I don’t particularly winter and do not enjoy the wild windy cold days we’ve been having. I’m thankful that it’s school holidays and that we don’t have to get up early and be in a rush to at a particular place. We are loving our lazy days chilling at home and staying in our pjs all day. During this cold weather my children have been requesting for lots of soups and congee. This chicken and corn soup is my children’s favourite soup. They love it so much that I make it on a weekly basis all year round, even in hot summer days. This soup is so delicious and so comforting but so quick and easy to make. I highly recommend using homemade chicken stock for this soup. I usually boil a huge pot of stock using kilos of chicken bones and freeze the stock for when I need it. That way you always have ready made stock to whip up delicious soup like this in no time.
Chinese Chicken and Corn Soup
Makes 4 – 6 small bowls
1.5 litres homemade chicken stock
250g chicken thigh fillet, cut into very small pieces
420g can of creamed corn
1cm thick piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1 spring onion thinly sliced (green part only)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornflour
ground white pepper
In a medium saucepan, add chicken stock and ginger, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces and creamed corn to stock and reduce heat to a simmer. Dissolve cornflour with 1 tablespoon of water. If you prefer a thicker soup then double the amount of cornflour and water. Stir the cornflour mixture and add to the pot. Slowly stirring until soup is thickened. Taste and season the soup with salt. Beat the eggs into a small bowl with a fork. Bring the soup to a boil and gently swirl the soup in a circular motion. Slowly pour the beaten egg in the soup and continue to gently stir in a circular motion until you get swirls of egg ribbons. Remove from heat. Drizzle with sesame oil add sprinkle of white pepper. To serve, ladle the hot soup into small bowls, and garnish with sliced spring onion and coriander.No Comments
I love mandarins, especially the imperial mandarins. They are so very sweet and juicy. I love that mandarins have a delicious citrus fragrance every time you peel it. I especially love that they make a very convenient snack which has been great for the school lunch boxes.
We are at the very end of the imperial mandarins season at the shops and boy they are getting very expensive. Lucky for me the mandarin orchards are at the start of their season for pick your own mandarins. We made a trip to Watkins Orchard in Wisemans Ferry for mandarin picking on their opening weekend. We love going to pick your own orchards as it’s such a fun activity and the reward at the end is the getting the freshest fruits to take home.
Watkins orchard has different varieties of mandarins depending on the time of year. The season starts end of May or early June to until fruit finishes. But it’s always best to check with the orchard before you go. At Watkins Orchard the mandarins are sold for $10 per bucket full. We weighed our mandarins at home and they were around 6kg a bucket which make it super cheap.
The drive to the orchard is very scenic but on narrow and winding road. Make a day trip out of it and explore Wisemans Ferry. Check out Hawkins Lookout for panoramic views of the Hawkesbury River. Also do what we did and catch the car ferry across the Hawkesbury just for the heck of it.
There are three mandarin orchards in Wisemans Ferry.
1125 Singleton Road, Laughtondale (via Wisemans Ferry), NSW, 2775
Phone: (02) 4566 3107
Watkins Family Farm
1006 Singleton Road, Laughtondale (via Wisemans Ferry), NSW, 2775
Phone: 0418 233 466
1275 Singleton Road, Laughtondale (via Wisemans Ferry), NSW, 2775
Phone: (02) 4566 3127
Our family try to eat healthy and we seldom make deep fried food. We always believe that it’s better to make deep fried food at home since you will use better quality oil. We sometimes make exceptions for fried food, especially this delicious salt and pepper chicken. Seriously how can anyone say no to anything with a salt and pepper batter?
Salt and Pepper Chicken Recipe
600g chicken, cut into bite size pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon five spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger powder
3 cloves garlic,finely diced
2 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 red chilli
iceberg lettuce to serve
cucumber to serve
lemon wedges (optional)
Marinate the chicken with soy sauce, sugar and beaten eggs. Leave in fridge for 2 hours.
In a large bowl, combine the plain flour, cornflour, salt, pepper, five spice and ginger powder. Mix well until.
Heat oil in a wok/saucepan/deep fryer. Add pieces of chicken to the flour mixture and shake off the excess. Deep fry the chicken pieces in batches for around 2 -3 minutes until golden and cooked through. Transfer the fried chicken to a plate lined with paper towels.
In a small fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add spring onion and chillies. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer the fried chicken to a serving platter and sprinkle the fried garlic, spring onion and chillies. Serve with lettuce and cucumber.1 Comment
We are always on the hunt for a pick-your-own farms, but living in Sydney it usually involves a fair bit of driving. Luckily we are only just 90 minutes drive from Bilpin in the Blue Mountains, home to the many apple orchards. They call the town of Bilpin as ‘The Land of the Mountain Apples’.
We visited Pine Crest Orchard for the first time this year in Jan during the start of the apple season. It was also just before Lunar New Year so my family was very delighted to have fruits with fresh green leaves to display for the new year. We enjoyed the experience so much that we came back again in March. The orchard grows more than just apples as they start the fruit picking season with stone fruits in December. Depending on when you visit the orchard there are different varieties of apples, pears, plums, peaches, nashi pears, persimmons and small amounts of cherries available for picking. It’s best to call them directly to check what is available or follow their facebook page for all the latest updates.
Fruit picking is such a fun experience for the whole family. We don’t grow anything edible in our garden so it’s a great experience for the kids to see and learn where their food comes from. Best of all everything is so fresh straight from the trees.
Pine Crest Orchard as well as other orchards are located along Bell’s Line of Road. The drive is really enjoyable and there are many roadside stalls selling the local produce. Since we’re in the land of the apples that also means apple pies. There are many stalls selling homemade apple pies which is worth sampling. And do try the hillbilly apple cider made from the local apples.
Pine Crest Orchard no longer provide buckets. You can bring your own bags or buy calico bags from them.
Not far from the Bilpin is Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens which is worth a visit.
Pine Crest Orchard
2549 Bell’s Line of Road
Bilpin NSW 2758
Ph: 02 4567 1143
Best to call so you won’t be disappointed or like their facebook page for all the latest updates.
In April last year year we took a long and scenic drive to Mount Wilson, in the Blue Mountains in search of autumn colours. Mount Wilson is known for it’s beautiful open gardens, but it is in Autumn that this little village puts on a spectacular display of amazing vibrant autumn colours.
It was also this trip that led us to our first chestnut and walnut picking experience. Not far from Mount Wilson is Mount Irvine, which is home to several chestnut and walnut farms. It was so interesting to learn that chestnuts had a protective spiky burrs. Since we came at the end of the season we only saw the spiky brown burrs all dried up. End of season also meant the quality of our chestnuts was not very good either but we couldn’t tell until we prepared them at home.
This year we were determined to get in early for the chestnut season. I checked the website of Kookootong Nut Farm religiously since the start of March and as soon as the farm gates were open, we made the trip to Mount Irvine. Coming at the beginning of the season we were treated to the wonder sight of the green spiky shells of the chestnut which were still on the trees. From far the trees looked like they were filled with green pom-poms and it was just amazing to see. But don’t be fooled because these green pom-poms look-a-like were very prickly and needle sharp. We got pricked several times and it really really hurts.
When chestnuts are ripe the spiky burrs open up and the nuts fall to the ground. Then it’s just a matter of picking them up from the ground. Chestnuts are unlike most nuts and are highly perishable. So freshness is key in having great tasting chestnuts. Look for chestnuts with shells that have a healthy brown shine. Avoid chestnuts with mottled or dim shells. The chestnuts should feel firm, with no air between shell and underlying flesh.
Coming at the start of the season we get first dips at the freshest and biggest nuts. Not taking any chances as we really want only the best chestnuts, we only collected those nuts that were on the ground but still inside the spiky green shell. They took more work because you have to take the chestnuts out of the spiky shells. To do this you really need thick garden gloves or break away the spiky shells with your shoes. The farm sells canvas gloves but they are really thin and I found them not to be very effective last year, so we brought our own gloves this year. Also their gloves are too big for children. Also wear thick sole shoes preferably gumboots. The spiky shells are so sharp that they even went through the sides of my sports shoes.
Kookootonga also have lots walnuts for picking too but we were too early and most of the trees were not ready. But we really came for the chestnuts and were very happy with our two half-full buckets of chestnuts weighing in at 8kgs. The farm was selling the chestnuts and walnuts at $8kg. After giving away half we ended up eating chestnuts every single day for a whole week. The most common way to cook them is to roast or boil. I prefer to boil the chestnuts and remove the shell and eat it as it is. All our chestnuts were 100% good so it was really good to get in early.
Our family really enjoyed the chestnut picking and have made it as an annual event. Also that drive through Mount Wilson is just spectacular. Going early for the chestnut season this year means we missed out on the amazing display of autumn colours as the colours on the trees only just beginning to turn. Good excuse to make another trip just for the Autumn colours and check out the beautiful gardens. To get to Mount Irvine we passed through Bilpin and since it was still apple season we stopped by for some fruit picking. It really was a fun day for the family and highly recommend it.
With Mount Irvine being 135km from Sydney (2 hours drive) a bit of planning is required before you make the trip. Something to take into consideration are:
- There is no food or drinks available at Mount Wilson/Mount Irvine. Bring your own food and have a picnic at the several picnic grounds in Mount Wilson.
- Closest food is available at Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens (30km away), Bilpin (40kms away), Mount Victoria (40kms away).
- There is no petrol station in Mount Wilson/Mount Irvine. The nearest petrol station is in Bilpin or Mount Victoria (40kms away!).
Kookootonga Nut Farm
247 Mount Irvine Road
Mount Irvine NSW 2786
Ph: 02 4756 2136
Free to enter and only pay for what you pick
Chestnuts and walnuts are usually available mid March to mid Autumn. Always best to check on their website for updates so that you won’t be disappointed.1 Comment