• Caitlin Booker

Bush Break Kits - The picnic basket

I live in beautiful chaos. Or as my mother refers to it, completely unorganized mess. It’s all a matter of perspective really. There are a few areas of my life where there is no doubt that I am organized. Meal plans, shopping lists, meal prep and my bush break kits are those areas.


I am exceptionally proud of my kits, which I have slowly built up over time. How I ensure that they evolve in the right direction is by writing myself notes during the course of each trip; of what I needed that I didn’t have. As well as, what I had and didn’t touch. Then after each trip, during the kit cleaning process, I remove or add the gizmos, or what’s its’ as needed. Then I put them neatly back into their bag, box or basket ready and rearing to go for the next escape.


I find that by doing this little post trip ritual I take out half the effort, and run around needed for the next one. So I technically start relaxing before I even get to my destination #winning .



Enough about that though. Let’s jump into kit contents. First, and probably the most important is the good old picnic basket. I cannot stress enough the importance of a well kitted picnic basket. Even if going to an equipped self-catering lodge, take one of these bad boys with you. Then, should you decide to braai in the bush, you don’t have to waste space in your cooler box with plates from the lodge. That you stress over the possibility of them breaking on bad roads. But, most importantly the bottle opener will never be forgotten. I mean i can open a bottle of wine with a shoe and a tree but I’d prefer not to.


The spot of many a happy memory - the banks of the Vaal River

My picnic basket started as the family one from when I was a baby bush baby. The base of the picnic basket is still the same. Even the table cloth it came with. The bottom of the basket is red wine stained. The stains and scratches just add to its character. Using it while I’m away brings back the food memories.


The heat that is uniquely December in South Africa. Family, and friends that became family, gathering on the banks of the Vaal river. The ladies tanning in the sun, and setting up all the things. The men lighting fires, braaing and “fishing” under the willows. Mainly fishing beers out from the bottom of the cooler than fish out from the river. Us kids jumping in and out of the river. Only stopping when the lunch call rings out.


Fresh rolls, shmeared with butter. That melts when you put on the piece of boerewors straight off the braai. Keeping it simple with tomato sauce and mustard. Fresh green salad, with homemade dressing. Usually a tangy, light herb vinaigrette. Potatoes, either as wedges roasted in the foil on the fire, or as a classic potato salad. Just delicious. Just happy simplicity. A truely South African memory. Family, friends, nature and food.


Since it has been in my possession, I have added to the basket. I haven’t yet adjusted it to be for one person. That would be in conflict to the memories it carries. So if you ever see me on a lone picnic know that I have a spare glass for you to join me. I have added to it, and now it contains:


Wine glasses;

Tall water/ gin glasses;

Enamel mugs;

A flask;

A bowl - for washing up;

Plates;

Chopping board;

Knife;

Cutlery - with extra spoons for dishing up;

Two towels - so there's always a dry one;

Braai tools;

Toothpicks;

Salt, pepper shakers;

Chili powder shaker - I’m just that way inclined;

Serviettes, and wet wipes - I use the ones left over from takeouts;

Tea bags, and coffee in small Tupperware's,

Long-life milk sachets;

Sugar and sweetener sachets;

Plastic bags for rubbish - including litter I pick up in reserves;

Brown paper bags for dirty utensils;

A can opener;

A bottle opener;

Table clothe;

Utility knife - just in case;

Fire lighter.



The contents of my basket I have endeavoured to ensure are all reusable plastic for three reasons. One, the weight. Plastic is lighter. Two. Glass breaks on rough roads. Three. Most importantly, reusable. The plates and cups are still the ones I used as a little girl.


Safety First - Impromptu Knife Case

A little trick my mother showed me, which would be remiss of me to leave out. Is that I pack the knife by wrapping it in the tea towel and placing it at the bottom of the basket. This is a safety thing as it keeps the blade covered. As well as the weight of the other things ensures that the blade doesn’t move. Minimizing the risk of cutting yourself when unpacking. Simple, yet effective.


Now go forth, build up a picnic basket of your own, and go eat in the bush. Doing so becomes some of the greatest memories. One of the best spots I’ve been to is Mankwe Dam in the Pilanesberg National Park. The spot is on a koppie above the dam, needless to say that the view is exquisite. The site is also equipped with braai facilities.


Mankwe Dam Picnic Spot Pilanesberg National Park

Another use for your ultra equipped picnic basket is a date day or night - I am single, but a hopeless romantic. You don't have to go far; hit the local botanical gardens they are fill with romantic spots. Or even your garden, put some fairy lights in a tree for extra ambiance. You're welcome.


With Love,

Caity - The Gourmet Hippo

#gourmethippo


That Bushveld Feeling - Caitlin Booker








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