Camp Cooking School

When you write a column on camp and outdoor cooking, you’re faced with the perennial question: What do you write about during the winter?

After all, the kids have returned to school, summer vacation is a memory and rain and snow saturate the ground. By now, most camp cooks have returned their camping gear to the dry confines of the shed. Instead of slaloming on freshly packed snow, camp cooks long for the lazy days of camping and cooking.

As I wrote in a December 2000 article, winter is the season to get ready for summer camping adventures. Cleaning and seasoning cookware, testing recipes and scouting new destinations keeps this camp cook occupied through short days and long nights.

Camp Cooking School

So, after 35 articles — mainly on the topic of camp cooking — I’m changing gears. Instead of publishing random articles, Camp and Outdoor Cooking is beginning an online camp cooking school.

Chef Steve’s Camp Cooking School will have all of the elements of a brick and mortar institute of higher learning. Except there’s no attendance and no grades — only good chow.

Hurry down the hall. Classroom’s on left. Your classmates are among the best camp cooks on the World Wide Web. But sit down — the bell’s about to ring.

Here’s the description right out of the course catalogue:

Classroom instruction. Every few weeks we’ll meet in the Suite101 classroom and discuss a new topic. Attend when you can and stay as long as you want. Your chef-instructor is ready to answer questions.

Laboratory. Yes, this is a participation class. You’re expected to cook on the weekends. But there’s no chemistry sets here. Soon, you’ll whip up great chow in the student-run restaurant.

Homework. Homework’s optional. It’s all up to you. Each session, the chef-instructor will post a few interesting Internet sites for you to explore.

What to expect

As your chef-instructor, I’ll present some topics with a hint of glamour. As we chat, you’ll imagine the master camp chef, clad in a denim chef’s coat and ball cap, flipping fresh green beans with roasted tomatoes in a cast iron chef’s skillet. You’ll see the beans as they cascade into the skillet after a snap of the chef’s wrist sent them skyward.

Other times, you’ll sit there with glazed eyes. It’s difficult, after all, to get excited about taking the garbage out. But someone has to lecture on the topic. It’s important because few relish the idea of a black bear marauding through your camp. I’d rather hypnotize you in my monotone voice that to watch a bear trash your camp.

Neither will all subjects cover new ground. Some will rehash old topics — in a new light of course. So don’t be surprised if topics like Dutch oven enchiladas or the use of sauté pans resurface.

Oh, did I say no homework? Here’s the exception: This professor’s papers are required reading. So, you’ve got an assignment to complete before the first session. Read “A Camper’s Dozen: 13 Tips To Successful Meals In Camp,” Part 1 and Part 2 by Monday. Expect a quiz.

See you in class.

Many a Bump in the Road

All this travelling i’ve been doing lately has done some damage to my 4wd wheels. They were in pristine condition beforehand but now they are on the verge of popping from a minor bump in the road. I’ll have to get my car fully serviced to ensure the wheels are not the only area that needs work.

My air conditioner stopped working halfway through the journey which was painful on the particularly sunny days. Car air conditioners are an absolute necessity when travelling for long hours day after day, especially in summer when cool air is all you can think about! My regular mechanic did warn me that the car air conditioner hoses were showing signs of damage but I decided to risk the possibility of a malfunction. I’ve certainly learnt my lesson!

I found myself not knowing where on earth I was even with a map by my side. I could use the services of a gps navigation system on my next journey so I shall have one installed during the car service. It would seem unlikely that one would get lost when only travelling on main roads with ample signage but I managed to find a way! Voice navigation would also be useful so i’ll ensure I buy a GPS system with all the features available.

Somewhere along the journey while in a heat induced daze (thanks to my lack of air conditioning), I managed to lose my fuel cap while filling up. I’m always so careful to double check I have replaced it but, as I guzzled an icy cold beverage, it completely slipped my mind! Fortunately my fuel tank has a backup system which, while not being perfect, does the job nicely. There are sure to be replacement caps available, I may even buy a custom one.

In the not so distant future I plan to have my whole exhaust system replaced with a top of the range model. This will improve my engines true performance abilities as my current exhaust system is slowly disintegrating and reducing my car engines efficiency. It will be a huge job and cost quite a lot so I shall have to save up before this work is completed. Fortunately my friend is a mechanic and my fees are discounted to a much more affordable amount.

The tinting on my car glass has begun to bubble and peel off too. It is only affecting the side car windows so I should be able to continue driving safely for the time being. Things always seem to start breaking at the same time, It must be a universal car law or something. I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t spread to my other cars as the expenses are already stretching my budget.

Many things went slighty awry on that last trip so i’m hoping the next one on my agenda will be much more successful. I’m going to travel in my performance car this time with a full service completed beforehand. There will be a group of us travelling up north through the countyside enjoying the empty roads and fresh air so someone is sure to know their way around a map i’m sure. I’ve just had some neon lighting installed throughout my car and it looks amazing in the dark of night. If I do find myself becoming lost, it won’t be long until someone finds me and my blinding blue and green neon lights!

A few minor additions to my performance car are on the cards before we head off. They’re not entirely necessary but will make the journey that much more enjoyable. The first addition will be some new shiny mag wheels to glisten in the sunlight. Not the cheap ones you can buy at your local service station either, but the custom built, unique mags i’ve seen around. The second addition will of course be personalised number plates. I’ve been meaning to buy them for years but could never decide on a design. This trip is sure to be the best so far with no incidents destined to destroy my travel dreams.

The Holy Grail Of Cheap Laptops

With all the current sales in full swing, i’ve decided to take advantage of the great prices and upgrade my home office including my cable modem and computer desk. There are so many different models with so many different features available that i’m not quite sure where to start. I just want a fast but cheap laptop, and a desktop computer. I will research online to find reviews on the best computers available and then try to find the best price at online stores to compare with my local computer stores. This looks to be the only way to ensure you get a great deal. If you buy a computer package rather than individual purchasing the computer accessories and peripherals separately, it looks like the overall price will be much cheaper.

It looks like the best laptop available to suit my computing requirements is mostly distributed online with only a few actual stores scattered around. The delivery is free which makes the option of buying online a much more appealing choice. The online store has great deals regularly too, so it will be worth keeping watch on the offers as they change. The laptops have built-in cable modems and you can choose to buy a tv tuner or printer as an additional accessory. The cartridge printers available to buy are less expensive than in store and look to be of a good quality. I think I shall purchase these items together. I doubt they have a commercial printer available though which would be more appropriate for my needs, but finding such cheap notebooks is a deal I can’t afford to miss.

How to Cool Off this Summer

With summer temperatures crossing the psychological forty degrees centigrade mark, the heat is on! People here are taking drastic measures to cool off. Those that can’t afford air conditioning are renting the units. Others just migrate to their mountain cottages.

The fruit-juice, mineral water and ice-cream businesses are thriving more than dot-com companies. I personally like to stick to thhe traditional coolers. These are conoctions that have been in my family for quite some time now. They are very simple to make and are guaranteed to cool you off on the sultriest of summer days.

Citrus fruits play a major role in replenishing lost body water. So do some juicy vegetables. Also, in a country of tea-lovers, it’s best to switch from hot tea to iced tea. So here are the coolest recipes (pun) this summer in a two part article series.

Iced Mint Tea


For the concentrate

2 tbsp. tea
500 ml. water
8-10 sprigs of mint leaves

For the preparation

2 tsp. sugar (per glass)
1/2 lemon slice


Put the water to boil on a high flame. After three minutes, add the mint leaves in. When the water starts bubbling, reduce the flame to low and add in the two tbsp. of tea leaves.

Adding the leaves last, will avoid the bitter flavor that the concentrate can accquire sometimes. Let the conc. boil until it is reduced to about 350 ml.

Strain through a muslin cloth into a bottle and chill in thhe freezer.

The concentrate is ready. To make a glass of iced tea, crush about 4 cubes of ice. In a glass (250 ml), add about 75-100 ml concentrate. Squeeze half a lemon slice and add two tsp. sugar. Top the glass with water, crushed ice and a sprig of mint.

I use sugar syrup instead of granulated sugar. For the syrup, just boil a lot of sugar till it dissolves in water to form a thick syrup.

Simple Cucumber Salad


3 large cucumbers (sliced)
5 pineapple slices
2 sliced tomatoes or whole baby tomatoes
boiled corn
2 finely chopped spring onions
1 capful vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. sunflower / olive oil


In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers, pineapples, tomatoes and corn. Add in the spring onions and toss some more.

In another bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper and stir till dissoloved. Pour this dressing onto the salad and toss with your hands to get thhe flavor into every corner of the salad bowl.

Chill in the freezer. Arrange on a dish. Garnish with mint leaves, and ice cubes.

Shredded Cabbage Salad


1 finely shredded cabbage
3 sliced spring onions
4 tbsp. mayyonaise


Toss all thhe ingredients in a bowl. Mix in the mayo. Be creative.

Pink Lemonade


1 tsp. rose syrup
1/2 slice lemon
2 tsp. sugar
pinch of black salt


In a 300 ml. glass, add the rose syrup and squeeze in the lemon. Add sugar and the rock salt. Top with crushed ice and water.

In all the above recipes, the ingredients are very cooling. Rose syrup is made from rose petals that cool the liver. Tea is also very refreshing and so are lemons and mint. Enjoy the summer.

Schizophrenia – Early Intervention and Prevention

I’ve covered many aspects of early intervention and prevention in previous columns. It is in my opinion the future of schizophrenia. The low dosing for first episodes is particularly appealing. It may be quite some time before we see that future take place unfortunately, for a variety of reasons. First psychotic episode programs are almost always research projects, with the notable exception of Australia’s EPPIC program. As such, even though results can be very self evident, it will take five, ten, fifteen years before their success or failure is actually documented in the academic journals. To determine the effectiveness of focusing resources on the first psychotic episode you have to follow individuals for five, ten, fifteen years after the intervention. Early intervention may be very successful when the individual is 18 years old. There is as yet no body of research indicating the individual will maintain that level of recovery for the rest of their life. Some psychiatrists believe there is a natural deteriorating course to schizophrenia. Any individual will become increasingly disabled over the course of their life with or without early intervention. Why invest money in an early intervention program, when it might not make any difference in the long run.

Many regions have very limited resources. Given the legacy of disabled people in their community, many mental health administrators see a much higher priority for an ACT team over an early intervention program. An ACT program (Assertive Community Outreach Team) is an intensive form of case management that focuses on people having a lot of trouble living in the community, usually because they are either noncompliant, very disabled or both. The argument that it is more important to prevent people from ever needing an ACT team doesn’t hold water if you don’t think that is possible.

There are other more generic problems to early intervention. Schizophrenia is stigmatized to some extent even among psychiatrists. Some psychiatrists won’t take patients with schizophrenia. Many psychiatrists won’t live and practice in smaller communities. In Ontario the government hasn’t allowed enough physicains to be trained in medical school, and psychiatry is not a first choice for medical students. The end result is that there are never enough psychiatrists vis-a-vis people with schizophrenia, let alone for a focused early intervention program.

To be effective it would appear early intervention really does have to be quite early. In London Ontario, Dr. Ashok Malla has told me the first six months of psychosis are critical. If he can treat an individual in the first six months of the first psychotic episode, he gets a complete recovery 90% of the time. The point of intervention, even in London with a well established, university financed first episode program is two years. First Episode patients experience psychotic symptoms for an average of two years before they are treated, which is too late.

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