Something exciting is happening next weekend - it's our first ever Big Wild Sleepout. We're asking people to take a snooze on the wild side and spend the night in nature's home, either in their gardens or at one of our events, and get to know the nature that goes bump in the night. You can even get your sleepout sponsored and raise money to give nature a home at the same time.
To celebrate, chef, food writer, broadcaster and travel writer Sybil Kapoor has picked out some perfect dishes for a scrumptious sleepout experience. She'll be sharing her recipes all this week, taking you from picnic supper all the way through to breakfast. But first things first - it's all in the preparation....
Guest blogger: Sybil Kapoor
Part of the fun of camping overnight is eating outdoors. Food tastes gorgeous in the fresh air and once you’ve eaten your picnic supper, you’ll find your supplies are raided throughout the night as people watch for bats, hunt for moths or quietly listen for a night jar.
I’ve put together some simple suggestions for the Big Wild Sleepout, but you can turn your picnic into a feast by adding a few bought or easily prepared foods. It takes very little work to pack up some cheese, cold sausages and cherry tomatoes. You could add cold meats, olives, mini pork pies or a ready-made dip like hummus with raw vegetables, depending on your family’s taste. I’d slip in some easy to eat fresh fruit, and a few salty snacks as few can resist crisps or nuts. That way everyone will be happy.
To maximise your support to help wildlife in Britain, try to buy your food from sustainable sources. Buying organic or LEAF produced foods for your picnic is a good place to start, as both have growing policies that designed to help wildlife in rural Britain.
Remember to pack for your picnic:* A serrated knife to cut bread, cheese and other goodies.* A blunt knife or two to spread butter on to your breakfast bacon soda bread.* A few damp J-clothes in a plastic bag – very useful for wiping knives and sticky hands.* Napkins or kitchen paper.* Corkscrew/bottle opener – just in case.* A torch – so that you can find your midnight treats.* A twist of salt to season your radishes or hard boiled eggs.* Extra snacks – one always feels hungry outside – such as British plums, cold sausages or crunchy vegetables like celery or carrot sticks.* Cold milk in a thermos and hot coffee or tea in a thermos – always welcome.* A small container of sugar, plus spoons – if necessary.* Paper plates and cups or your own picnic ware.* Bottled water.* A bag for your rubbish – never leave litter, it can harm wild life.
For more information about how what we choose to eat has an impact on wildlife, visit the Eating Better website.
Guest blogger: Sybil Kapoor
It’s worth eating before 8.30pm as dusk falls then and twilight is a peak viewing time for wildlife. Watch out for birds settling down to rest for the night, just as the bats start to flutter out from their roosts. Nocturnal animals, such as rabbits also begin to emerge at dusk. If you know where to hide and watch, you could even see badgers emerging from their sets. A peppery roast beef and watercress sandwich Ideally, make this shortly before you set out camping. It’s lovely eaten with potato crisps and cornichons. If its warm and you’re close to long grass, listen out for crickets and see how many types of insects you can spot from different types of bees to hoverflies, beetles and butterflies.
Serves 2½ tablespoon finely grated fresh horseradish1½ tablespoons crème fraîchesalt and freshly ground black pepper15g/½ oz softened unsalted butter½ teaspoon English mustard powder½ bunch watercress, washed4–6 thin slices rare roast beef4 slices good-quality crusty white bread
1 In a small bowl, mix together the horseradish and crème fraîche. Season to taste. In a separate bowl, beat together the softened butter and mustard powder. Season to taste.
2 Dry the watercress and trim into sprigs. Trim the meat of any fat, unless you like eating beef fat. Cut the bread and spread one side of each slice with the mustard butter. Cover 2 slices of buttered bread with the beef. Season lightly, then top with the horseradish cream and watercress sprigs. Press each of the remaining 2 slices of bread, buttered-side down, on to the watercress. Firmly squash and cut each sandwich in half.
3 For the picnic wrap each half in clingfilm and pack in a chill box.
Recipe from The Great British Vegetable Cookbook (National Trust)
Photography by Karen Thomas
You can make this frittata earlier in the day, but keep chilled until shortly before serving for your picnic. It’s particularly good eaten with crusty bread, cherry tomatoes, radishes and spring onions. If you’re camping in the garden, look out for dapper little field mice, they love peas too, as every gardener knows!
Serves 23 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 small onion, finely diced1 clove garlic, finely chopped¼ teaspoon finely diced peeled ginger root85g/3oz shelled peas4 medium eggssalt and freshly ground black pepper2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
1 Set an omelette pan or round hob-proof gratin dish over a low heat. Add the olive oil and, once hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger and fry gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until soft and golden.
2 Add the peas to the onion and continue cooking for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, break the eggs into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and roughly beat with a fork.
3 Increase the heat to medium and pour in the eggs. Sprinkle on the cheese and stir briefly to distribute the peas. Cook for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat slightly and cook gently for 3-4 minutes. As soon as the frittata begins to set, loosen it a little around the edges with a spatula or palette knife. Then carefully slip it on to a plate, invert and return to the pan. Cook the underside for a further 4 minutes.
4 If making ahead for your picnic supper, cool and once tepid, cut into 4 and wrap in individual squares of baking parchment, followed by foil. Chill and pack as needed.