25 May 2015

A birthday weekend in Beechworth

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There are some weekends which will linger in your memory for quite some time. And this last weekend, spent with my Mum, brother and his fiancé in Beechworth, ticked all the boxes. Great location, great accommodation, great food and, of course, great company. Not to mention being able to spend my birthday with my family!

As the girls get older, too quickly for my liking, I find myself feeling the downside of the distance between my family (who live in Melbourne) more and more. For the distance means we can’t catch up for coffee, or have regular get togethers.  But, with a little planning,  we are hoping to take little trips like these perhaps once or twice a year.

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I suggested Beechworth after hearing so many great things about this historical town over the years. The bonus being that it was *about* halfway between Canberra and Melbourne, and we could all make our way there after work on the Friday.

We woke both mornings to heavy frosts on the ground outside, but the sunshine soon made an appearance, and gave us beautiful clear, crisp Autumn days in which to go adventuring.

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I took an early run on the Saturday, a little birthday present to myself, and the views were simply wonderful. So much so that I could have easily kept running.

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As for the remainder of the weekend, well it felt like we only touched the surface! We started with a trip to Woolshed Falls (about 10 minutes north of the town), where C had a great time splashing in puddles and exploring amongst the rocks.

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We took a tour of the Old Gaol, and quickly realised that the freezing temperatures inside should have been enough motivation to stay out of trouble and avoid a stay!!

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We discovered Lake Samball, and I think I’ve earmarked a future camping spot! And we wandered the town, taking in all the historical buildings on display.

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But along with the ‘adventures’, there was also plenty of downtime to just sit, and chat, and catch up on the little things. The girls had an absolute blast spending time with their Nanny, Aunty and Uncle (as did I!!).

What we ate…

Well no trip to Beechworth would be complete without a visit to the famous Beechworth Bakery. Lunch featured a selection of warm goodies, along with a box of sweet treats to share.

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For dinner  we found ourselves at the Bridge Road Brewers  - where we dined on tasty pizzas, washed down with locally brewed beers (I swear mine had a mango aroma?!). All while the littlest member of our party slept.

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Where we stayed…

We rented a four bedroom cottage (which was part of the Beechworth Cottages property), which worked out just beautifully for the 5 adults and 2 kids we had in our party. 

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The cottage was well equipped and had everything we could ask for. The kitchen was put to good use, and we could have stayed here for a week or more quite comfortably. Charlotte loved the games room, as did the adults (who had a hotly contested game of scrabble one evening). 

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The gift basket of local apples and apple juice on arrival was a nice touch too…

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Overall, it was a beautiful birthday weekend with my little family, and hopefully the first of many trips away with my ‘Melbourne” family in the years to come.

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Beechworth itself turned out to be a wonderful town, and I’d love to come back and spent some more time here….I certainly see a camping trip, and a ride down the old rail trail, in our future!

What about you? Have you been to Beechworth?

21 May 2015

A little Q & A – Cooking and Eating

The lovely Gary, who blogs over at Yummy Lummy, nominated me for the Liebster “award” some time ago (ahem…..7 months ago….oops). But knowing how much I love reading Q & A posts – I figured it was better late than never to answer the questions he’d posed.

Particularly when they are about two of my favourite things, cooking and eating!

So here goes…

1. What’s the best meal you’ve ever cooked?

Oh boy – this is a tough one. But if we are talking ‘most requested’, then it would have to be my rocky road!

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For it always seems to be a hit.

2. What’s your favourite meal? 

This really depends on the season, for I seem to favour light flavoursome salads in the warmer months, and hearty slow cooked stews in Winter.

If I’m honest, though, my all time favourite meal is probably pizza – in all its versatile cheesy goodness. And my current record stands at having it for dinner for 5 days in a row (when we travelled through Italy, nonetheless!)

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The best pizza in Naples.  Washed down with some vino served in a plastic cup, of course Winking smile 

3. What food makes you remember your childhood?

Oh where do I begin??

Mum made a mean chow mein, and Dad worked his magic with curried sausages (well, curried anything, actually).

But what I remember most fondly were the ‘theme nights’ our family would have . Italian night would be pasta with Italian music blaring in the background, or Mexican night would see a big pile of tacos in the middle of the table and at least one person wearing a sombrero. Then there were the ‘back to front’ days where we would have dinner for breakfast, and pancakes or cereal for dinner.

Oh and let’s not forget birthday parties at that other ‘'Scottish” restaurant….

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4. What is your dream meal?

I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to meals. For a big platter of good cheese and meats, washed down with some fine wine, is sure to put a smile on my face.

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If I was to request one last meal, it would probably have to be a multi-coursed degustation. For how could I choose just one course!?

5. What recipe are you planning that you’re excited about?

Not so much a recipe, as an ‘afternoon’ I am planning.

I’ll give you a hint: it coincides with a special American holiday and is sure to be particularly calorie-laden….

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6. Share something unique/weird about you in the context of food.

I have a couple. But my weirdest is probably that if I have a bowl of mixed nuts, I have to eat the broken ones first – then make sure that there are an even number of the various types of nuts. Oh and a handful of M&Ms or skittles must be eaten in colour order, from lightest to darkest…

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A little OCD no?

7.  Name one food person who you admire and why?

Hands down, Jamie Oliver is my celebrity chef crush. I love his approach to fresh food – and that he talks in “sploshes” and“handfuls” and also “wazzes” things up. My style of cooking for sure!

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8. What is your favourite kitchen appliance and why?

Ok this is too hard to narrow down to just one – for I have so many gadgets that I am in love with.  My stick blender is, however, getting a good workout recently, with it being soup weather and all…

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9. Name one technique or strategy that is working well for your blog right now?

I’ve only very recently created a Bake Bike Blog facebook page, and I must say I am really enjoying the quick connectivity it provides (although I am far from tech-savvy so it is a bit of a work in progress….)

10. Name one food related app or tool that you can’t live without.

Instagram = addicted. You can follow me @bakebikeblog1.

What about you? What is your dream meal?

19 May 2015

Warm chicken and pumpkin salad

Some meals require very few words. They come together easily, almost haphazardly, but result in a little taste sensation that is worthy of a blog post.

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Yes,  friends, this was my attempt at keeping salad-cravings alive, despite the cold weather outside. And boy has it been cold lately – suggesting that we are in for a killer of a Winter.

But I digress….

Simply – chicken breasts – roasted and then shredded. Piled atop a bed of lettuce and made all the more hearty with the addition of roasted pumpkin, avocado and tomatoes. Finished with a drizzle of caramelised balsamic vinegar.

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Dinner, is served.

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15 May 2015

5 things Friday

1. Purchase of the week? These lunchboxes from YumBox – which are proving to be quite the hit with C!

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I love the compartments and non-leak lids.

2. I am well and truly back on the quinoa bandwagon (not that I ever really left it). The perfect ‘filler’ to add to soups, curries etc.

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3. I had to laugh at the Mother’s Day card I received this year. Yep – chocolate and wine pretty are pretty much my two vices!

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4. As are chocolate, peanut butter and macadamia brownies…

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Enough said!

5. Thanks to the babysitting services of Nanna this week, C and I had a little ‘one on one’ time that was just bliss. Nothing too extravagant, just an hour at the playground and a baby-cino afterwards.  While she loves her baby sister, I think she was missing mama/daughter time, and I too was missing uninterrupted time with my gal.

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Mission success!

What about you? What are you up to this weekend?

13 May 2015

Sweet potato and quinoa patties

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There are some recipe books that appeal to me.

Instantly.

And “The Happy Cookbook” by Lola Berry is proving to be one such book.

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Already I’ve sampled many of the dishes therein, with pleasing results. But my favourite thus far?

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These sweet potato and quinoa patties – which were served with a ‘green’ tahini and lime dressing.

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Simple to prepare, but oh so rewarding.

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What I really loved about these patties – was that they not only provided a perfect base for dinner, but also lunch the next day.

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We served the patties with a simple side salad on this occasion, but I think they’d also work beautifully in a bun as a vegetarian burger option at our next BBQ. Or perhaps made smaller, and served as an appetiser at a party? The bonus being that they can be made in advance and then re-heated.

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And, as for the ‘green’ tahini and lime dressing (aka an avocado lime dressing) , well I had to stop myself from eating it by the spoonful straight from the bowl.  Although the fact it contained two of my favourite ingredients – avocado and tahini – probably had something to do with that!

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I don’t want to infringe on any copyright laws, so I wont note the recipe here. But I would definitely keep an eye out for the book if I was you!

What about you? What’s your favourite cookbook at the moment?

11 May 2015

Mother’s Day 2015

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What a beautiful weekend we’ve just had. Two days with my gorgeous girls and my little family, with moments of thoughtfulness and gratitude thrown in for good measure. I was gifted time to take a leisurely bike ride on Saturday, where I literally felt my stresses melt away with every pedal. And time spent with family on Sunday was wonderful indeed.

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I reflected back on last year’s Mother’s Day, and had to chuckle. For last year I was dealing with a sick toddler who occasioned a quick exit from a restaurant dinner when her temperature spiked. And then there was the delayed flight out of Melbourne, and the missed lunch booking.

And to think that back then this little monkey was a mere twinkle in our eye…

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Yet here we are, one year on, and it is as if she has always been with us. Oh how so much can change in one year!

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We celebrated Mother’s Day this year with Mr BBB’s family. A simple soup lunch – which turned out to be the perfect menu option when the wind picked up outside and the clouds sat heavily overhead.

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We served two soups – a sweet potato & carrot, and a broccoli & lemon (blogged about here). With lots of fresh bread, and a platter of soup ‘toppings’ including natural yoghurt, chives, lemon zest, feta and parmesan.  Oh and not to mention a tasty lemon tart created by Mr BBB’s niece for dessert.

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We sipped on glasses of prosecco, and reminisced about  the year past, and the year ahead. All while Charlotte regaled us with stories and her usual energetic antics, and little Josephine enjoyed cuddles and fell asleep at the table. I was even lucky enough to have a sleepy late afternoon cuddle with my firstborn, when she fell asleep in my arms – a very rare occurrence indeed.

Overall, this mama could not have asked for a more lovely weekend. And I can’t wait to have a belated celebration with my own mum in a few weeks time!

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What about you? How did you celebrate Mother’s Day?