Happy December

and happy first day of Summer (& nearly Winter). The weather here is gorgeous today and I’m enjoying the cool breeze from the air con.

Lots going on here this month

  • end of school shenanigans. Pool parties, presentation assembly, big finding out if she’s made student leader in 2022, getting end of year reports and finding out class placements for 2022.
  • Summer holidays. No big plans as yet. A few day or weekend trips around the state so be on the lookout for some new posts in our Travel Tasmania series.
  • Christmas and all that entails.
  • Summer solstice, thinking we might beach it this year.
  • I’ve got a few blog posts scheduled on different topics, the first will be up tomorrow.

That’s about it at this stage. Hope you all have a great month.

In the Den Kitchen–October 2021

A quiet month on the new recipe front, well meal wise anyway. We were given a bunch of lemons so cooked a few sweet lemony treats too.

The Slow Cooked Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce from Recipe Tin Eats was so good. Everyone wants it cooked again so that’s a win.

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Remaining meals were Thermomix recipes from Cookidoo.

The Asian Chicken Noodle salad was delicious. Not everyone was a fan but I’d happily have it for a light summer meal or lunch. Would work pretty well for a bbq side too.

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We usually do either beef or chicken for our go-to Mexican meal but decided to give Beef Fajitas a go for something different. All I can say is we now have a third option for Mexi meals. I think this would work well so look for that in a future post.

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The only meal we made with our lemons was Hunter’s Lemon Chicken Rissoles. Really good. Too much basil for some but meh, not my problem. Made quite a few so I had some the next day for lunch and froze some for later.

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I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a real fan of ‘fried’ rice done in the Thermomix but I think Chooky Rice might just change my mind. It does make HEAPS though (well heaps for our family) so there was leftovers.

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Onto our lemon recipes……

I made a batch of Lemon Butter. I’ve got a few recipes but as I’m trying to use our new Thermomix more, I tried the one on Cookidoo. Pretty good.

We made Lemonade, which the big has decided is her current favourite drink, so I’ve made 3L. It’s nice on it’s own over ice but really nice with fizzy lemonade or sparkling water. We also tried Mint Lemonade. That was not so much of a hit. I liked it, and I’ve frozen it to see if it makes good ice cubes over summer.

One of the recipes I made for tea called for Lemon Olive Oil, so I made my own using this recipe (minus the thyme).

Finally I cooked up a batch of goodies for lunchboxes – Noughts & Crosses biscuits and Lemon cupcakes with Citrus syrup,  These disappeared before I got pictures but the lemon cupcakes are so moist and very lemony. Will be making them again.

What have you been cooking lately?

Travelling Tasmania: Lilydale Falls and the Abandoned Tunnel pt 2

In part 1 of the post, we visited Lilydale Falls. We travelled a few kilometres up the road to visit the Abandoned Tunnel.

The tunnel is part of the now unused North Eastern Line which opened in 1889 from Launceston to Scottsdale. According reports and newspaper articles I read looking into the history of the tunnel, work on the tunnel began in 1885 with the last brick being laid in 1888. It is 705 meters long and lined with one million bricks. Construction involved 70 men and no accidents were reported. The surrounding area became known as Tunnel and the nearby station, no longer standing, was Tunnel Station. With the increase in road travel, the line usage slowed from the 1960s and stopped all together in 1992.

image of abandoned train tunnel. Location: Tunnel, Northern Tasmania

Recently there has been discussion to open more parts of the line back up to walkers and cyclists, with a 24km section between Billycock Hill and Scottsdale is already in use since 2015.

Anyway, enough of the history. We wanted to visit after hearing stories about it and numerous photos on different tourist sites. Oh and it’s reportedly haunted.

To get there, from Lilydale Falls, follow Golconda Road for about 4 kms until you reach Tunnel Road. Drive for another 2km until you reach Tunnel Station Road and follow that for about 180m where you will see a small sign saying Tunnel. Park your car on the road side and follow the track towards the tunnel (about 200m).

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The mood was perfect with the rainy weather. I would highly recommend wearing boots if you go in Winter or Spring. It was very wet in the tunnel and the kids and I came out with soaked feet. DSC_0637

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Is it haunted? Well, the kids were making enough noise to wake the dead but we didn’t see or hear anything apart from running water and the crunch of gravel underfoot. There is a sense of something though about halfway along. This is were a lot of people report feeling ‘something’.
Hubby & I plan to go back another day and take another look. Who know maybe we’ll find something?

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This is a great place to go for a walk, take a torch though and a great place to photograph for the architecture, the railway itself, the textures and the flora.

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Where are we off to next? Who knows but I’ll be sharing it here.
Until next time!

Travelling Tasmania: Lilydale Falls and the Abandoned Tunnel pt 1

We were going to start out Tassie adventures locally in George Town and surrounds as that is where we are based but it was recently school holidays so we decided to visit one of the nearby falls.

I visited Lilydale Falls when I was younger, most likely with relatives visiting from Scotland, but had never been back so seemed like the perfect place to start. And it’s one of the closest falls.

The falls are located in the Lilydale Falls Reserve, about 25 minutes North of Launceston. It’s a relatively easy 6-10 minute walk from the car park along a dirt and duckboard path, then down some stairs to the base of the first falls.

image of a dirt path leading under a train bridge. Location: Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania image of wooden stairs. to the right of the image is moss covered rock image of a group of people standing, looking at a waterfall. The waterfall is the bottom fall at Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania. 

Image of waterfall and surrounding plants. Bottom falls at Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania.

Another 3-4 minutes up the path and you are on a viewing platform at the second falls.

image of a dirt path next to a flowing river. Location Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmaniaimage of wooden viewing platform at the top falls, Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania.image of waterfall. Top fall, Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania.

I could seriously spend awhile here taking photos when the weather is dry.

image of manfern growing on rocks. Location: Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania. image of tree trunk that looks like a contorted face. Location: Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania. image of moss growing on rocks. water is trickling over rocks. Location: Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania. image of moss growing on rocks. Location: Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania. image of plants and moss trailing over rocks. Location: Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania.
image of moss growing on trees. Location: Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania. image of green moss growing on rocks,covered with dry leaves. Location: Lilydale Falls Reserve, Tasmania.

Back at the car park is a well maintained public toilet, play area and an undercover BBQ area. If there is already a group there, you are most likely going to have to wait for a BBQ though.
The car park has parking spaces for campers and motor homes. There is also an undercover building with tables and a fireplace, which I’m guessing can be used by campers.

The day we went was overcast and then it rained on the way back. The paths and rocks can get a little slippery, so watch your step.
We gave up waiting on the BBQ area as it was completely taken over by a small group of tourists who weren’t keen on sharing with a family so we packed up the car and headed to our next location.

A few kilometres up the road is a place called the Abandoned Tunnel and we’ll cover that in part 2.

In the Den Kitchen–September 2021

Wow it’s the end of September already. More recipes for you this month.

Littlest loves potato gems and pommes so I decided to give Pop Pom cottage pie a go. Well she didn’t like the pommes with melted cheese but apart from that she ate the lot.

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Creamy Chicken & potato gem pie. Again another recipe to try and tempt the littlest to try something new. Wasn’t a fan and was grumpy that I’d used all the potato gems. The rest of us enjoyed itIMG_E4025

Hubby found a Air fryer pork belly recipe on Tik Tok so we tried it. Very yummy.

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We actually tried a recipe that wasn’t a hit with anyone – slow cooker braised steak & onion. Don’t know what it was about this but we won’t be having it again.

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Chicken & Ham lasagne. So yummy but needed something as it was a bit dry. Maybe some more cheese next time.

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This satay chicken stir fry was really yummy. Biggest decided she didn’t like it because it had peanuts on it. She eats peanuts & likes them. Think she was being difficult.

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The Thermomix recipes this month where Chicken Teriyaki, Mongolian Lamb, Beef Stroganof, Quiche Lorraine, Meatloaf, Chinese Pork & finally Beef Burgers. 

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Everything got the thumbs up, especially the burgers which were called the best burger recipe I’d ever made. It made enough to freeze some AND littlest actually ate one! She helped make them and she’s been told if she makes it she has to try it. Seems to be working well as she’s finding more things she likes so Yay!!

Sweet treat this month was self saucing butterscotch pudding. Very yummy.

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Tik Tok recipe trends are a bit of a thing in our house. Can highly recommend trying the air fryer crumpet garlic bread.

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Something new around here

School holidays start for us here in Tasmania next week and we have 2 weeks off school. With COVID, travelling outside our state still really isn’t a thing (even though both hubby & I are both fully vaxed) so we’ve decided that we’re going to play tourist in our own state AND take you guys along for the ride.

We’re making a list of where we want to go and what we want to see so if there is anywhere in Tasmania you’d like to see, let us know and we’ll do our best to add it to our list.

Follow along on our adventures by following the tag Travel Tasmania & on my instagram using #nightwolftravelstas

In the Den Kitchen–August 2021

And so another month is over and we have a bunch of new recipes to share and a new kitchen toy but more on that later in the post.

Started off with some Asian flavours trying Hoisin pork fillet with stir-fried Chinese greens. Big thumbs up from everyone, including the little who is now more interested in cooking and also trying what she cooks.

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Then we moved to flavours of India and a really yummy Chicken Korma. Again loved by all.

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Something quick and easy for a friend’s birthday – Creamy Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti. He lives alone so he often gets to join our food trying adventures.

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More pork with Oven Baked Pork Chops with Potatoes. Awesome now I have my oven fixed and didn’t have to try cooking this in the air fryer. Very yummy.

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And another pork recipe to round out the month – Brown Sugar Slow Cooker Pork. This was soooo good but next time we’ll use a different cut of pork so we get more meat.

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And a sweet treat for the lunch boxes – Flourless Fudge Brookies

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I’ve been wanting to upgrade our Thermomix since the TM6 came out and hubby surprised me with the new one at the beginning of the month (thank you tax return) so the remainder of the new recipes this month are from Thermomix’s Cookidoo recipe website.

I chose a bunch of recipes and the first the kids picked was Meatball Subs (served on homemade Hot Dog Rolls). We also tried Sous Vide steak with Béarnaise Sauce, Sticky Sesame chicken,  Chunky bolognaise, Paprika chicken w Paprika sauce, Pork belly w spring onions and homemade honeycomb (so good!)

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Until next month, keep cooking!
(and let me know if you try any of these recipes and what you thought of them)

In the Den Kitchen–July 2021

This month, the littlest has been so much more interested in helping cook meals, even if she doesn’t end up eating them. We are implementing the new rule that if she cooks it she has to try it and she might find that she actually likes it!

The first recipe she cooked was old fashioned rissoles. Nice and easy. She wasn’t too sure to start with but ended up demolishing a whole one, so calling that a win.

A white plate containing 2 beef rissoles, potato gems, tomato, lettuce & cucumber.

I had been feeling like a new stir fry recipe for awhile so decided to whip up Hoisin beef stir-fry. I love Hoisin sauce with pork so was interested to see how it would go with beef. Good stuff. Everyone ate it, most of them picked out the veg they don’t like *eye roll*

White bowl containing a mound of white rice and Hoisin Beef Stir-fry

Biggest wanted in on the cooking action so I thought a super easy, set and forget slow cooker recipe would suit her.  Slow cooker chicken chow mein.

White bowl containing a splade and chicken chow mein.

Decided to go a little fancy with Crispy, Creamy Chicken Cordon Bleu with a Dijon sauce. OMG don’t try this if you want something quick and easy. Yes it is fiddly but so worth it.

White plate containing mashed potato with a dollop of butter, chicken cordon bleu with dijon sauce.

Looking for something super easy to whip up? This one is great when your kids ask if their bestie can stay for tea. It does take about 45 minutes to cook though. Not my Mum’s porcupine meatballs (not the actual name but they aren’t my Mum’s recipe LOL)

White plate containing porcupine meatballs and potato gem

Another quick & easy one to whip that is great hot or cold is Easy Savoury Bacon Slice. So good. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like with the corn but it got a big thumbs up especially from the big who wants me to make it again on a school night so she can take it to school cold.

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Party Planning 2021

It’s been awhile since I shared any party planning here and since I’ve just started planning for my youngest’s birthday next month I thought I’d get back into it.

First thing we discussed was a theme. Actually it was what she wanted to do – she wanted the pool (it’s an indoor one), then it was art party and finally she decided to just have a party, especially when we mentioned she could invite more friends. Then it was a theme – this year’s suggestions included: mermaids, cats (which we did last year), art, llamas, bunnies and finally, the one she picked, Winter Wonderland.

Next we looked at date and times. We ended up picking afternoon so it wouldn’t clash with winter sports, especially when her bestie plays soccer. Her birthday falls on a Sunday so we have to decide if she wants the day before or weekend after.

After all those things we had to decide on location. Our place isn’t ideal for kids parties, we’d used the in-laws last year, so it came down to hiring the local hall if available or using Dad’s. Dad has property so that gives us more options for party games outside and he’s happy for us to have the party there.

Now that is all decided it’s time to start a new section on my Party Pinterest board for keeping all the ideas in one place. You can check out all my party pins by going here, then checking the Winter Wonderland section.