If you’re a parent planning a road trip with your kids this summer, you might find inspiration for your time outdoors through chef and stylist Sarah Glover’s new book, “Wild child: adventure cooking with the children. “
The cookbook details simple yet stylish meals that kids of all ages can help prepare and cook around a campfire, inspired by both land and sea. Glover discusses his camping meals favorites and how cooking together outdoors helps us get back to our roots.
KCRW: You grew up in Australia. What impression did your first outdoor experiences leave on you?
Sarah Glover: “My first experiences would have only been the freedom I had as a young child to go out, explore, spend time with my brothers and create. It was only since I was older that exploiting it made me realize that it was something of great value.
Does outdoor cooking have to mean camping out of town, or can it just be in the backyard, park, or beach that allows a fire?
“I don’t even think it’s limited to a fire. I think the outdoor kitchen could be just a little butane gas burner. It could be a picnic, it could be something you picked up from the local market. It can be translated in so many ways. It is really about the spirit behind it. And I think that’s where you connect – together on the outside around the food.
What breakfast / lunch idea can you make outside?
“One of my favorite recipes from the book is roasted papaya. So we have papaya that we harvested from the tree. And we just put it on the coals of a fire. It’s cut in half and filled with coconut yogurt and lime juice and coconut that we toasted. It’s quite delicious.
What is your “fire salad” recipe?
“Lots of chapters in the book, I really wanted it to be a whimsical adventure. It’s kind of like you step into a child’s brain and more or less create a scene or an adventure that you embark on. And I tried to do it with the food.
And so we hang the vegetables over the fire to cook them. And then we cut them up and turn them into a salad. We actually had kids that were in this photo during the photoshoot for this one, they were quite young. It was a really fun way to teach them how to hang and tie, and [about] vegetables, and also not having to overcomplicate the process of preparing it.
Hanging meat from a string and cooking it over a fire is such an old concept. The meat seems to turn on its own. Does this also happen with carrots?
“It is, surprisingly. The heat cooks it. And the great thing about vegetables is that … it’s pretty hard to spoil them. But I also like to make them char a bit in some areas. And that gives it a nice flavor. The vegetable does not always need to be cooked to the end.
What are your favorite ways to cook seafood? I know you use newspapers, twine, and sticks.
“Yes, there are a few recipes in there. It’s from a chapter called “Down to the River,” and it’s where a group of young boys go on an adventure in their boat in the hopes of catching fish. And the concept behind it gives young people the tools to be able to cook with little. As if you don’t necessarily need a frying pan. You can cook a whole fish on a stick with string over radiant heat by cramming it into the ground near the fire and then eating it.
And then the other concept is that you cook a fish in newspaper. So you wet the newspaper, put your fish in it, fill it with native grasses and different kinds of things that you can pick. … And then you wrap the fish and throw it over the embers in the fire. And the idea is that the wet foil protects the fish and steams it, kind of like you have to cook it in paper bark or something, which is an old, native way of cooking.
This book is also a reminder to be less rigid in our approach to cooking.
“Absolutely. I think a lot of what I’m doing is inspiring people to be less rigid about cooking. I think it’s gotten a little too thoughtful. [Through] all that perfectionism, we’ve lost why we cook, which most of the time is having community and breaking bread together and spending time together around food. It’s a pretty special time of day.
When you cook you can create those same memories and have the same sense of community because of the way you interact with each other, [like] the way you catch the fish or you put it on a piece of bamboo and tie it up and wait for it to cook, then you eat it together. It’s just a kind of anticipation and excitement that builds up throughout the process. And then it’s fun because you’re outside, and it doesn’t matter if you leave crumbs on the floor because an animal will just come later and eat them.
For 4 people
Recipe from Wild Child: Adventure Cooking with Kids, by Sarah Glover, Prestel editions
- 4 medium red beets
- 4 medium carrots
- 4 new onions
- Salad leaves, for serving
- Grated Parmesan or other strong cheese, for serving
- 2 cups (480 mL) balsamic vinegar
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bunch of fresh thyme or rosemary
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Butcher’s cord or garden wire
-You can play with the root vegetables and choose different varieties to hang over the fire. I love watching them swing above the flames, while their delicious cooking smells waft through the campsite.
– Start your fire and let it burn for about 1 hour, or until you get a medium heat. Build a tripod on top.
-Thread the vegetables with butcher’s twine or garden wire. Hang the beets over the heat using the tripod and cook for 1 hour, then hang the carrots and onions and cook with the beets for another 2 to 3 hours, or until cooked through. tender.
-Meanwhile, prepare the vinaigrette: Combine the balsamic vinegar, garlic and thyme in a saucepan and bring to a boil over the heat on a grill.
-Keep boiling for about 15 minutes, or until the strong vinegar flavor mellows and the mixture is reduced to half.
-Let cool then filter into a bottle.
-Stir in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
-Peel the vegetables and slice them. Arrange on a plate with the salad leaves. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinaigrette, finish with a generous grater of cheese and serve.
-Reserve the rest of the dressing for another meal.