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 and Tips, Home, Rants, Raves, Inspirations, Hints, Tips! | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Do you ‘CHEAT’ in the kitchen? I do!

What am I doing!?

I sometimes think to myself, “What are you doing?  Will anyone really read your blog and try your recipes?  You aren’t a professional, you’re not a chef, you’ve got no experience in travel writing and reviews….”

No!  But I do have life experience.  Experience in living, learning, exploring and most of all sharing.  And that is why I started this blog just over a year ago.  My life’s ambition has been to share my stories, share my recipes and share my travels with anyone out there who may be interested.

And as much as I would love to do this and get paid for it, well it isn’t about the money really, although it would be nice and it may eventually happen.  It’s about me doing what I love to do and I love nothing better than to cook, travel, try, learn, experience and share.  And so in my second year of blogging I intend to share more with you.  I hope you don’t mind!

Also, while I am writing this blog I am also working on a cookbook come memoir of my life and the food I have loved, shared and learned about over the years.  To me travel and food go hand in hand.  If the world didn’t have people moving or traveling from one state to another, one country to another we may never have become so multicultural.  Our love of food and culture has led many of us to get out there and even if we have no desire to actually travel to another country we can still experience a little bit of a countries culture through its food.  What could be better than that?

So I hope you stay with me as my journey continues.  I am having fun and learning more each day.  Thank you all for your support over the past year.  I am back and into it, so strap yourself in and come along for the ride!  This is my life’s journey and even I don’t know where it will take me.  That to me is what makes life so exciting.

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MY FAVOURITE COLESLAW

 

Coleslaw. The finished product ready to serve.

Coleslaw. The finished product ready to serve.

Serves 4 – 6 people as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • ¼ large green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 medium size carrot, grated
  • 3 decent size radishes, grated
  • ½ cup lite sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Zest and juice of ½ lime
  • Pepper and salt to taste
All the ingredients you need to make the perfect coleslaw

All the ingredients you need to make the perfect coleslaw

Method:

In a large bowl add the cabbage, carrot, radishes and coriander.  Mix to combine.  In a small bowl add the sour cream, cumin, zest and juice of lime and salt/pepper to taste.  Mix thoroughly than add to cabbage mixture.

With tongs, forks or clean hands mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients making sure there is an even distribution of sour cream and cabbage.

Ready for a good mix!

Ready for a good mix!

Serve in a salad bowl as a side dish for a bbq or as an additional topping on pulled meat sandwiches, soft shelled tacos or burgers.

Coleslaw is a great topping for pulled pork sandwiches

Coleslaw is a great topping for pulled pork sandwiches

Hints:

You can use any type of cabbage (choose your favourite) but the red/purple cabbage will bleed slightly into your sour cream giving it a slight purple tinge.  It still tastes good!

You may choose to add other ingredients to your slaw like finely slice snow peas, celery, capsicum and so on.  By doing this you can make this recipe your own.

Make sure you taste the sour cream dressing before mixing in with the cabbage as it may need more lime juice, cumin or coriander.

 

 

 

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A brand new kitchen brings new inspiration.

My new kitchen

My new kitchen

My kitchen, my inspiration!

Today I want to share with you something which has been a huge inspiration in my life over the past few years.  You know I love to cook, I love entertaining and I just love food.  But sometimes if you have a kitchen that is just mediocre you get a bit out of sorts and it shows in your cooking.

Well a few years ago I was a bit out of sorts and wasn’t enjoying cooking as much.  Why?  Because my kitchen was old, ugly, boring and not laid out in a fashion that worked for me.  My inspiration took a vacation and I needed it to come home.  As usual I was cooking six days a week and it was becoming a mundane, uninspiring task.  I wanted to get excited about cooking again, I wanted to start making more great food, trying more new recipes and having family and friends over for dinner more often.

The old kitchen and that awful cork floor

The old kitchen and that awful cork floor

By this time we had been in our home for 3 years getting a feel for what we wanted and how we wanted it.  When we bought the house we knew we would be renovating it pretty much top to bottom, so once we were settled in our thoughts went to what we could do.  We frequented all manner of showrooms, perused numerous magazines and had samples coming out our ears.  We knew we wanted to do the kitchen first (Wayne wanted me to get my groove back so he could eat more…..  Hehe!).  We planned, we changed our minds, we got quotes and drawings, we decided on colours and materials, we changed our minds………  It was a lot of planning but we wanted something that would suit us and we wanted it to be somewhat timeless as this would be an expensive project and one we wanted to last!

That big and ugly pantry!

That big and ugly pantry!

What we knew for sure was the cork flooring had to go and that kitchen!  Well the whole thing had to be ripped out.  This was important to me; the big old pantry had to go as it closed in the whole corner of our kitchen and there was a lot of wasted space inside.  We knew we didn’t want high cupboards (when you are short like me anything above head height is useless).  What we did want was drawers, lots of drawers.  And so it began.

Out with the old!

Out with the old!

The first day of the new build was so exciting.  I knew we would be without a kitchen for a week so I prepared myself by making some stews, soups and casseroles in the slow cooker.  I set up the laundry room as a makeshift kitchen with the toaster, kettle, slow cooker and a few utensils that would do everything I needed them to do.  Hey we did order pizza one night as well!  A girl needs a break every now and then.

In with the new!

In with the new!

The kitchen came out and the room was now a bare shell.  It was hard to imagine what it was going to be like when it was all done.  But I knew it would be good and I was already getting excited about getting into my new kitchen and cooking, cooking, cooking!!  Each day something new went in, each day it was starting to look more and more like the kitchen I had imagined.  Each day I got more and more excited!

Wow! I like it.

Wow! I like it.

The kitchen came together piece by piece; we had to wait a few weeks for the splashback and then again for the new flooring but finally it was done, dusted and ready to be used.  And boy do I use it.  I still cook nearly every day of the week, I bake, I try new recipes and I have had a new lease of life (as has my kitchen).  It really does give me inspiration, even now after 2 ½ years.  I’m just so glad we have taken the time to get it just the way we want it and now we can enjoy, cook, entertain and have fun.

The cork is gone and the new floor is in

The cork is gone and the new floor is in

Oh and I forgot to mention, the shopping was great fun too!  I got knew pots and pans, a new red toaster and kettle, of course all new appliances and finally we were going to have a dishwasher.  Yippee!  Wayne was very happy about his new dishwasher…  And I love my birthday and Christmas so much more now as I can always think of a new utensil, cookbook, small appliance or gadget that my family can buy me.  They know what makes me happy and I know what makes them happy…  Good food!

Wayne loves his new dishwasher

Wayne loves his new dishwasher

My kitchen is now the heart and soul of our home again.  Full of love, fun, good food, wonderful smells and here’s hoping, a lot of happy people!

My kitchen, My inspiration!

 

 

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MIXED BEAN SALAD

 

Healthy and filling

Healthy and filling

Makes approx. 5-6 cups (enough for 5-6 lunches or to feed 6-8 as a side salad)

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 400 gram tins of your favourite beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 cups finely chopped mixed vegetables
  • ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon each chopped chilli and Tabasco
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons mixed soft herbs, finely chopped
  • 50 grams of either crumbled feta or baby bocconcinis, quartered
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
All the ingredients you need for a great salad

All the ingredients you need for a great salad

Method:

In a large bowl mix together the beans, onion, vegetables and tomatoes.

In a smaller bowl mix together the garlic, mustard, chilli, tabasco and vinegar.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables along with pepper to taste.  Stir through gently before adding the herbs, cheese of choice and pine nuts.  Toss through gently and serve with barbequed meat or as a salad with some nice bread for lunch.

An elegant side dish

An elegant side dish

Hints:

Use whatever type of beans you like.  I prefer a mixture (use tins of 4 bean mix or mix your own).

Use soft herbs like basil, parsley and/or chives.

You can use as little or as much chilli/Tabasco as you like or if you are not into the hot stuff you can leave it out.

Always taste your salad when finished and add salt if required.  I do this at the end as sometimes with other flavourings you may not need salt.  This depends on your taste buds. Adjust any other seasoning as well until you get the taste you will enjoy.

When tossing all the ingredients together it is best to be gentle so you don’t squash the beans.  Using a large bowl and either your hands or two large spoons works well.  Then you can spoon into a clean serving bowl and chill until your ready to eat!

 

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A Cascade of beer and some mighty fine food!

An old beer barrel

An old beer barrel

So you’ve come to visit Hobart and have decided what attractions you might want to see.  You’ve come across the beer tour at Cascade Brewery.  How much fun would that be!?  Well it is fun but make sure you allow yourself the time to explore and enjoy the gardens and have lunch in the café as well.  You won’t be disappointed.

Wayne and I have been to Cascade Brewery on numerous occasions, our first time as a tourist (before we made the big move to Hobart).  That was quite a few years ago now but on that occasion we did the brewery tour as we both like a good beer, well Wayne actual ‘LOVES’ a good beer.  I will tell you about the tour, the grounds and the walk in a future post but today we will talk about the important stuff!  FOOD!

A small portion of the Menu at Cascade Brewery

A small portion of the Menu at Cascade Brewery

The Cascade Brewery Visitors Centre houses a lovely café/restaurant where you can relax after the brewery tour, a walk or just because you want a lovely afternoon out with good food, wine and beer, of course!  And that is exactly what we did a few weeks ago.  It was a lovely sunny Sunday, we had been for an invigorating morning walk which made us very hungry.  We rocked up without a reservation and lucky enough there was a table just waiting for us!  Now you can eat indoors looking out -as there is a wall of glass overlooking the gardens- or outdoors where you will find tables scattered in and around the gardens.

A view from the cafe to the bar

A view from the cafe to the bar

Once seated we purchased our drinks from the bar, sat back with a cold beer and a cool wine and read the tummy grumbling menu.  With so much to choose from and all of it sounding fantastic we decided on some Panko Crumbed Onion Rings to share, while I was salivating over the description of the Ploughman’s Lunch, Wayne was debating over a few of the items but gave in to the need for red meat and had the Cascade Steak Sandwich.

Hungry! Here comes lunch!

Hungry! Here comes lunch!

With our order in we watched as plate after plate of food wound its way past us to hungry diners.  I can honestly say that all of it looked great and we were feeling happy, excited and hungry.  Our meals arrived looking very appetising and appealing.  Good start!  After taking the obligatory photos we tucked in and enjoyed.

The golden, crunchy and hot onion rings tasted just as they should.  Real rings of onion, cut into large rounds and battered (not crumbed as was stated on the menu) which had a nice crunch when bitten into followed by soft juicy onion.  My only complaint with this side dish was the fact they hadn’t been drained properly so the last couple in the basket were sitting in a small pool of oil.

Crispy golden onion rings

Crispy golden onion rings

My ploughman’s lunch was laid out on a wooden board showing off all the treats you would expect of a good ploughman’s platter including Mercury Cider poached fruit.  The ham in large wedges was moist and tasty and the cheese, well I am a great cheese lover and double cream brie has to be one of my favourites, especially if it’s from King Island!  I was very happy to see decent size chunks of both the brie and a Surprise Bay Cheddar along with a little salad, pickled onions, Branston Pickle, the tasty poached fruit and some lovely fresh chewy bread.

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

All the flavours worked well together and it was fun having a bit of this and a bit of that, sweet, sour, savoury, yum.  Wayne of course went for the steak sandwich and was not disappointed.  This consisted of a perfectly cooked piece of scotch fillet topped with bacon, egg, cheese, beetroot, lettuce and tomato and served with hot, fluffy, crispy fries.  The steak was tender and juicy and the fries were some of the best we have had for a while.  We were quite happy and content.

Now that's what I call a steak sandwich

Now that’s what I call a steak sandwich

The service was good, the food came out in a good amount of time and the meals were cooked to our liking.  You do have to go to the bar to get your drinks which is not a problem but be aware it can take a while if a tour has just ended and all the samples/tastings are being handed out.  The room is bright and airy and the gardens are a great place to sit and relax with a cold beer under one of the big trees.

All done!

All done!

So if you are heading to Cascade Brewery  for a brewery tour make sure you leave enough time for a great lunch and a cold beer.

Oh and stay tuned as I will be sharing with you a bit more about the brewery, the tour and the Cascade Rivulet walk in a future post.

For more information feel free to check out the Cascade web page at www.cascadebreweryco.com.au.

Posted in All Things Food and Travel from Attractions to Products, Home, My Travels, Walks and Tasmania, Reviews, Tasmania the Beautiful | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Today I’m baking and it reminds me of Mum!

Some of my baked goods

Some of my baked goods

Today, it’s raining outside, there is thunder, there is lightning, but inside it is warm, the oven is on and I am baking!  The smells and scents coming from my kitchen are very inviting and they really are making me hungry.  Gee, I picked a good day for it.

Thank you cookbooks!

Thank you cookbooks!

I’ve had my cookbooks out this week working out what new recipes I wanted to try.  I can’t help myself as I love trying new recipes but I also love my tried and true recipes as they are the ones which get passed down and across to family and friends.  I just love recipes…  So with the shopping done and the ingredients all over the counter I got stuck in  and  as I was preparing for all my baked delights it got me thinking about my Mum.  She loves cooking and recipes too so that must be where I get it from.

A quote by Elsa Schiaparelli describes my mum to a ‘T’.

“A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.”

I think all of us who love cooking and sharing feel like we are dispensing happiness to those around us with our food.  If our friends and family are happy, smiling and enjoying our wares then we are happy too.

So as I said, I was thinking about food and Mum and how I learned to cook.  I have read many stories and memoirs about cooks, chefs and food lovers who remember being in the kitchen with their mothers, standing on a box and mixing cakes or cookie batter.  My memories are so different to this.  Mum was the queen of the kitchen in our household and she loved it.  She would cook meals to suit everyone’s tastes, she loved the smiles and the full bellies when we were all finished.  This was what life was all about for her.

But we didn’t help her in the kitchen much when we were young.  She would make the cake or cookie batter and we would lick the beaters, the bowl and the spoon, we would steal bits of the raw cookie dough and couldn’t wait until those fresh baked goods came out of the oven.  And we were never disappointed.

Mum and I, Cooking and sharing the love

Mum and I, Cooking and sharing the love

We did help out with little tasks usually around the holidays like breaking up bread for the stuffing at Thanksgiving or Christmas, we topped and tailed the green beans, shucked the corn or podded the peas.  It wasn’t until we were teenagers that we really started getting involved in the cooking and the food.  We sat around the kitchen table chopping, cutting and grating but better still we got to cook real food at school.  I loved Home Economics and loved bringing home my homemade creations.  I believe this is when Mum realised that some of her children really could cook and bake and really loved food like she did.

As we got older Mum went off to work and left us recipes and instructions on what to cook for dinner.  I was so proud of myself and loved that Mum gave me and my sister the responsibility and let us loose in her kitchen.  I learned a lot over the years from my Mum without even realising it.  We have shared many recipes, hints, tips and ideas.  Even now we ring each other to ask how we should do something, if we can use this instead of that or I’ve lost that recipe for…….

So I digressed.  Back to my backing day!  I made biscuits, muffins and scones so we now have goodies to get us through the next week and some for the freezer for days down the road.  Wayne loves it when I cook as he knows he will be able to enjoy lots of goodies in his lunch box.

Baking ready for the freezer

Baking ready for the freezer

Just in case you want to try the biscuits or scones I made you can find the recipe here:

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/23526/orange+and+almond+anzac+biscuits

http://www.foodtolove.com.au/recipes/blueberry-ginger-scones-with-custard-cream-19685

 

 

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CHICKEN POT PIE (MADE WITH LEFTOVER ROAST CHICKEN)

Ready for eating!

Ready for eating!

Oven Temperature 200 degrees Celsius

Makes approx. 4 pies

Ingredients:

  • 1 large rasher of bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced (saving green portion to add at the end)
  • 1 stick celery, sliced (save the leaves for flavouring later in recipe)
  • 150 grams sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • 2 cups (400-500 grams) cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry cut into 4 squares
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Some of the ingredients you will need for your pot pie

Some of the ingredients you will need for your pot pie

Method:

In a large saute pan over medium heat, fry off bacon until slightly crisp.  Add onion, whites of the spring onion, and celery (adding a small amount of olive oil if needed) and cook through until vegetables have softened (5-10 minutes).  Add mushrooms and garlic and continue to saute until mushrooms soften slightly.

Cooking up your bacon and vegetables

Cooking up your bacon and vegetables

Season with pepper, add the flour and stir through, add mustard, paprika and Worcestershire sauce stirring again to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Slowly add chicken stock and white wine, whisking out any lumps before bringing to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until sauce reduces and thickens (about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally).

Making the gravy or sauce

Making the gravy or sauce

Add the spring onion tops, celery leaves, thyme, parsley and bay leaf.  Simmer for a further 15 minutes before adding the cream, chicken and peas.  At this stage check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Now that looks the the makings of a good pot pie

Now that looks the the makings of a good pot pie

Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the peas and chicken are warmed through.  If the sauce becomes too thick add a little more chicken stock and stir through.

In the meantime place the 4 squares of puff pastry on a lined baking sheet (lined with baking paper).  Using a pastry brush, brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle with extra paprika.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until puffed and golden.

Puff pastry ready for baking

Puff pastry ready for baking

Warm 4 ramekin style bowls, fill with chicken mixture (don’t forget to remove the bay leaf!) and top with cooked pastry.  Serve with your choice of vegetables.

Serve in warmed ramekins

Serve in warmed ramekins

Hints:

You can use other fresh herbs like Tarragon and chives to add different flavours.

You can also use cider instead of wine for a more fruity flavour.

I am known for not letting anything go to waste so I often chop up leftover vegetables (roast, boiled) and add them to the mixture with the peas and chicken.

Adding the salt and pepper towards of the end of cooking helps you to season your mixture correctly as the bacon can be salty, as can the chicken stock.

If you don’t want to top your mixture with pastry you can always top it with mashed potato (like a Shepherds Pie) and place under the grill to brown the top.

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 Home, Recipes, Salads, Sides, Snacks and Leftovers, Savoury (Main Meals) | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sydney! Sun, Fun, Harbours and Lights. A city so beautiful and filled with delights.

A city view from the ferry

A city view from the ferry

The Bonny Port of Sydney (first verse only), by Henry Lawson.
The lovely Port of Sydney
Lies laughing to the sky,
The bonny Port of Sydney,
Where the ships of nations lie.
You shall never see such beauty,
Though you sail the wide world o’er,
As the sunny Port of Sydney,
As we see it from the Shore.

There is no better view from the ferry than looking back at the Sydney Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the background

There is no better view from the ferry than looking back at the Sydney Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the background

This first verse of Henry Lawson’s poem really sums up what many may think of this wonderful city.  There really is no place like Sydney and maybe that is why so many Australians and travelers from around the world love visiting this fair part of Australia.

I have been to Sydney on numerous occasions and never tire of seeing the harbour, the bridge and the Opera House as you fly or sail in.  The way the morning light shines off the Opera House, the bridge so much a part of the landscape, the ferries at Circular Quay.  What a wonderful place to visit with so much to do and see.

The beauty of the Opera House

The beauty of the Opera House

Sydney, the big smoke, full of people and traffic, not a place I would want to live but it is a place I love to visit.  You can go there every year and still not see all the beauty Sydney has to offer so I will share with you a few of my favourites, the first being the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb.  This I wanted to do for my 50th birthday and so we did.  And I loved it!  Now I’m not very good with heights (oh and Wayne isn’t either!) but I was determined to do this.  So glad we did as it was fantastic.  The view from the top, the history of the bridge, the climb from under the bridge where you can see the workings, every bolt and screw, then walking up and above the cars, the stream of traffic flowing under your feet.  It is an experience I would suggest to any of you if you are visiting Sydney.  This is what it is all about!

Photos and certificates from our Bridge Climb adventure

Photos and certificates from our Bridge Climb adventure

There are a number of climbs you can do from a quick 1 ½ hour tour to the more in depth 3 ½ hour tour.  Some go under and up, some go straight to the top and some only go up the inner arch, not quite so high for those less daring.  The staff put you through your paces before you start your climb, where you are dressed in the Bridge Climb best grey overalls.  We all had a laugh at each other in our new outfits before we got down to the serious business of the climb itself.  Harnessed in and ready to go we were on our way to enjoy the beauty and excitement of being above the harbour, with a view as far as the eye can see.

Bridge climbers going up!

Bridge climbers going up!

Once the climb is finished you can wander over to the Pylon Lookout (free entry with your Bridge Climb ticket) where you can learn more of the history of this fascinating bridge as well as take some fantastic photos of the bridge, the Harbour, the Opera House.  So while in Sydney, get out there, get up there and have fun!  For more information and pricing go to www.bridgeclimb.com.

Looking up! The top of the bridge from the Pylon Lookout

Looking up! The top of the bridge from the Pylon Lookout

As you have probably realised, when Wayne and I travel we like to get out and see as much as we can, we jump on buses, trams and of course you can’t go to Sydney without jumping on a ferry at Circular Quay.  There are a number of ferries going in all directions so take your pick.  One of our favourite trips is on the Manly Ferry.  As you head out of the harbour you can snap away with that camera, taking pictures of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Fort Denison, Kirribilli House (home of the Prime Minister) and Admiralty House (home of the Governor-General) before your final destination, Manly.

Admiralty House (home of the Governor General)

Admiralty House (home of the Governor General)

Fort Denison

Fort Denison

Each time we take the Manly Ferry we are excited to see what the scenery will be like this time.  Each trip brings another view you missed the last time, a different aspect as the sun rises or sets, and arriving at Manly is always fun and exciting.  Manly itself is a place of contrast.  There are locals, tourists, backpackers and families enjoying short walks along the beach and longer ones through national parks.  So after our walk we checked out the shops, tried the cafes and frequented a brewery to relax and unwind in.

The Manly Ferry Wharf

The Manly Ferry Wharf

On our return from Manly we always have a wander around Circular Quay with buskers to entertain, and people watching to do, this is the place to do it.  A short stroll through the Quay and you end up at the Sydney Opera House.  The glow of the sun shining off the many tiles covering this magnificent building can be blinding at times.  The many outdoor cafes/eateries provide you with that much needed refreshing beverage and snack so you can people watch in style and comfort before heading off to stroll around the Opera House and take in all the wonder and beauty of the magnificent place.

Circular Quay

Circular Quay

Another day, another trip and more exploring to do.  I mentioned earlier we often take bus rides around the city as there’s no better way to see what’s around than on a bus while someone else is driving!  In Sydney, as in many cities and tourist towns in the world, there are Hop on Hop off buses or as they are called in Sydney, Sydney Explorer buses.  There are two different routes you can take so we did both.  Why not!  Driving through the city you can look around without the worry of traffic hassles, you can get off at places like Bondi Beach (as we did) to explore, shop and eat.  Then hop back on to take in some of the surrounding suburbs and take notes on what places you want to stop at on the next trip.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Another good thing about visiting Sydney is that no matter where you stay, be it the city, Circular Quay or Darling Harbour you don’t have to worry about hiring a car. There really is no reason to hire a car unless you are heading out of the city.  We love to walk around the city, along the coastline and through the parks.  The ferries, buses and trains will take you anywhere you want to go and it is easy and hassle free.

The Manly Ferry

The Manly Ferry

The last time we visited Sydney we took the ferry across to Taronga Zoo.  Now if you are going to the zoo make sure you have plenty of time as there is so much to see and do.  From the ferry wharf you head up to the zoo entrance on the Sky Safari which is a cable car that makes your entrance to the zoo easier (no walking uphill!) and more enjoyable.  Taronga Zoo is very well laid out so with map in hand and plenty of people to ask if you need help your best bet is to head in and get started.  You will find everything you need on the map, places to eat, toilets, talk timetables and where all the animals are!

Cute Little koala

Cute Little koala

We arrived quite early and spent the whole day getting lost and enjoying the critters.  Each and every one seemed to have its very own quirky personality.  There’s frogs and lizards, koalas, kangaroos, elephants and giraffes, turtles, tigers, meerkats, lemurs, birds, fish seals……..  There are so many animals and some of them are very good at posing for the camera. I bet I took at least 100 pictures of all these crazy animals in the zoo as they just kept posing for me!  Ohh and the views of the city from the zoo are fantastic so I had to take a few snaps of the city as well..

Pose for me Meerkat

Pose for me Meerkat

Yet another poser!

Yet another poser!

We had a great day enjoying the sun, the animals, the views and the ferry rides and I think my next trip to Taronga Zoo will have to include an overnight stay as part of the Roar and Snore Tour.  How much fun would that be!?  For more information on this and the entire zoo check out their website at www.taronga.org.au.  So get your tickets, get on the ferry and go visit the animals.  You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the zoo.

A view from the zoo!

A view from the zoo!

Wow, that is only a small selection of what I want to share with you so make sure you come back.  Sydney is a big place and I have more stories to tell and more fun times to share.

South Head Sydney

South Head Sydney

 

 

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LIEBSTER AWARD

Liebster Award

Well what can I say.  After having a nice holiday break I was surprised and excited when I got a message from Amber (https://ambersawesomeadventures.wordpress.com/) to say she had nominated me for a ‘Liebster Award’.  I must say I had never heard of this and had to do a little bit of research to see what it was all about.

Although it is not an award as we know it, it does seem to have the benefit of getting us little known and new bloggers out there for others to see and enjoy.  So why not give it a go!  As I have been blogging for less than a year I would love to be able share my stories and recipes with as many people as I can and hope this nomination will help my blog gain a few more followers.

So thank you Amber for nominating me and here I go!

HOW IT WORKS:

  • You’re nominated by another blogger, who has been nominated themselves.
  • The nominator comes up with 11 questions, which as a nominee you are expected to answer.
  • You must then come up with 11 questions of your own, and put them to your nominees, and if they choose to accept, they continue the trail by answering your questions, selecting blogs they like to nominate and then giving them 11 questions.

Questions from Amber to me.

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  • For me writing about my life, sharing my recipes and experiences with others was something I always wanted to do. I quit my dead-end job with the support of my partner and family and started writing.  The plan is to eventually write a memoir/cookbook.
  1. What inspires you to keep writing?
  • I’ve had quite a few people tell me they enjoy reading my stories and trying my recipes. I even have friends who don’t like cooking but enjoy my recipes (probably because they can eat them without cooking them!).  Knowing that others enjoy what I am doing and want more inspires me to keep writing.
  1. Which of your blog posts are you most proud of?
  • I’m proud of all of them as I never thought I would be doing this..
  1. What is your biggest personal goal for 2016?
  • I would like to expand my readership, learn more about blogging and check out the possibilities of making money from my writing. This along with enjoying time with my family and friends, enjoying every minute of my life and being as happy as I possibly can.
  1. What was the most awesome thing to happen in your life in 2015?
  • I actually figured out how to set up my blog and start writing. And we finished the house renovations!
  1. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
  • I love the English countryside, Ireland, Isle of Man and Scotland. But I also love Australia as there is still so much more to explore and it is a beautiful country.
  1. Where do you plan to travel to next, and why?
  • Our next big holiday is New Zealand. We have been planning this for a few years but due to circumstances we haven’t yet made it.. 2016 is the year.  I have heard amazing things about New Zealand and how beautiful it is.  There is so much to see and do so we will take our time and explore as much as possible.
  1. What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
  • When I was in my forties I decided life was too short to waste another minute so I quit my job and traveled round the world on my own. I was told I would not be able to get a job on my return due to my age.  Well I travelled, came home and found a great job, ended up meeting a great man and moved to Tasmania.  What more can I say! Life begins at…………
  1. What is your favourite snack food?
  • Nuts… I love nuts. But I love cheese more.
  1. What is your favourite YouTube video of the moment?
  • I don’t do YouTube.
  1. What are your thoughts on the new Star Wars movie?
  • I saw the first one but haven’t seen any others.. I plan to keep it that way!

So now you know a little bit more about me it’s time to nominate a few other new bloggers for the Liebster Award.

My nominations are:

Mary at https://spiritfightingflesh.wordpress.com/

Francis at http://lovingleisuretime.wordpress.com/

Angela at http://angelalimaq.com/

Taryn at https://tarynapulia.wordpress.com/

Laura at http://atravelerskitchen.net

And my questions to the nominees are:

  1. If you could have any career of your choice what would it be and why?
  2. There are so many cuisines and new foods around today. What is your favourite?
  3. What in your life are you most proud of and why?
  4. What would you love to be doing with your life in 10 years time?
  5. So many people get stuck in the mundaneness of everyday life. How do you break free of your daily routines?
  6. You have three wishes. What are they?
  7. What are you most thankful/grateful for in your life?
  8. What is your favourite recipe or restaurant?
  9. You obviously love to write. What if any are your other loves?
  10. Where will you be holidaying this year?
  11. What time of year do you like the best and why?

Congratulations to all the bloggers out there and keep up the good work!

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