Frittering time

Someone once told me time should never be killed so I’m wondering whether instead it’s fine to fritter? So long as apples are involved I’m told.

Either way, I believe cooking this quick and easy recipe for apple fritters is time well spent.

Sugar, fruit, dough and syrup after an energetic, if tiring, day spearfishing is a reward much anticipated.


– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 large egg
– 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
– 4 apples
Vegetable oil, for frying
– Canadian maple syrup + icing sugar


– whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar + salt
– in a separate bowl, whisk the egg + buttermilk
– whisk together the two mixtures
– slice apples into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, discard centre core (keep slices in water to prevent discoloration)
– add 3 inches of oil over medium heat
– prepare a surface with paper towels
– when the oil reaches heat, dipping each apple slice in batter, carefully lower rings into the oil
– flip the apple slices occasionally to brown on all sides
– transfer fritters onto the paper towel

To serve

Serve immediately with Canadian maple syrup + a dusting of icing sugar. Alternatively the fritters can be coated in cinnamon and sugar.


Ensure the temperature of the oil is between 325 and 360. However, if no thermometer is available check the oil is ready for frying by inserting a dry wooden spoon into the oil — if it is up to temperature bubbles will form around it. Otherwise place one drop of batter to the pan, if it sizzles the oil is up to temperature.

It’s important to shake off as much excess batter as possible to ensure the apple rings fry quickly. Maintain the oil temperature to avoid soggy fritters, do not overcrowd as this will lower the temperature. Do not let oil smoke.

Campfire cooking – blueberry pancakes

Pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries, on a wilderness beach with a hot cup of fresh coffee first thing.

A breakfast hard to beat.


– 3 cups whole-wheat flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– ¾ tsp cinnamon
– 6 tsp vegetable oil
– 3 fresh eggs (or 3 tbsp egg powder)
– 3 cups milk, made from powder
– handful of blueberries


  1. Before setting out, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and egg powder and store in a plastic bag.
  2. When ready to make pancakes, combine the mix with the oil
  3. Add milk and stir until mixture is a thick soup like consistency
  4. Heat a griddle with oil, test heat with a drop of water
  5. Spoon circles of the mix onto the griddle, fry on one side until bubbles form
  6. Flip pancakes and cook for about half the time on the second side
  7. Add berries to the mix as an optional extra and top with maple syrup

To serve

Sieve icing sugar over pancakes

Campfire cooking – French onion soup

This easy to prepare version of the timeless French classic provides perfect warming lunch respite during chilly spring or autumn sea kayak expeditions.

Whole onions keep well in the hold of a sea kayak as long as they are kept in a dry bag and the crunch of fresh vegetables can provide a welcome break from dried boil in the bag foods.

The following recipe feeds 4 people.


– 2 onions, sliced
– 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
– 8 cups (2 litres) water
– 2 beef bouillon cubes
– ½ tsp pepper
– ½ tsp salt1 ½ cups croutons
– 200 gm cheddar cheese, grated
– Fresh chives to taste


  1. Heat the oil and brown the onions and garlic
  2. Add the maple syrup to sweeten the onion
  3. Add water, salt and pepper, beef bouillon cubes and simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Serve topped with fried croutons, grated cheddar cheese and chopped chives
  5. A large thermos flask will keep the soup hot for 8 hours whilst kayaking


Huddle under tarp in the lee of your upturned kayak and drink the soup from a mug using both hands. Bask in luxury as the feeling returns to your fingers.

Campfire cooking – grill marinade

This marinade is perfect as it stands – one needs go no further in dressing ocean fresh* fish for the grill.

But equally it can be used as a building block to greater things, by adding thyme, oregano or marjoram, rosemary, mustard or fresh shoreline wild garlic leaves.

Good for a couple of meals for 3–4


lemon juice 100ml, 2–3 lemons
– extra virgin olive oil 150ml
garlic cloves 3 peeled and crushed
sea salt 1 tsp

Combine all the ingredients in an airtight container and store in a dry bag in a cool place and out of the sun and shake before use.

*The term fresh fish is of course relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old so, when patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago it was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense. At Octane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean fresh. Simply put, it means caught and eaten same-day.

See ocean fresh in practice – ocean fresh calamari caught, cooked and served in an hour.

Octane offers gastro wilderness expeditions and, employing Octane’s Eight** methods of sourcing wild food for the pot, we eat the world’s best food, ocean fresh.

**Octane’s Eight is our philosophy. We believe our travelling guests, being closest to the world’s wildest fresh foods, might quite like to eat the world’s wildest fresh foods. 1) We line fish, 2) we lobster pot, 3) we spear fish, 4) we sea forage, 5) we land forage, 6) we deer stalk, 7) we seed the sea, 8) we seed the land.


Campfire cooking – Italian arrabbiata in wilderness Scotland

Bulked to the bulwark with a ballast of pasta and rice on sea kayak trips, this is a classic recipe on standby — just in case the fish don’t bite.

Arrabiata is a rich tomato based pasta recipe using basic ingredients such as passata and items from a boat’s dry-packed stowage larder. Most items are bottled or dried and impervious to the rigors of being at sea for stretches of time. It’s just the bruises on the onion that might need explaining.

Fresh herbs

In addition to the onion I prefer to pack some fresh items which make every bit of difference to morale – garlic cloves, fresh chilli and fresh parsley. And, depending on which shores an expedition passes, wild thyme can be found on a south facing, well drained sandy dune whilst ransoms garlic thrives on shady shorelines during early spring.

Lighter foods

Dried survival foods are handy for the likes of packing–light mountaineers but think of your kayak like a mule and it will do all the hard lugging for you – a sea kayak can pack as much as a yomping Marine, with considerably less effort. Just don’t let you’re beautiful craft know you think she’s a stubborn beast of burden.

Load capacity

A sea kayak with a carry capacity of 400 pounds and a paddler weighing 11 stone will safely allow for about 50 to 80 pounds of kit. There are online forum discussions on the matter of kayak load ratios but a sensible maxim is to ensure your combined weight (paddler and equipment) remains at about 50% of a kayak’s recommended load. That’s a lot of capacity for onions.

Load cap

Traditionally arrabiata is eaten with penne but I prefer spaghetti which is more efficient with space when packing a sea kayak. The very tubes enabling penne to hold rich sauces also pack air taking up valuable space in a small boat. On the other hand packing items containing air makes one’s bags more buoyant which is useful in capsize but that’s probably another discussion.

Penne prima

Don’t produce this recipe if you have Italians in your group, they can get awfully touchy about their penne.

Recipe feeds 4 people.


Olive oil
– Two onions, diced
– Five garlic cloves, finely chopped
– 1 x fresh red chili, deseeded and sliced
– 700g passata
– Fresh parsley
Handful of ransoms garlic, chopped
– Sprigs of wilde thyme, ripped
– Handful of black olives
Salt and pepper
– 300gsm spaghetti
Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat the pan for a minute, pour in three tablespoons of olive oil
  2. When oil is hot, add onions to soften
  3. As onions glisten, add garlic and chili. Sauté for another 2 minutes
  4. Pour passata into the pan
  5. Once bubbling, add olives. Add salt
  6. Simmer slowly for at least an hour with lid on. The richness comes from the amalgamation of flavours condensed over time – the longer this sits on the campfire, the richer the reduced sauce becomes
  7. About 15 mins from serving, get a water pan onto the coals for pasta
  8. Once simmering, add enough spaghetti to feed your crew – noting recommended cooking times (ave. 10 mins for dried spaghetti)
  9. Sieve the pasta and add to the sauce for 1 min whilst still on the heat. The porous pasta will absorb the sauce and combine flavours
  10. Serve with a few sprigs of fresh wild thyme, freshly chopped ransoms garlic leaves and parmesan shavings

To serve

If there are any disgruntled Italians about, agog at being served arrabiata with spaghetti, this is your chance to win them back – only now break out the pepper from the kitchen and offer some. Italians never cook pasta sauces with pepper, it is always added to taste on the plate. You might have just recovered the penne situation.


Apart from with Bolognese, Italians also never pour pasta sauce onto pasta on the plate. Pasta sauce is otherwise always added to the pasta in the cooking pot for a couple of minutes so it absorbs the juices and flavours of the sauce. If your Italian guest sees you do this all is forgiven.


Bialetti Moka, the reliable little waiter

A joy of wild camping is doing without much of life’s clutter. However, a wilderness morning without fresh coffee seems as complete as a tent without its pegs.

The Italian Moka coffee maker is my travelling companion of choice – robust and available in just about every size imaginable.

I use a Moka for one and it is made from an indestructible aluminium design and weighs very little – perfectly suited to the rigours of an expedition to the rugged, wilderness islands on the horizon.

Frapa mocha lattecino

In Italy, ordering a cafe moka is not the same as ordering a mocha coffee in America’s cultural contribution that is Starbucks. They sound alike but do not taste alike – the former is a respected brand, a historical method and a practically designed utensil and the latter is the mixing of coffee and chocolate between salon appointments.


The Bialetti Moka Express logo is a very well turned out waiter, with one hand in the air, signaling he has received your order. Perhaps it is Senore Bialetti himself.

Thankfully Senore Bialetti designed the utensil as if specifically for packing into a sea kayak and, with no glass parts like some coffee makers, his sturdy aluminium creation is ‘ruggedised’ for expeditions – indeed, made from aluminium, it is almost indestructible.

Moka origin

The two-chambered moka pots have sat on Italian stovetops since the beginning of the last century, producing a small, strong, full-bodied coffee that is rich in aroma. Mokas were invented in 1930s Italy and are apropriately named after the Yemeni city of Mocha, a centre of coffee excellence for centuries close to where coffee is said to have been discovered.


A goatherd called Kaldi from the nearby highlands of Ethiopia is credited for the discovery of coffee – it is said he discovered the bean when noticing his goats, after eating berries from a certain bush, became spirited and, at sunset, cared little for sleep.


Kaldi reported his observations to the abbot of the local monastery who made a drink with the beans and discovered he stayed alert for the long hours of evening prayer.

Soon the knowledge of the energizing effects of the berries began to spread. As word reached the Arabian Peninsula, Arab trade routes spread coffee’s reputation across the globe.

Coffee protest

We once hosted an Italian from Milan called Arturo on a wilderness kayak tour whereupon he was given a filtered French press coffee at breakfast and, thinking nobody was watching, he poured it into the sand without saying a word.

Bigger is better

He later explained I had made him an ‘Americano’ and that ‘Americans do with coffee as they do with everything else – dilute it to make it bigger’.

After the expedition he kindly sent me my Bialetti Moka Express and I have used it ever since. Especially so when there are Italians around.

Moka process

Water is heated in a lower chamber. As the water comes to the boil vapour pressure approaching two atmospheres pushes the water up through ground coffee in a filter, which collects in the upper chamber as liquid coffee.

It’s really that simple, but it does take some practice – a careful eye, the right grind (never too coarse), a low flame, and removal from the heat as soon as it has percolated through — if one is distracted, it is easy to forget the Moka and its handle may melt in the heat of the fire.

Height 16cm, width 9.5cm.

Read other methods of making fresh wild camp coffee here.

*The term fresh is relative. On the high-street, at supermarkets and in city restaurants fresh fish really means days old so, when patiently waiting for your number to be called at the fish-counter, be ready to ask where your fish is from and how many days ago it was likely caught. Supermarkets invent terms to suit their needs and, as a discerning consumer, it really is your right to challenge nonsense. At Octane we have therefore made a new, differentiated and entirely transparent definition – Ocean-fresh. Simply put, it means caught and eaten same-day.

See ocean fresh calimari caught, cooked and served in under an hour

Food on the paddle – potato, pepper + pistachio salad

This Mediterranean salad has plenty of carbs, sugars, nutrients and proteins, is full of flavour and easy to make before setting out.

Something so simple travels and packs well and is good for cold-packed lunches on kayak expeditions to replace lost energy from a hard morning’s paddling.

This everyday recipe has been pimped over the years to an expeditioner’s needs  – the pistachio serving has been doubled for its energy content, the egg serving is increased for its protein and, with spring onion in the recipe, the chives have been banned for their canny lack in contributory value – parsley, dulse or ramsons garlic have made good substitutes!

The following recipe feeds 4.


– 4 medium potatoes
– 2 red peppers
– 3 spring onion, diced
– ½ cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
– ½ cup black olives, chopped
– ¼ cup capers
– ½ cup pistachios
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– ½ cup olive oil
– 1 tsp. dried thyme
– 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
– Fresh parsley / ramsons garlic / dulse
– 50 gm grated parmesan
– 6 boiled eggs, quartered
– ½ tsp. Smoked paprika


  1. Scrub potatoes + cube
  2. Boil potatoes until al dente, drain
  3. Dressing: mix olive oil, dried thyme, vinegar + garlic
  4. Mix onion, tomatoes, olives, capers + pistachios + toss with dressing
  5. Add salt, pepper to taste
  6. Place egg quarters on each serving
  7. Sprinkle parmesan + parsley to serve. Finish with a sprinkle of Smoked paprika


— Eat, carry on paddling