It was the start of the summer holidays and the cafe was closed. Jasmine was getting ready to go to Guide Camp.
‘I cannot wait to get to camp,’ said Jasmine, packing a rucksack so big it was nearly as big as her. ‘I just love it when we sit round the camp fire in the evening. We’ll probably have toasted marshmallows again, or maybe sausages and baked potatoes, cooked on the fire. Every thing tastes so much better when you’re outside.’
Jasmine tried to swing the massive rucksack onto her back, and nearly fell over sideways. ‘I think I’ll get dad to carry that to the car.’ She looked in the mirror and started to plait her hair into two pigtails. ‘Don’t you wish you were a Guide, Lucy? We get to do such exciting things’
‘No, not really,’ replied Lucy. She had decided she would spend the first weekend of the holidays trying out new recipes at home. ‘Aren’t you going to be a bit bored,’ asked Jasmine.
But Lucy loved cooking so much, she would even read recipe books before she went to sleep. Jasmine couldn’t understand it – ‘There’s no plot! What’s the point?’
The next night, Lucy sat in her room looking at recipes and dreaming of the meals she would cook when she was older. She had found a book on Moroccan cookery in the library, and now huddled up on her bed, with the rain lashing against the windows, she read about recipes for Lamb tagine with dates and preserved lemons and spicy vegetable cous cous sprinkled with almonds. Lucy became absorbed in the smells and tastes of North Africa, and was imagining that she was in a Moroccan castle, with huge fire places and red carpets and she was serving dinner on enormous wooden table lit with candles.
She had just decided that dessert would be freshly cooked meringues, with cold whipped cream and ginger syrup (to contrast with the spiciness of the cous cous), when her mobile phone rang.
‘Hello,’ she said, wondering who on earth would be ringing her so late. It was Jasmine and she sounded quite cross.
‘It’s a complete nightmare. It hasn’t stopped raining, our tent leaks and worst of all, we’ve been having cup-a-soups and pot noodles for tea. I can’t stand another night of this. If I see another pot noodle I’ll scream.’
‘Oh no, it sounds awful,’ said Lucy, secretly thinking how glad she was not to be a guide. ‘Are you going to come home early?’
‘No way,’ snapped Jasmine. ‘But I need you to bring me some dry clothes, nice food and ear plugs.’
‘Okay,’ said Lucy. ‘But why do you need ear plugs?’
‘Because,’ bellowed Jasmine down the phone, becomingly steadily more cross ‘SOMEONE in our tent snores and it is CERTAINLY NOT ME!’
Lucy got the impression that the last comment was aimed at someone else. Things did sound pretty grim. Lucy was suddenly back in rainy England after day dreaming about cooking in Morocco. She wondered if she could use the power of cooking to cheer up Jasmine and the rest of the Guides. And then she had an idea.
The next day, she got up early and baked a big batch of Coca Cola Cupcakes – they were Jasmine’s favourites, especially when they had fizzy cola bottles on the top. Then Lucy searched all the cupboards for stuff to make Corn Beef Hash – perfect camping food, because it is easy, delicious and only uses one pan. Perfect for when you are camping and only have a single stove.
‘Corned Beef, stock cube,’ Lucy muttered to herself as she put all the ingredients into a bag to cook later. ‘Potatoes, carrots, – and the secret ingredient.’
Jazzy’s mum drove Lucy to the camp site, which turned out to be a muddy field just a few miles away from where they lived. The guides did look rather miserable, with their hair and clothes dripping wet. As soon as Jasmine saw them, she raced over to give them a hug and then demanded to know what they had brought to eat.
‘Coca cola cupcakes – fantastic. We can have them with our cocoa later on. Oh and corn beef hash! What a good idea. I’ll tell captain, and then we can make a start on peeling the vegetables.’
An hour later, the corn beef hash was ready and smelled fantastic. Amazingly, the rain finally stopped and the guides managed to get a fire going. Warm at last, and with a plate of good food in front of them, everyone started to remember why camping was such good fun. Only Jasmine seemed unhappy, frowning at the food on her plate.
‘Looking for something?’ asked Lucy smiling, as she produced a bottle of brown sauce her pocket. The secret ingredient!
At last, Jasmine smiled. ‘You see,’ she said, squirting brown sauce all over the plate of corned beef hash. ‘Food does taste better outdoors – especially if it has brown sauce on!’