Let’s get cookin’

Sourdough starters, knitting needles, and puzzles have all made a comeback courtesy of self-isolation. Now it’s time for the humble cast iron pot to take the spotlight.

Little did Newcastle photographer Peter Lorimer know what size pot he began stirring when he challenged his son Jack to see who could create the best dish in a camp oven. With Peter cooking on the balcony of his Newcastle apartment and Jack in a shed at his home in Gunnedah, Facebook was the easiest way to compare results, while letting friends and family see what they were up to.

The rules were simple: take photos of your prep setting, of the camp oven and the plated up dish. The iron cast pots have been doing overtime for several weekends now, and things have really been taking off. “The first two weeks it was just Jack and me,” says Peter Lorimer. “By week three we had about 30 people joining in, and by week four my wife Tracy and our daughter Molly set up a Facebook group just for the cook-off.” The group now has more than 4,000 members with mouthwatering entries coming in from the rooftops of Sydney apartments, from across the country and even as far as England.

The steaks (pardon, stakes) have been upped considerably. Recipes range from balsamic glazed duck and garlic lamb shanks served in a butternut pumpkin bowl to stuffed carpetbag steak, mushrooms, potatoes and capsicum, and deliciously coal fire infused apple pie. With the culinary juices flowing, new ideas kept pouring in. A cookbook with all the recipes is in the works, over $2000 have been raised for mental health charity Beyond Blue, there is talk of securing sponsorship for a prize for the best dishes and Australia’s favourite yarn spinner Murray Hartin has described it all in a bush poem, that sums it up much better than any prose we could ever come up with.

But most of all Peter says, “it’s brought people and families together for something fun they can do in these uncertain times.” And what could be better than that?

Visit the Facebook page of The Great Coronavirus Camp Oven Cook-Off to join the fun.

Photography by Peter Lorimer and participants of the Great Coronavirus Camp Oven Cook-Off

Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.