Sailing on the Gippsland Lakes!

How lucky are we? We have been fortunate enough to share a beautiful weekend on board the yacht of some dear friends. And what a great weekend we had!

Their yacht is moored at Paynesville, which is the gateway to the Gippsland Lakes in eastern Victoria. A series of channels, inlets and small protected harbours separated from the ocean by dunes and hills create a boating mecca and a wonderful environment for birds to take up residence and breed.  The bird life is sensational! Pelicans, parrots, gulls of all species, swallows, terns and black swans. It is reputed that habitat for up to 20,000 water birds is within the Gippsland Lakes.

The weather was sensational as was the company and the whole experience. Here are a few happy snaps from the weekend.

MooringOur overnight mooring. Snug as bugs securely tied up. Went for a walk to check out the ninety mile beach. Beautiful!

90 Mile beach

Back to ‘camp’ for some R&R, prepare dinner and await the sunset. We did also imbibe in some (much) wine to help pass the time.

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Dinner was curried chicken, salad, spinach and ricotta croquettes, some baked tarts and oven roasted vegies.

Sated, we settled in to watch the skyline.

IMG_9959Weren’t disappointed with that, stunning indeed! The turning point, when you know you are definitely being transported from day to night.

IMG_9935 Sunset Gippsland LakesThere is something magical about being on the water, no mechanical noises, birds tittering, lapping of the waves and mother nature puts on a performance of beauty and wonderment. There was much discussion about moon phases and astrological patterns though out the evening. Everyone is an expert at these times of course! Unfortunately we didn’t have the equipment to shoot good photos of the moon waxing or is it waning? Is it a ‘d’ or an ‘o’? Long story that’s no where as interesting without a few bottles of wine to help.

Gippsland Lakes Junk

Many different water craft on the lakes. Thought I was back in Asia for a bit.

There were lots of jellyfish wherever we stopped. I find these stunningly beautiful and very elegant. I love watching them dancing through the water. Was it the Nutcracker or Fantasia that started my fascination with these creatures?

JellyfidhBirds everywhere.

IMG_0068IMG_0034Back to the mooring feeling extremely relaxed and happy to have been able to share such a wonderful time with our wonderful friends. I just love being on and around water, even more so with those we love! What makes you happy?



Introducing Phoenicia!

When I started this blog I had intended it just be a diary account of renovations we did to this old home and what we were establishing in the garden and vegetable patch. Throw in a bit of preserving and foodie stuff and that was it. I had no idea it would lead to “meeting” some amazing people from right across the globe and learning so many different things from other bloggers who offer so much. It’s really like one big fat support group for whatever you do!

One of these delightful people is Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Celia’s blogs covers a wealth of subjects, some food related some not. She turns out amazing bread and meals like a machine (but they look and I bet, taste) way better than a machine had created them. She shows great compassion for those experiencing hard times and has a slightly wicked sense of humour from what I’ve gleaned.  Celia has been generously sharing her sourdough starter ‘Priscilla’, Queen of the refrigerator (named from the movie  Priscilla, Queen of the desert) to people and giving them advice on how to activate, maintain and use the starter to make bread. Well guess who’s a lucky old recipient? Yep, moi! Celia graciously offered me some and I wasn’t about to miss out on such a great opportunity. I’m keen to see the difference between starters. Here is the treasured packet of granules just waiting to be resuscitated. Not only is there starter, but also a detailed set of instructions for kicking life back into it ready to bake some bread.

Dried sourdough starter

One of Celia’s requests is to name the starter so the family lineage of Priscilla can be tracked. Now this was tricky….

My first thought was to use a name that tied back to the movie but all I could come up with was “Ping Pong”. Please don’t ask me to explain! I was a little concerned this could be a bit controversial so I’ve decided to name her Phoenicia (long lost relative of Priscilla) in honour of the ancient Phoenicians who are considered to be responsible for the first breads.

The following was taken from The History of Bread.

The Egyptian grammarian and philosopher Athenaeus, who lived in the third century A.D., has handed down to us considerable knowledge about bread and baking in those days. He wrote that the best bakers were from Phoenicia or Lydia, and the best bread-makers from Cappadocia. He gives us a list of the sorts of bread common in his time-leavened and unleavened loaves; loaves made from the best wheat flour; loaves made from groats, or rye, and some from acorns and millet. There were lovely crusty loaves too, and loaves baked on a hearth. Bakers made a bread mixed with cheese, but the favourite of the rich was always white bread made from wheat. In ancient Greece, keen rivalry existed between cities as to which produced the best bread. Athens claimed the laurel wreath, and the name of its greatest baker, Thearion, has been handed down through the ages in the writings of various authors. During the friendly rivalry between the towns, Lynceus sings the praises of Rhodian rolls. ‘The Athenians’, he says,

Thank you Celia, I will nurture her lovingly.


Backs, Bread, Brunch and Bountiful harvests.

Since we moved in to the ‘new old house’, the only kitchen workspace I’ve had has been the table. I’ve found this really causes my back grief because it is so low and I have to work in an unnatural position.  I’ve recently been moved to tears with the pain while working, so when we were at Ikea (which I survived with no panic attack!) and I saw this kitchen work trolley I just grabbed it. I can’t believe the difference it has made. I can now work comfortably and without pain. It also doubles as a great space to keep some of my bread making ‘stuff’. Wish I’d thought to do something sooner! I’m pretty sure this will also be able to fit in easily when we build the extension and new kitchen.

Ikea kitchen trolley IMG_9819

Dough on left is a light rye, one on right is a basic white. I made the batch a bit bigger than normal so took a bit from each and have done a twist.

Twist loaf

Interested to see how it goes. Shouldn’t take to long to prove with todays weather.

Speaking of backs, we really tested our metal yesterday when we collected an antique kitchen dresser that I bought on Ebay. The place we collected it from was spilt level and the driveway was so steep Mr ATMT wasn’t game enough to back the trailer down as it was wet and we may have rolled right into the sellers garage. We had attempted to get hold of  a piano trolley to assist but this didn’t pan out so I grabbed a skate board from the lost property cupboard at school thinking it might be handy. Good move, it was. The man selling thought we were nuts (perceptive) but it worked brilliantly. Once we got up the 5 split level steps we whizzed that sucker straight up the driveway on the skateboard. Seller was gobsmacked! This unit is 2.4 metres tall and VERY heavy. I’m hoping to restore it, get rid of the high gloss polyurethane finish and bring it back to a much more natural state.

Antique kitchen dresser
Sideboard Dresser antique 1920’s colonial

















I had thought one of the first things I would do, would be to replace the door handles but then I saw this,

Wooden door screws

These are handmade wooden screws and door knobs. Think I might just see how they clean up. Very special find!

Harvesting the bounty

The tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and capsicum are in full swing now and some of the tomato varieties I planted to test and compare are quite interesting. I’ll do a separate post on different varieties in a few weeks.


This photo shows a few, the varieties and some of the weights I’ve been averaging from them are: Top Centre going clockwise-German Johnston 314g, Tigerella 65g, Periforme abruzzese 350g, Black krim 265g, Russian purple 40g, Big Beef (beautiful) 402g. In centre, money-maker 60g and yellow pear 10g. Not sure what’s happened to the other 4 varieties I planted (San marzano, Hungarian Heart, Gross Lisse and Amish Paste but they are not behaving. Some of these are planted into the garden and don’t receive much sun so they may take a lot longer.

Tomato varieties


Mr ATMT loves this time of year with all the tomatoes and one of his favourite breakfasts/brunches include tomatoes and bacon cooked together. I prefer my tomatoes just lightly grilled.  I made this today and served it on toasted sourdough along with a poached egg and grilled mushrooms. Yum, yum, yum!

Tomatoes and bacon

Taking it easy today, think we exerted a bit too much energy moving that dam dresser yesterday. Gee I hope its worth it!

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Blood Plum Tart. Bloody ripper!

I posted recently that a friend had gifted me some plums and called for some ideas for what to do with them. I got some great ideas, thanks. Well, I’ve eaten many, frozen some for making into a plum sauce and today I made a plum tart. We were off to our annual Long Table Lunch picnic with friends and it is nice to take food that can be shared by all. Today was the 10th anniversary lunch and it is a highlight of the year for me. Great people sitting on the riverbank eating, chatting and generally appreciating all we have to enjoy.

I had some pastry left over from my Australia Day Lemon Tart so that was tagged for using as the base. This pastry is the Alice Medrich’s Lemon Tart pastry recipe. Fail safe every time! Recipe for this tart is here Plum Tart Recipe


Custard was made with greek yoghurt, milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla. I cut the plums up, placed them into the baked pastry base, sprinkled with almond meal and grated some lemon zest over the plums. The custard ingredients were whisked together then poured over the plums. Into the oven for 20 minutes and it set beautifully.

Plum TartAt the picnic, served with a blend of cream, greek yoghurt and lemon it was a lovely picnic desert. Look at that colour, amazing!

IMG_9661A simple platter of nibbles onto the sharing table.

Picnic platter  nibbliesWith a tummy full of yummy food it was time to take the trip up the river to inspect this years status.

Lovely as ever.

Departing the dock to check out the Latrobe river and Lake Narracan,

One of the little sandy beaches of the Latrobe River

IMG_9747“Cruise in restaurant”. Managed to pick some of the best blackberries you’ll ever find. The baling bucket came in handy for something!

IMG_9676Pelican island with view to Yallourn W in the back ground.

IMG_9710The shot of the day I’ve yet to upload. As we were docking back at shore, I managed to fall into the river and have been promised a ‘great photo’ will be sent through to me. Stay tuned! I was very impressed though that I managed to keep my camera out of the water. Many years of saving beers in the surf came to the fore I think. Lovely day, lovely people, lovely food, lovely unplanned swim!



Getting snuggly!

We’ve finally bitten the bullet and commenced work on the room that was originally the doctor’s surgery. We’ve labelled this room the snug. We haven’t been able to decide on colours and we are not likely to any time soon, so we’ve just picked one out of a hat and are going with it.

When we bought this house this room was still set up ready for patients who were brave enough, complete with lots of glass bottles, surgical instruments and used morphine vials.


We removed the gas heater and opened up the fireplace, lifted the mouldy, damp and rotten floor coverings, took out the sink and have been using the room as our winter ‘snug’. This room gets the most natural light of any in the house and it is quite cosy for just the two of us to use, particularly in winter.

Dado panelling has been removed and the walls are being insulated where we can. We had planned on removing all the plaster board and fully insulating but that will have to wait. Seems more ridiculous to waste perfectly good wall coverings at this stage. All the gaps that we can find are being filled to reduce drafts and heat loss/entry. Hopefully some noise reduction will also be achieved.


We’ve  covered the floor boards with cardboard to prevent damage from paint and the mobile scaffolding unit we rely on for all our renovation work. The colour we are going to paint is a big secret. No, it’s not green! Mostly secret just in case I hate it and feel the need to send Mr ATMT back up the scaffold to change it. It already feels more snuggly!

I also started cleaning up the cedar doors with the same treatment I used on the skirting boards. So far it looks very promising that they will come up well.

This is a section of the first door before getting at it with metho, steel wool and sandpaper. The second shot is after a clean up and one coat of tung oil applied. We have a little  problem with one of the infills. It appears that at some stage the panel had been kicked in (disgruntled patient?) and replaced very shoddily with ply wood. See the difference in second photo, top left. Apart from that I’m really pleased about its rejuvenation. The natural colour of red cedar is stunning!

IMG_9565 IMG_9587

A couple more coats and its will be ready to rehang. Only 7 doors to go after that!





In My Kitchen-February

I cannot believe it this time again!

First up for this months post is “In My Camping Kitchen”. We spent a couple of weeks at our favoured annual camping spot, Pambula Beach, which is on the mid east coast of New South Wales. Beautiful, safe, surf beach that is close enough to our campsite so you wake up, wonder down and jump in the surf then back to camp for not much at all. Anyone who knows me understands that I love camp cooking. I love the fact I can plan ahead and that I can sit in a camp chair with a glass of wine doing whatever preparations are necessary for our evening meal. This year I was super organised and stored some photos on my mini iPad of some suitable Annabel Langbein’s recipes, I made sure I had the right spices etc packed and it made it really easy to create our meals. I love Annabel’s recipes and have not yet been disappointed with any of them. This photo is of my version of Annabel’s Chicken Tikka kebab recipe, served with hot plate chips (par boiled first), hot plate grilled pumpkin, red capsicum and beans.


I had a crack at baking a loaf of bread (yeasted) on top of the gas camp stove (in a camp oven). I was quite happy with the result albeit a little dark on its bottom. I think with a bit of tweaking and refining of the cooking vessel, I will be able to come up with a pretty consistent result.


It was still better than fluffy bread and made a great base for bruscetta and our morning poached eggs with mushrooms cooked with garlic, cracked pepper, butter, white wine vinegar and basil. Got a few requests from fellow campers about these.


I took some of our tomatoes that kept ripening while we were away and they were beautiful with basil, bocconcini and olive oil. I did take a plant pot of herbs ready for these meals. Its amazing what a few fresh herbs can add to any meal.


Back home and In My Kitchen is, a couple if gifted Araucana eggs. Sadly, hard to see in the photo but they are a lovely blue colour. The Araucana chicken is a not so common breed that originated from Chile

IMG_9595 IMG_9605I was also gifted a lovely big bag of blood plums. Yet to decide their fate, any ideas are welcome as we not huge jam eaters. Think some spicy plum sauce is on the list.

On the window sill are a few tomatoes picked and ripening away from greedy black birds.


My favourite so far is this performe abruzzese variety which to me looks like a lovely little draw string purse.

periforme abruzzese tomatoMy take on Bangers & Mash for dinner. Our home-made lamb sausages with caramelised shallots, a few tomatoes thrown into the pot to cook down. Mash was made with mint, spring onion, butter, S&P and milk and gravy was made using flour, red wine, rosemary, mint and I wish I could remember what else! Add in the peas and it went down a treat.


Finally In My kitchen is a little “thing” that a friend spied in an op-shop and thought I may like. I do! Not sure exactly what it is, but it is a hanging rack of some sort, obviously very old and I know I will be able to put it to good use when I get a kitchen.


Thanks again Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who is the IMK caretaker and delightful host of these posts. How about going and checking out what’s happening in other people’s kitchens this month. You can learn so much from these gracious people.



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