Darren and his partner, Mort Marsh, are both avid collectors of ‘things’. It’s an obsession that’s led them into making handcrafted objects and dealing in all things vintage and retro.
“This is where our camping trips really come into their own, as we’re hoping to take our boutique to some far-flung destinations next year with our trusty bell tent providing a comfortable home-from-home,” says Darren.
“During our camping holidays, we’ve been to many vintage fairs. We come back to the tent in the evenings to cook, eat and relax under the stars. We’d been searching for a small, clean and efficient wood-fired stove suited to cooking meals from scratch.”
Darren and Mort saw a gasifying rocket stove at a wood fair at Elvaston Castle in Derbyshire.
“We were interested in how quickly the stove was lit and ready for cooking and how little smoke was produced. When I heard that I’d won the competition, I couldn’t wait to get cooking.”
Since then, they’ve been getting adventurous with their outdoor cooking, even if it’s just in their back garden.
A first meal – Moroccan-style lamb burgers, served in ciabatta with harissa yoghurt and salad
“We cooked the burgers on our stove in a griddle pan for six to seven minutes on each side. “We found the heat from the stove not too fierce and easily controllable, so we were able to cook just to our liking – medium to well done. The combination of the spices, the caramelising lamb fat and the smoke gave a great taste.”
A delicious pud
“For pudding, we made charred barmbrack eggy bread with strawberries, honey and a dollop of crème fraîche. We dipped the bread slices into the mixture and then cooked on the stove for a couple of minutes on each side until golden, then added the strawberries, cooking them really quickly to give a wonderful jammy taste.
“We adapted the ingredients slightly but the cooking inspiration came from recipes from Jamie Oliver’s recipe books. Both are a bit of a twist on classic comfort food and a real treat too.
“All too soon after our meal it came time to pack up and to let the fire die down,” says Darren. “Packing the stove away in its bag made of recycled inner tubes will keep any soot from escaping until we’re ready to use it again. We’re now impatiently looking forward to next year when we can really exploit it to the full on our camping trips.”
You can read more in our feature on the best rocket stoves and woodburning stoves.