BBQ bites with Helen Farmer

BBQ bites with Helen Farmer

Families – 06.10.21

All ready to grill this season? But what about the kids? Helen Farmer, mum of two picky eaters, is on hand to help

Helen Farmer
Helen Farmer

When I think back to the barbecues of my childhood, I picture my dad in a rain jacket, hood up, tongs in hand, tending to sausages in the lashing rain, as we watched on through the caravan window. Exotic it wasn’t. And my dad is a man who is both overly cautious and not a great cook, meaning meat was scorched to the core, blackened lumps served up to make sure we ‘didn’t get sick in the toilet blocks’. Good times…

Now I’m a parent myself, I honestly find the whole idea exhausting. Loading up the car with so much it requires an Excel spreadsheet (just my husband?), hoping the wind doesn’t interfere, then cooking for kids who just want a pizza. In the middle of the desert.

However, over the last few years we’ve learnt a few lessons, perfected some techniques, and only require four trips from the boot to the barbecue site. Here’s my advice…

1. The middle of nowhere is not necessarily the best place to expand your child’s eating horizons. You’ll be annoyed, they’ll be hungry, and there’s nowhere but a petrol station for 45 minutes. Pack a backup, even if it’s a tube of Pringles and a cheese bread.

2. Skewers are sharp. And not a toy. Keep them out of reach and monitor usage.

3. As much as we’d like them to eat a prawn or veggie kebab, mine just won’t. It’s just burgers and bangers. And that’s okay!

4. S’mores. Kids love them. You probably do, too. Digestive biscuits, a gooey marshmallow charred over the flames, a piece of chocolate and another biscuit. Winner.

5. Hot chocolate. Camping in winter means it’s COLD at night. We take a glass jar of powdered drinking chocolate and add chips, then heat milk up. Even if you’re not staying in the great outdoors, they should fall asleep in the car.

6. South Africans and Aussies look away… There’s no shame in not cooking over fire. We light one for marshmallows but do some of the actual cooking on gas. Plus, you can make pancakes and coffee in the morning. Stop judging me if you didn’t look away.

7. Prepare ahead. We’ve been known to cook at home (stews, tagines, chillis), bring in a casserole dish then heat up. Great with crusty bread and no fears about food poisoning.

As for where to go? Well, we’re so, so lucky here. From desert dunes to wadis, a few hours to a weekend of camping, once the kids are old enough it’s an incredible way to get out and about. Admittedly, my girls’ favourite thing is looking for camel droppings, while I’d rather go on a hike. We’ve had some incredible times together with family and friends. And even when we got caught in a sandstorm, smiling through sandy s’mores, it was fun. Which took me right back to my dad, and those sooty sausages.