Sunday, 23 December 2012

Clifton Gardens

Last weekend we went to the North Shore to explore a new beach & park spot called Clifton Gardens. It is located in the beautiful and posh neighbourhood of Mosman where we passed many homes on the way that could easily count as castles or 5 star resorts.
We got into the water pretty quickly, and after about 20 minutes of swimming noticed this sign but stayed in because we figured the tattered nets would keep us relatively safe...
Jeff testing out his new Budgy Smuggler - that's Aussie talk for Speedo

We found it to be such a lush and tropical spot. So close to the city, yet we felt so far.
One family set up and decorated a Christmas tree beside their BBQ, and we had our holiday tunes playing as we basked in the sun. An odd December indeed!

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas back home!
Lots of Love
Jess & Jeff

Harbour Cruise & Goat Island Convict Tour

Two weeks ago we went on a “Convicts, Castles and Champagne” tour with our roommates Ruth and James. Ruth found a deal online and we said ‘yes’ as soon as we discovered it was an open bar.
We boarded a 1920’s ferry, which as you can see from the photos was falling apart as it pulled into the pier. We were hesitant, but the first bottles of champagne were popped open quickly and we were off to Goat Island – Sydney Harbour National Park.
 Over the years this island has served as a quarry, convict stockade, explosives store, police station, fire station, boatyard and film set. We had a great tour leader and at mid day we stopped for a lunch buffet and got our moneys worth of wine and beer before re-boarding the ferry to enjoy a final loop of the harbour.
 Ruth, Jeff and James are standing in front of a prisoner unit. They would house over 20 convicts into each until when they weren't working.
Our tour guide John left his hat unattended... Jeff promptly tried it on.

We earned our spot on the convict tour by relieving them of an extra bottle of champagne upon departure, and proceeded to invite ourselves into other peoples wedding and engagement photos along the Rocks.


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Swedish Meatballs


We have returned to Canada and I have started a new food related blog. Check it out:

The Food On My Shirt



Swedish Meatballs on a Bed of Lemon Thyme Couscous with Spinach
 Despite the uncountable times we’ve been to Ikea, (we even had our car stolen from the parking lot once), I have never tried their cheap Swedish Meatballs. I always end up with 6 hot dogs and a frozen yogurt. To be honest I never really knew what made Swedish balls different from normal balls. So when I was watching Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals and he whipped up a batch, I saw what I was missing out on.
In the last decade I have grown fond of all things Swedish as a result of Jess’s lineage on her Mom’s side. Her Grandparents filled my wardrobe with clothing tastefully sporting the Swedish flag and colours, so I think this meal will get the stamp of approval.
Like most things I cook I did not follow the recipe and made addition and subtractions based on availability, taste and whim.   
-          500g Beef Mince
-          500g Pork Mince
-          Bunch of Dill
-          2 tsp Caraway Seeds
-          4 tsp Lingonberry, Cranberry or Blackberry Jam
-          4 tsp cream
-          Yogurt
-          Couscous (we used large Israeli couscous)
-          Bag of Spinach
-          3 Sprigs of Thyme
-          1 lemon
 Optional: Vodka to deglaze the pan

This is a fast recipe that is guaranteed to fill you up. That being said I think the 15min version is a bit too quick and you end up with dry balls… I recommend slowing it down and simmering the meatballs instead of flash frying them.
Chop half the dill and mix it with the Pork and Beef. Wet your hands then roll out your balls, (this tip is in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so you know it’s legit). Depending on your couscous start frying your balls or start the couscous. Mine took 9 min so I started with the balls. On medium-high heat, brown your balls. Add the Caraway Seeds as you are frying. When they are nicely coloured add the Jam, Cream and the rest of the Dill (this would be a good time to deglaze the pan with some Vodka). Let the gravy cook down to your desired consistency.
For the couscous put a little oil in a pot and quickly brown the couscous then cut the top and bottom off the lemon and put in the couscous to simmer. After a couple minutes add the Thyme. Simmer until the water is mostly absorbed. Pull out the Thyme and throw in the bag of spinach to wilt. If your pot isn’t big enough wilt the spinach separately. Mash the juice out of the lemon and start plating. Pile everything on top of the Couscous and top with a little yoghurt. Skol!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

One Year Abroad!

I know you have all been marking your calendars with the days you have gone without us, so you should already know that December 6th marks our 1 year travel anniversary!

When this whole trip began we were completely unsure of how long it would last and how we would feel about being so far from home. Let me just say that it has been the best decision of our life as a married couple. We agree that there was no better time or way to experience New Zealand and now Australia. We are both pretty proud of the things we have seen and done, as well as the people we have met along the way. The memories and friendships will last a life time… and we aren’t even done yet!

We are currently both working full time jobs in Sydney’s CBD. We will do this until mid February when we plan to take off on a big trip of Australia. The first stop will be a 5 day Surf School where we will have two surf lessons a day at 7 Mile Beach where we will be staying – Happy Birthday Jeff. The remainder of our plans are in the works and we will update you as they are booked.
Thank you to everyone who is following our Blog!
It has been very fun for us to document this trip.
Here are our top five experiences of the last year:
  1. Weekly parties in the Viaduct Harbour
  2. Skeet shooting at Blue Duck Lodge
  3. Birthday Tattoo
  4. Snorkelling around Beachcomber Island- Fiji
  5. Cart racing in Queenstown
  1. New Zealand Family nights out
  2. Kayaking Cathedral Cove
  3. Abel Tasman Coastal Walk
  4. Taking a dip in a natural hot pool in Taupo
  5. Most recently: The realization that we can have beach time anytime

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Enchiladas Rojas

The title for this post, “Enchiladas Rojas”, may technically be wrong but I liked it more than “Wet Burrito”. Basically I made meat wrapped in a four tortilla baked with a red chilli sauce smothered with cheese and sour cream.

This will probably be the last Mexican inspired dish I make for a while because it came awfully close to becoming a Fail. My cavalier attitude towards cooking frequently gets me into trouble in the kitchen. I have trouble with simple things like frying an egg, pouring anything from one container to another, and my true Achilles heel is the quantity of spicy things I add to dishes. I love hot food but prefer flavour over ass melting heat.

I barley reigned myself in before this meal was a write-off but the collateral damage ended up being Jess’s food was on the dry side due to the limited amount of sauce I used on hers. This made 10 enchiladas with extra red sauce.

There really is three parts to Enchiladas:

  1. Tortillas
  2. Red Chilli Sauce
  3. Filling
1. See my Tortilla post for easy Homemade Tortillas or buy some
2. Red Chilli Sauce


-          2 tbs Butter
-          2 tbs Flour
-          5 tsp chilli powder
-          2 tsp cumin
-          2 cloves garlic
-          1 can tomato paste
-          1 can tomato puree
-          3 cups water


Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the flour browning it into a roux. Add the chopped garlic, chilli powder and cumin. Be careful with the amount of chilli powder! This was my downfall. Stir in the tomato paste and puree. Continue to stir and slowly add the water. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and let it simmer until it is the thickness you are looking for. I had to dump some of mine out and water it down because the chilli was so hot my mouth was burning off so it ended up being thinner than I planned.

3. Filling


-          1 package Beef mince
-          Half a fresh Jalapeno
-          Sliced black olives
-          Some kind of  grated Cheese 2 to 3 cups… maybe more if you like cheese
-          1 tsp chilli powder
-          1 tsp cumin
-          2 Green onions


Brown the meat. Throw in the spices, olives, jalapeno and onion. Cook until the veggies soften a bit. Take the mixture off the heat and let it cool until you are ready to stuff the enchiladas. Mix the cheese with the filling.
You can get the sauce simmering before or after you make the filling. It will take 45 min or longer to simmer the sauce down. When you are all ready to go, pour enough sauce in a non-stick tray to cover the bottom. Put a handful of the filling in a tortilla shell and roll up. If you want them to be really juicy you can put some sauce in each or dunk the shells into the sauce before filling. When the tray is filled pour some sauce over the top of the enchilada. Sprinkle some cheese over top and bake in the oven until they are heated through and the cheese is bubbling on top. Serve with some sour cream and fresh jalapeno.