
    August 20, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    You two are hilarious, although I draw the line at cup-a-snack. Love you both x

    • Reply
      August 20, 2017 at 8:47 pm

      Normally I would agree with you Gem Gem but on occasion desperate times call for desperate cup-a-soup measures. Love you too!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Hi Guy & Fi. Good to see that the Siraj Magic Spice (from our impromptu braai at the Amphitheatre Backpackers after our hike up the chain ladders to the Tugela Falls) is still in the pantry. Enjoy following your travels through the rest of Africa. Best Grant

    • Reply
      September 1, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Ha ha, HEY Grant. We’ve said a few times how we dropped the ball by not getting your contact details so thanks for reaching out. That Siraj salt gets a workout mate. Very much a staple of our kitchen. Arguably my favourite application to date has been on fried goats liver. How are you?

      • Reply
        September 1, 2017 at 6:52 pm

        All good this side. Back into the grind so envious of you guys on your travels. Can’t say that goat’s liver is on my list of favoutites but again never had goat’s liver either …. will have to give it a try if you give it the thumbs up. Travel safely and hope no-one else has played hoops outside your tent in the middle of the night. G

        • Reply
          September 3, 2017 at 9:48 am

          Mate, liver is the bomb. Love the stuff. Haven’t encountered any hoop wielding night stalkers again but we’re definitely on the look out. Stay in touch!

  • Reply
    Jose Harvey
    September 16, 2017 at 5:56 am

    This is so cool. My husband and I have considered finding an old camper of sorts, redoing it, and heading out into the wilds of the US for some camping fun. I’ve seen lots of Pinterest lists for camping essentials but I like your a lot because it seems a lot more realistic. I also love that a major part of your list is the spirits. Those are definitely important. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2017 at 7:07 am

      You should totally by that camper. We’ve had so much fun in our Toyota. Definitely isn’t the cheapest way of getting about but it is awesome. Camping goes hand in hand with a few beverages so some kind of bar is key!

  • Reply
    Natasha Haley
    September 16, 2017 at 6:02 am

    I have stuffed myself on banana bread this week!! I cannot say no to the stuff. Your pantry is huge, and I love that you bring a bar haha. I guess although you think the pantry is slightly out of hand you will always enjoy your meal and probably won’t get too bored too quickly!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2017 at 7:09 am

      I often think we should have less in the pantry but then feel it’s justified when we have just the right spices to make a curry for the evening or can bang out an awesome bread and butter pudding because we have a wee bottle of vanilla essence!

  • Reply
    September 16, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Wow, now that’s what I call travelling light…not. Looks like you’ve packed everything except the kitchen sink. You’ll never go hungry! What an enormous pantry.

    • Reply
      September 19, 2017 at 4:33 am

      Actually, we do have the kitchen sink in the form of a big plastic tub. No running hot water but we can make do. Going hungry is something we both will go to great lengths to avoid!

  • Reply
    Jenn and Ed Coleman
    September 16, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t know if I would call these “essentials” but it’s a well stocked car pantry for sure. It’s amazing how just one little spice can make the difference in a a meal. Have you ever considered getting a small 10’x10′ carpet for camping? It rolls up small and makes all the difference in building an outside room were you can take your boots off and relax. It also gives a nice landing so you can keep you tent (and bedding and clothes) dirt free.

    • Reply
      September 19, 2017 at 4:32 am

      Ha ha, yeah I know, we were probably being a little facetious using the word ‘essentials’ but they are pretty essential for us. We’ve seen lots of people rolling out the carpet and it does look awesome but frankly I don’t think we have room. We have too much food! Ha Ha

  • Reply
    September 16, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Wow, that is a lot to haul around but it looks like you’re having a lot of fun with it. I am not the camping type, I like hot running water at all times. I can appreciate those that do, though. Everyone should do what makes you happy!

    • Reply
      September 19, 2017 at 4:26 am

      Completely agree, different strokes for different folks I say. Surprisingly we have actually had quite good access to hot water on our travels, much better than when we were backpacking through Latin America last year. Still there has definitely been a few nights when we have either had a cold shower or no shower at all as we have been bush camping in the middle of no where.

  • Reply
    Dinh-Long Pham
    September 17, 2017 at 4:09 am

    “There’s fresh baked banana bread for breakfast” Godddddd. I think you eat better when you camp than me when I’m just home haha. How long are your essentials optimal for?

    • Reply
      September 19, 2017 at 4:24 am

      Hey there, we can carry enough fresh food for two weeks. The real ‘essentials’ aren’t perishable so could last for weeks e.g. pasta, rice, coffee, spices etc

  • Reply
    September 17, 2017 at 4:54 am

    A friend of mine drove along the Australian highway 1 in a camper van. From the pictures, it looked exactly like this. A mini house of on the move if you like:)

    • Reply
      September 19, 2017 at 4:22 am

      Ahhh cool, Aussie road trips are the best. So much awesome territory to cover. Have you done any big camping trips?

  • Reply
    September 17, 2017 at 7:55 am

    I love how you have demonstrated that there are no barriers to cooking ‘normal’ food just because you are camping! I suppose I had in my head that overcooked sausages and bread were the only options (can you tell I don’t camp much?) – but I love how this has changed my perceptions!

    • Reply
      September 19, 2017 at 4:21 am

      Because we have been camping for so long we would go bongkas crazy if we were just doing BBQ’s each night. Hopefully next time you go camping (hopefully sooner rather than later) you’ll give it a try! Thanks for following.

  • Reply
    Megan Jerrard
    September 19, 2017 at 3:41 am

    Thanks for sharing your camp kitchen essentials – I just got through reading your post on camp cooking and was super impressed at the meals you’ve been eating while in the wilderness – you’re rocking this camp kitchen thing! welding gloves are an awesome idea for stoking the fire – and very impressed by your stocked bar! Would be amazing to drive to your next stop and crack a can open, enjoying the African savannah! Jealous!

    Seriously, I always think of camp food as basic stuff, but you guys have set a high bar! Impressive!

    • Reply
      September 19, 2017 at 4:11 am

      ha ha, thanks Megan. It really is amazing to stop in the middle of no where and bust out a well chilled glass of wine, an iced cold beer or even a G&T. Even though we’re camping we don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t enjoy a few of life’s luxuries. Maybe you should try it next time you head camping!

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