The Adventures of Cooking out of a Campervan

Gluten free, gnocchi

I’m beginning to wonder if Jimi and I are compatible.

Perhaps a Roasted Cherry-Tomato, Basil Bolognese with Gluten-Free Gnocchi will smooth things over…

Gluten free eating

In the first stages of a relationship, things seem promising. No flaws exist and when you’re not spending every waking moment with this new found love, you probably find yourself daydreaming about them.

But then things start to get…comfortable. Or in the case of Jimi, uncomfortable.

For just shy of a month, I spent everyday closely with Jimi as he took me along the Eastern Coast of Australia from Sydney to Cairns.  If you are new to Milk & Marigolds, Jimi is my small, hippy camper-van.

Jimi is a small van that comes with a built-in bed, mini fridge, sink and portable gas cooker.  If you are planning a budget-friendly trip along the east coast of Oz, I’d recommend looking into short-term rentals for camper-vans, with emphasis on the short.

What made me fall for Jimi?  His easy going, flexible nature.

If you are looking to have complete control over where you want to go and discover, the van offers this kind of freedom. Another upside is the ability to cook your own food along the way which can lead to big savings. Oz is very expensive in comparison to Canada and the cost of eating out is nearly 1 and a half times the amount at home. The same goes for hotel costs. With a van, a hotel is unnecessary.

So when did things start to go wrong?  While Jimi portrays himself as easygoing, to say this image is misleading is an understatement.

As it turns out, if Jimi endures a scratch, even of the tiniest kind, your credit card is automatically billed $2500. No exceptions.  After going through the contract details online previously with a fine comb, none of these factors are outlined until you arrive to pick up your van.

Gluten free easy

The likelihood of getting a minuscule dent or scratch on the vehicle whether it was our fault (or not) after a 3800 km journey was probable. So we opted for an additional daily insurance fee. While this is not my idea of a bargain, it was certainly the lesser evil.

In addition, don’t let Jimi lead you to think he’s flawless. His clutch is worn out and his safety deposit lock box is rusted over. He also comes with a sizeable red-ant farm that he sneakily harvests in his underbelly. He also likes to take a bath when it’s raining. This means that when it pours, like it does during Australia’s wet season, the mattress also gets a good soaking.

The honeymoon stage

The honeymoon stage

Perhaps I’m a bit picky, a little high maintenance even, but no one likes feeling like they’ve been duked.

My experience with Jimi was comparable to my experience with online dating – what you see is not always what you get.

My Quick-Fix G-free Gnocchi – Roasted Cherry-Tomato, Basil Bolognes


A few sprigs of fresh basil
1 cup of whole cherry tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can or bottle of crushed tomatoes
A mixture of your favourite olives
1 small white onion, diced
1 package of gluten free ready made gnocchi (or of feeling adventurous use my made from scratch recipe found under Milk & Marigolds Mains)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of lean, organic ground beef (optional)


1. Over a medium heat, sauté the onion with some olive oil until the onions become clear.
2. Add the beef and cook until lightly browned.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes and garlic and simmer for approximately 15 – 20 minutes.
4. Add the olives, cherry tomatoes and some of the basil. Prepare gnocchi (usually only takes 3 to 4 minutes to boil).
5. Add gnocchi to the sauce and combine.
6. Serve up with more fresh basil and cracked black pepper if desired.

Bon appetite!

Milk & Marigolds 2014 – 2015. Copyright

4 thoughts on “The Adventures of Cooking out of a Campervan

  1. Ahhh I miss those days! My boyfriend and I spent 2013 traveling Australia in our van ZZ Pop. There was something lovely about campervan cooking – getting creative with limited resources and eating in the great outdoors 😉 Enjoy your adventures 🙂


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