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.

Posted in Hints, Tips and clues., Home | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Home, My life in words!, Stories of my life, travels and Tasmania | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yes I’m back! With some spice in my step and a review of Saffron Indian Restaurant Hobart.

You may have noticed I’ve been away from the computer and writing for a spell but I’ve still been cooking up a storm as they say and eating, of course!  Not much stops me from doing those things.  It’s been an up and down year so far but I’m back on track and would like to return with a review of one of our Indian Restaurants here in Hobart.  One that we have enjoyed on numerous occasions and one I hope others will enjoy whether you live in Hobart or are just visiting.

Papadams and Mint Sauce

Papadams and Mint Sauce

Indian restaurants seem to be on every street corner these days but they aren’t all good.  So what makes a good Indian restaurant and what is it that you look for or want when you go to an Indian restaurant?

For me I like some heat, a lot of flavour and nothing too stodgy.  I always think of Indian and Asian foods having bold flavours (not just heat) which emanates from the beautiful fresh spices and herbs used to create each dish from each different region.  These flavours make dining out a joy.

Herbs, spices and a little heat. Tasting Great!

Herbs, spices and a little heat. Tasting Great!

So when I visit an Indian restaurant I expect flavour and lots of it, along with some heat (I love a bit of chilli in my food but I don’t necessarily want my lips, mouth and tongue to lose their senses).

Here in Hobart Wayne and I usually frequent one of two Indian restaurants, one being The Saffron on Hunter Street, located near numerous hotels and right on the waterfront.  It is surrounded by other great restaurants so is in good company.

It was a cold night when we last visited, Dark Mofo was in full swing and we decided to hang out in and around the wharf area of Hobart to see what was happening.  After a peek at Dark Park and surrounds we headed in to The Saffron for dinner.  Upon opening the door we were welcomed with warmth and happy, friendly faces.

Once seated and drinks orders taken we perused the menu to decide what we would have this time.  We like to try different dishes each time so we can experience all the flavours of India.  While having a look at the menu Wayne had a bit of a chuckle to himself and then shared with me a couple of cute but funny errors on the menu.  The lamb was marined instead of marinated and the fish was plattered instead of battered.  We just had to smile at this but that aside the menu always sounds appetising and the food is always tasty.

Marined instead of marinated lamb!

Marined instead of marinated lamb!

And we have fish that is plattered instead of battered.

And we have fish that is plattered instead of battered.

 

 

 

 

Our wait staff asked if we would like papadams and of course we said yes.  You can’t start an Indian meal without a few papadams.  They were light and crisp just as expected but the real flavour came from dipping them into the yoghurt and mint dip/sauce.  Cool, refreshing, like sunshine in a bowl.  What a great start.

So it was decided this time we would have the Onion Bhajiis, a Beef Malabar Curry, Aaloo Gobhi, some Saffron Rice and of course you can’t have an Indian meal without some Naan, so garlic naan it was!  First up were the onion bhajiis.  They came out hot and crispy but we both found them to doughy and heavy, there was more batter than onion so I must say this wasn’t my favourite and I have had better elsewhere.

Onion Bahjii

Onion Bahjii

Ready for more and we weren’t disappointed.  Beef Malabar Curry, tender enough that you didn’t need a knife as you could break up the meat with your fork.  The coconut curry sauce was fragrant, smooth and had just enough heat (but not so much to make it uncomfortable to eat).  Both Wayne and I loved this dish, creamy, tender and very flavourful.  The Aaloo Gobhi is a mix of cauliflower and potato cooked in ginger and garlic, spiced just enough to enhance the flavours of the vegetable but not overtake them.  This was a wonderful accompaniment to the curry.  As was the rice and naan which was garlicy and soft yet had those wonderful crisp bits from being back in a tandoor.

It all looked and smelled so good we started eating before I remembered to take a photo.

It all looked and smelled so good we started eating before I remembered to take a photo.

What a great meal to fill us up and warm our insides.  We were now ready to take to the streets of Hobart again and explore more Dark Mofo.  I would recommend The Saffron to those who like Indian and to those who may not.  There is a little something for everyone.  Samosa and pakoras, tandoori in various guises, korma, masala and more curries of varying heat.  Meat of all types, seafood and a great choice of vegetarian dishes as well.

So next time you are in Hobart give The Saffron a try.  You’ll like it I’m sure and you can’t complain about the service as the staff are friendly, helpful and welcoming.  If you want more information, contact details, menu and opening hours go to www.thesaffron.com.au.

Not bad! And we are full and satisfied!

Not bad! And we are full and satisfied!

 

Posted in Home, Restaurants, accommodation and attractions., Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

CHILLI CON CARNE

A slow cooker and is the way to go

A slow cooker is the way to go

Makes approx. 4-6 serves depending on what you serve with it!

Ingredients:

I love lots of onion!

I love lots of onion!

  • 1 kilogram topside/bolar roast, cut into bitesize cubes (and trimmed of fat)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced (keeping green parts for later)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 chilli, finely diced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chipotle chilli in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 x 400 gram tin of chopped tomato
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 x 400 gram tins of red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (best for this is oregano, parsley and coriander)
  • Juice of ½ lime
Choose a nice lean piece of beef for a lovely tender Chilli Con Carne

Choose a nice lean piece of beef for a lovely tender Chilli Con Carne

Method:

In a large frying pan brown the meat in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a crack of black pepper (being careful not to overcrowd the pan)..  This can be done in batches so you get a good even brownness and so the meat doesn’t stew.

Lovingly brown meat is a good start for any casserole

Lovingly brown meat is a good start for any casserole

Once browned, place the beef into a slow cooker.  In the same pan add either a little more olive oil or as I do a little bit of water before adding the onion, white of the spring onion and the garlic.  Cook over a medium heat until onion is lightly sautéed but not browned.  Add the chilli, spices and chipotle chilli, stirring through and cooking for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.

All the flavours of chilli, onion, garlic and spices

All the flavours of chilli, onion, garlic and spices

Add the tomatoes along with about ½ tin of water, stirring to combine all the ingredients and scrapping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the good bits as there is a lot of flavour in those good bits!

Tip the pan ingredients along with the stock and the kidney beans into the slow cooker and stir through so everything is combined.  Turn the slow cooker on high for 1 hour then turn down to low for 4 hours.

Lots of liquid but it will cook out in the long slow cooking process

Lots of liquid but it will cook out in the long slow cooking process

Remove the lid and give the chilli a good stir then check the tenderness of the meat (it should be fork tender).  Add the fresh herbs and green parts of the spring onion and salt if needed.  Stir through and cook on high for ½ hour (or up to 1 hour if needed).

Add the lime juice and stir through just before serving.

Make a meal of it with some green vegetables, a baked potato and some warm cornbread

Make a meal of it with some green vegetables, a baked potato and some warm cornbread

There are numerous ways to enjoy.  You can eat the chilli straight from a bowl topped with some grated cheddar cheese and finely chopped red onion.  You can make a meal of it with a baked potato, cornbread, corn and green beans.  Or you can shred the meat further and top your hotdogs with it to make a great chilli dog!

You can't eat Chilli without toppings of cheese and onion

You can’t eat Chilli without toppings of cheese and onion

Enjoy!

Hints:

As with any meal like this it is a matter of taste so you need to add more chilli if you want it hotter or more herbs and spices if you find it too bland.  This is a good starting point for you to put your own touches on it.

Each time I make this (or any stew/casserole) I find I need to adjust my seasonings accordingly.  Also, if I am having friends or family over I make it so it isn’t too hot but if it is for just Wayne and I, well nothing wrong with a bit more heat!

When I first started making chilli con carne I would use the packet of chilli seasoning you get at the grocery store.  Over the years I acquired a spice grinder and my cupboards are full of spices so I thought ‘Why buy something which has extra additives I don’t want in my food’.  So I experimented and came up with this recipe.

You can also change the type of beans you use.  I have used black beans as well as a mixture of beans but I don’t like chickpeas as I find the texture doesn’t work for me.

A good thing with a slow cooker is you can set and forget.  I can’t do this as I have to check the seasoning and moisture every now and again.  You can do this if you so desire or you can just leave it.  But I do suggest that you keep an eye on the moisture and the tenderness of the beef.  Different cuts of beef can take different times to get to the correct point of tenderness.

My recipes, as I have said before, are a guide, to be adjusted, played with and changed to your liking.  They work just as given but are always better if you add your own imagination and touches.

Cook, eat, enjoy and have fun doing it.

 

 

 

Posted in Home, Recipes, Savoury (Main Meals) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No pictures today just a bit of rambling happiness!

It amazes me that the smallest things in life are the ones that make us smile!  And these same small tokens give us the inspiration to do what we love!

The other day I received a comment on my blog that really did fill me with joy and made me feel as if I was doing this blogging lark for a reason.  Not just because I enjoy cooking, travel, writing and sharing but because other people seem to enjoy reading what I have to say.  I have family and friends who tell me how much they enjoy my blog and some who have even tried my recipes with much success.   I appreciate and love the fact I can share my stories and recipes with them and feel immense pride when someone close to me gets some form of enjoyment from my blog.  Sharing is caring!

But I must say it is a great joy to me when a stranger stumbles across my blog, is really enjoying it and even shares those feelings with me!  It spurs me on, gives me a boost and a bit more confidence that I am on the right path and I am right in sharing my stories, experiences, recipes and my joy of food, and the world (in which food plays such an important part).

We all have so much to say but often think that no one will be interested in our stories but I have found many people are excited about our lives, our loves and of course our recipes!  I feel so blessed; I’ve had a wonderful life, full of travel, full of love and full of food!  My mum has always loved cooking and looking after everyone.  I must take after her…  Having said that, when I think of my dear mother I have a little inward giggle as she still wants to cook and look after us all and she stills shops as if we are all still living nearby and will be coming for dinner every night!  Unfortunately she now lives on her own, my dad passed away about 5 years ago, and he always loved her cooking.  The kids, well we grew up, left home and are now scattered around Australia so she doesn’t get to do the cooking she used to.  Wish she lived closer as she makes the best chocolate chip biscuits, the most tender of roasts and the most heart and soul warming beef and vegetable soup you could ever want to eat!

I am salivating just thinking of all of her special recipes and I’m still trying to get her to help me perfect them as still to this day I cannot get mine to taste anywhere near as good as hers.

But I digress…….  Back to food and sharing!

Food is about life (nourishment), love (the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach), happiness, caring (mums chicken soup when you’re sick or steak and baked potato to help you get back on your feet).  Food is so much more than just something you put in your mouth to stave off those hungers pains.  Food is life, food is history, food is love, food is fun, food is travel and most of all food essential!

When you think about it we relate all of our sense to food. We base our travels around food, we celebrate with food, we have conversations over food.  Food is the lifeblood of our world and I feel so blessed that I live in a world where I can explore all the worlds’ cuisines and again share what I know.  So to be able to share is to be able to care!

I know many who love to eat but not to cook, love to explore but maybe not travel and most everyone I know loves to read.  So why not give them something fun, interesting and exciting to read.  Be an armchair cook or traveler.  That is still fun.  And as long as everyone out there keeps reading and I keep cooking, travelling, walking, eating and writing I will continue on my journey, hopefully with new friends as well as old friends in tow.  I have so much more to tell you, I will always be in my kitchen cooking and experimenting and when I’m not in the kitchen I will be out walking a new path, trying a new restaurant or travelling to old and new destinations.  This is what I love, this is my life and I am so grateful for it.

The world is my oyster, my cherry on top and all of my senses!

And as Samuel Chamberlain (Artist and Food and Travel Writer 1895-1975) once said:

‘The gentle art of gastronomy is a friendly one.  It hurdles the language barrier, makes friends among civilised people, and warms the heart.’

No truer words said…  It amazes me that many a deal has been made over a good meal, relationships form over romantic dinners, family differences can be resolved over the Sunday roast.  Our world revolves around food.

So lets eat!

Posted in Home, Inspirations, Rants, Raves and Inspirations! | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

BEAN DIP

Great dip and great chips. YUM!

Great dip and great chips. YUM!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 spring onion sliced (set sliced green tops aside for later)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped red chilli
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Dash of Tabasco (or more depending or your taste)
  • 1 small tomato, finely diced
  • 1 x 440gm tin of refried beans (I like the black bean type)
  • ¼ cup grated (or cubed) cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Squeeze of lime juice
Some of the ingredients needed to make a great Bean Dip

Some of the ingredients needed to make a great Bean Dip

Method:

In a small to medium sized saucepan slowly cook the onion, white part of the spring onion, garlic and chilli.  You can use a small amount of oil but I add a little water instead.

Cooking off the onion, chilli and garlic

Cooking off the onion, chilli and garlic

Once the onion is translucent (takes about 5-10 minutes) add the cumin and coriander, stir through and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the tomato and Tabasco and again cook for a further 2-3 minutes stirring to combine.

A tin of good Refried Beans

A tin of good Refried Beans

Now add the tin of refried beans and stir through the tomato mixture to incorporate the ingredients.  If at this stage it looks a bit dry add a little water and stir through.

Adding the spices and tomato

Adding the spices and tomato

Add the grated cheese and again stir through.  Let this cook over low heat until the cheese has melted through (stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan).

Now add some cheese

Now add some cheese

Add the green spring onion tops and fresh coriander with a squeeze of lime juice.  Stir through then serve in a bowl with corn chips as a side dish, snack or as part of a Mexican feast.

Hints:

As with all my recipes it all comes down to taste.  You can add more chilli, a little bit more cumin or even a bit more cheese if you desire.  Just remember to taste and add, then taste again.

As the bean mixture can easily stick to the bottom of the saucepan make sure you check and stir the mixture so that it doesn’t catch and burn.

If you don’t have a lime a bit of lemon works just as well.  And on the same line if you only have one type of onion (be it brown, white or red) use whatever you have to hand.

And lastly, always remember that my recipes are a guide and they should be played with.  We all have different tastes and we should develop a recipe to suit or own taste buds, wants and needs!

 

 

 

Posted in All those other recipes! (Salads, Sides and Snacks), Home, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Be in the great outdoors in magnificent Melbourne

The lake, the city and the reflection. Albert Park

The lake, the city and the reflection. Albert Park

Well I said I was going to give you more so this is my next installment of things to see and do in Melbourne, Victoria.  Melbourne is known for its vibrancy, food, festivals and sport, with travelers from far and wide visiting each and every year.  There is so much to see and do and there never seems to be time to do it all.  I suppose that is why I go there a couple of times each year, so I can continue to explore everything Melbourne has to offer.

With so many cafes and eateries right on our doorstep what could be better than having a great breakfast to get your day going followed by a walk in one of the many parks and gardens dotted around the city and suburbs.  There are so many beautiful parks and gardens in Melbourne but one of my favourites has to be Albert Park.

A walk around Albert Park Lake

A walk around Albert Park Lake

Albert Park is probably best known for being a great circuit for the Formula One Grand Prix which happens around March each year.  When there are no big, loud and noisy cars zooming around the lake it is a great place to walk off that big breakfast.  You can walk from the city to the park (it’s about 3kms from the city centre) if your very energetic  or you can jump on a tram which will take you within a couple of blocks so you can then enjoy a more relaxing and peaceful walk around the lake.  Albert Lake shimmers with the reflection of the city and its high-rises, it comes alive with the sounds of walkers, runners, rowers and bike riders all around you.  Ducks and sail boats glide across the river as you slowly meander around the circumference of the lake.

The walking track is a 5km circuit passing sports centres, cafes, playgrounds and bbqs.  So you can go for a quick walk or make a day of it by having a bbq or picnic, having lunch and watching the world and all its inhabitants go by (people watching is one of my favourite sports!).

Beautiful Albert Park Lake

Beautiful Albert Park Lake

Albert Park also has an Aboriginal heritage dating back many years with the flora and fauna of the area providing the Aboriginal people food, shelter and ceremonial sites.

Melbourne From Albert Park

Melbourne From Albert Park

Another great area for walking is the Domain Parklands, home to more of my favourite places for a good walk, including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Shrine of Remembrance, Government House and Kings Domain.  The area is bordered by St Kilda Road and the Yarra River and is a great location for walking and cycling as well as picnicking.

One of many gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

One of many gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Walking through the gardens and parklands always calms and relaxes me.   It’s fun, its exercise and there is plenty of history to be learnt.  Take your time, walk through the different areas, check out the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the art works and many statues, Government House and you must not miss the Shrine of Remembrance.  A moving reminder of our past and the efforts our war heroes made so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today.

Melbourne Artwork in the Domain Parklands

Melbourne Artwork in the Domain Parklands

The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is always fun to explore.  You can get right up on the stage and you can wonder around looking at the artwork scattered throughout the grounds.  There are many statues and monuments to explore and many pathways to take.  Make sure you get a map so you don’t miss a thing.

Sidney Myer Music Bowl and Domain Parklands from the Eureka Tower

Sidney Myer Music Bowl and Domain Parklands from the Eureka Tower

The Royal Botanic Gardens, which was established in 1846 is the perfect spot for anyone who loves plants.  There is a herbarium, tropical glasshouse, forest walk, a lake and so much more.  You can spend hours wondering the gardens, sitting under trees, reading about different plant species and again just watching the world go by.

The Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance

And before you leave the Domain grounds you must visit the Shrine of Remembrance.  This moving monument was created (built between 1928-1934) so Victorians (and all Australians) could remember the loss which was felt by all after the First World War.  It is and has been a place to grieve and a place to remember, a place to learn and a place to give thanks.

A Memorial and the Eternal Flame

A Memorial and the Eternal Flame

Again, take your time, wonder through the Shrine itself as well as the surrounding gardens and forecourt.  Take time to reflect and to feel, to give thanks to all those who have fought to keep us safe and give us our freedom.

Path through Fitzroy Gardens

Path through Fitzroy Gardens

Well here’s hoping you are not all parks and gardened out as I have one more for you.  Fitzroy Gardens.  Wayne and I stumbled across this one when we were wondering around the MCG (all the AFL sports fans out there will know this iconic place!).  Again this is a great park to wonder through and maybe even enjoy a spot of lunch on the lawns.  You will see workers stopping to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and greenery during the work week and families enjoying picnics on the weekends.

Cooks Cottage at Fitzroy Gardens

Cooks Cottage at Fitzroy Gardens

Make sure you check out the lovely Conservatory and also explore Cooks Cottage for a bit of a history lesson if you like.  There are beautiful elm trees and fountains. Wonder around, enjoy the walk and breathe in the fresh air.  That is what it is all about!

The Conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens

The Conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens

So get out there, enjoy the outdoors, the exercise and all the beauty Melbourne has to offer.  And after all that exercise I’m sure you will be ready for a drink and a good feed at one of the many watering holes and eateries Melbourne has to offer.

Eat Drink Walk and Be Happy!

For more information on any of the parks and gardens mentioned refer to the websites below:

Albert Park and Lake

Domain Parklands

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Shrine of Remembrance

Fitzroy Gardens

Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens

Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens

Posted in Home, My travels over the years, Stories of my life, travels and Tasmania | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hobart Rivulet Walk: A walk, a rivulet and plenty of fresh air

The frost has set in.

The frost has set in.

It’s a cool morning, the air is crisp, the ground frosty and the sun shining.  And of course a walk in Hobart is on the cards.  So Wayne and I head off to Cascade Gardens for what I consider a relaxing and enjoyable walk , one which everyone can enjoy.  It is also a walk that you can begin in the city or up at Cascade Gardens (or from the Brewery if that is on your agenda as well.  And why wouldn’t it be!)  Also if you’re hankering for a bit of Hobart history the Female Factory is yet another attraction to see while you are in the area.  You can see now why I would say it is for everyone, you can take just the walk or pack it in with some sight-seeing, a beer and some lunch (refer to my review Casacade Brewery Eats) and make a day of it.

Cascade Brewery

Cascade Brewery

What I love about this walk and so many of the walks in and around Hobart is how the landscape, colour and scenery changes depending on what time of year it is.  This is a relaxing walk and is very peaceful.  But there is also the history of the rivulet and plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

The Rivulet was somewhat the lifeblood to Hobart in the early days as it was used for drinking and washing until the 1860’s.  It had many other uses including the driving of millwheels and sawblades, was used in factories and tanneries and as a drain and sewer.  Housing was built along the rivulet too and as you walk you will see how much the area has been built up over the years.

The Cascade Rivulet mini falls

The Cascade Rivulet mini falls

We normally start the walk at Cascade Gardens as there is plenty of parking and amenities there.  From there walk through the car park to McRobies Road following the road past the Female Factory (of course you can take this in before or after your walk).  Once you have found the gravel pathway you can start to see the beauty of the area with its Sandstone rock face, various trees and the trickling water of the rivulet.

A wall of stone along the rivulet

A wall of stone along the rivulet

After you have walked a while you come across a large group of buildings known as Vaucluse Gardens which is currently a retirement village but once belonged to Hobart businessman Thomas Hewitt.  Along the way you will see signage with some of the history of the area, steel structures used to catch logs and ‘Milton’ a fine example of Georgian style housing in Hobart.  Make sure you have a look as you can see Mount Wellington looming larger than life through the trees and from the higher points of the walk.

Mt Wellington from the rivulet

Mt Wellington from the rivulet

Continue your journey enjoying the peace, quiet and beauty of the rivulet until you reach a small park which houses a tall brick chimney stack.  This is the end of your walk but make sure you walk out to Mole Street turning right (into Mole Street) where you will find the waterway flowing under the streets and buildings as it makes its way out to the Derwent River.  This gives you a since of how Hobart was built around the water in the area.

Autum leaves on the Cascade walk

Autum leaves on the Cascade walk

The water from the rivulet comes from Mount Wellington and this mountain water is what has been used to brew the famous Cascade Beer since it was founded in 1824.  So make sure you stop in and try one of Tasmania’s great brews while you are in the area.  It would be silly of you not to!

The Rivulet walk is about 2.2 km each way (4.4kms return) and for the most part is fairly flat and easy to navigate.  There is one small section which rises above the rivulet and into bushland before descending back down so you can enjoy the water, the trees and nature at its best.  Take your time, take photos and enjoy.  It should take you about 90 minutes to do the round trip journey depending on how often you stop.

A view of the rivulet through the trees

A view of the rivulet through the trees

For more information on The Female Factory and Cascade Brewery refer to the websites listed below.

Female Factory

Cascade Brewery

So be off with you, get out there and enjoy the fresh air, a little bit of history and the lovely scenery Hobart has to offer.

A very frosty leaf Cascade Rivulet

A very frosty leaf Cascade Rivulet

Posted in Home, Stories of my life, travels and Tasmania, Tasmania the Beautiful | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE FOR PASTA

Some of the ingredients to use when making a great pasta sauce.

Some of the ingredients to use when making a great pasta sauce.

Makes approx. 3-4 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped bacon (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 spring onion, sliced (saving green portion for later in recipe)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped chilli
  • 2 x 400 gram tins of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pesto
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs, chopped (basil, parsley, chives)

Method:

In a medium sized pan over medium heat, cook the bacon (if using) and onion in the olive oil until the onion is soft and transparent.  Add the garlic, chilli and the white of the spring onion.  Cook for a further 5 minutes.

If using bacon roughly chop before cooking.

If using bacon roughly chop before cooking.

Add the tomato paste and pesto and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the crushed tomatoes, wine and vinegar.  Stir through adding the oregano, salt and pepper.

All the ingredients in the pan simmering away!

All the ingredients in the pan simmering away!

Cover and let simmer slowly for about 30 minutes (keep an eye on it and stir for time to time so sauce doesn’t stick and burn).  Add the fresh herbs, stir through and taste for seasoning.  You may need to add more salt and pepper to taste.

A beautiful, full flavour pasta sauce ready to use.

A beautiful, full flavour pasta sauce ready to use.

Serve with pasta or use as a sauce for meatball subs.  You can also use this sauce for pizzas (you may need to thicken a bit more) or as a base for soups and stews/casseroles.

Hints:

Use as much or as little garlic and chilli as you like.  I like a bit more garlic and just enough chilli for flavour, not heat.

You can use whole or diced tinned tomatoes.  If using whole crush them before you add them to the pan.

If the sauce looks a little bit watery take the lid off and simmer until reduced to your liking.

Always, always taste and add more salt, pepper or even balsamic vinegar if needed.

Dinner is served! Pasta with salad and garlic bread.

Dinner is served! Pasta with salad and garlic bread.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Home, Recipes, Savoury (Main Meals) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Do you ‘CHEAT’ in the kitchen? I do!

Puff pastry is great for so many things!

Puff pastry is great for so many things!

This morning I was reading a magazine from a few years ago (yes one of the many I have read and must re-read as I’ve forgotten what was in it!) when I can across an article about cheating in the kitchen.  And so I thought….  What is the meaning of cheating?

According to the Collins Concise Dictionary, to cheat is to deceive, defraud, swindle.  To practice deceit to gain advantage.  Hmmmm!  Maybe that isn’t the correct word for it as now I feel like I am going to be arrested by the food police for cheating in my own private kitchen!!

Anyway, the article got me thinking about ways in which we cheat in the kitchen to make our lives easier, a good thing, not a bad thing.  Sometimes I find cheating may even cost less which is good for those on a budget.  Therefore my definition of cheating is helping myself and all those hungry people relying on me to feed them and feed them quick.

I believe there is no problem for us ordinary home cooks to cheat sometimes.  I mean who has time to make bread and pastry from scratch?  Who has all the equipment to make pesto and pasta?  Who wants massive cauldrons of stock bubbling away on the cooktop 24/7?  I love to cook but I love to do other things as well therefore I must cheat.  Sometimes anyway.

Some of my favourite cheat ingredients.

Some of my favourite cheat ingredients.

Having conveniences that can help us to get a good meal (or even a great meal if I do say so myself) on the table allows us to cook when we get home from a busy day.  Knowing we can whip up an almost gourmet meal with the help of some wonderful products takes ordinary cooks like me and makes them confident to experiment and try new cuisines.

Also if we had to make everything from scratch I believe there would be a lot of people out there who just wouldn’t even cook, instead opting for take away or pre-prepared meals.  Homemade doesn’t mean you can’t use ready-made pastry, pasta, pesto, jam and the like.  Homemade means you can and should use these conveniences as part of your recipe.  There is nothing wrong with that!

Being a home cook I love to try new recipes and experiment with different cuisines but to make a pesto or a curry paste can sometimes be rather daunting.  So I say cheat!  There are some great jars of different styles of pesto’s and curry pastes out there to buy.  But instead of just opening the jar and chucking it in, add your own touches to the dish.  Use some fresh herbs, some lemon or lime juice, even more garlic or onion and I dare anyone to tell you your dish doesn’t taste good.  Also I find when you are making pesto’s and pastes you have to buy quite a number of ingredients you may not have in your pantry (and may not use again) and they could cost you more than your budget allows so buying a good quality jar and adding to it is a common sense approach, don’t you think!?

Tinned tomatoes and a jar of pesto plus the extras makes for a great sauce.

Tinned tomatoes and a jar of pesto plus the extras makes for a great sauce.

One of my favourite cheats is picking up a roast chook from the supermarket, getting it home and ripping all the meat off the bones.  Use the bones to enhance a bought packet of stock.  And use the meat in so many ways.  Why not try a chicken pot pie, chicken enchiladas or burritos, chicken caesar salad or chicken and pesto pasta.

Shredded barbecue chicken makes great enchiladas.

Shredded barbecue chicken makes great enchiladas.

Pastas and pastries are another good cheat.  I love using puff pastry but to make it fresh is so time consuming and not many of us have that much time to spare even on the weekend.  If you are like me I want to spend time with my partner, taking a nice bush walk, fishing and having lunch out at a lovely café.  Pasta requires extra equipment which I don’t have room for in my kitchen and with so many dried and fresh varieties at the supermarket and your local deli there is no reason to make pasta fresh unless it is something you really enjoy doing.

And finally one of my other favourite cheats is tinned tomatoes.  They are great for everything.  Good quality tinned tomatoes have plenty of flavour and when you buy them on sale, stock up!  Using a tin or two of tomatoes you can make pasta sauces, soups, Mexican meals, casseroles and stews.  By adding fresh onion, garlic, spices, herbs and seasoning you can make any style of cuisine you like.  So much quicker than peeling, deseeding and chopping all those tomatoes yourself!

Some of my favourite dishes are made using the above cheats and they all taste great and have plenty of flavour.  By using cheat ingredients and adding your own touches you can make any meal fantastic without spending all day following that recipe that has 50 steps and just as many ingredients..  And I guarantee that hungry family of yours will very much appreciate it too.

Homemade sausage rolls using store bought puff pastry.

Homemade sausage rolls using store bought puff pastry.

Cheating in this fashion doesn’t mean you will never make a homemade pesto, homemade pastry or even homemade pasta.  The fun of cooking is trying to make things from scratch, when you have the time and energy, not when you need a meal on the table.  Cooking is about having fun so when you are looking for a day of cooking and trying new things go the full on homemade route.  But if you have had a busy day and want a good meal on the table without the hassles and stress, ‘CHEAT’!  You won’t regret it.

Stay tuned as I will share some more of my cheats recipes with you (I have already shared a few) and would love to hear how you cheat in the kitchen as well.

And remember: If you open a packet and heat it up, that is not cooking but if you open a packet and use it as an ingredient along with other fresh ingredients, well that is cooking.

Add some roast vegetables and your are ready for a hearty meal

Add some roast vegetables and your are ready for a hearty meal

Posted in Hints, Tips and clues., Home | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment