Sunday, March 29, 2015

Great Places To Visit - Relaxing Weekend away - Tocumwal, N.S.W., on the Murray River.

We spent a lovely weekend (again) at our holiday cottage in Tocumwal.  The Murray River was beautiful in the warm Autumn sunshine, and the nights were lovely and cool for snuggling under the doona. No wonder we brought a house here for breaks out of "the big smoke".  So peaceful, tranquil, and scenic.  I never get tired of walking along the banks of the beautiful Murray River.  The giant Murray River Red Gums have always captured my heart, especially when the colours on the trunks are so vibrant as they are in autumn.  The local bakery is always one of our first stops for beautiful home style breads, pies, and cakes/desserts/slices.  The diet goes out the window up here!  One of the 4 local pubs in town is literally around the corner and down the street from us, so we walk down of an evening and have dinner there. Great food, generous servings, true country hospitality.  Arrrggghhhh..........feel the serenity!

"Big Murray". The fibreglass Murray Cod lives on the foreshore.

The Boat Ramp looking towards the bridges.

Miss Lily at the boat ramp. New & Old Bridges in background.

Miss Lily checking the water quality. Guess it passed, she's drinking it.

Walking home from the shops along the levee bank.


The majestic Murray River.

The old rail/road bridge.

Walking the line.

Home sweet home in Tocumwal.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Recipe: Chilli Beans & Rice/ Chilli Bean Tortillas. - Vegan, Vegetarian, Healthy Heart, Diabetic Friendly.

Chilli beans and rice. Never thought I would eat the stuff. Tried them. LOVE them!!! Who knew? Goes to show you should have an open mind until you try something new.  Anyway I'm converted. Now I cook this dish regularly. As it serves about 4-6 and I'm the only one who eats it (hubby won't) I've thought up ways to use the left overs.  Generally speaking, once it's cooked, I halve the recipe and freeze half of it. That still gives me about 2 - 3 meals.  Firstly here is the recipe for the chilli beans.  Then I cook brown rice and Quinoa (Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein).  I place the chilli beans on the brown rice mix and stir them together.  

Next day for lunch I re-heat the chilli beans (no rice) and warm a wholemeal tortilla. I cut up a fresh tomato and finely slice some lettuce.  I spread my warm tortilla with Tahini paste (sesame seed paste, nutty flavour), then top with chilli beans, tomato, lettuce and lastly a good squeeze of lemon, roll up and eat and usually repeat. Can't stop at one, love them so usually eat two.

Idea 2 for left overs:  Cook a large jacket potato.  Scrub and wash  a big raw potato, prick generously with a fork, wrap in foil and bake in the oven at 200C until soft. Heat chilli beans in a saucepan. Put cooked potato on a plate, cut to open and fill with chilli beans, sprinkle with fresh chopped coriander or parsley or both.

Chili Bean Tortilla with tomato & lettuce.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Recipe-Healthy Eating,Healthy Heart,Diabetic Friendly, Vegetarian, Great Tasting simple food.

Roast Pumpkin & Mushroom Risotto.

Decided I wanted a risotto for dinner that tasted great and was good for me. Mmmmmm, so that means, oil is out, dairy is out, gluten is out, fat is out, meat is out.  Geez, what's left? Let's check out what's in the refrigerator.......Pumpkin, celery, red capsicum, Portobello mushrooms, red onion, garlic, vegetable stock, white wine, etc mmmmm. Ok, in the pantry I've got risotto rice etc. So, I made up this recipe below. Hope you like it as much as I do.  Sorry about the photo.  I started eating before I remembered to take a photo, it smelled so good. I had already mixed in the baby spinach and rocket although you can't see them in the photo, I think they went to the bottom!  Anyway, I enjoyed it, so even though the photo isn't as pretty as it could be, the proof is in the eating. Give it a go.


450g pumpkin - cut into cubes and roasted with a sprinkle of water and then Mexican seasoning.  Set aside when cooked.
1 clove crushed garlic,
1 litre Vegetable stock
100g white wine (Or substitute for water if you don't want alcohol)
1/2 cup each of baby spinach & rocket for garnish.
1 red onion finely diced
1/2 red capsicum diced
1 stick celery diced
120g Portobello mushrooms (or any of your choosing)
350-400g Arborio rice


Dice pumpkin, put in baking dish with a sprinkling of water. Dust with Mexican seasoning or your favourite. I also like curry power or nutmeg for a change.
Roast at 180C until golden brown and cooked, (about 40mins) set aside.
Put rice into a colander and rinse under cold water until it runs clear.

Dice vegetables.

Thermomix instructions:
Add chopped onion, garlic and a good splash of stock to TM. Cook 2-3 mins at 100C on speed 1 with MC off. Add all remaining ingredients except pumpkin and garnish. Cook about 20mins at 100C on Reverse + speed soft. Taste, add cracked black pepper and salt to your liking. Add roasted pumpkin and cook 3mins at 100C on Reverse + speed soft to heat through.
Put into serving dish, garnish with baby spinach & rocket. Enjoy.

Dutch Oven or Casserole dish.  I like it cooked in the dutch oven best. (cast iron casserole lined with enamel)
Add onion, garlic, and a good splash of stock to dish on stove top element. Cook stirring until transparent and fragrant. Add all other ingredients except Pumpkin and garnish.  Put in oven with the lid on and cook about 40mins at 180C, stirring once or twice, until cooked to your liking. Taste and add cracked black pepper and salt to your liking.  Gently mix through roasted pumpkin and put back in oven for 10 mins to heat through. Put into serving dish and top with green garnish. Enjoy.

If you don't need to be dairy free, you can also stir through some crumbled feta of your choice when you place the risotto into the serving dish and then add your garnish.

Pumpkin & Mushroom Risotto (sorry about the garnish, I had already stirred it through and started eating)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Great Places To Visit - Caffe Strada in Ivanhoe, Victoria, Australia.

Caffe Strada - Ivanhoe

Looking for that somewhere a bit special? Want to eat delicious Gluten Free Food all made on the premises? Want a specialty Gluten Free loaf of bread to take home with you? Then look no further than Caffe Strada , 197 Upper Heidelberg Rd, Ivanhoe. Oh and here's the phone number: 03 9497 4875, you'll need that to reserve your table.

The menu changes, regularly, constantly surprising you with it wonderful choices.  Anything you order is beautifully presented and prepared with loving care.

Today for lunch I ordered the semi-dried tomato and corn fritters. The first photo tells the story of how wonderful it looked and the second photo will tell you how good it tasted!

The coffee here is also so delicious, it's hard not to order a second., or perhaps you prefer a tea, of which there is a good variety to choose from. If you have a sweet tooth, then there are an assortment of cakes etc to choose from. Today for dessert I ordered the lemon and poppy seed cake. You will have to take my word for it that it was delicious, I got so carried away when it came that I ate it before I took a photo....sorry.  It really was that good.

So do yourself and your partner/friends a favor and book yourself into Caffe Strada for breakfast or lunch, did I mention their breakfasts are just devine, and they only use the very best of products and again that wonderful Gluten Free bread.

By the way if you like to dine outside they have a lovely secluded rear courtyard, or tables on the footpath for people watching as well as tables and booths inside.

Caffe Strada (03  9497 4875) 197 Heidelberg Rd, Ivanhoe.

Breakfast  *  Lunch  *  Catering

Gluten and Dairy Free meals available.

Rear Courtyard and Open Fire.

Fully Licensed

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Great Places To Visit: The Giddy Goat Cafe in Yarck, Victoria, Australia.

The Giddy Goat Cafe - Yarck 

As I was recently returning to Melbourne from a few days away, I decided to come from Benalla via Bonnie Doon (to check out the lake) and then through Merton, Yarck, Alexandra onto the Maroondah Hwy back to Melbourne. Nice drive, beautiful weather, great day out. 

When we got to cute little Yarck, we spotted this amazing looking little cottage/cafe called: "The Giddy Goat Cafe". Intrigued by the name and the rustic looking little cottage with gardens on one side and tables & chairs we voted for a coffee stop.

What a fantastic idea that turned out to be!!! The Giddy Goat has the best home cooked food, I'm talking sponge cake, slices, biscuits, oh and if you want there is hot food to die for as well, freshly cooked.  The coffee was lovely, and hot, and the slices of cake (naturally we had to try the passionfruit sponge) were large. We should have shared one between us, but, well, that didn't happen! There were 3 of us and we each ordered a different sweet thing, to have with our coffee and shared (fought over) them.  So delicious!   Highly recommend a stop over, slash intentional day trip to Yarck to have a snack or lunch, they do cook egg and bacon sandwiches, have pies, sausage rolls, sandwiches, heaps of choices they will cook for you as well as a frig full of delicious home made cakes and slices. Phew!

Cute and quirky, this little cafe has outside seating in their lovely garden, with lots of greenery around you for shade on a hot day.  There is also seating out the front if you like to sit and watch the world go by, or if the weather is not to your liking, its comfortable and interesting inside.

On their walls they have metallic artworks done by a local artist. Simply beautiful work which I fell in love with. Luckily the car was so full I couldn't fit another thing in it, so couldn't buy any, on that trip anyway. I intend to return for lunch another day.

In the photos below you will see the gorgeous interior with the artworks on the wall, and I have photographed the poster with the artist web, contact details as well, so if like me, you like this stuff, you can check them out more closely.

Again a beautiful drive through this area, should do it more often and try some of the other little towns delights, like maybe the bakery in Alexandra for instance. Saw that as we were sticky beaking through Alex, and made a mental note to visit Alex on another trip.  Then there's Yarra Glen or Marysville just to name a few off the top of my head.

Victoria has so many little hidden gems within easy reach of Melbourne in any direction, we really should spend a little time and check them out and enjoy our beautiful state.

Love this, it's on the wall in the cafe.

Front view of The Giddy Goat Cafe in Yarck.

Cut metal signs for sale displayed in The Giddy Goat.

More displays for sale.
The artist responsible for the lovely metal wall displays.
Mum and dad knocking off the treats while I take a pic.

Great Places To Visit - Doncaster East, Melbourne, Mullum Mullum Walking Track

Just because I'm currently in the city for awhile doesn't mean I have to "miss out" on my daily bush walks. Nearby to us i...