One of my husbands favourite British meals - I used to make it frequently in South Africa. But moving to the bush without a proper kitchen (especially no oven!) I thought I wouldn't be able to make it again. After attempting to cook brownie mix on the fire (by hollowing out oranges and putting the mix inside, closing them up and wrapping them in tin foil) we had an excess of chocolate brownie mix which we just threw in the cast iron black pot, known as the "Dutch Oven" (not in Australia apparently!) Anyhow, it cooked quite nicely. So when Theo came back from the ration run with some sausages I thought I may as well give it a try. Its always a surprise what he will bring home from Itezi Tezi, our nearest town with a very small "supermarket!".
Although the sausages weren't quite the right type of sausage for a Toad In The Hole (they are red skinned with that hot-doggy texture) they were better than nothing! We started the camp fire an hour before we started to cook, just to make sure we created (well Theo created...) a decent amount of hot coals. In fact we stole some of the fire wood/fire from the donkey boiler that heats the shower up, as there was plenty to go around!
Noddy, a grounds man at the camp has been away for a few weeks due to a car accident and really keen to be back - doing everything with enthusiasm, including building the biggest fire I've ever seen in the donkey. Before we started cooking I decided to take a shower before it got dark, the fire had been burning for an hour so the water was sure to be nice and hot . I heard Noddy singing the other side of the grass fence when I hung my towel on the tree and was just about to turn the tap when a huge billow of smoke came over the bathroom wall, I could hear the crackling of the fire and the boiler hissing furiously. He must have added more wood. Deciding to check it out and saw flames licking up outside in all directions of the bottom of the boiler.
Not wanting to be in the middle of a shower and the walls burn down around me, I decided to go ask Noddy about it. "Erm, can you come and look at the fire, please?" I said. "Look at it?" he replied looking confused, "yeah its kind of big... can you just check it's okay? Please, thank you" (sounding like such a girl!)
He said "It's okay, it will go down soon". Seeing that I wasn't entirely convinced we just stood there staring at it in silence for a while, he made a bit of an effort to move any more wood that was near by so it wouldn't ignite, but I get the feeling that was just to appease me and he wasn't worried in the slightest. Rather than standing there like a lemon, and not feeling all too confident to shower yet, I decided to start cooking. I got some foil and drizzled a bit of olive oil over it, as well as salt, pepper and mixed herbs. I then chopped up potatoes into cubes, piled them onto the foil and added more olive oil, salt, pepper and mixed herbs on top. Meanwhile the fire had died down, "It is fine now Madam", Noddy said with half a smile. I parcelled up the foil package on the side ready for Theo to throw in the fire.
Any how, post shower I started on the batter for the Toad in the Hole. For the Batter I went for the Jamie Olivier one that I always use: 285ml milk (used a left over volunteers water bottle to measure), flour (had to guess!), a pinch of salt and 3 eggs (that I had to do the float test on 12 eggs to get 4 "just okay" ones - you know, the ones that start to float then sink, you know they are on the edge to turning). So mixed all those ingredients in a Billy Can (hail to Duke of Edinburgh days - if only I had some Kendle Mint Cake!)
After getting the sausages nice and hot, we were ready to pour on the batter. I always remember reading in Jamie Oliver's book that NEVER to open the oven before 20 minutes after putting the batter in, or it will just deflate. So decided to do the same here. Waited 20 minutes, during which time I boiled some water and made some gravy and in 20 minutes time both the Toad in the Hole and potatoes were perfectly cooked.
We set up a little romantic spot by the fire under the Super Moon (which apparently means it is the closest to the earth so it looks much bigger). A lovely evening of peace and quiet before the camp gets a little busier tomorrow, as we welcome two new volunteers.