Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Been Baking!

For Christmas last year my wonderful husband bought me a subscription to Donna Hay's magazine. I have quite a few of her books and late last year I bought one of these magazines and cooked up a storm from it .. including the secret Santa Christmas present for work which was home made Raspberry Cordial (which is not only great mixed with water or soda water but goes great in a nice glass of bubbly). It's a great magazine that I enjoy getting in mail, it has great easy recipes and fantastic section with 10 meals in 20 minutes. But for me the best thing is the sweet stuff and this month I have been trying my hand at some baking from it.

The first thing I made was some Wagon Wheels. I love Wagon Wheels so the chance to make my own was just too great a temptation. I made a batch and they ended up being way too many for just Terry and I, so they went to work and were a great hit. I then dragged out Donna Hay's basics book and looked for her scone recipe. I've always been a bit afraid of scones so I thought that while I was on a roll I'd give them a try. Two batches have been made so far and while they taste great they are flat as pancakes. I'll keep practising, I think I know what I'm doing wrong and although Terry is complaining about the weight he's putting on from eating all these scones .. I think he's really loving having a treat every weekend.

Then today at work we decided to put on a bit of an afternoon tea for one of the girls 60th birthday. She keeps saying she doesn't want a big deal made about her but ya gotta do something for such a lovely person on a special day. Then when she heard about the afternoon tea she said I would have to make her some Wagon Wheels then she'd agree .. well how do you say no to that?

So after finishing work at 7:30pm I headed straight home and had a quick dinner, then started making my bikkies. The first thing you have to do is make up some biscuit dough. You know the one with lots of sugar and butter, and this recipe adds a couple of teaspoons of honey that just makes them yummy all on their own. After making up the dough you have to put it in the fridge for at least an hour. This isn't really a hard thing to make, it's just a bit fiddly in some parts and a lot of sitting waiting for things to cool. While I waited for the dough to chill I sat down and started writing about my prowess in the kitchen here.

After it's chilled nicely, the colder it is the easier it is to handle I've found, you roll it out and cut some round biscuits. I think I could have waited a bit longer but sheesh I wanna get some sleep tonight.

They only take 4-5 minutes in the oven then out they come and cool on racks til completely cold.

Next comes the fun ingredients ... jam (I used plum jam the first time, this time I only have some raspberry in the fridge) and Marshmallow Fluff. The Marshmallow is an amazing ingredient that is so sweet that even I cant lick the knife clean afterwards. But it tastes fantastic sandwiched in the biscuits and coated in chocolate. Once each of the biscuits is made into a sandwich with a generous smear of marshmallow and a good dollops of jam between them they are placed into the freezer for 20 minutes. More time to cool my heels.

The original recipe has three biscuits per wagon wheel but I found that just a bit too rich, this time I made the round a little bigger but only used two biscuits.

When they are pretty solid melt some chocolate, dark chocolate with a little bit of vegetable oil for the first lot.

Then the next half dozen get white chocolate. 

Pop them in the fridge and go to bed. All I have to do in the morning is put them in a bikkie tin and take them along to be devoured. As long as Terry and I can keep our hands off!

Oh I had one biscuit left over and a bit of chocolate so I made Terry something special :)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Exploring Goobang

Saturday I said to Terry .. 'Watchya up to today?' and he replies .. 'Workin'

Meh, that's boring. So I say .. 'My back's hurting, I need to go for a walk, wanna come?' and he replies .. 'Where at?'

Well I had no idea. I knew I wanted to walk in the bush but I really didn't know where to go. We ummed and ahhed about it for a while. Then I turned on the computer and had a look at some sites for walking trails around Dubbo. Meh, none of them turned me on til I found ... Goobang National Park.

Terry has mentioned this place before but, like me, he's never been there. It's about 50km along the road to Parks then you take another road about 18km's til you get to the turn off. Not too far away for a quick drive and we could take Gizmo the amazing Staffy.

'Right!' said Terry, 'I'll just finish up here and we'll head out!'

I knew I had time to get ready, so I looked at some maps, then printed one out, then cleared my camera and packed it in it's bag ready to go. Then I decided I had time to go out into the garden and snap a few pics.

We have a few flowers that are going nuts at the moment, this winter has been so mild and it almost feels like spring is here already.

First there's the Happy Wanderer (Hardenbergia violacea) that Terry stuck in the ground last Autumn and that the both of us forgot about for a while. Til it started flowering about  week ago.

 It was an easy enough shot, but I haven't picked up the camera in a couple of weeks so it took me a bit to remember what to do. Then I heard the bee. I had to try to get a shot of him. Shooting a busy bee is hard I realised. He's constantly on the move, in the end I got a lot of out of focus shots of him then he came and sat right in the middle of my focus for a fraction of a second. Still not the best shot but it's not too bad I think.

Then I went off shooting other flowers, it wasn't until I noticed the tree at our side fence (that we still don't know the name of) has a couple of flowers on it that I started thinking about how I was setting up the lighting for my photos.

I made them a bit darker and shot them with the light behind them and I like the outcome.

I decided to try it with the Spider Grevillia that I'd already shot. I put the light behind it and came out with the best pic I've taken I think.

I was sitting at the computer uploading these few pics when Terry came up behind me and said 'I'm ready'

What?! You're never ready before me ... how did that happen?

We bundled camera and dog into the car then off we went for an adventure. It wasn't hard to find the place and after grabbing a sandwich on the way we were all ready to go wandering through the bush. As we got closer to the park we noticed that this is different bush to what we were wandering in a couple of weeks ago at Mt Arthur, there were bigger trees here and a lot more undergrowth.

We pulled into the driveway where there's a sign that says 'Caution Pig Baits are Laid in this park' it gave dates that they lay them and tells you that they are dangerous to other animals such as dogs. Well the last date was two months ago but we decided to keep a close eye on Giz anyway. The next sign pointed down two forks in the road, one to a camping area, I knew there were walking tracks around there from the website, the other pointed to a lookout. We somewhat rashly decided to take the road to the lookout.

One of the things that I was looking for was a sign that said 4WD only but this road looked alright ... until we passed the sign that said the lookout was 6.2km ahead. It wasn't long before the road started to really deteriorate, I paused a couple of times and said to Terry 'Do ya think the beasty can make it through/up that?' 'Yeah sure' was his response every time. And she did make it although when we heard something bang along under the car from one end to the other we both got a bit worried .. neither one of us had seen that rock. The next time the road levelled out with a wide enough spot I pulled over and said 'Right we walk from here'

All my photos on the day have sun reflections on the lens, I need to remember to put in the lens shade thingy on these trips.

Across the road from where we stopped we spotted a picnic table, there was just no way to get to it without going bush ...

One of my favourite plants is called a Black Boy, and there were plenty of them up here,

As they mature they get this kinda black stamen that sticks out of the top of them, they look really cool ..

Terry and Giz had a close look at one .. 'It's leaking sap stuff' he said ...

Then Terry spotted the surveyor's thingy up there that Terry told me is called a Trig Station. It's used by surveyors to take readings somehow.

He liked it lots :)

Then I wandered off to find some flowers to snap ...

There were lots of these around, some pretty little white ones too and I spotted one bush with these pretty little blue bells. I photoshopped this one a bit, I really like the way those bright blue flowers show up against the sepia background.

But the original pic looks pretty good too.

Terry and Giz headed up the road while I was snapping away.

It wasn't too much further til we reached the lookout.

Down a short flight of stairs and we were greeted with one of the most amazing views that I've ever seen.

I tried to do a panoramic photo but it still just doesn't do full justice to the awe inspiring view that we were facing.

Then to top it all off Terry noticed a bird flying way down below us.

'That's an eagle' I said excitedly, then as we watched we noticed that there were about 4 or 5 of them flying around below and above us. They were everywhere!!

Now I was wishing I'd brought my long lens, oh well I could watch them souring for hours! But .. it was cold up there. We soon headed back to the car. It had actually taken us the better part of 40 minutes or so to get the 6 km up here so we decided to head back down to see if we could get a walk in today.

Coming down the hill was much scarier than going up, but we only slid once and no rocks jumped up at us this time. About half way there are some guard rails and street signs along this 4WD trail, it was kinda weird.

The little beasty made it without a hiccup through everything we threw at her that day.

By the time we got back to the turn off for the camping area it was starting to get late, and cold. We headed over to the camping area to check out what the tracks look like. There's a whole heap of them of various difficulties, the sign showed a good map of them. It also said that dogs weren't allowed in the Park .. hmm I was remembering to warning sign earlier that said that there were baits that were dangerous to dogs .. does that mean that dogs aren't allowed but we know you're going to bring them so be careful cause there's baits. The other interesting thing was the sign pointing out that if you have a trail bike or a 4WD you might like to go check out the lookout, yet nowhere along that road did it say that it was suitable for 4WD only ... meh our little beasty didn't mind roughing it.

We'll have to come back soon to ramble along some of those tracks.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Rambling At Mt Arthur

I've been hankering to do some walking in the bush for a long time now. I developed a love for the Australian bush from as young an age as 5 years when I used to wander around on the bush tracks near the caravan park that we lived in when we came back to Australia. I've continued to follow tracks through the bush for the rest of my life and it's always been a way for me to relax and just be myself without the worries of other people or the stresses of day to day life. When I moved to Dubbo I moved away from the bush that I love, and I had no idea that I could find it out here. Everything seems to be either flat red dirt or paddocks and fields where bush used to be. Terry had told me a few months ago that there were indeed still pockets of bush nearby and that he would show me some of them. Yesterday we finally got to go see some! 

Mt Arthur is right next to Wellington, only about 20 minutes drive from Dubbo.

We had the dog and the camera packed in the car when we set off down the road for a ramble though some trees. It's a winding road to get to the parking spot at the top of the mountain and once you get there you are immediately greeted with some amazing sights.

There's the moss covered rock face that you park next to on one side. On the other side is a drop off and some tantalising glimpses of the view that is promised from the top, as well as a track leading off towards wild beauty.

Everything here is covered in mosses and fungi, it's so different to what I was expecting. It was very alive and magical to be wandering amongst. I stopped often to snap pics so Terry and Giz were often way ahead of me.

There they are looking over the lookout. This is what they were looking at.

Not a bad view eh?

Then they took off ahead of me again while I photographed some of the huge boulders that are scattered all over the hillside.

I caught up to them before too long though when Terry stopped to inspect something more closely.

What had he found?

'Hurry up slow coach .. I've got something to show you!'

I hurried up the hill to see ...

'It's probably prehistoric ya know'

While I went off to take more pics .. 

Terry found the next treasure of the day.

Don't know what he is but he looks heavily armoured. I think I shall call him Tank.

More pics .. a tangled passage through the bush.

The landscape is nothing like anything I have wandered in before, not only the moss covering everything, there were also huge boulders everywhere you looked and a lot of branches and fallen trees littered the ground.

But not many of those downed branches and trees had cut marks, it was all natural litter, it was a healthy environment unlike some of the places I saw in Tasmania where the logging has been tragic to the land.

Some of the fungus was amazing ...

And of course the trees did fascinating things.

I even found some flowers in the middle of winter up here.

There was a sign that said this is a Rock Fern, it would have to be hardy to grow where it was right in the middle of rocks.

There were two different types of moss flourishing side by side on this rocky bank.

If you look closely you can see some roots growing through this amazingly coloured rock face.

 Yep they do grow them hardy out here.

As I took pics of the rock face I was standing next to our car and noticed.

Yes that's growing there, no it didn't sprout while we were wandering, we have a Chinese Elm in our front yard that sends seeds everywhere and we often have to pull out baby elms, this one found a spot it thought we wouldn't find.

As we drove up to the mountain we had spotted this in the middle of a paddock, no idea what it may have been but it stands out.

The Cow in the paddock came over to see what I was up to when I stopped to photograph it on the way down.

It was a great day out, there's still a whole heap of tracks to explore up there so we'll be back. But the day was getting late as we jumped back into the car and headed home. Terry spotted this amazing sight in the sky and managed to get a great pic of it to top off the day. We're not sure what caused this anomoly through the clouds, in reality it didn't look right to be a jet trail, but it was something that carved it's way through the clouds and seemed to pull a trail of them behind.

I know it's a photo heavy post but there were so many pics that I liked it was hard to pick the ones I liked the most, if you'd like to see them all check out this little slide show.