Thursday, 18 February 2021
The other day I made myself scrambled eggs for breakfast. It should have been yummy but I'm always too impatient to cook them slowly and the result was rubbery and tasteless and so much worse than when Jon makes them for me that I was totally disheartened.
So when I saw a scrambled egg recipe in the latest book:
I thought it was a good chance to redeem myself.
The recipe actually wasn't that cheesy as it was just a small amount of spreadable cream cheese - but it was the perfect amount and the end result was great.
The rest of the book features a wide variety of fairly simple and healthy recipes with pictures. There was one interesting bit of food styling I noticed - does anyone else think that the caramel sauce is actually levitating above the plate here?
Overall it's a nice book though, and I might put some cream cheese in my next batch of scrambled eggs. It's certainly up to the usual Womens Weekly high standard unfortunately showing it to Zali is not likely ignite a passion for healthy eating, so I'll pass it on to someone else.
Filled with relief at seeing the Scandinavian horror-show book walk out of the house, I jumped back into the next challenge just a few days later with a classic recipe book:
Now this book is huge, so rather than spend ages sifting through it, I told myself I'd make the recipe on whatever random page I opened it to (provided it was vegetarian). So I was pretty pleased with myself when I opened the book straight to Oeufs à la Neige .
On paper this looked delicious - meringues floating on custard - yum! And hardly any ingredients - yay! It was a bit hard knowing what I was aiming for without any pictures so I googled some and it looked doable. The recipe was quite clever actually - making custard from scratch involves a lot of otherwise wasted egg whites - so what better use for them than meringues. They did require being poached in water which was a bit weird, but aside from that the recipe was straight forward:
One thing noticed when I googled Oeufs a la Neige was that most recipes poached the meringues in milk, whereas Stephanie's version was just water. Unfortunately this made those delicious looking floating islands actually taste gross and poached eggy. Ugg. The custard was okaaay, not amazing - but the meringues were slimy and unpleasant. Jett took two spoonfuls and abandoned it. I had the custard only.
I did further research and it seems that the original recipe has developed over time and is now more like this:
i.e served with caramel sauce or toffee or roasted nuts and the meringue is poached in milk which I imagine improves them. So basically the simple version I made was a failure.
So this puts me in a dilema- after 15 years of barely using this rather heftly (and critically acclaimed) book, the only recipe I've made from it recently has been a dud. Hmm..
While I've been disciplined about doing all the recipe books in the exact order they happened to be on the shelf at the start of this challenge, there is one little book I've been conveniently shuffling further and further down the line:
I've always said there's much to love about scandinavia, but in my opinion, the food is definitely not one of them. Check out a page from the index above. Mmm.. Herring. I admit that someone who loved fish might find something good in here, but it seems that even the simplest of recipes has some sort of nightmarish scandinavian 60s influence twist to it - like mayonnaise in an omelette or pancakes with peas.
I really don't know how this book found its way onto the shelf in the first place - I certainly didn't bring it into the house. Even in my most optimistic moments I haven't found anything I've been interested in making, so I was more than happy to let this book sneakily slide out of the house (no doubt similar to the way it arrived) courtesy of a family dinner guest. Thanks Greg!
Monday, 15 February 2021
I've been looking forward to this one. Not just because cheesecakes are delicious, but because Clare had agreed to produce two of them from the recipe book for family dinner. Yay!
Both of them tasted delicious, and looked like the pictures:
Last year we had such a terrible potato crop that after the harvest I decided not to plant them at all this year.
Instead we planted beetroot, basil, lettuce and a few other things which got completely crowded out and shaded by the rogue potatoes which grew large and luscious anyway. We got more potatoes this year than we had in ages.
I had the last laugh though when I turned nearly every last one the little buggers into gnocchi and fed them to the family dinner guests.
Wow - 40 books - I feel like the end could be in sight! I actually did this book a few weeks ago but misplaced the photos - so it's a bit delayed:
This book was a gift from Clare and Jo and I'm pretty sure I've been to this place in Melbourne and it was delicious - so I it was easy to find some good looking recipes in this book. In the end I couldn't decide on one so I did two - a dahl and a cauliflower dish.
Unfortunately I didn't take very good photos - but both dishes were really good. I had to stop myself adding my usual curry spices and stick to the simple-ish recipes and the result was yum.
Monday, 8 February 2021
After 15 years and 15 tonnes of dust, dirt and food scraps deposited into it, it was finally time to replace the red rug..
for a less shaggy and hopefully easier to clean version. It's a bit more boring colour wise, but it does allow the artwork on the wall to shine even more.
It's nice and soft NZ wool.
Thursday, 21 January 2021
This is an overdue post on what Zali did while Jett, Jon and I were hiking the South Coast Track for a week.
When we got home and let ourselves in it felt a bit like we'd disturbed the crazy hermit lady who lived in the living room - as Zali had closed the blinds and set up camp on floor. She explained that this was to ensure she could protect the house from burglars.
She had also done some baking - mostly for her birthday. Which we spent about 30 seconds admiring before digging in.
Zali also used the time to make some macabre modifications to the Christmas cake.
But aside from that her mental health seemed ok! She's had some friends over for a couple of the 6 nights we'd been away, and Denny had taken her out for sushi on another of the nights. She doesn't seem to have any lasting scars from the time alone!
Next up on the shelf is Jon's family recipe book. It has a range of recipes faithfully written out for Jon by his sister Hilary, but to be honest, the prospect of 1970s era recipes simply labelled 'casserole' or 'fish salad' dampened my enthusiasm. But finally Jon had a chance to attempt one of the more palatable looking ones (for me anyway) - Rice Pudding.
Unfortunately the result wasn't that palatable..
It was like rice-clumps in warm milk soup. Ugg. We're not sure what the problem was - Jon even rang his mum to check the proportions but she was pretty adamant that not only were the proportions correct, but that the 2 table spoons of rice and 600mls of milk was sufficient to feed all 7 of his family for dessert. Maybe tablespoons were bigger in the 70s.
Wednesday, 13 January 2021
Another amazing day. We had decided to do something nice and easy before driving home, so after a breakfast of pancakes we packed up and moved the car down to Ronny Creek, then got the shuttle into Dove Lake. It was still quiet as we started the 6k circuit - in fact it was so quiet that we had to put Jon at the front of our group to break through the spider webs. We were probably 3/4 of the way around the lake before we crossed paths with someone going in the other direction. They were very jumpy as they claimed they'd already disturbed two snakes. heh heh. We saw three between us the day before so we weren't particularly bothered by snake sightings.
Along the way we tried to get Zali and Jett re-create this photo from 2014:
but because we didn't have any phone service we couldn't check my blog so were just going off memory, and we took it from the wrong side of the tree. Still, it wasn't a bad effort.
The rest of the stroll was uneventful yet delightful.
Under slight duress (Zali), we walked the extra few ks back to the car at Ronny Creek. We were forced to wait a while as we are only allowed to drive out of the park tailing one of the shuttle busses, and we seemed to hit a quiet patch for shuttles when we were finally ready. It didn't matter though, it's a nice place to wait.
Once out we took one of the many scenic routes available to us and drove home via Chudleigh. The end of a lovely weekend, and the perfect way to end my Christmas holidays.
Tuesday, 12 January 2021
Day 2 was looking beautiful from the moment we got up. We've done lots of walks in this area recently so we planned to take some new tracks and do a loop from our cabin via Marion's Lookout, past Cradle Mountain, down behind it to Lake Rodway, then home via Dove Lake. It's a fairly big day (20k) but the kids didn't really bat an eyelid about the distance - I think because they've done a few big days on rogaines fairly recently. And of course any day not slogging through mud and carrying 15kilos is going to seem easy to Jett.
We left at around 8:30 and our first stop was Marion's Lookout, about 1 hour later. The park was still quiet - it felt like we had it pretty much to ourselves for a while.
Barnes Bluff looked pretty nice.
Heading down to Lake Rodway
It took us about 3 and a half hours to get to down to the lake. Pretty much perfect timing for an early lunch. Scott Kilvert Memorial Hut has recently been upgraded and the site has a brand new fancy toilet, as well as some lovely looking tent platforms. It would be a great place for a 2 night hike - you could climb Barnes Bluff on the middle day - in fact we met a group of people doing exactly that.
After a break we headed back out via a more gentle route. It was great to see a side of Cradle Mountain we've never seen before:
Along the way I finally got to see Artists Pool which I've only ever seen in arty photos.
And we went through some beautiful stretches of native myrtle forest as well as big stands of pencil pines.
Back up on the ridge we briefly joined the Face Track before taking a detour down to see Twisted Tarns. The first 10 minutes were filled with magical vistas - almost like a movie set. The next 20 was a bit of a slog as we descended to another lake before climbing back up to the ridge..
Thankfully (given our tired legs) we had a gentle descent down to Dove Lake, then Jon and I chose to walk the final few kilometres home while the kids chose to take the shuttle bus.
Jon and I took advantage of the extra time and stopped to dip our feet in a creek and test out each of our phone's portrait photo modes. I think mine did a better job of coping with the bright light..
Re-united with the kids we rested our exhausted bodies before cooking up some dinner then playing board games until bedtime. It was such a fantastic day.
We happened to be staying in one of the larger cabins at Waldheim. It is divided into two units and each side can sleep 8. Our side of the entrance looked like this:
While the one next door which was housing two families with small children, looked like this:
That would have been us not all that many years ago! Actually it crossed both Jon and my minds quite a few times this weekend that we might not be able to drag the kids back to Cradle again - it's so important to make the most of these trips while we can.
Sunday, 10 January 2021
I haven't felt very well all week and my outlook calendar keeps popping up reminders of the NZ trip that we most definitely aren't on at the moment. So the randomish re-booking I made months ago for 2 nights at the Waldheim Cabins in January came at the perfect moment.
We had no real goal or mission apart from a weekend away so we were able to take our time on our way up and stop at all the places we usually drive past.
We took the Highland Lakes road, so first up was the Steppes Scuptures.
Then we did the 20 minute Great walk to Pine Lake (which Jett and did in 2016). It was as delightful as I remembered.
Then we pushed on to Liffey Falls - again somewhere that Jett and I visited on our road trip - it was nice to show them to Jon and Zali this time
Then finally we reached Cradle Mountain. The kids were happy to play card games in the cabin when we got there, but Jon and I went out for a stroll on the boardwalk.
After dinner and hot chocolates we went out to spot some more wombats and check out the sunset. It was a fantastic day.
Wednesday, 6 January 2021
Planning the food for such a long hike is hard work. It wasn't quite as epic as when we did the overland track in 2015 and planned for 7 nights for 6 people. This time I planned breakfast, lunch and snacks for just the three of us while Clare planned for her and her dad. Paul and Rob plundered Clare's supplies once she dropped out as Rob was only roped into the whole thing on Christmas Day and Paul hadn't got around to doing anything yet.
For the main meals I did the planning for all 7 of us (before we became 5 of us) so I did a tonne of dehydrating of vegies and a curry in the week before we went. I think I dehydrated 4 onions, 4 capsicums, 1 eggplant, 2 tins of kidney beans, 3 zuchinnis. I used them for my marakesh curry and also to add a bit of volume to the other days. I also dehydrated the mushrooms that we forgot to eat on Christmas day. We bought our Strive meals here
Anyway - for my own reference, this is what we took:
In hindsight I'd stick to porridge for every breakfast. It's nice and warm and lighter and less bulky than cereal.
Before we left we removed all the extra packaging and combined things in containers where we could. Once again having a tougher container was the only thing that saved our salami and capsicum from being taken by the quoll. For the rest we used a truckload of ziplock bags which didn't feel great but it seems to be the best way of minimising the packaging that actually goes out on the trail.
I had also purchased some Strive Herb Risotto meals but we voted to leave them behind when we dropped in numbers as they looked the least yummy of the Strive options.
Marrakech curried stew
In one bag
1 x vegetable stock cube
1 Tbsp madras curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp raisins
1 Tbsp dried shredded coconut
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut milk powder (available from indian food shops)
1/2 tsp dried garlic
In separate bag
Add dehydrated red kidney beans (400gms can). Other options include chickpeas or cannelloni beans.
Dehydrated vegetables – suggested options include eggplant, sweet potato, red capsicum,
Add boiling water to red kidney beans and vegetables and soak for 20-30mins
Add sufficient water to spices to create sauce and add to vegetables when rehydrated.
Bring to boil
Serve with rice or couscous.
Saturday, 2 January 2021
So we'd had rain, endless mud, gastro and quoll criminality, what else could possibly go wrong?
Nothing as it turns out. On the final day we even had sunshine (we realised we hadn't seen the sun since day 2!). We had a pleasant and quick hike out along the coast then across the flat boardwalked valley to Cockle Creek.
Reading our minds, after a half hour wait Clare turned up with lashings of sandwiches, chips, diet coke and sprite!!! What a legend. Shortly afterwards Denny turned up too, so after a debrief at one of the picnic tables, we threw our sticky bags and stinky selves into the cars and headed home.
So that's that. I don't regret doing it, but it would take a lot to have me do it again without some major track upgrades! The campsites were certainly beautiful and I loved the beach walking. I think the track was muddier than usual which made the going particularly hard. It was really good that we all were about the same pace - we never really had to wait very long for each other (even when Rob had gastro), and we generally did less than the advertised times for each section. In a few days I'll do a final post about some of the gear we had - the useful and the not-so-useful stuff we had with us.
If you didn't look too closely at the map, day 5 looked easy. Just 13 or so kms with a nice finish at South Cape Rivulet. Unfortunately Paul had looked closely at the map and counted that we had nearly the same amount of climb to do as on the crossing of the Ironbounds. Oh Dear.
We started off with a short and sharp 200m ascent of the ridge behind our campsite. A bit of a heart starter but we were at the top after about 20 sweaty minutes and had an easy descent to Granite Beach to follow.
The tide was in, so after we stopped to collect water about 2/3 of the way down the beach, we had to walk on the huge round rocks the rest of the way, hoping a rogue wave didn't catch us.
Granite beach has a cool waterfall dropping over the cliffs to the rocky beach below:
But with the crashing waves we weren't too keen to hang around and admire it, so we followed our path up the rocks, passing the source of the falls on the way
We passed through the large and nice looking Granite Beach Campsite (where we would have camped if we were taking an extra day), then started on our second and highest climb of the day - another 470 metres up and over South Cape Range.
Again it was steep and exhausting but we were making good progress until about a kilometre from the top, where we hit the mud. Endless, deep, energy sapping mud. And it didn't stop at the top.
I did notice the colour of the mud changed from time to time. From the peaty black mud, the to the clayish brown mud (which we had experienced a lot of on the Ironbounds descent), to the sandy coloured mud of actual streams.
An hour later we'd made it a single kilometre further and we sat exhausted in a creek waiting for satan to come and greet us as we were clearly in hell.
It was around this point we asked each other how much we would need to be paid to turn around and walk the 5 days back to Melaleuca. The agreed fee was $20000 each, which, at this point, was quite reasonable.
Thankfully, just 10 minutes after this point we climbed up a little and out of the rainforest (which was actually really really pretty but hard to enjoy!) to a spot where we could stop for lunch without sinking into the depths of the quagmire. We agreed that we would forego lunch on the final day (and cross our fingers that Clare would come in with food), so we could have extra rations and it was fantastic. Probably the only thing that gave us strength to complete the rest of that days hike!
It wasn't all peachy from there as we still had more climb and more mud to contend with, but we had some bursts of pleasure with as section of boardwalk through a flowery open section (see how happy I look),
and some descents which didn't involve mud. The last ridge was a real killer, with our energy completely sapped we were down to resting about every 10 minutes. Check out Rob's face:
It was hard to stop ourselves from grabbing the hikers we passed on their way IN and begging them not to go further! Instead we just wished them well and let them through - they had their own adventures to live!
..and then finally. FINALLY, we made it to South Cape Rivulet. Never had a rivulet looked so good.
We waded across the river, dumped our stuff, washed our gear, and set up camp in the trees beside the rivulet.
Jett and Paul looking pleased with themselves as they have nabbed Jon and my chairs.
Everything was so lovely and peaceful.
It was so good to be done. Not just done for the day, but almost done for the hike. We had a peaceful evening with the last of the Strive dehydrated meals and dry 2 minute noodles. We were pretty much down to 1 breakfast and a few snacks left for the final day but nothing was going to stop us now.