Whangarei, New Zealand! First stop on a wonderful trip.

Mapping our travels.

New Zealand. The land of the Long White Cloud. Mountains, snow, waterfalls, bushwalks, wine, food and beauty.  So much to see and do yet so little time!  And in that little time we had we saw so much yet so little.  It was a wonderful trip and we can’t wait to go back and explore more.  And now as promised I want to share some stories and photos of this trip with you.

Wayne and I spent four weeks traveling around New Zealand, we hired a car and drove around, stopping where we liked, bypassing places that just weren’t what we wanted.  We steered clear of most major cities as we enjoy the open roads, fresh air and quiet.  We started on the North Island and after two weeks we moved on to the South Island and the contrast of the two islands is amazingly gorgeous!  I must say I enjoyed the North Island more but have found through talking to other travellers and friends many seem to like the South Island with all its mountains and adventure.  Nothing wrong with that as all of New Zealand is glorious and beautiful, fun and exciting.

The beauty of Whangarei Falls.

With luggage in car and maps in hand (yes we are still a bit old school and love a good map to guide us) we head north from Auckland making our leisurely way to Paihia our eyes scanning the landscape for places to stop, walks to do and places to eat.  You just never know what you’re going to find once you’re on the road as they don’t tell you everything in the tourist brochures, you really do need to get out there and explore.  The only problem is if you are like Wayne and I you just keep finding more and more fun, interesting, beautiful and exciting things to see and do!

Having driven through Orewa (where Wayne was so disappointed with the tole tunnel.  He thought it was going to be a long tunnel but alas it was short and sweet… ) Puhoi, Warkworth and Wellsford, and Mangawhai our first stop ended up being Whangarei.

A view along Town Basin, Whangarei.

Now there’s a funny story here!  We planned to drive straight to Pahia on our first day but with traffic and scenic drives we decided to stay the night in Whangarei.  We parked the car, found a tourist information centre and asked about accommodation for the night.  The lady who served us was very nice and asked if we were looking for accommodation in ‘Fongaray’ in her very New Zealand accent.  Wayne and I must have looked stunned and stupid as we had no idea what she was talking about until it finally dawned on us she was talking about Whangarei.  We later learned a little bit about the pronunciation of words and use of vowels in New Zealand so didn’t get caught out quite so much for the rest of the trip!

The view over Whangarei from the Mt Parihaka Scenic Reserve.

After all that confusion we were booked and settled into a hotel for the night with a million brochures in hand.  We decide on Parihaka Scenic Reserve and the summit for our afternoon jaunt.  We head up the hill to the lookout which overlooks Whangarei and the Hatea River.  With the sun shining over the river and the whitest of clouds hanging over the town you could see forever.

This mount we were on, Mt Parihaka, is an eroded volcanic cone which rises 241m above sea level and was once the site of the largest Maori Pa or fortified village in New Zealand .  It is also home to the World War II War Memorial commemorating New Zealanders who died in the war.

WW II Memorial at Mt Parihaka Scenic Reserve.

Back down to earth and having driven for the better part of the day we decided it was time to chill a bit.  We wondered around Quayside at the town basin, looked in a few shops and decided where we should have dinner.  Town Basin and Quayside sits on the river’s edge, a quaint place with boardwalks, a marina, shops and eateries.  Behind we also found the Clapham’s Clock Museum but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to check it out… Maybe next time!  But we did see the sun dial which is believed to be the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere with a 22m hand that is rather fascinating and huge!

Dinner at The Quay on Quayside was relaxing and enjoyable with great food and good prices.  We had a lovely walk from our hotel along the river front and after dinner we were ready for a good sleep to revive us for more exploring in the morning.

The Boardwalk at AH Reed Memorial Park.

Up early and off to AH Reed Memorial Park for a ‘Walk in the Treetops’ among the kauri trees some up to 500 years old.  The park is named after Alfred Hamish Reed who was an author, publisher and lover of long walks, the environment and Kauri trees.

Watch out for the roots.

There is an excellent boardwalk and pathway, some littered with roots trying to find their way to who knows where, winding through beautiful greenery, ferns and even the Wai Koromiko Stream which meanders along beside you as you stroll through wonderful natural bushland and of course never ever forget those Kauri trees soring far above your head reaching for the sun!

Waikoromiko AH Reed Memorial Park.

What a way to spend the morning.  Now to top that what would we do?  Well you can’t beat a waterfall!  Onward and upward to Whangarei Falls.  This 26m high waterfall is something not to be missed.  As you drive into the carpark it is only a short walk to the top of the falls but there is a longer loop walk to the bottom and back to the top again.  Make sure you do the loop walk, it is a fairly easy walk and is well worth it as you can enjoy the waterfall from different vantage points as well as enjoying a bush walk in surrounds that are synonymous with New Zealand.

A cascade of water flowing over the mossy green rocks at Whangarei Falls.

It is said Whangarei Falls is the most photogenic waterfall in New Zealand and I can see why.  The power of the water tumbling over the basalt cliffs, the green mossy rocks shining at the top of the falls, the lush green surrounds making you feel as if you are in the middle of an oasis.  It really is a lovely, pretty picture of nature in this wonderful country. The sounds of the white water falling into a simple quiet pool then eventually trickling along, taking it’s time to get to its next destination.  I don’t know about you but this is what I love about travel.  Nature at its best.

Across the pond to Whangarei Falls.

There are numerous walks in and around Whangarei which Wayne and I hope to tackle one day soon.  We are awaiting the completion of the new runway at Hobart Airport which, fingers crossed, may take us direct to at least one New Zealand port.  What more can I say but we will go back to check out some of the walking tracks, waterfalls and of course food, wine and beer!  But for now it is off to Paihia so stay tuned!

And if you are interested and want more detail on Whangarei make sure you check out the links below.

Whangarei Township

AH Reed Memorial Park

The magnificent Kauri trees in AH Reed Memorial Park.

Whangarei Falls

A view from the top! Whangarei Falls.

Posted in Australia and the World, Home, My Travels, Walks and Tasmania | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

An update on my reviews page! I am now going to review all books and any books!

That’s a lot of cookbooks!

As you all know I have a massive passion for food, cooking and travel.  I love anything and everything to do with food, cooking and travel but I also have a passion for reading and books, any books and all books.  My partner Wayne can attest to that as he is always asking me when I’m going to find the time to read them all!  And let me tell you I have quite a few.  Between the cookbooks, novels, memoirs, travel and reference books I could easily fill a library or even start one.

This got me thinking.  I have named my blog A Roaming Appetite as I love travel (roaming) and food (appetite).  But you can have an appetite for anything really, can’t you?  Well if that’s the case why not incorporate my love of books and reading into my blog.  So I have now expanded my cookbook reviews to include all books and even magazines.  This will now include any type of book review from cookbooks, magazines and travel guides to novels and even reference books.

Books even in the wine rack.

I am currently reading SMALL GREAT THINGS by Jodi Picoult but at the same time I am reading a few books about writing memoirs.  So I always have some form of reading material on the go and I hope to share some of my finds with you.

As most people who love reading will know we all have a favourite genre and/or author(s) and I am no exception.  I love Jodi Picoult and have read a number of her novels.  I also like Philippa Gregory, Dan Brown, JRR Tolkien, JK Rowlings and anything to do with the Diary of Anne Frank.  I love historical novels, memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, anything that can and will intrigue me and get my mind working and of course anything written about food, travel and life!  As long as it is interesting and enjoyable I will read it!  Oh and I love a good classic!

I have been lucky enough lately to have won numerous books, some of which I would never have thought of reading.  I’m glad that I have had the opportunity to expand my reading repertoire as I have found new authors and styles/genres of books I may have never read.  Some are first time writers and some have been around for a very long time.  But all are fantastic and I must say that holding a book in your hand and reading the words as the jump off the page is an experience everyone should try.

Some of the many books I have won.

If like me you have an imagination that runs wild you will find as you are reading a book a movie actually appears in your mind, you see the characters, you see the locations, the backdrops, the props, all the colours of a great story.  I even find myself reading in the language or accent of the book (although if I had to read it aloud the accent would sound quite hilarious to everyone listening!).

Isn’t this what makes reading such a joy?  You can tell your own story through the story in the book, you have to think about what is happening, how you feel about it and what the outcome might be.  Sometimes you are right and sometimes you are completely off track but you are always thinking.  Reading is good for the brain and good for the soul.

More Books!

So stay tuned as I tweak my blog and review my first novel (I have reviewed cookbooks already) which of course will be SMALL GREAT THINGS.  I hope you enjoy my reviews as much as I enjoy reading the books and then sharing my thoughts with you.

And always remember what Dr Seuss says:

The more that you read,                                                                                                                         the more things you will know.                                                                                                             The more that you learn,                                                                                                                         the more places you’ll go.

                

Coffee table books. Gotta have some of them!

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VISIT THE ADEAIDE CENTRAL MARKET FOR FOOD, FUN AND AN EXPERIENCE YOU WILL NEVER FORGET

The beauty of the Central Market Facade.

Wayne and I have been living in Hobart for 7 years now and we really do love it here.  Having moved from Adelaide seven years ago we now call Hobart home.  But as with any place you’ve lived, and if you’ve traveled and moved house as much as I have in my life, you find there are things you do miss from your previous home town/state.

I miss the Adelaide Central Market.  I believe they are the best fresh food markets in Australia.  So much to choose from, every type of food item you can image from nearly everywhere in the world.  It really is your one shop stop in Adelaide.   Most people say to us ‘How is that possible?  Tassie is supposed to have some of the best produce in Australia.’  Well yes.  I believe this but unfortunately the best of everything seems to go either interstate, overseas or to the restaurants.   And although we do have small markets scattered throughout Tasmania there is nothing quite like the Adelaide Central Market anywhere in Tasmania.

Look at all those chillies.

So why do I love and miss this iconic market so much?  With so many different nationalities residing in Adelaide, sharing their recipes and traditions, this is the place that represents Australia’s multiculturalism.  The range of produce and ingredients will amaze and excite you.  From the moment you enter this market you experience the sights, sounds and smells associated with these cultures, making you want to buy everything then go home to cook, cook, cook!  This really is a place for anyone fascinated by food, people and history.  A place no local or tourist should miss.  A display of colour, nationality, sound and smell.

There’s also great history behind the market.  Adelaide Central Market dates back to 1869, when a small group of market gardeners broke free of the East End market area to establish their own market.  They settled on a site between Grote and Gouger Streets which they named City Market.  The official opening was on January 22, 1870 which then led to the City Market being a hub for trading direct to consumers.  Over the next 130 years this market evolved from one shed housing 87 carts to the multi- level red brick building used today.  There are now shops, stalls, cafes, arcades and a 1000 space carpark all under the one roof.  And to top it all off it is the biggest fresh produce market in the southern hemisphere.

The Adelaide Central Market – An Icon.

Today you can still see the beautiful facades on Grote Street dating back to 1900 and Gouger Street dating back to 1906.  Great plans were drawn up for this building with gas lighting eventually being replaced by electricity and external shops lining the street.  Then along came the arcade with work commencing in 1915.  More shops!  Businesses then moved into the area to capitalise on the trade in the area and the market continued to expand through many ups and downs to bring us to the wonderful market we have today.

For most of us the appeal of the market is to be able to shop for an incredible array of fresh produce, cheese, meats, breads, cakes and watching the characters of the market while you stop for a coffee or lunch before returning to shop for delights from around the world or from just around the corner.  It is a rainbow of colour, a symphony of sound and the nose tingles with the aromas of fresh brewed coffee and fresh baked bread.

Some food, a coffee and maybe some lunch!

With so many stalls and shops on offer I will share some of my favourites with you.  First would have to be Charlesworth Nuts (www.charlesworthnuts.com.au), a third generation family owed company.  In 1934, Herb Charlesworth bought this small fruit and nut stall in the market as an interest for his wife Doris.  Over the years the stall doubled in size and the Charlesworth family went on to open numerous stores throughout South Australia.  Their success comes from the fact that they use only the highest quality fruit and nuts, of which approximately 85% are sourced from within Australia.

The wonders of the Central Market.

Another well-known Adelaide icon and favourite of mine is Haigh’s Chocolates (www.haighschocolates.com.au), who have been known for their wonderful, rich, smooth and creamy chocolate since 1915.  This fourth generation family owned and run business still has complete control over the making of their chocolate, from the sourcing of the cocoa beans to the selling of the chocolate itself.  With over 250 varieties to choose from and the knowledge that many of these have won awards, you could spend all day in their Market Arcade shop trying to choose.

You will eventually come across House of Organics selling fresh fruit and vegetables.  Their labelling system makes it easy to distinguish which foods are 100% organic (chemical free), 50/50 (chemical free or minimal spraying) and generic (some chemicals used under stringent regulations).  At Lucia’s Fine Foods you’ll find a showcase of new and exciting products including olive oils, breads, Italian foods and pastas.  The Mushroom House has a large selection of every mushroom imaginable.  The Yoghurt Shop has the creamiest yoghurt ever.  Smelly Cheese and Say Cheese can supply everything you need for that all important cheese platter you want to have on the weekend and the T-bar is you place to go for fine teas and of course all the paraphernalia you need to make a great pot of tea!

Ahhh! Cheese, cheese and more cheese!

But if you are in the market for the best meat products and smallgoods head to Barossa Fine Foods (www.barossafinefoods.com.au).   Franz and Barbara Knoll from Barossa Fine Foods stock a diverse range of smallgoods and meats which include free range and organic products.  Again this is a family run business and over the years they have won numerous awards for their wonderful and tasty products.

And the list goes on and the shops continue up and down every aisle, down every arcade and in every nook and cranny!  Many stalls and stores have been around for years and most Adeladians would be able to recommend their favourites and share a story or two I’m sure.

So many shops and stalls to choose from.

Some of you may be lucky enough to leave without spending too much money, but I really doubt it.  It’s just too hard to resist such temptations when you are tantalised by the sights, smells, sounds and atmosphere of the biggest fresh produce market in the southern hemisphere.  You can see why this could be the most visited place in Adelaide with over 8.5 million visitors every year.  Hey everyone has to eat so there is some attraction!

One of the many stalls full of goodies.

So please make sure you visit Central Market which is located between Grote and Gouger Streets in Adelaide.  It’s easily accessible by bus or tram and there is plenty of parking available in the Central Market car park.  If you wish to take a tour of the market, taste a few of the goodies, meet some of the local and hear a few good stories check out www.centralmarkettour.com or www.topfoodandwinetours.com.au.  If you just want to check it out for yourself the market is open:

  • Tuesday 7am to 5.30pm
  • Wednesday 9am to 5.30pm (limited stalls open)
  • Thursday 9am to 5.30pm
  • Friday 7am to 9pm
  • Saturday 7am to 3pm

Also check out their website for all the up to date news and happenings along with more information on the history of this Adelaide Icon.  www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au. You may just go for an hour but I bet you will spend the whole day.  And one thing’s for sure….  You won’t go home hungry!

The Central Market

Posted in All Things Food and Travel from Attractions to Products, Australia and the World, Home, My Travels, Walks and Tasmania, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Docklands Lotus – Great location but the beauty of the Lotus just didn’t shine through.

Docklands Lotus

Docklands Lotus

Recently on a visit to Melbourne Wayne and I decided to stay at the Docklands rather than in the city.  We had arrived in Melbourne from Hobart late Australia Day morning and after a casual stroll to get acquainted with the area we decided as the Australia Day celebrations were centred around the Docklands area we would stay in the area for dinner.  With so many restaurants and cafes to choose from we decided to go to Docklands Lotus for some Chinese.

Docklands Lotus is situated just around the corner from our accommodation, along the waterfront, and is quite a large restaurant.  We didn’t have a reservation but had no problem getting a table.  We were seated near the front door and close to the window so we could see the hustle bustle of the Docklands while we ate.

Once seated (staff members were not that interested or happy to be there) we ordered drinks and were presented with a bowl of Prawn Crackers.  I myself don’t like these but Wayne said they were tasty and crunchy and went well with his beer.  So sipping our drinks while watching the world go by we decided on a few dishes to share, trying to keep some variety in what we chose.  As you would expect from a Chinese restaurant there was way too much to choose from.  I would prefer a menu where the dishes are fewer and made to a higher standard.

A Beer and Crackers!

A Beer and Crackers!

To start we had the Prawn and Sesame Toasts.  They arrived, two on a plate with a little carrot and some dipping sauce.  They were hot and crunchy with small chunks of prawn meat but unfortunately the bread was greasy and the flavours were a bit bland.  The dipping sauce was your normal, typical, sweet, salty and sour combo but nothing spectacular.

Prawn Toast

Prawn Toast

We then ordered two mains and some plain rice to be served all together, for sharing.  But alas, they all came out at different times.  First we were served the Seafood and Vegetable Combo which included squid, prawns, celery, baby corn, broccoli and zucchini.  This was very bland and pale with no real seasoning but the seafood was cooked well and was very tender.

Seafood and Veg

Seafood and Veg

The rice finally arrived then the Pepper Beef Fillet which was a seared piece of beef fillet brought to the table on a sizzling plate surrounded by yet more broccoli.  When the wait staff placed the plate on the table she then poured over the pepper gravy which provided a hint of theatre to the evening.

The theatre of it all! The sauce is on!

The theatre of it all! The sauce is on!

The beef was hot and tender, the pepper gravy spicy and chunky with diced onion and red and green capsicum.  We even dipped some of our seafood into the sauce which added some heat and flavour to an otherwise boring dish.

Sizzling Pepper Steak

Sizzling Pepper Steak

Overall the meal was average and the prices much the same.  It is not somewhere I would go again or recommend to family or friends.  The location is great but again the service lacked friendliness and helpfulness which should go hand in hand with good food.

We did have a good laugh though as we were seated near the fish tanks which were full to the brim with crabs and lobster.  We kept checking to see if they were all alive.  They were stacked one on top of the other and there wasn’t much movement from within.  Hmmm!  Not sure I would buy crab or lobster there!

Docklands Lotus                                                                                                                                        12-16 New Quay Promenade                                                                                                                  Docklands Vic 3008                                                                                                                                03 9939 5952

 

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New Zealand – The Teaser!

 

Arriving at Picton on the South Island

Arriving at Picton on the South Island

A new year and can you believe we are already well in to February?  I am loving 2017 so far as we have been busy travelling and visiting family and there is still more to come!  We’ve been to Adelaide and Melbourne, have had visitors and are expecting more soon and we are even having a bit of a mini holiday in Hobart as I was lucky enough to win a prize of 2 nights’ accommodation at Somerset on the Pier right here in Hobart.  How cool is that!?  We are also making plans to do a bit more travel here in Tasmania as well so I will keep you posted on our travels.  While I am at home I plan to do some recipe writing (I have to tie my mum down and get her to help me with her recipes as most of them are not written down anywhere) and do a bit more work on that elusive memoir/recipe book I am in the process of writing..

Welcome to Paihia

Welcome to Paihia

So today I am giving you a quick teaser of what to look out for in the coming weeks/months as I share our New Zealand stories with you.  I think I may have mentioned previously Wayne and I did some travel in New Zealand late last year.  When we were planning this trip I decided to create a spreadsheet (yes I know that sounds so geeky!) of the areas and the places we wanted to see.  We read books, watched shows, browsed through brochures and filled in the spreadsheet with all the things we wanted to do and see and thought we covered just about everything .  WRONG!  We soon came to realise with so much to see and do we would never fit it in on this one trip so now there are plans afoot for at least a few more.

One of the many seals posing for us on the South Island

One of the many seals posing for us on the South Island

We have decided to call this trip our reconnaissance mission!  We have had a taste and learned more about this beautiful country and now we have to start planning for the next trip.  Lucky we live so close I say!

Art Deco Napier

Art Deco Napier

We spent just under four weeks traveling around both the North and South Islands, starting in Auckland on the North Island and finishing in Queenstown on the South Island. I found through many conversations that most people seem to enjoy the South Island more, with its soaring mountains, glaciers, well known cities and snowfields but I have to say I was more impressed with the North Island.  The North Island seems to be more natural, you meet more locals and the scenery is just as good with plenty of waterfalls, bush walks and natural bubbling pools of mud.

Rotorua and the thermal pools

Rotorua and the thermal pools

Now, to me a city is a city no matter where in the world you go so I like that fact that after arriving in Auckland in the evening and having a good sleep and yummy breakfast we took off in our rental car to head north.  Unfortunately we didn’t get as far north as we would have liked due to time constraints but we did manage to get to Paihia and what a wonderful spot it is!  We visited Whangarei, Hamilton, Rotorua, Napier and Wellington before heading across on the ferry to Picton, Nelson, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Lake Tekapo and Queenstown.  We had other plans for our last few days but due to an earthquake (in the Kaikoura area) we ended up cutting our trip short and missed out on the Glaciers.  Next time!

Christchurch and the aftermath of the earthquake in 2011

Christchurch and the aftermath of the earthquake in 2011

We saw so much, took over a thousand photos, laughed a lot and as with most travel learned so much.  I find I always learn something new each time I travel, little titbits which come in handy and help when organising the next trip.  I learned on this trip that the least expensive hotels are usually the better places to stay.  The small concerns run by people who take pride in what they do and are interested in their guests.  The large and expensive hotels give you nothing.  They are rarely clean, the service is non-existent and the maintenance is very lack-lustre.  This goes for restaurants and even tourist attractions.  We found so many lovely places, nice people and good food just by driving around with a map and a sense of humour!

The Cable Car Wellington NZ

The Cable Car Wellington NZ

All of these stories I will share with you but for now I will share just a couple of photos to whet your appetite.  That is what it is all about.  And rest assured I will be expanding on this and sharing all the wonderful places we visited on our travels.  Enjoy!

Jet Boating in Queenstown

Jet Boating in Queenstown

 

Posted in Australia and the World, Home, My Travels, Walks and Tasmania | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AMERICAN STYLE PORK BREAKFAST SAUSAGES

Breakfast sausages for breakfast!

Breakfast sausages for breakfast!

Makes approx. 8

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams good quality pork mince
  • ¼ tsp celery salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp red pepper flacks
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)
Herbs and spices make a great sausage.

Herbs and spices make a great sausage.

Method:

Place all ingredients in a glass bowl and with your hands mix until all the seasonings are combined evenly amongst the meat.

Roll into approx. 8 balls (depending on the size you would like the sausage patties to be) then flatten to make into a patty shape.

Patties ready for cooking.

Patties ready for cooking.

Heat a medium sized fry pan on a medium heat.  Place the patties evenly spaced into the pan and cook approx. 5 minutes on each side, until browned and golden.

Fry in a pan over medium heat.

Fry in a pan over medium heat.

Serve with eggs and any other breakfast accompaniments or on bread as a sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

Leftovers make great sandwiches.

Leftovers make great sandwiches.

Hints:

You can double the recipe quite easily but doubling the amounts.

You can also make a big batch and freeze the patties uncooked until required.  Make sure when freezing you lay the patties on a tray, cover with cling wrap and freeze before placing in a container or plastic bag.  This is so they won’t stick together, making it easier to take out the amount you need.

Testing and trying to get it right!

Testing and trying to get it right!

I love my sausage a bit spicy but if you prefer them a bit tamer don’t use the Tabasco.

Pork can easily overcook and dry out so keep an eye on the patties when cooking to make sure you don’t overcook them.

Looking good and browning nicely.

Looking good and browning nicely.

Posted in Home, Recipes, Savoury (Main Meals) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

WELCOME TO 2017

Lets see what we can mix up this year!

Lets see what we can mix up this year!

A new year, new ideas and more cooking and travel.  I was thinking the other day about what I would like to write about this year and a recipe popped up on my facebook page with a picture and recipe for a baked custard!  Well that got me thinking about all the food we ate back from the 60’s to now and how some of them have gone out of fashion even though they taste so nice!  My thoughts…  Let’s look back at some of the recipes I remember from my childhood and maybe try to recreate them.

As I did part of my growing up in the US and part in Australia there are ingredients that differ so I may need to change things up a bit to get the right result.  So it is off to the kitchen I go to do some recipe testing and writing, which I know Wayne will love as he gets to taste it all!  Better make sure we get out and do lots of long bushwalks so we can keep the waistline in check!

Speaking of keeping the waistline in check, I have also been thinking about healthier eating.  We have always eaten fairly healthy meals but as we are human we do have our vices.  We want to be able to enjoy those vices as well as eat healthily.  And with all the new cookbooks and blogs about the new super foods and new healthy ingredients it shouldn’t be that hard.  Although I must say the prices you pay for some of these new foods seem exorbitant to me.  If they are good for us and we should be eating them why are they priced out of range for the normal household!?  Hmmm…  I will be checking these new cookbooks out and will let you know what I come up with.   I still believe we can achieve good health by eating a balanced diet (everything in moderation) and getting outside to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and a good long walk!

Some of the new healthy and super food cookbooks I want to try out!

Some of the new healthy and super food cookbooks I want to try out!

So today I’m thinking what sort of food from my childhood should I share.  Let me see, how about pork breakfast sausages, baked custard (of course), chocolate pudding pie, chocolate chip biscuits, Swiss steak, crazy cake, pound cake, pumpkin pie, beer bread, prawn cocktails, meatloaf, deviled eggs, pot roast, sweet and sour pork.  I could go on as there are so many more.  I will be looking through my old recipes and books and talking to family to see what we used to eat and see how I can update them.  Of course some things are just best left alone as they are already yummy!

So stay tuned as my first recipe for the year will be pork breakfast sausages.  My memories of these are that we always bought them pre-made in a package (not knowing what was in them) and cooked them up for breakfast with eggs.  They always tasted great but when you make them yourself adding herbs and spices to suit your taste they always taste so much better and are healthier to boot as you control what goes in to making them. Nothing artificial thank you!   I make them with fresh pork mince and lots of herbs and spices.  Now I am off to the kitchen to tweak the recipe so I can share it with you.  Breakfast for dinner tonight I say!

Herbs and spices…  So much flavour we can add to food naturally and so healthy for us. Even the critters love the herbs in our garden.  So much so that we have to cover them each night so the wallabies don’t eat them as they don’t mind a herb or two for dinner! When we arrived home from holidays our herbs had gone wild so I took to thinning them out and planting some new ones.  I have sage, oregano and thyme drying in the laundry room and now have 2 types of parsley, some coriander, basil, tarragon and of course still have oregano and thyme growing in our little herb plot.  You can’t go wrong with a few basic herbs growing in a garden, on a deck or balcony or even on a window sill.

Fresh herbs from the garden drying in the laundry room.

Fresh herbs from the garden drying in the laundry room.

Also this year I want to share with you some more of my travels.  We recently spent 4 weeks in New Zealand and what a wonderful trip that was.  We jumped in a car and drove around without too much planning (although we did have some idea of places we wanted to see) and had a fantastic time.  That was until an earthquake hit and we had to head home early…  Lucky it was only a couple of days.  And it hasn’t scared us off as we plan to head back over there again to catch up on all the places we missed out on.  I think it may take us a few trips to fit it all in.

And as per normal we are always checking things out in our own back yard.  More walks, more trips around Tasmania as well as Melbourne and Adelaide.  We have a few things planned and I look forward to sharing all the places we visit and interesting things we find with you.

Have a wonderful 2017!

Just a teaser from our New Zealand trip! Whangarei Falls

Just a teaser from our New Zealand trip!
Whangarei Falls

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The Way Mum Made It. A cookbook of ‘Treasured family recipes from Australian kitchens’

A great biscuit with a great story!

A great biscuit with a great story!

When I think about cooking and food I always think of my mum. It always brings back memories of growing up, the foods we ate, where my mum shopped, how she shopped and how she fed anyone and everyone that came to our house. So I automatically love any cookbook that has to do with mums! And this one is no exception.

When you think about any cookbook where do most of the recipes come from? Usually from mum or if not mum it would be grandma or great grandma… You get the drift. So when I saw this book I knew it would have some great recipes and better still some great information. The introduction says it all. Stephanie Alexander explains that food and people go hand in hand, bringing people, cultures and classes together. Sharing food, rituals, traditions and recipes not only makes you happy but also makes others happy as well.  After the introduction is ‘Back to Basics’. This section is just that. Cooking terms and conversions you may need to help you understand a recipe. But what I like best about this cookbook is the recipes are simple, using ingredients you would have in your fridge, cupboard and pantry. Good, simple, easy home cooking that anyone can do!

Blueberry Muffins are a great snack.

Blueberry Muffins are a great snack.

“The Way Mum Made It” is a cookbook of 175 recipes compiled and edited by Alexandra O’Brien who also edits an online over 60’s community OverSixty and is a passionate cook and foodie herself. This book shares with us some great recipes as well as some great insight into where these recipes have come from.

With each chapter you get a quote and blurb about the meaning of the chapter and an idea of the type of recipes you will find. ‘Something Sweet’ starts with a quote from Ernestine Ulmer ‘Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.’. You can’t really argue with that can you?! And my favourite is in the chapter ‘Time to celebrate’. Kylie Kwong talks of cooking the way I feel. ‘My way of communicating love and interest in people is through cooking. I grew up in an environment where food was really celebrated, and that gave me the message: food makes people happy.’ I dare you not to agree with that one!

Tomato, Feta, Ham and Rosemary Muffins

Tomato, Feta, Ham and Rosemary Muffins

And so my journey to try as many recipes in this book as I can started with Tomato, Feta, Ham and Rosemary Muffins. I didn’t have any fresh rosemary so decided to top my muffins with a grating of parmesan cheese. What a lovely treat. All the flavours melded well together and the muffins where light and made a great addition to a bowl of homemade tomato soup. They also made a great snack morning and/or afternoon.

I just can't pass up a perfect scone!

I just can’t pass up a perfect scone!

Next up. I couldn’t go past The Perfect Scones. I had buttermilk in the fridge I needed to use so this was ‘perfect’. What a simple yet tasty recipe. The scones where light and fluffy and as I couldn’t eat them all at once I froze some for later. They fared well in the freezer, didn’t dry out and I believe were moist and light due to that wonderful ingredient; buttermilk.

Cranberry Chicken, soaking up the goodness.

Cranberry Chicken, soaking up the goodness.

What to make for a quick, easy yet tasty meal when you don’t have much time? Cranberry Chicken. Four everyday ingredients, a baking dish and an oven and your set. Tasty served with some bread and salad or even some roasted vegetables and what a great way to use up a few of those leftovers you have hanging around in the kitchen like that half jar of cranberry sauce or half packet of soup mix. Another easy and tasty chicken dish is Honey and Ginger Chicken Wings. I used drumsticks instead so with this in mind I had to adjust the cooking time (cooking for a longer period of time; 45 minutes instead of 25 minutes). This recipe uses the flavours of Asia we all know and love and everyone will enjoy and devour them.

Just about ready. Honey and ginger chicken. YUM!

Just about ready. Honey and ginger chicken. YUM!

More sweets were on the cards so I went for the Blueberry Muffins and the Melted Butter Biscuits. Both quick and easy to make, both using ingredients we always have on hand and both tasty and yummy. I of course added my own touch to the biscuits by adding a nut or half a glace cherry to the top of the biscuit before baking. Very nice indeed if I do say so myself.  Fluffy, light and tasty muffins along with crisp, buttery moreish biscuits.  Do try them! You won’t be disappointed.

Melted butter biscuits with my addition of nuts and cherries.

Melted butter biscuits with my addition of nuts and cherries.

With so many recipes to try I have only just begun. There are more on my list to make like Homemade Raisin Bread and Garlic and Herb Pull-apart Bread, Apple and Caramel Upside-down Cake and how about Gin and Tonic Cupcakes…  These are but a few and I could go on but will stop with one last tempter.  Lamingtons!  An Aussie tradition and yet I have never attempted them for fear of making a mess of this Australian Icon.  I will share the results with you all soon.

And to end this review of a wonderful cookbook which evokes memories of days gone by, I urge you to try and get your hands on a  copy.  You won’t regret it.  Have fun with it, start your own new traditions and try new and exciting things.

Note:  The Way Mum Made it can be bought from most good book stores in Australia and also online at ABC Shop  Booktopia and other online book shops.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

 

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Travelling the world is fantastic especially if you plan and prepare!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my travels past, present and future and how much I have learned over the years about making my life easier when I am traveling.  So I’ve decided to share a few of my hints and tips with you.  Some you have probably heard of, some you probably already use but hopefully there will be something here you can take on board.

One of my greatest memories and learning experiences is of my mum and dad traveling back and forth from the US to Australia.  Dad had to go back to California every couple of years for work and of course mum always went with him.  All of us kids (even the kids who were ring-in members of the family) made their list and checked it twice and off mum went, lists in hand ready to do some shopping once they hit the shores of California.

And shopping she did, suitcases stuffed to overflowing, dad carrying on like a pork chop about how much stuff they had to bring back for everyone!  I’m surprised they had the strength to carry it all!  So you would have thought I would have learned something from this…. But no!

My first big trip to the UK was an exciting one. I was heading to London with a friend as a 21 year old.  We had work and planned to travel so we packed as much as we could in our suitcases and headed to the airport.  Now back in the early 80’s the luggage allowance wasn’t quite as strict as it is now but upon check-in we were told we had to cull.  So off we went to the back of the line, taking out what we could do without, repacking what was left and doing this all on the floor at airport check-in!

My next big trip was a solo one.  I took the biggest suitcase I could find, a backpack and my handbag.  You see, back then we didn’t have things like the IPod and the IPad that we could have music, books and games on so we had to carry around cd’s and a cd player, books, magazines and games.  They take up a lot of room.  But really I didn’t need to take such a big suitcase as I struggled with all of these things especially when you have cab drivers in Vegas who don’t even get out of their cars to help with your luggage but still expect a tip!!!  I don’t think so….

So after that struggle I took it upon myself to get a smaller suitcase but still took a small backpack and this time my laptop.  Again, struggle street!  Too much to lug up stairs in all those B&B’s in England.  Now I have a small suitcase, a tablet and my handbag (which is big enough to hold the tablet!  So I have learned from all my past mistakes..

So here are a few hints to help you prepare for your travels.

  • Research, research, research.
  • Buy the smallest suitcase you think you can cope with and don’t forget most cases expand these days so you can start your trip with less but after many shopping trips you can expand your suitcase to hold everything (but keep an eye on the weight as airlines charge a small fortune for excess baggage).
  • Take a small carry on or decent sized handbag which will hold your tablet/camera/phone and wallet. And make sure your bag has a decent strap so you can through it over your body and keep it close.
  • Packing is always the hardest part of traveling. What to take, what will you need and what can you buy along the way.  I lay everything out on my bed and with clothing I make sure that all my tops and bottoms are interchangeable.
  • Take clothing that can be easily washable (sometimes you may have to wash in the sink!) and quick drying.
  • Think about your shoes. I always take a good pair of walking shoes and a pair of ankle boots that can be dressed up or down.  Shoes take up a lot of room so you need to put some thought into this.  Also a pair of thongs/flip-flops to wear around the room, in the shower, on the beach……
  • Only take enough clothing to last about 5 days as you can wash along the way.
  • Toiletries can also take up a lot of room. I’m lucky as I don’t wear makeup so I take a good moisturiser that can do the whole body.  Small containers of shampoos, gels, conditioners are the best.  Don’t forget if you run out you can buy them at your next destination.
  • Take one all-round scarf and jacket.
  • Learn to pack your bag so everything fits easily and doesn’t get too wrinkled. I like to fold and roll, heavy items on the bottom and more delicate ones on the top.  Shoes and toiletries on the bottom as well and make sure that anything which has the ability to leak is sealed in a zip-lock bag (takes extra bags for later use).
  • Write up a check list to make sure you have everything and have done everything before you leave home. Tickets, passports, turn off power points, hold mail, etc!
  • Photocopy all important documents (passport, credit cards, etc) and leave them somewhere safe just in case you need them at a later date.
  • Make sure you leave contact details, phone numbers and itineraries with a family member or friend.
  • Always, always make sure you have some form of travel insurance. You never know when you may need it.
  • Also make sure you check with your doctor for any injections or medication you may need.
  • Always, always drink plenty of water and keep your body moving on and off the plane.
  • One of the things I learnt through all my travels is that eating out continually can be very expensive. I love food markets and most places you will visit have some form of food market.  Visit these markets; buy some fresh bread, local cheese and some ham or salami.  Buy some fruit and a bottle of wine or local beer and find a beautiful, sunny comfortable park or beach and enjoy!
  • Oh and make sure you get to the airport on time! There is nothing worse than getting stressed before you even get on the place.  Get to the airport early, check-in then head to the bar or coffee shop for a drink.  And Relax!

And now I have one last thing to say.  When you travel have fun, be safe, get out there and experience the world.

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SPAGHETTIO’S OR SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE – WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Where there is food there has always been mum and dad!

Where there is food there has always been mum and dad!

Over the past few days I have been looking at photos, looking for the ones I can use on my blog and in my book.  Yes that’s right, I am writing a cookbook/memoir to share with anyone out there who may wish to read it.  And my reason for doing this?  Well every time I see a photo of my family and friends it reminds me of all the time we spent together, gathered around the table or in the kitchen.  And as we grew up these fun times expanded to restaurants as well.  Even though some photos have been lost along the way, through our travels and moving house, I can still picture certain ones in my head, as if the story that picture tells happened only yesterday.  And in these days of ours when we hear of so much doom and gloom I want to write about happiness, about the good things in life and about how food can bring us all together as it has done so many times in my life!

In our household happiness, fun, celebrations and family always revolved around food.  No one in the family has ever been a chef; we are just good cooks and even better eaters.  From my true first memory of food I thought I knew what I liked and what I didn’t like.  I didn’t like pasta or noodles of any sort but put a bowl of SpaghettiOs in front of me and I was happy!  So much for gourmet taste!  Slimy noodles in what was more like an insipid tomato soup rather than a pasta sauce!  Mum made the best Spaghetti Bolognese with good lean mince beef (better known as hamburger meat in our household), tomatoes and herbs.  Always cooked long and slow and always tasty.   I would eat the sauce, using bread to soak it all up but don’t even think of putting any spaghetti on my plate!  I wouldn’t eat it!  I do eat pasta now but it took me years to come to like the taste.  I thank fresh pasta for that as the taste and texture are fresh and smooth rather than the floury stuff of my past!

Whether it is a celebration or a present it always seems to involve food!

Whether it is a celebration or a present it always seems to involve food!

Much the same goes for rice.  I hate rice (even today!), it has no flavour and reminds me of worms; little teeny tiny ones.  No rice for my please..  I don’t know when this hatred of rice started but I do remember mum would make baked rice custard which everyone in the family enjoyed..  Lucky for me the rice sunk to the bottom of the bowl so I was able to scrape off the good stuff!  Yes, that’s right…..  the custard.  So custard gone and only rice left!  I think mum then ate the rest.

Now that I think about it I was a bit of a picky eater when I was a youngster although I liked quite a lot of different food I still had my hate list (as did my sisters!). As you know mine was rice and noodles but I always loved vegetables where as my youngest sister, as I recall, would only eat corn, cold tomatoes and peas.  Oh and she ate potatoes!  We were allowed to be fussing and picky as my mum revelled in having us eat what we liked and enjoyed, but it must have been tedious as she was always making different things for each of us!  Not to the point where we all had different meals but to the point where we all had something we liked on the plate.  Thank you mum for looking after us all so well and for letting us try new food at our own pace.  The best is yet to come on the food front as now I get to introduce mum to new foods she may not have tried.  And she usually likes it.  She actually ate duck and salmon on her last visit to us in Tassie and she liked them both.  Win Win!!

Cooking with mum. The joys of life in our household!

Cooking with mum. The joys of life in our household!

Life was so different then (no I’m not that old but this was back in the 60’s), we didn’t have the multicultural foods that we enjoy these days.  Luckily over the years and through all our travels we were able to experience different food styles, tastes and cultures.  We were even lucky enough to introduce friends to new and exciting foods.  As well we learnt about the Aussie style of food and eating and that was an experience in itself.

So that is why I love food and travel so much.  You live, you learn, you enjoy, you experience and best of all you share.  Share the love, the food and the happiness.  That is what life is all about to me.

Even when the fashions were bad the food was always good.  Love my chefs hat!

Even when the fashions were bad the food was always good. Love my chefs hat!

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