Wednesday 28 September 2022

Philip Island, Penguins, Cape Woolamai, Cowes

Early in September, I had a weekend at Philip Island.  I have not been there for 15 years so it was nice to return and it was a good chance to spend time with my lovely colleagues before leaving my group a week later.  My (former) director organises these work retreats every year as a way of getting his group together for some social time out of Melbourne.

Philip Island is easily accessible by a road bridge connect San Remo on the mainland and Newhaven on the island.  We stayed at the Island Accommodation in Newhaven.  It is a hostel with lots of bunk beds and some shared bathrooms.  We took up most of the 2nd floor so had the large kitchen and lounge areas to ourselves.

On our first evening we went to see the iconic Fairy penguin parade of Philip Island.  They come out of the sea each evening in a waddle (which I think is what they call the group).  We were asked not to take photos because if people accidentally use a flash then the penguins get so stressed they vomit up their fish.  A fate I would not wish on anyone!  The above photo is of everyone sitting on the seats where we watched them waddle our of the water when it got dark.  I was glad there were many groups waddling up the beach unlike last time I visited.

Then we walked back along the duckboards and spent a lot of time watching the penguins socialising.  As you can see from the info centre sign above, they were pretty frisky at this time of year.  Really cute and noisy.  There was a little stream that the occasional penguin cruised down on their belly.  Others gathered on the bank or in tufts of grass.  Some were so close to the duckboards, it would have been possible to reach out and pat them.  Which I wanted to all the more after one of my colleagues was asking if they would be fluffy.  But we resisted.

After the penguins, we picked up takeaway pizza from Woolami pizza to eat back at the accommodation.  I really enjoyed the Pumpkin Pesto pizza.  It was topped with roasted pumpkin, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, feta, olives, basil pesto and parmesan, cheese, and napoli sauce.  After pizza there were games, drinks but I sat in the tv room watching the football with some colleagues. 

On Saturday we had a quick breakfast and then headed to Woolamai surf beach to start the Cape Woolamai Walk.  Finding the start of the track was difficult and signposting was generally pretty minimal.  I really enjoyed the 7-8 km walk but my legs were pretty stiff the next day.

We started with a walk along the beach.  The surf beach is wild and dangerous with huge crashing waves.  It was incredibly windy at this part of the walk.  The cliffs that looked over the sand were quite eroded with various coloured earth, tufts of grass and spindly tree roots sticking out.  We got to the charmingly named Magic land stairs.

Walking up high was great to look down at the water, the cliffs, the rock formations.  The landscape around us was just shaggy grass.  There were very few trees, only a few small shrubs.  We passed by caves that reminded me of smugglers in Enid Blyton, saw wild waves crashing against the rocks and calm clear blue seas, and finally reached the above view of the pinnacles. 

Not far on, we saw an echidna rooting around for food just by the walking track.  It is pretty rare to see this ancient native mammal that lays eggs.  You can see a hole behind the echidna in the photo where it has dug for ants.  It was amazing to stop and watch this cute little bundle of spikes.

We kept walking to the lookout where we could see the mainland across Philip Island.  Then as we walked on the landscape changed into woodlands.  More trees and ferns and plants wrapped around tree trunks.  We saw a wallaby still as a statue among the trees.

Suddenly we arrived at the Old Granite Quarry.  The gentle waves on the beach here were so different to the rough foaming surf earlier on in the walk.  We clambered over the piles of roughly hewn stones.  I might have needed a little help.  The views stretched to the bridge between the mainland and the island.

We walked across the beach in Cleeland Bight.  The sign said that there was no beach access at high tide so we were lucky it was low.  The cliffs here were just loose sand that would be difficult to climb.  In fact, the beach was pretty soft too.  Gradually all of us took off our shoes because it was easier to walk closer to the tide where the sand was firmer.  We looked at rock pools, shells and old bones.  The last was a bit exciting to all the true crime enthusiasts.  Then there was a quick walk through some trees and we were back at the carpark.

We were pretty hungry after the walk and drove to the Island Burger Bar for lunch.  I was pleased that one of the vegetarian burgers was called The Pinnacle (after the rock formation we saw on the walk).  So there was no question of which one I ordered.  It had a house-made broccoli, zucchini & quinoa patty, grilled pumpkin, salad and vegan mayo.  I also had a small side of chips.  The burger looked small but it was really filling.  

Then some of the group went on for a short chilly swim and two of us drove to the supermarket for drinks and to see some of the Cowes wildlife in the carpark.  Honestly the two men arguing were old enough to know better!

Back at our accommodation I was glad for a lie down before heading to the kitchen which was buzzing with my colleagues preparing dishes for dinner.  There were a few steaks, lots of salads, and a lot of work being done on making fantastic dumplings from scratch.  I made a favourite smoky potato, bean and corn salad.  Dinner was great and everyone is always very kind in making sure there is plenty of vegie food for me.  It has always impressed me at these retreats how good the group is at working together in the kitchen both preparing and cleaning up. 

Our director was too busy to come to the retreat but he appeared by zoom to conduct the annual trivia quiz.  One of the post docs had been the Philip Island chocolate factory for prizes.  It was great fun.  The weekend of our retreat was the Moon Festival so one of our Chinese colleagues has made these beautiful moon cakes to have with dessert (sticky date pudding!).  There was more footy on the telly and more cleaning up and it was time for bed.

On Sunday morning we packed and left.  I drove to Island Wholefoods in Cowes and had some Buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. The cafe was all vegan and my pancakes were also gluten free.   The three fluffy buckwheat pancakes looked so pretty served with chia berry jam, toasted nuts and seeds, fresh strawberries, coconut ice cream and a drizzle of maple syrup, plus some berries and banana on the side.  It is so long since I have had pancakes that I really enjoyed them but could not finish the huge dish.

As I ate, a little bird watched me and constantly hopped onto my outdoor table.  As soon as I finished eating, the bird snatched some of my leftovers.  I heard someone call it a honey eater so I looked it up and it looked most like a Yellow Wattlebird but the internet says these are only found in Tasmania across Bass Strait.  The Little Wattlebird is common on the island but seems a bit smaller than my friend.  Please let me know if you are better at birdwatching than me.  

I also spotted more birdlife on the island.  A galah flying past my bedroom window in the morning, a kookaburra sitting on a road sign and did not quite look like it.  And there were quite a few cape barron geese walking with chicks along the roadside.

I had a quick walk along the pier in Cowes to take in the ocean once more before heading home.

The weekend we were away was the weekend after Queen Elizabeth's death had been announced.  While we talked about it a bit there was not much sign of it about but at the Cowes pier, the flags were at half mast in a sign of respect.

Lastly, I made a few last impulsive purchases before heading home.  I bought a few chocolates at the lolly shop and also a pair of Merry People's beautiful green gumboots.

Other holidays in the East of Victoria on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Thursday 22 September 2022

Geelong Street Art - 2022

This weekend Geelong are in the AFL Grand Final.  So it seems a good opportunity to share some recent street art photos from the town (not the team) including a photo of a Geelong footballer.  These photos were taken in and around Ryrie Street in the town centre (not the end with what was the Village twin cinema but the other end with the grand Griffiths bookstore building going towards the Town Hall).

The sort of milk bar I remember from my childhood which seems to be a declining tradition.

Memorial to local Aboriginal man Willem Baa Nip, aka King Billy.

Australian icons - the echidna on a 5 cent coin, an FJ Holden and a stand of some kind (light? ashtray?).

I admired the way the window is the picture and the window frame is painted as a picture frame.

Thumbnails of artwork.



Black cockatoo.

Support Local Artists mural.

This reminded me of Adventure Time.


An elderly lady with a reuseable shopping bag, a handbag and a shopping jeep (aka granny trolley).

Butterfly on a flower that spreads across the pavement.

Virtual reality.

We end as we start with another picture from the hoardings around the site where Belchers Corner Building used to be until it was demolished due to structural issues.  I think this is a Holden ute but please correct me if my guess is not quite right.

Sunday 18 September 2022

One pot pumpkin, cauliflower and lentil spaghetti

Life has been so busy lately.  I buy vegetables and then I struggle to find the energy to use them.  One pot pastas have been a great revelation but they never have enough vegetables.  So, on a Saturday night a couple of weeks back, I chopped up lots of vegies and adapted a previous one pot pasta recipe.  I was really delighted that it came out like a spag bol. 

I took photos but did not do that artfully arrange ingredients for photos.  The preparation is where all the work is in this recipe because it takes quite a bit of chopping.  Then I could sit back and let it stew with just a bit of stirring.  Italian traditionalists might take umbrage at this way of cooking but then again they might also find my working single mother lifestyle quite different to theirs, too.  I was so happy to have some good hearty meals waiting for me at the end of some busy work days.

As I mentioned, I have a new job.  So there has been updating my cv, contacting referees, interviews, new contracts, resignation, farewells and organising a new start date.  I thought 2 weeks notice would be adequate but it flew by and I had lots to do in that time.  Friday was my last day in my old role and I am relieved to have 2 weeks of leave before starting afresh.  This stew was one of the things that got me through these busy weeks. It was made the day before Father's Day and I was glad of this meal waiting for me when I came home from a family afternoon tea.

More one pot pasta meals on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Cauliflower and chickpea one pot pasta
One pot pasta with beans and tomato sauce
One pot pasta with chickpeas and zucchini (v)
Pasta e ceci (v)
Quick one pot mac and cheese

One pot pumpkin, cauliflower and lentil spaghetti
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
Serves 6-8

375g spaghetti (or pasta shapes)
2 tins crushed tomatoes
2 x 400g tin lentils, rinsed and drained
300g pumpkin, diced
300g cauliflower, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
3 tbsp finely chopped chives (or shallots)
2 tbsp capers
3 tbsp tomato paste
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp seeded mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3 1/2 cups water
To serve: parmesan or nutritional yeast flakes

Place pasta in a large saucepan.  If it needs to be broken up to fit that is fine.  Place remaining ingredients in the pot finishing with the water.  Check and adjust seasoning.  Cover and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop the spaghetti sticking to the bottom.  Take off the lid and cook on medium-high for another 2-3 minutes, with occasional stirring, to boil off a little bit more liquid.  

Serve hot with a good grating of parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes.  Leftovers can be kept in the fridge and can be served war.  It will last about 3-5 days.  When served fresh the sauce can be a bit watery but it will thicken up in leftovers.

On the Stereo:
Mythical Kings and Iguanas:
Dorie Previn

Sunday 11 September 2022

In My Kitchen: September 2022

The spring has sprung, the grass is riz and life feels like I'm on the whizzy dizz!  (I remember being a child and yelling about the whizzy dizzy at the playground and I think it was one of those things that you jumped on and spun around until we were dizzy!  I can't find it on Google.  Anyone else know this term?)  

I am glad it is September with warmth and green shoots of hope.  August has been a crazy month. Not all bad but it has been intense.  Lots of rain.   National Science Quiz (online in the comfort of my home).  First swim in an outdoor pool (or any pool) for months.  Being inspired by Jane Goodall's talk (I was in the audience, she was on the screen) at the Museum.  And I accepted a new job.  Same employer, different department!  I am looking forward to the change!

Above is seaweed pasts from South Geelong Farmers Market, made with kelp from Torquay Beach.  I am yet to cook it but am intrigued.  I went to Geelong for Fathers Day on the weekend.

One morning Sylvia woke me early to serve me a fancy breakfast in bed before work.  We were out of bread so she used muffins to make french toast which was served with blueberries and maple syrup.

I needed vegetables so I made miso soup.  My miso soup.  I know that Japanese miso soup is traditionally a very thin broth to be had in a small bowl with a few pieces of firm tofu and greens.  But I make miso soup with lots of vegetables, noodles and chunks of tofu.  It is my version of chicken soup.  Such great comfort food.

The internet gave Sylvia a bouquet of post-it notes flowers.  Well, it showed her how to make it.

I am yet to try this tin of vegemite baked beans.  I always buy Heinz baked beans but with this gimmick SPC has lured me away.  Let's see how it taste!

Here is an attempt to eat more savoury snacks.  The wraps are made locally for Coles Supermarkets and I have been loving them lately.  Mostly with peanut butter but occasionally with dip, fritters and salad.  I had to try the Harvest Snaps Baked Pea Crisps with Vegemite flavouring.  Delicious.  I expected the  packet of "Calibee Grill a Corn Soup Flavour" to be chip but it was actually the crunchy bumpy corn snacks like Twisties, but with corn soup flavour.  I was quite excited to find these snacks because it is rare that I see a corn soup on a menu without chicken in it.

I made some very satisfying noodles with vegies and cashews recently.  It is not often I do stirfries but this made me wish for more.

Now for some sweet snacks.  NAT Bears are deliciious bears shapes made out of breakfast cereal with some chocolate flabouring.  I really loved putting a Carmen's Dark Choc Cherry and Coconut muesli bar in my bag for a snack at work.  Lots of chocolate and flvaour but also lots of oats to fill me up.  The milk chocolate popcorn bars were a favourite with Sylvia.  And my favourite biscuits recently were the butterscotch Tim Tams and the Quadratini double choc wafers.

My mum held a Father's Day afternoon tea about a week ago.  She baked scones (both regular and gluten-free), coconut jam slice, a sponge cake and pavlova.  My sister brought along sausage rolls (both regular and gluten free).  And my mum served me some vol au vents with mushroom filling.  I went to the South Geelong Farmers Market earlier and brought along some Apple Kefir and yo-yos.

I went back to Satellite Hearts where I had fist visited recently.  Last time I purchased some crystals but this time I bought some American products.  Jolly Ranchers, Pancakes with Maple Syrup Jelly Belly and Swedish Fish.  Of all of these I preferred the jelly beans.  Sylvia and I agreed that the intense smell of maple syrup upon opening the packet made us feel like we were at the Pancake Parlour.

I also bought some Lucky Charms Cereal.  It is something I see in recipes every St Patrick's Day.  But I had never really understood what it is.  The oat cereal rings made a good breakfast with milk but Sylvia found the charms too sweet.  The charms are different shapes (rainbows, clovers, unicorns, horseshoes etc) and taste a bit like freeze-dried marshmallow - sweet and crunchy.

I also purchased two American drinks at Satellite Hearts.  We were curious but a few sips were enough of each can.  Sylvia found the French Vanilla Jelly Belly drink like soda water with some vanilla flavouring but not enough flavour.  The Candy Can Sour Apple drink tasted more of chemicals than fruit.

At the Farmers Market, I was treated to a opened tester jar of my sister's amazing frankly raw peanut butter.  I love my peanut butter unseasoned but her version with a pinch of salt and great creamy texture is delicious.

This weekend has been busy with a work retreat at Philip Island.  (With lots of conversations about the momentous historic moment of Queen Eilzabeth's death and the new King Charles III.)  I will write more about my trip later but this is a photo of a few of our purchases from the supermarket; when I got home I found that we were out of milk and bread.  We bought beetroot pane de casa, biscoff spread and avocados.  It will be an early night for me!

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens and her wonderful hand drawn header.