Posts Tagged ‘birdwatching’

Blueberry Lavender Muffins – Skywatch Friday

January 20, 2011

The last stop of our recent (December)  Tasmanian trip was Barnbougle Golf Course, near Bridport, about an hour north east of Launceston. C tried to pretend that the Tasmanian trip was for the purposes of a blissfully relaxing child-free (MissN was on exchange in China) driving holiday but no-one was fooled.  We all knew that the  purpose of the trip was for him to play golf at Barnbougle, which has been hailed as Australia’s finest golf course and one of the top 100 public-access golf courses in the world. (He also managed to get a game at the very newly opened – like 3 weeks before – adjacent Lost Farm course.  His verdict is that Barnbougle is better and that he would like to visit both again SOON.)  Hobart, Freycinet and Cradle Mountain were added to the itinerary to legitimise the golfing and make it seem as though we went to Tasmania on holiday.  (Love ya, sweetheart! You may play golf any time and place you choose,)

I don’t do golf.  I did walk around MOST of Royal Adelaide with him last April but by the 13th hole I was wilting and bailed (went to find coffee at Semaphore).  So I left him to enjoy the stunning scenery of Lost Farm and the joy of hitting two little white balls into the dunes and I headed off to Bridestowe Lavender Estate which was about half an hour’s drive away (maybe less) through pastoral scenery and the very neat and prosperous looking town of Scottsdale.  Much of Tasmania is wild or empty but this corner (patch?) is very ordered, farmed, green and quite lovely.  Like a more hilly England.

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Bridestowe Lavender Estate

The entry fee was $7 pp (during flowering season, Dec-Jan, otherwise free) which I thought was expensive, seeing as almost everyone would spend money in either the cafe or the shop or both.  The estate was stunning scenically, the display was informative, the cafe good (I had scones with lavender cheese and lavender tea) and the shop was to die for. I restrained myself into merely buying a lavender deodorant, a bottle of essential oil (yes, it really is essential!) and a tin of culinary lavender.  You know me – if it’s an unusual ingredient, I buy it and find how to cook with it.

Bridestowe with Mount Arthur (I think!) in background

Bridestowe with Mount Arthur (I think!) in background

They had recipe cards!  I picked up a few (lavender brownies and  lavender baby cakes to be tried soon).  A batch of lavender blueberry muffins was my first attempt at cooking with lavender and they were a huge success.  The lavender flavour is very aromatic and goes perfectly with the blueberries (which can be found on special at the moment at about $3 a punnet – usually fresh blueberries are prohibitively expensive here).  It’s a moist (maybe the yoghurt?) muffin and not too sweet.  Just perfect with a cup of Darjeeling.  I will be making them again – soon.

Lavender blueberry muffins

Lavender blueberry muffins

Blueberry Lavender Muffins

(Recipe from Bridestowe Lavender Estate)

2 cups self-raising flour


1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup plain yoghurt

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 TBS melted butter

I usually substitute spelt flour for plain flour and use soy milk but didn’t bother this time as I didn’t have a yoghurt substitute, and so the muffins wouldn’t be dairy free anyway.  Sometimes you just have to break the diet!

Lightly beat the egg and mix with the yoghurt and butter (make sure the butter has cooled and the egg and yoghurt are at room temperature or the butter will solidify).  In another bowl, mix the sieved flour, lavender, blueberries and sugar together.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together.  Stir in the milk.

Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin.  (I use the silicone thingies…)

Bake at 190 C for approximately 20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

And next morning whilst C played Barnbougle I went birdwatching on the beach

Barnbougle beach

Barnbougle beach

where I saw fairy terns with chicks and hooded plovers with chicks (both rare and endangered birds and life ticks for me) and sooty and pied oystercatchers and kelp and Pacific gulls, went walking in the wildflower reserve (where I saw more birds and numerous wallabies),  had coffee at a lovely cafe in Bridport,  and feel in love with the place.  Roll on next golf trip!

Barnbougle beach

Barnbougle beach

You can enjoy hundreds of other gorgeous sky photos here.

Jude 2

Ruby Tuesday #3 – king parrots & crimson rosellas

August 20, 2008

Today is Ruby Tuesday, which is hosted here and involves posting a photo of your own which features red.

King Parrot

King Parrot

Not a great photo (it was taken through glass) but one of my favourite birds – the king parrot which is found on the east coast of Australia.  This was taken last December at one of my favourite places, Mystery Bay Cottages, at Mystery Bay on the far south coast of New South Wales. We have enjoyed 5 summer holidays there, having gone there the first time when MissN was 3.

These are crimson rosellas.  Well, the birds are.  The crimsons came to be fed a couple of times a day.  The king parrots were very occasional visitors, and the more special because of it.

Crimson Rosella

Crimson Rosellas

MissA, Wendy, MissN

MissA, Wendy, MissN

The first time I saw a crimson rosella (my fourth day in Australia way back in 1987) I could not believe the intensity of the colour.  They continue to bless me now each time I see them, 21 years later, and I never tire of the thrill of spotting or watching them.  They aren’t common around where we live (they need more bush) but I have seen both king parrots and crimson rosellas down on Majors Bay (on Sydney harbour) which is maybe 1-2 kms away.

How can one look at these birds and not thank the creator for them?

Jenolan Caves, LOTR and raw fish

April 26, 2008

Two LOTR devotees (C has read LOTR 19 times, N is on her 3rd reading) and I had a wonderful visit to the caves of Moria Jenolan Caves yesterday.  We left too late to get to do the cave visit of our choice (it was fully booked) but we really did appreciate the one we did instead.  Miss N had made herself a Gollum t-shirt (by printing this Gollum image onto photo transfer paper and ironing it onto a t shirt) and she wore it and looked uber-cool.

I enjoyed my family’s LOTR commentary all the way there (over 3 hours – lots of traffic through Rivendell the Blue Mountains) and during lunch in Blackheath, when both C and I had fish cos that’s what Gollum eats (not really, I just fancied the sound of the fishcakes but sadly they didn’t resemble Thai ones at all!  I guess we are spoiled by the quality of the food here in Sydney.)

I love the mountains.  I love the bush.  We don’t get there often enough and it’s just 30 minutes on the freeway till we cross the Nepean River at Penrith, leave the greater Sydney region and begin to ascend the Blue Mountains’ “heights”.  For the record, my bird list yesterday (and I didn’t even get to use my bino’s) includes a wedge tailed eagle, yellow tailed black cockatoos, king parrots, a brown falcon, nankeen kestrel, yellow thornbills, satin bowerbird and a lyrebird!  Lots of insectivorous bats too (no, they aren’t birds lol).  And a dead wombat at the side of the road. 😦

Even though Lucas Cave was a subsitute choice, it was amazing.  We coped with the people who talked through all the commentary (I guess they thought as they didn’t speak English they could talk loudly in their own languages), the little boy who peed in a plastic bag to avoid polluting the cave (we kept our distance from his mother and the bag for the rest of the tour!), and the selfish parents who brought babies (yes, there were 2) on a 90 minute cave tour.  The poor babes cried all the way.

A bridge in the cave gave C and N an opportunity to re-enact the LOTR scene from the bridge of Khazad-dum in Moria. C was the Balrog and Miss N was Gandalf (without her Gandalf cloak).

I am awestruck about the age of the caves.  I cannot reconcile a young earth with caves dated this old, and can’t understand why God would create an earth with caves that date this old if they were created recently.  God created the heavens and the earth.  In heaven I hope to learn how.  Here on earth I am content to enjoy His creation and praise Him for placing us on a tiny planet in the midst of an infinite universe.  Song coming…. 

And let me share with you a recipe for “raw” fish (cos that’s what Gollum eats) that C and I used to make often. It’s from the Vogue Australia Wine and Food Cookbook – Home Truths what foodies cook for themselves published in 1988.  The lime juice “cooks” the fish and it tastes wonderful – fresh and clean.

Ceviche (serves 8 people)

16 small whiting fillets

juice of 6-8 limes

1 cup very finely sliced baby white onions

2-3 fresh red chillies, chopped

salt and white pepper

1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)

lime slices for serving

Remove the skin from the whiting fillets and cut the flesh into 4 to 6 pieces.  Place in one layer in a glass or ceramic dish.  Pour the lime juice over the fish and scatter the onion and chillies on top of the fish.  Place in the refrigerator and after 2 hours, season with salt and pepper.  Leave for another 2 hours or overnight.  The fish will be white and have a cooked appearance.