Waitomo News : NKC Farmer January 2015
2 Thursday, January 15, 2015 BY JAMES PAUL WAIMIHA farmer Lew Pickens lives by several mottos. His most important being . . .“bite off more than you can chew. . .then chew like buggery”. It’s a fitting maxim for the 72-year-old who liter- ally serves friends, family and visitors more than a mouthful at his ‘Bush Camp Kitchen’ dinners. His collection of 12”, 14”, 16” and 18” cast-iron pots (some of which were handed down from grandfather to father then son) each have their own particular taste. Commonly known as Dutch ovens, they are all crucial to cooking the bush-style meals he serves, but Lew says patience is also a key ingredient for a successful feast. “You need good firewood to get a lot of embers and getting the right amount is pretty important for a well-cooked meal. “It’s easy to burn food (in a camp oven) so you have to be careful with how many embers you put underneath it. But however many you put underneath, you have to put twice as many on top. And the secret is to cook it slowly, maybe five to six hours.” Comments from his visitors’ book like “Lew can rustle up one hell of a meal” are a testament to his skill. Lew has attached a corrugated iron kitchen to a spare woolshed on the 809ha sheep and beef Amos Rd farm he and his wife Julie own. It is here he creates his authentic ‘bush’ meals, which could rival any restaurant and satisfy the hungriest of visitors. A fire is lit on the kitchen’s brick base where pots are hung over to boil or laid on top to heat the oven. Smoke is filtered out through the roof which Lew can open and shut via a lever. There’s a large table close by so diners can also enjoy the cooking experience. “It is a bygone era, so while some people like to move into the future, I like to go backwards,” says Lew. Anything can be cooked in Lew’s camp ovens from bread and blackberry pies, to sponge cake. But his speciality is a wild pork stuffed roast with potatoes, pumpkins and kumara. “We once had a busload of about 40 people come through for a meal; it was a bit of work keeping the embers up,” he says. “The hardest job is cleaning up the next day, but I always say if you can make somebody’s day a good day then you’ve had a good day yourself. “Some people might say it is a warped skill to have, but a bush camp dinner definitely tastes good.” Lifting the lid on a timeless tradition TO P3 MASTER CHEF: Waimiha farmer Lew Pickens gives visitors a taste of a bygone era using traditional cast-iron pots to “rustle up” just about anything in his ‘Bush Camp Kitchen’.
2 April 2015
17 July 2014