Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Great Victorian Bike Ride - Day 3

Euro to Murchison - 68kms.

Perfect riding conditions today and an easy day after yesterday, which we are all grateful for.

The quiet tree lined country roads are so peaceful and you become very attuned to the sounds around you. Because of all the rain all the frogs are out in force and cockies seem to follow you all the way. You feel so relaxed that you forget
what day it is. I was bought back to earth with a customer phone call, but luckily I have my girls looking after Raptup for me and I was able to get them to sort the order out.

There is a great camaraderie about being on the rode in such a large group. The constant "passing on your right" or just "onya right" which I naively thought they were asking me if I was alright. Although we were passed a lot we also got to use those terms as well.

There were quite a few school groups and they were often found to be singing or chanting. All of this made for lots of fun.

During the morning we had completed over 200kms, so a photo opportunity was imminent, still approx 400 to go.

Longwood was our morning rest area and we made that easily and quickly. Our lunch break was at the Longleat Winery just outside of Murchison. It was a lovely area to have lunch and there was entertainment provided.

From the lunch break we had only 2 kms to our overnight stay at Murchison. Murchison is in the middle of dairy country and this was very apparent with large painted cows throughout the town. Murchison is also on the Goulburn River which was running strongly and not far from flooding with all the rain.

It was very pleasant ride today, no rain whilst riding but you guessed it more rain overnight.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Great Victorian Bike Ride - Day 2

Day 2 Dookie - Euroa - 84kms

Up early and breakfasted and on the rode by 7.30am. I expected to be a bit sore but all OK. The morning was beautiful, on the cool side but no rain so far. Easy ride to Voilet Town although we were confronted with a head wind.

The pretty little town of Voilet town was our first stop and the community were out in force offering morning tea. I have to admit the raisin toast and a cuppa was very welcoming.

We started to climb quite rapidly and the next 25kms was challenging to say the least, especially as we still had the head wind. I soon learnt to use the gears very effectively. The views were spectacular but the screaming thigh muscles occupied too much of my thoughts to take in the view. All in all though, we took a long time to arrive at our lunch break at Strathbogie but we rode the whole 25km uphill, where a lot of our co riders were walking.

After lunch we had a steep 5kms climb, and then a 24kms downhill to Euroa. The downhill was great but quite scary in parts. There were a couple of hairpin bends that weren't easy to negotiate when you are travelling at a speed. There were lots of injuries on this leg, and lots of walking wounded hobbling around the campsite later.
Luckily nobody from our group had any tumbles.

Euroa is a pretty little town and our camp site was on the oval. Because of all the rain and the high river though, we had to be accommodated in two different sections.

After our evening meal we settled in for the evening entertainment which was just wonderful. This evening it was Stephen McEwan and the Yes Men and they were great.

All lights out by 10.30pm though, as we all need out beauty sleep for the next day.

And can you believe it more rain through the night.

Sales over Christmas time

Having an online store has meant that I have a really amazing opportunity to attend gift fairs and I loved having my shop in town. But, 21 years is a long time in retail. The freedom I have now has really allowed me to build my business in a different way. Rapt Up has always been my 'baby' and I love seeing it develop now at a new level.

The one thing I do miss is the Christmas Sales. I do have a sale online, but I guess what I miss is the atmosphere. However, I do love the free time to cycle.....

It's funny that the Christmas sales are beginning earlier and earlier. Can you imagine the Boxing Day Sales? Maybe I'm showing my age, but I do remember when stores would only be open certain hours and closed weekends. Now, with the amazing technology that keeps evolving, we can literally shop 24/7.

It's rather a privilege to have the luxury of shopping all day or night. I must admit, after I finish 'work', I do sit and have a browse online. I love the cycling shop Wiggle. This is part of the reason really that I decided to operate Rapt Up fully online.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

RACV Great Victoria Bike Ride - Day 1

Day 1 Yarrawonga to Dookie - 71 km.

We were up very early and packing up our tents and gear. The Yarrawonga community had several breakfast options which was great and we all appreciated eating a hearty breakfast before our first days ride.

Our luggage was assigned to transport 5 and it remained with the one transport for the entire ride.

For the first day all riders had to start at 9.00am, but all other days you can be on the rode between 6.30am and 9.00am.

The start was great, a sea of riders. It was a bit chaotic at first with so many on the rode at once, but it soon started to spread out as the faster riders sped off. The riding conditions were perfect for the first day, light wind and a bit overcast. The countryside was so green and lush after having so much rain over the past few weeks. It was an easy ride and with only one significant incline before we reached out lunch stop at the Tungamah weir. The significant incline was named Cooper's Hill, and as I was a Cooper, and the fact that Dad had passed away recently, it was a perfect photo opportunity. It was a lovely spot to stop for lunch and the break was well earned.

Back on the road after lunch, smooth riding through small quaint country town like St James and Devenish. As the kilometres passed by the rain clouds started to build and our last half our of riding was in showers, before we arrived at Dookie Agricultural College.

Our forward party ( our fast road bike boys ) already had the tents up, so for us it was just a matter of having a hot shower and then lining up for our evening meal.

The weather continued to deteriorate during the evening when the heavens really opened up and reduced the paddock to a quagmire. Everyone remained cheerful though, we were all in the same boat so no point complaining. It continued to rain all night, thank heavens our tent didn't leak but it cleared and the start the next morning was sunny.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Family Christmas Traditions

I am a little late this year with decorating the house for Christmas due to the bike ride. It was too early before the ride to do it, so at the weekend all the boxes came out, the tree was found and over the weekend the house was transformed.

I love the festive season and I am a real sentimentalist. Our tree isn't the designer tree that you might expect from a shop owner with the resources of choosing all the latest Christmas decorations.

From the time the children were babies, I have included a Christmas decoration in their stocking to be added to the tree. The decorations are named and dated and at some point will be returned to them to use on their own trees. So it is a sentimental tree and when I decorate it, it brings back memories of past Christmas's, and I just love it. I decided to use a different tree this year, gold glittering one in place of our traditional green one, and I decorated it with dragonfly lights instead of traditional Christmas lights... they look really cute.

My other Christmas passion is Santa's. I have been collecting them for over 30 years. Many of them are collectible but others bought just because Santa had a kind face. It's become a bit of a joke amongst the kids as there is always an extra one added, and my reply is always " You can always fit in just one more".

We always celebrate Christmas with my sister and her family and can't imagine never doing so. For the past few years, as Dad's health deteriorated they have come to Mildura, instead of us alternately going to Melbourne. They will be here this year and it will be a sad one without our dear Dad.

Of course as the children have grown and now have partners, the dynamics change again. This year our eldest and his fiancee are not here. They will celebrate Christmas with Crystal's family as they were with us last Christmas.

We always have the tradition hot meal for lunch and we always have seafood for Christmas Eve.

So the pudding is made. The stockings are hung, presents wrapped. I am ready except for some last minute Christmas baking

Let the festive season begin.

Friday, December 10, 2010

At Last the RACV Great Victoria Bike Ride

WOW!! What a week I have had on the RACV Great Victorian Bike. It would have to be one of the best weeks in my life. Aptly named " A week in another world " it was certainly that. From the moment you climb on your bike, you forget everything else that is going on in the world (even a change of state government) that we were blissfully unaware of for a few days.

Bicycle Victoria in conjunction with the major sponsor RACV, need congratulating for conducting such a wonderful event. The logistics of moving close to 5000 people everyday was absolutely amazing.

Each campsite had semitrailers of showers and toilets. Huge canvas marquees were set up for eating and entertainment, and over 15,000 meals were served everyday. The evening meal was always a hot meal and considering the weather it was incredible how it all ran so smoothly.

Approx 650 volunteers were on hand to ensure all bike riders had a fun and safe ride. From serving food, driving luggage transports to directing traffic and a 101 other different tasks. They were always cheerful and for the 9 days I didn't hear one cross word anywhere. Just plenty of cheerful banter and laughing.

7pm each night there was a briefing on the next days ride in Cafe de Canvas. The Good Oil newspaper was delivered to us all prior the the briefing. The newspaper was great, filled with useful information for the next day's ride, meal menu's, weather reports ( more rain ) and fun stories heard along the route. We all eagerly looked for it each evening.

I was one of a group of 8 riders from Mildura associated with Peter Mills Body Business gym. We travelled together to Yarrawonga on Friday and did the precamping option on an oval at Yarrawonga. Might I say that night was one of our only dry nights. We had a great group, four of the men were on road bikes and rest of us were on mountain bikes. We named the road bike boys the forward party as they were at the destination way ahead of us. They would have the tents all set up and our luggage found, which was great as we often arrived in rain. We had a lot of laughs and I am sure that we have all created a bond from riding the Great Vic together.

The timing for me doing the ride wasn't the best, having to leave my online gift shop business RaptUp at such a busy time of the year. The shop was left in very capable hands though, with Vanessa and Nicky attending to all the day to day orders etc. I am very lucky to have them as it means I can do my outside activities without worrying about the shop.

Over the next few weeks, follow my progress as I relate to you the fun and frivolity of 9 days on the road.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The ride continues...but here's a little something I prepared earlier

With all of this rain lately, the rivers are flowing and I do hear the fish are also coming back. Apparently, now is a great time to try your hand at fishing. Some friends went fishing the other day and the river looked amazing.

I'm not a big fisher myself, but I love the atmosphere of being down by the water and the peace and quiet. Diesel loves a swim to cool down, although this year summer is not quite here yet. All of this rain is a blessing but also a disaster for many people on the land. The wheat farmers & fresh fruit producers have what appears to be a great season only to be hampered by the wet conditions. I hope with the windy conditions and keeping the vines trimmed and thinned out, the air will dry out the vines and prevent things like downy mildew. It's the humidity that is so harmful.

My thoughts are with everyone and I will look forward to seeing the lush green country side of Mildura (that's if I haven't seen enough of course whilst riding 500 + kms!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Still stitching....even though I'm riding.

I know what you're thinking...how can I write this blog if I'm cycling my way from Yarrawonga to Marysville? Well, that's because I am super organised in advance. So, while I am peddling away, you can keep up to date on my stitching activities and upon my return I will have so much to tell you...

So, in the mean time let me fill you in on my stitching...

I love the detail of things and stockings are no exceptions. I've taken some close up photos of some of the details of a couple of stockings. The trinkets, I feel, really make the stocking. Plain also looks lovely too, but I guess I do enjoy a little bit of 'bling'. I have to say, these stockings are always a talking point.

Have a look at the details and see if you can pick a favourite.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cross stitching, needle work or sewing

As you know I really enjoy my needle work and it has been a growing passion over the years. I’ve tried knitting, dressmaking, and cross stitch. My favourite evidently, is needle work. I love my cross stitching and a favourite has to be the Christmas stockings.

The new Shepherds Bush Christmas stocking has just been released. This year it is a girl pattern named Sadie. She is really gorgeous and I am sure will be a real incentive to get the needle and threads out and start stitching. Take a look at Sadie. Remember to click on page 2 to order her. (you'll notice page numbers located down the bottom of the page).

Our little group of stitchers that meet each week are all stitching Christmas stockings. Some of them have already completed one and are onto another. One of the girls has been flatout stitching and she is just about to complete her 4th.

One of the fun parts is choosing a colour pallet and fabrics to match with the colourings on the pattern. Here are a couple that I bunched together and photographed. Just lovely really...

The girls that cross stitch are doing such a great job. Here are couple of samples of their work.

With the lead up to Christmas, many of my girls have been stitching to finish stockings for gifts for Christmas, so I'll keep you updated on our progress.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Final Preparation for the Bike Ride

I can't believe that after all the training and spin classes that the RACV Great Victoria Bike Ride is almost upon us.

I have spent much of today packing and repacking. We have a limit of 20kg each person, including our camping equipment. Everything bought has been with weight in mind and I am surprised at how we are well under out limit.

All our bags have to be tagged and lined with plastic bags, in case they get wet, and I am certainly wondering how 5000 bike rider's equipment is going to be transported daily... a logistical nightmare, I imagine. As I am not taking a handbag because of room and weight, I am using one of my great travel wallets from the shop. It holds all of the travel documents and cards that I need. Another great find from RAPT UP , is the shampoo bar, it eliminates having to take shampoo, soap and conditioner. When room is of the essence, it will fit the bill.

We will be leaving Mildura at 8am Friday morning, and drive to Yarrawonga. There are seven in our group, half of us are on mountain bikes the others are on road bikes. As no family or friends are to follow the ride by car, there was the problem of how we were going to drive back once arriving in Marysville. My very kind brother-in-law in Melbourne, offered to bus it up to Yarrawonga and take the van back to Melbourne and then meet us in Marysville on day 9.

Once there we have to register and proceed to the camping ground to set up. Saturday morning the ride begins at 9am and our first day is 71kms to Dookie. The terrain looks OK for that day. It's the next day that could be concerning ( big hills ). You will have to wait for my blog updates after the ride to see how I fared.

The bags are packed, the bikes serviced, the excitement growing. RACV Great Vic Bike Ride - Yarrawonga to Marysville... HERE WE COME.

Friday, November 19, 2010

With the help of Friends

Having David working away has been a hindrance with the gardening project, but some wonderful friends helped me transport and plant the lawn mentioned in my last blog.

It was huge effort, and with that in mind I invited them to dinner the next night as a thank you.

The menu was fairly simple, the main meal one that I have served on many occasions, but always enjoyed.

We started off with an antipasto platter followed by The Proper Chicken Caesar Salad from Jamie Oliver and ending with a Lemon pavlova roll served with marinated berries and orange cream.

The Proper Chicken Caesar Salad.
Serves 4 - 6

4 whole chicken legs ( I did use more as mine were small )
1 loaf of ciabatta bread torn into thumb size pieces.
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves roughly chopped.
Extra virgin olive oil.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
12 thin slices of pancetta.
1 clove of garlic.
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil - drained.
75g freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
1 heaped tablespoon creme fraiche.
Juice of one lemon.
Extra olive oil.
2 - 3 cos lettuce.

Preheat the oven to 200cel.
Place the chicken in a snug fitting roasting tray with the pieces of torn up bread.
Sprinkle with the rosemary, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Mix with hands to make sure it is all well coated, then lift the chicken legs up to the top, so they sit above the bread. This way the bread soaks up all the lovely juices and you end up with the best croutons.

Cook the chicken for about 45 minutes until nicely cooked. Take out and drape the chicken and croutons with the pancetta and cook for a further 15 minutes until nice and crispy. When cooked remove from the oven and cool slightly.

While cooking you can make the dressing. I use a small kitchen whiz to make the dressing.
Whiz the garlic and anchovies first, then add Parmesan cheese and the creme fraiche, lemon juice and three times as much olive oil as lemon juice. Add extra olive oil if the dressing is too thick, it should be pourable.

Wash and tear the cos lettuce. Pull the meat off the chicken bones and toss with the lettuce, pancetta, croutons and the yummy cheesy dressing.

I serve it on a large oval platter which makes it easy for serving.

It's always a winner.

The dessert was one I often made a long time ago so I have revisited it.

The Lemon Pavlova Roll with Marinated Berries and Orange Cream.

4 egg whites.
3/4 cup Castor sugar.
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence.
1 teaspoon to white vinegar.
1 teaspoon of cornflour.
Extra Castor sugar.
1/4 cup of lemon butter.

Marinated Berries.

2 cups frozen or fresh mixed berries.
2 tablespoons of orange flavoured liqueur. (I used cointreau.)
1/4 icing sugar.

Orange Cream.
1 300ml carton thickened cream.
2 tablespoons icing sugar.
1 teaspoon of grated orange rind.
1 tablespoon of orange flavoured liqueur.

Grease and line a 25 x 30 cm Swiss roll tin.
Beat egg white until soft peaks form. Add Castor sugar one spoon at a time till all dissolved. Fold in essence, vinegar and cornflour. Spread into prepared tin and cook in a slow oven 150cel for about 20min or until slightly brown and firm to touch.

Cover a wire rack with baking paper, sprinkled with Castor sugar. Turn meringue onto paper removing the lining paper. Spread with lemon butter while warm and let cool.

Marinated Berries - Combine all ingredients and let stand for 30 minutes.

Orange Cream - Beat all ingredients in a bowl till soft peaks form.

Using paper as a guide roll meringue from long side. Cut into pieces and serve with the berries and cream.
It was "to die for".

It was a lovely casual night, washed down with a couple of good bottles of wine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Back to the Gardening

It seems weeks since I have been back out into creating the garden. We have had a lot of rain over the past few weeks which seemed to appear just when I was all set for a big gardening day. The rain has been wonderful though, making digging easy.

I am sick of the red dirt blowing around the house, so when there was an offer of a large amount of Santa Anna Couch, I jumped at it. With the help of some friends, we dug it up transported it over to our house and now I have started to lay it. It is the perfect time to get the lawn in, and as it's hardy and quick growing. It should cover a good area in no time.

David is working away at present and not here to do some of the larger jobs, which means I have to do tasks that I can manage. Transplanting lawn is one I can do. The list of jobs for David is growing by the day and it will certainly be no rest for him when he comes home. I have been laying a pieces of lawn everyday and now have only one large section to complete.

We had large areas of Santa Anna Couch at our last property, and because we know it is hardy, quick growing and drought tolerant we have decided to use it again. It's also good when you have dogs around as it is very resilient

Although we have had lots or rain over the past couple of months, living with a drought for 10 years, makes you realize that we can't waste water. It is such a precious commodity. All of our garden is planned with that in mind.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Port To Port Cycling Race

Last weekend I competed in the Port to Port Cycling Race from the Mildura Wharf to Echuca with an overnight stop at Swan Hill.

You ride as a team and I was in the mountain bike team named the Dirty Dozen and we were using the ride as a training exercise for the RACV Great Victoria Bike Ride at the end of November.

Teams come from all over Victoria to compete and there were some serious riders amongst the 300 plus riders.

All teams were on the road from the Mildura Wharf and then you could decide how far you would ride before you got in your support vehicle. Our team was riding for 20kms, then in the support vehicle for 20 - 30kms and then back on the bike. Most of the other teams rode longer distances than us, and some teams rode all the way.

There were two compulsory stops to Swan Hill. One at Wemen, the other at Boundary Bend.

Our first stop was RedCliffs, where we all managed to get there easily. We then bussed to Hattah and then rode again. The going was tough as it was a strong head wind and I was mighty glad to complete the 20kms and climb in the bus. We continued like this to Boundary Bend for lunch.

The going continued to be tough with the wind and the temperature, which was about 27Cel. We arrived at Swan Hill after riding 90kms out of the 250kms. We all were very tired and a bit sore and I was wondering how I was going to get back on the bike the next day.

Our overnight accommodation was in the dormitories at the Pioneer Village. Our catered dinner of pasta arrived at 7 pm and by 9pm most of us were in bed exhausted.

Up at 5am,(I must be crazy) and was surprised to be not sore or achy at all. All of those spin classes must be paying off. We had breakfast and were on the road by 7am.

The ride to Echuca is only 153km's and there were two compulsory stops at Cohuna and a service station 30kms out of Echuca.

The riding appeared easier today. Not sure if we were accustomed to it but we all rode strongly. The conditions were a bit easier but there were times when we were confronted with strong head winds.

We arrived at the oval in Echuca at 1.30pm tired, hot but elated that we rode so well. We completed 70kms today, and that took us to 160 for the weekend. Many teams commented to us that we done it tough as it is extra hard on mountain bikes versus a road bike.

We climbed in the bus for the 4hour ride home tired but very happy and proud that we completed the ride fairly easly with no injuries, sore spots or bike worries.

The weekend gave me the confidence to know that I can tackle the big ride in a few weeks.

It was a wonderfully organized weekend with Police, ambulance and lots of volunteer marshals all working together. Peter Mills from Body Business Mildura was the tour director and a great job was done by him. Thank-you to all for a great happy and safe ride.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sad Times

I don't think anything prepares you for the loss of your parents. You just feel so lost, and there is the sudden realization that we are the next generation and the head of the family that we have created.

Our dear Dad passed away on October 17th 2010. He has been in care for three years in an aged care facility, and we have all been watching him slowely decline for the past 18 months. I had visited him on Saturday afternooon and there was no indication that would be the last time I would speak to him. Early Sunday morning I received a call that he had taken a turn for the worst and went straight out there. The moment I saw him I knew his time was coming to a close.

I have only one sister, she lives in Melbourne and she made a quick dash by plane, to be there to say our last goodbyes. The same as we had done 10 years before when we lost our Mum. We sat with him all day, along with his eldest granddauaghter, we talked to him all day, told him we loved and what a lovely Dad and Pa he was. At 11pm he slipped peacefully away from us to begin his journey with Mum once again.

Times like this make you reflect upon your life. Dad was 89 years old and has lived a good life. My sister and I are lucky to have had a very happy childhood, family holdiays were a must and our weekends were spent playing tennis at a local tennis club that Dad was one of the founding members. He was loved by his five grandchildren who he and Mum loved with a passion and the kids have many wonderful memories.

We laid him to rest at the Merbein Cemetery at a graveside service. It was such a lovely morning, warm, birds chirping, and as sad as it is that he is no more in our lives, we know he is at peace with our dear Mum.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Love Of Life

A little bit of a change of pace today for my blog. It is supposed to be my gardening blog day, but I have lost the motivation to garden as I have had a little bit of bad news...

I popped in to visit my Dad who is in a nursing home and noticed his friend of 30 years wasn't in his room. I mentioned this to Dad, but he said that he had a virus. I wished him well and thought nothing more of it.

I left the nursing home after lunch and headed into Mildura to finish some shopping. Coincidentally, I bumped into his daughter in the city and she said that her Dad was in fact suffering from cancer and the out come is very dim. It was such a shock. He was the healthy one, putting the bib at lunch onto my father. At first, it was thought to be a virus...

I came home and reflected on my life and how lucky I am. I am very grateful for my precious life and I think now I'll wander out into the garden and water my Capital Pears as they are a little wilted...just like me at the moment.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spinning and Walking

I am really enjoying the spin classes I am doing and I can really see the improvement in my fitness levels. I am now riding over 20 kilometres in the session which is a vast improvement when I started 18 months ago.

Peter Mills Body Business gym is a small boutique type gym but Peter is a wonderful teacher and is very generous with his time and experience. All the bikes are full each session and often there is a waiting list, which is a testament to Peter's skill of teaching.

Our riding groups on Friday and Sunday are also organized by Pete and they are always fun. Although last Friday, a little more excitement that what we had planned for when Peter had a fall and has broken two ribs. He will be sidelined for a few weeks, but no doubt he will mentor us from the sidelines.

As a training session for the Great Vic Bike ride, our group is entering the Port to Port charity race from Mildura to Echuca. I think this ride will test us out, but we all need to do some longer rides. I will report on this a bit more as we get a bit closer to the date.

Now that daylight saving has started I decided to also get up earlier and walk every morning. A friend decided she would like to walk also, so this morning we set out for a 3/4 hour walk around our Gol Gol neighbourhood area. Gol Gol is such a pretty area being right on the Murray River and at 7 a.m it is very pleasant.

Tomorrow morning I think I will take Diesel with me, as I think he could do with some extra exercise being a Labrador.

All this increased fitness activity has to help me with the big ride, we will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Hard Work Begins

David ( long suffering husband) has a week's holiday, so with garden plan in hand, we are standing out the front garden ready to tackle the next job. The first job was to build a retaining wall to form a large garden bed where there was a fall in the land.

Rather than remove the dirt and have a level surface, our garden planner Margot thought it best to work with the lay of the land and have the retaining wall garden. The wall looks great finished and certainly creates a lovely front garden feature. Can't wait to see it filled with plants.

This garden bed will be filled with a Murraya Paniculata hedge bordering the neighbours boundary, 5 ornamental Capital Pears, then roses and Nepeta "Walkers Blue" spilling over the wall. With the retaining wall finished, it was time to start putting in the watering system. When the watering system is finished all the garden will be under drippers, that will come on automatically during the night.

David took 2 days to complete this, but I was finally able to plant the Pear trees. David started to lay out the plan for the rest of the garden and put edges around some garden beds, but his week off has gone quickly.

There is a lot more infrastructure to be done before I can start planting, but the job has started and will continue for weeks to come.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cooking for Family

I enjoy cooking and I really miss that I haven't the family around these days to cook for. When they are all home I just love it. So when my sister asked me to do some cooking for my nephews 21st, I was only too glad too. Sam's 21st was in Adelaide, so I decided to make some gourmet sausage rolls, freeze them and then transport them over there. I made about 150 of them, using two different recipes.

Saucy Beef Sausage Rolls
3 sheets ready rolled puff pastry.
2 eggs.
1 onion.
1 to 2 crushed garlic.
20g butter.
750g lean beef mince.
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley.
3 tablespoons plain flour.
3 tablespoons tomato sauce.
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire and soy sauces.
2 teaspoons of ground allspice.

Preheat the oven to 200deg Cel.

Cook chopped onion and crushed garlic in butter until the onion is softened.
Mix beef mince and the softened onion with all the other ingredients till well mixed.

Cut the pastry sheets in half and lightly brush the edges with the beaten egg.
Divide mixture into six even portions. Pipe or spoons the filling down the centre of each piece of pastry. Fold the pastry over the filling, over lapping the edges and placing the join underneath. Brush the rolls with more egg, then cut each into 6 short pieces.

Cut small slashes on top of each roll and place on lightly greased baking trays and bake for 15 minutes then reduce the oven to 180 deg Cel for another 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Chutney Chicken Sausage Rolls

3 sheets ready rolled puff pastry.
2 eggs.
750g chicken mince.
4 finely chopped spring onions.
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs.
1 finely grated carrot.
2 Tablespoons fruit chutney ( I used fig chutney)
1 tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce.
1 tablespoon of grated ginger.
Sprinkle the pastry with sesame seeds after glazing and before baking.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and continue on with the method from the saucy beef sausage rolls.

Then enjoy. These different varieties are just that bit nicer for a celebration.

Then Sam had a special request for a wafer slice that I have been making for years.

Chocolate Wafer Slice.

1Packet Tisler Wafers.
250 g unsalted butter.
250g dark cooking chocolate.
1 can condensed milk.

Heat over water the unsalted butter and chocolate. When melted mix the condensed milk in and stir well till combined.

The packet of wafers has 5 sheets. Place one sheet onto a board and spoon several large spoonfuls onto the sheet and spread evenly. Continue with all the sheets ending with a top sheet. I place an oven tray on top then put weights on and into the fridge to set.

When you cut the slice, cut it on the diagonal for a nicer look.

It is very yummy.

We had a wonderful weekend in Adelaide celebrating Sam's 21st. The food survived the trip and combined well with all the other finger food served on the night. Our boys travelled from Western Australia and our daughter from Melbourne so it was a lovely family time.