How irresistible are those glossy and delicious cherries hanging on the trees?
Cherries are at their peak at the moment and just the perfect timing for the Christmas season. I love having cherries during Christmas.
If you are like us and love the experience of picking your own cherries then head to Young for many of the pick your own cherry orchards. Young is referred to as the cherry capital of Australia, and it is about 4 hours drive from Sydney. I could never convince the husband to drive that far for cherry picking. He’ll tell me to save the time and effort and just buy it from the shops. But where’s the fun in that?
We did end up driving to Young, but we started our journey from Canberra. Earlier in December we were staying in Canberra and decided to do a day trip to Young, which is only 2 hours from Canberra. There are many orchards with pick your own to choose from. I decided to go to Allambie Orchard mainly because I’ve seen the pretty pictures on their website.
Unfortunately it rained on the day we were at the orchard and we couldn’t do much picking. We were lucky we had a break in the weather for about 45 minutes before the storm came. I love how the rain made the cherries look really glossy and fresh in the photos.
Young usually holds it’s annual Cherry Festival on the first weekend of December. They hold all sorts of fun festivities during the whole weekend of the festival. It is really the busiest time for the town. It is also the busiest weekend with lots of tour buses bringing cherry pickers.
The cherry picking season starts usually from mid November to January. It is highly recommended that you check with the individual orchard before you come to ensure they are open and have cherries to pick. It is a long way to come so you don’t want to be disappointed. I also highly recommend staying overnight and Young has many accommodation options. The Young official website has a list of all the orchards for you to choose from. Also don’t forget to try the homemade cherry pies in Young!
Our family love all types of dumplings. We affectionately call our kids ‘Dumpling Monsters’ because they love dumplings so much. We are lucky very that our local area have so many Shanghai restaurants with really good quality dumplings. Although we mostly eat dumplings out, I occasionally like to make my own simple dumplings to freeze to use for those last minute meals.
With the weather being so cold and we have been staying in quite a bit, I was able to make dumplings at home many times. I also started making my own dumpling wrappers. The first time I made it I was really surprised at how easy it is to make the dough and roll out the wrappers. Since then I have not use the store bought wrappers. But I must warn you that it is quite time consuming to make the wrappers (especially when I’m rolling out 45 wrappers for each time I make dumplings). Homemade wrappers are so much softer and they are easier to stick together so you don’t need to seal with water. I would still use the store bought wrappers for the convenience. These dumplings are great to make a huge batch and freeze for later. I love steaming these dumplings and pan fried to finish off. I recently discovered that they are called pot stickers as well. The restaurants just call them dumplings.
With the amount of dumpling wrappers I had to roll, I seek the help of my sous chef. To roll out the dough you need to have dowel rolling pin. I didn’t have one so I cut off the handle of my wooden spoon which did the trick.
Pleating the dumplings on one side is really easy and it looks so good too.
Pork and Cabbage Dumplings Recipe
Makes about 45 dumplings
4.5 cups* of plain flour
boiled hot water (roughly about 2 cups*)
500g pork mince
300g finely shredded Chinese cabbage (put cabbage into bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt and allow to sit for 20 minutes to draw out the water)
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
4 spring onion thinly sliced (white and light green part only)
7 dried shiitake mushroom (rehydrated in hot water)
4.5 tablespoons soya sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons stock/water
2 tablespoons rice wine
To make dumpling dough
In a medium mixing bowl, add the plain flour and make a well in the centre. Slowly add small amount water at a time and mix the flour with a spatula. Keep adding and mixing the flour until all flour are combined (you don’t have to use all the water). Knead the dough inside the bowl to combine all the lumpy bits together. If the dough does not come together easily the add a teaspoon of water. If too sticky the add some flour.
Transfer the dough to a slightly floured work space. Knead the dough with the heel of your hand for about 5 minutes. You should get a smooth and slightly elastic dough. Cling wrap the dough to rest for an hour.
To make dumpling fillings
In a medium bowl, add pork mince, grated ginger, spring onion, shiitake mushroom. Squeeze excess water from the chinese cabbage and add to the mince mixture. In a small bowl add soya sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, rice wine, sugar and stock/water. Stir mixture until sugar dissolved. Pour this seasoning over the mince mixture and mix and fold until everything in combined.
To make dumplings
Once the dumpling dough are rested you can make the dumplings. There is a large amount of dough in this recipe so cut up the dough into quarters. Using one quarter at a time roll out the dough to into a thick log with a 4cm diameter. Cut the cylinder into 1.5cm thick. Flatten the disk by pressing down the the palm of your hand. Using a dumpling dowel, roll ONLY inwards from the outer edge of each circle, so you maintain a regular circle. If the dough is a bit sticky then sprinkle some flour. Roll out a couple of wrappers.
Once you have rolled out some dumpling wrappers, spoon a tablespoon of the filling onto the centre of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over and press the centre then pleat only one side of the dumpling leaving the other edge straight. This gives the dumpling a nice crescent shape.
Panfry the dumplings
Panfrying the dumplings give a crispy bottomed finish. Filled a medium or large nonstick fry pan with about one centimetre of water and a dash of vegetable oil. Assemble the dumplings in the fry pan and cover. Allow the dumplings to steam for about ten minutes. Keep an eye on the dumplings so when all the water evaporates open the lid. The little bit of oil that remain will help crisp up the bottom (add more oil if required). Serve immediately with dark vinegar or chilli oil.2 Comments
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.2 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