I reckon that, over the journey, I’ve bought one of every type of camping tool or appliance, latest and greatest gadget, or award-winning thing. Most were used once and resigned to the rubbish bin to relieve the burden of having stupidly bought another piece of junk. But it taught me some valuable lessons: one was to buy once, buy right, and I now reckon I’ve refined my camping gear to the extent where every piece of equipment is absolutely necessary.
I first encountered the Travel Buddy oven on a cool morning on the Western Australian coast. I was chatting to a crew member through the car window when a smell wafted through. I enquired as to what car air-freshener they were using when a piece of hot pizza was passed out to me. I was flabbergasted. These guys had a bloody oven in their car and were feasting on all sorts of things whenever they felt like it. I suddenly understood why they picked at their food at dinner, and I decided I’d better try one out for myself.
At first, I thought it needed a generator to run but I’ve found that’s it far more versatile if you plan. It’s a pretty good thing to have if you’re budget-conscious and on the run and the cost of a burger and chips requires the remortgaging of your home.
Imagine pulling up at a roadhouse, opening the oven and chowing down on your favourite toasty or pastie, or arriving late at camp on a drizzly night and sitting down to a hot casserole, heated up during your journey – this is where this piece of equipment comes into its own. I was surprised to learn it will actually brown puff pastry from scratch. Sure, it takes a little longer than your Italian-made 900mm oven, but let’s face it, who has room in their 4WD for one of those? In fact, the sky is almost the limit if you plan what meals you want to cook or reheat in it.
The Travel Buddy comes in two sizes. I got the bigger one with a thermostat and timer, and it reaches internal temperatures of around 190°C. It takes about 45 minutes to warm up, but then you can pretty much put your meal in and forget for the next couple of hours.
This Travel Buddy oven is a winner in my view and has now been added to my list of must-haves when out bush.
- For meat sauce
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp dry basil leaves
- 500g minced beef
- 400g tin crushed tomatoes
- 5 bay leaves
- 500g jar tomato paste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1tsp Hungarian paprika
- 1 packet fresh pasta sheets
For Bechamel sauce
- 50g butter
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1½ cups of milk
- ½ cup grated tasty cheese
- ½ cup of Parmesan cheese
This is my little sister’s recipe and it goes really well with crusty garlic bread.
Saute onion with olive oil and add basil and garlic. Cook until softened on a low heat. Turn up the heat, add remaining oil and cook minced meat on high heat. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and tomato paste, bring back to the boil, combining the ingredients then simmer for about one hour.
Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan. Once melted, take off heat and add the flour. Stir until it forms a paste and then add the milk and mix. Put back on a medium heat and stir until the sauce starts to thicken (about seven minutes). Add cheese and mix until melted.
To assemble, spray a lasagne pan with cooking oil and start to layer with fresh pasta sheets then add a layer of meat sauce. Continue to layer pasta and meat sauce three or four times, depending how deep your dish is. End with a layer of pasta and pour over with the Bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover with foil and bake in a 200°C oven for 45 minutes, then remove foil and cook for a further 15 minutes until golden on the top.
If reheating a portion in the Travel Buddy, allow around one hour.
The full feature appeared in Camper Trailer Australia #102 July 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!