Spring is in

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Spring in Orange is glorious. The weather through September seems designed to shock and awe you.. One day the world looks like this, bright blue skies, spring blossoms everywhere and then, the very next day it is winter again.

Fortunately there are more spring days full of sun than the alternative but there is enough of the misery to make you glad when the sun returns. There is nothing quite like the clear blue skies, fresh air and smell of sweet blossoms (early cheers, daphne adora and jonquils to name a few) to shift you out of winter hibernation!

Not a bad time to be in Orange really. And if you’re interested in taking a trip, wine week is in October and is sure to be delightful and if nothing else, there will be wine. Loads of delicious Orange wine.

 

winter in orange

Winter in Orange is here and we enjoyed waking up to a beautiful dusting of snow last Friday. Bear and I took advantage of the winter wonderland with a morning wander behind the hospital at Bloomfield Reserve.

winter walks with bear

winter walks with bear

Here are some happy snaps from winter so far.. a beautiful time of year to come visit, especially if you can find a nice warm log fire and a glass of red to enjoy!

winter mornings: frosty grass, autumn leaves and snow!

 

the sun shining through on a frosty morning in Orange

the sun shining through on a frosty morning in Orange

 

 

 

 

christmas in july

What better way to bring the family together than with a mid-year trip to Orange for Christmas in July. With a neat ten of us we had the joy of family with delicious food and a time for everyone to explore the town we now call home.. not to mention a good excuse to pull out our christmas sweaters, decorations and some good old christmas tunes.

christmas in july

christmas in july

Christmas in July provided the perfect opportunity to cook some hearty comfort food (with no stress of the “summer body” to restrain the feast!).

Everyone brought a little something special to our family feast. My dear old Dad provided cheese and dips to satisfy the masses as we relaxed by the fire and buzzed around finishing off dinner preparations. To start our feast we enjoyed a tiny tea cup of Neil Perry’s creamy brocolli and zuchinni soup by yours truly, followed by the most delicious Trunkey Creek Christmas Ham (oh, my, yum!) and a mustard Roast Sirloin with some scrummy roast vegies. For dessert my lovely sister provided us with an Apple Pie and, of course, Christmas Pudding by my very clever mother-in-law.

a tiny tea cup of soup to start

a tiny tea cup of soup to start

All the while with a toasty fire crackling in the background and some lovely wines from the Orange area and a recent trip to the McLaren Vale.

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warming the winter chills by a toasty log fire

weekend adventures

Winter has truly hit Orange this weekend. No snow, but there was no shortage of precipitation with rain, hail and mist for days! As such, it was a weekend for warm, inside activities: eating, drinking and turning the heat up to the maximum (sorry world!)

Union Bank is always a favourite for a Friday night drink and this week was no exception. Despite the public holiday Monday, Friday felt like an accomplishment worth celebrating. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones who thought so! I’ve probably said it before but I’ll say it again to reiterate the point: Union Bank has a wonderful little list of local wines and some tasty little morsels to go with it. Usually when visiting Union Bank I opt for share plates and nibbles (which have yet to let me down), but they do also have some more substantial dishes if you fancy. They’re also doing some live music evenings and do music afternoons on Saturdays and Sundays – details can be found on their website here!

union bank on a friday night

union bank on a friday night

Australia’s appearance in the World Cup made for an earlier than usual start on Saturday (well, marginally) but the lovely people at Bills Beans East Orange kindly made us our coffees to go and sent us home with a fresh hot muffin to watch the match. As an aside, the muffins at Bills Beans are amazing.. this one was some kind of magical maple, apple and blueberry.. a pancake in a muffin. Marvellous. Just last week we were treated to a gorgeous strawberries and cream muffin. oh my yum. they are just too good to refuse!

 

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On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the Zonta Antiques Fair in town. Proceeds of which went towards supporting women and families in Orange and internationally – a worthy cause and a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. There were books, furniture, jewellery, clothes and every possible kind of knick knack you could ever imagine. It was fun wandering around looking at all these wonderful old things, some of which I recognised from my own Grandmother’s house! It’s funny to think what must have been the “must have” kitchen or home-wares accessory in her day, and what of mine might be worthy of an antiques fair in 50 or 100 years!

antiques fair 15.6.2014

orange botanic gardens

The Orange Botanic Gardens are a great place for a sunny afternoon wander. Much smaller than their Sydney counterpart but they are quaint, peaceful and just perfect for a Sunday afternoon stroll… or a Queen’s Birthday stroll, if you’re lucky enough to have the public holiday off!

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apple orchard at the orange botanic gardens

Beyond the rolling hills and the native flora you’ll find a rose garden, a dam and some exotic plants to explore. The gardens allow dogs on leashes making it a great place for little Bear as well, who is always happy to explore new terrain!

The gardens are next to the Adventure Playground if you have children to be entertained. You can find more info about the Adventure Playground on their facebook page.
 

 

 

Weekend adventures

(From the back catalogue)

A quiet weekend in Orange just passed. There is a distinct chill in the air as autumn slowly fades to winter and the days draw ever shorter.. H was on the Saturday shift so I had a day to myself (and my puppy, Bear, who keeps me company on days such as these!). There is a gorgeous big field designated leash free in south Orange near Gosling Creek where I like to go with my Bear for a good wander. It has a creek and trees and usually a few other dogs and their owners for you to say hello to.

.gosling creek reserve : leash free.

.bloomfield park : leash free.

For for the evening I did homemade pizza, a personal favourite for a carb addict, such as I am. I used my bread machine but in the past would just use a recipe similar to that for focaccia then roll it out accordingly. A simple but delicious garlic pizza to start followed by mushroom & ham and a tasty salami, tomato and basil. There’s nothing quite like a fresh home made pizza, and its even better if you make the base yourself!

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(almost finished) garlic pizza and a salami special

 

 

.an aside.

I got a job (yay!) in the perfect field working with the perfect people for the perfect clientele.

Unfortunately my blogging has suffered but after a month of settling in I am reclaiming my life and so the blogging will recommence!

Beef & Red Wine Pies

What to do with that left over roast? Well, if I had mustard I would probably just slather it on a tasty fresh sandwich and be done with it! But, alas, I was out of mustard so needed a creative alternative. Also, I conveniently had a little chunk of Maggies pastry left over from a previous escapade. So in the spirit of waste not, want not, I present the left over roast beef & red wine pie…

The solution toleft over roast!

The solution to left overs after a roast!

Ingredients

Left over beef with juices
1/2 cup of red wine
Tin of diced tomatoes

Pastry of your choice
(Store bought frozen would do but Maggie Beers or Jamie Oliver’s recipes are easy and add that little something special)

Method

Cut up your left over roast into bite sized pie pieces. Soak overnight in red wine and any remaining roasting juices.

On the day!
Cook meat and juices in a saucepan on your stoves lowest setting with the tin of tomatoes and lid on for 2-3 hours (the longer the better, just make sure the liquid doesn’t run out). Remove the lid and allow the liquid to cook off a little at the end so your pie isn’t too juicy!

Put contents into individual ramekins or cocottes and top with pastry. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes, just long enough to brown the pastry – the meaty goodness should still be pretty warm from the stove.

Pies ready for the oven

Pies ready for the oven

PS you could probably use a slow cooker in lieu of the stove top, I was just lucky enough to be home all afternoon so could keep an eye on it!

 

 

weekend adventures

H & I had the joy of a “quiet” couple of days this past weekend. No visitors, no weekend shifts. Just a wedding, a brunch and some time to ourselves.. Oh, and another public holiday (thank you Australia, and many, many thanks to all Anzacs).

a sunny drive through the country side: Orange to Leura

a sunny drive through the country side: Orange to Leura

We begun our weekend with a trip to Leura in the blue mountains. A beautiful part of the world and not quite so far west of Sydney as Orange if you’re after a day trip rather than a weekender! It’s about 1.5 hours west of Sydney and about 2 hours east of Orange, a perfect day trip from either direction. There was a slight drizzle by the time we arrived in Leura so our hopes of a bush walk and site-seeing were somewhat diminished but the joy of cozy cafes and cute stores remained.

a few for the wish list!

a few for the wish list!

Leura is a favourite place of mine with the lovely megalong book store (where I could happily spend hours) and the Leura Garage, one of many great cafés in town.. Not to mention the huge range of boutiquey knick-knack stores along the main drag. There are plenty of beautiful homewares, books and antiques to tempt you, but if you need something to give the man a kick start, Leura Cellars has somewhere around 1,000 beers for him – and you! – to try.

Leura Garage: converted garage space filled with good coffee, good wine and good food - who could resist?

Leura Garage: converted garage space filled with good coffee, good wine and good food – who could resist?

The quiet couple of days gave H & I the opportunity to spend a little time in the kitchen. Saturday night we enjoyed an easy roast beef in the way of Donna Hay’s Modern Classics, followed by beef and red wine pies on Sunday made with the left over roast and a splash of our Mount Pleasant High Paddock Shiraz.. Yum! I think it’s possible our leftovers were better than the original (sorry Donna!). Keep an eye out and I will post the recipe soon!

girls night in – foccacia et al

The life of a doctor’s wife means that some evenings are spent on my own as H uses big words and saves lives on the late shift. My girls night in last week involved an indulgent night with local cheeses, dips, wine and some home made foccacia. A super easy treat, if I do say so myself.

Home made foccacia with Fresh Fodder dip and Second Mouse Cheese (and carrots, because carrots are healthy!)

Home made foccacia with Fresh Fodder dip and Second Mouse Cheese (and carrots, because they’re healthy!)

Finding Fresh Fodder dips is easier than you think (they stock a range of Sydney stores), I think their facebook page is sometimes more up to date if you want to check it out. Second Mouse Cheese is a relatively new crew out in Orange but they’re worth tracking down if you’re out this way.

Right, for the foccacia:

Ingredients

200 mL water
2 tbl olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 tsp yeast

Method

Combine all ingredients well (stir then knead). Cover and place in a warm spot to grow (it should almost double in size).

a sunny spot by the window for my dough to rise

a sunny spot by the window for my dough to rise

Once the dough has doubled in size you should have enough for one big foccacia or two mini ones. Stretch the dough out, whilst trying to avoid losing too much of the air, and place it on a greased baking tray. Poke holes all over the top of the dough with your fingers then drizzle oil, herbs and a little salt over the top and bake in the oven at about 200 for 10-20 mins (depending on whether you opted for the mini or maxi focaccia!).

Fresh Focaccia, yum!

Fresh Focaccia, yum!

Et voila! Enjoy : )