Wednesday, October 25, 2017

In my garden, In my kitchen.

Spring has been so kind to us lately.

Just the right dose of warm sunshine and light drizzling rain have triggered a huge burst of growth. Its a bittersweet feeling. We experience such joy within this lush garden during September and October. But that joy is tinged with the knowledge that summer's fierce dry heat will sweep in and burn away the green in the months to come and we'll have to wait until the cool of April before the garden looks this beautiful again.



I spent all of Monday cooking up a storm. A large bowl of freshly picked cumquats and a bag of blood oranges transformed into jars of cumquat chutney and spiced orange pickle.

Both of these preserves are perfect Christmas foodie fare so get your jam jars out and get cracking!

Let's start with the cumquat chutney. 

I put the call out for some new recipes on the weekend and this little gem came back from my foodie genius of a friend, Julie. Its ridiculously simple to make and the flavour hit is something quite extraordinary.


2 cups cumquats, halved
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange or mandarin juice
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 star anise
3 cloves
4 cardamom pods
1/4 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp dried currants 


Cut cumquats in half, remove whatever seeds you can.

Place all chutney ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil, then turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove any pieces of spice that are visible.

Spoon into sterilized jars and store in a cool, dark place. Refrigerated after opening.

The perfect accompaniment with cheese and crackers. 

The next recipe is one I pull out every year in the months leading up to Christmas. They look so pretty in the jars and are perfect to pop in a hamper of homemade goodies.


1.4kg blood oranges

1 teaspoon salt

400g caster sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup 
185ml (3/4 cup) white wine vinegar 
125ml (1/2 cup) fresh orange juice 
6 slices fresh ginger
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed 
1 cinnamon stick 
1 teaspoon whole cloves


Place the oranges and salt in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Place a plate over the oranges to keep them submerged. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook for 40 minutes or until the oranges are tender. Drain. Set aside to cool.

Thinly slice crossways.


Stir the sugar, golden syrup, vinegar, orange juice, ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and cloves in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. 

Transfer to sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks before opening to develop the flavours. Refrigerate after opening.


xx Em

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tulip Top Treat

School hols have wrapped up and both boys are back in the classroom.
Today was the day to push aside my long list of errands and head up the highway to meet with one of my girlfriends for tea amongst the tulips.

The weather gods turned on THE perfect spring day for us and we spent a few hours in this heavenly little valley snapping away at the flowers, drinking in the view and enjoying kid free conversation with our tea.

Tulip Top is by far my favourite floral hot spot in the Canberra Region. There's something about it that makes Floriade pale in comparison. Its far more relaxed, no matter how busy it gets, there's no feeling like you're stuck in a cattle crush of tourists. The garden is filled with beautiful shade trees and curving flower beds with a myriad of spots to set down a picnic basket and pop open some champagne.

It's open from 9am to 5pm for the rest of this week. I think I'll be heading back again with my boys before it wraps up for another year. 

xx Em

Sunday, October 1, 2017


We jumped in the car and headed out into the countryside in search of chocolate and roundhouses yesterday for Harry's 9th (belated) birthday gift. After a couple of hours driving past patchwork quilts of vibrant green and gold, we found what we were looking for in the town of Junee...

...and boy did Junee deliver!

We stopped for a quick morning tea at a local bakery and then it was time to get down to the business of trains in roundhouses. 

We've done our fair share of railway museums and this one was up there with the best. 
Harry and Jack lost themselves amongst the giants in the roundhouse, ducking in and out of locos and carriages and comparing them to the model versions we have at home.

 The volunteer guides were a goldmine of stories, just great to have a chat to and the HO scale model railway gave Harry some fab inspiration for his own future design.

I love country towns and country towns with beautiful old buildings are perfection.
After a morning of locos and carriages we popped over to the old flour mill which now houses the Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory. 

It's a foodie's mecca and a popular one at that. We had a totally delicious, lazy lunch in the sunny courtyard of The Millroom, with its live music, grapevines and rustic walls. 

The boys had a play on the jumping castle to burn off some pent up energy while Shan and I had a chat to the resident alpacas. We stocked up on some punchy Raspberry Licorice and belgian chocolate and then decided mid afternoon that, regrettably, it was probably time to head home.

About an hour from home we took a detour off the Hume Highway at Jugiong to grab a coffee at Longtrack Pantry. I've been following these guys on Insta for yonks and finally had the opportunity to experience their incredible coffee and sweet eats. It was heaven! 

The boys had one last play in the nearby park before the last leg of driving, so I snapped a crabapple tree that stood in the playground resplendent in blossom and humming with bees.

Such a delightful day and well worth the drive. 
I love these country adventures!

xx Em