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Come on in and stay a little while. . . you never know what you might find!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eat. . . Anzac biscuits

Anzac Day commemorates the landing of the Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915. Anzac biscuits were baked across Australia and New Zealand and sent to the troops overseas during World War 1. They keep very well in an airtight tin or box, and use golden syrup to bind them rather than egg, as eggs were so scarce during the war years. See this webpage for more information (and an almost identical recipe!)

Nearly every year, as well as attending the local Anzac Parade I make a batch of Anzac biscuits to celebrate Anzac Day. I always use the recipe I was given on my first trip to Australia back in 1993, when I got my first taste of Anzac biscuits. There are lots of different versions, but these ones have worked well for me for years, and I hope you find the same.

Anzac Biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
125 g butter (substitute margarine at your peril!)
2 tblsps golden syrup
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tblsp boiling water

Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in a big bowl. Melt butter and syrup in saucepan. Mix bicarb of soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture and stir this into dry ingredients. Mix well.  Add a tiny bit more water if the mixture is too dry to stick together. Place a little more than teaspoon amounts on a greased tray. Allow room for spreading. Bake in slow oven (150C) for 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

PS It is important to use actual butter rather than margarine for these biscuits, as butter will give a good firm crunchy biscuit when cooled. Margarine gives a rather soft result, but I suppose some people like it that way?!

Pipe band lead Mapua Anzac Parade 2012

Some of the crowd at the Mapua Anzac service 2012

Two old soldiers lay a wreath on behalf of the Moutere Hills RSA

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Love. . . Hot air ballooning

Yes, we finally got airborne with Up, Up and Away on Saturday 7th April, and views like this sunrise were our reward! Hot air ballooning was amazing, an incredible experience and I am so glad we persevered through our 5 previous (failed) attempts to be "6th time lucky!"

The balloon was absolutely vast, and it took almost an hour to inflate it. . .

It is the second largest balloon in New Zealand, with a weight of 380 kg and it inflates to 340,000 cubic feet!
The balloon was made back in the city of my birth - Bristol, by renowned hot air balloon manufacturers Cameron Balloons "the world's most experienced balloon manufacturers."

The views were outstanding. . .

I was a wee bit nervous about the landing, but in the end it was pretty uneventful. The trouble is, hot air balloons don't have landing gear (!!) and once the basket hits the deck the balloon tends to keep going, dragging the basket with it. So the basket often tips right over and you land on your back! Brace position essential! However, we ended up only teetering on the diagonal for a while before the basket righted itself again, and as we dangled there diagonally we all burst out laughing. I certainly never expected the landing to be so funny! The next job was to fold the balloon back up again. . .

and then get the balloon and basket back onto the trailer again. . .

Finally we had the traditional champagne (or Fresh-up!) breakfast, and got anointed on our foreheads by the pilot with a cork dipped in champagne, as he recited the hot air balloonist's blessing!

So, if you ever get the chance to go hot air ballooning, I highly recommend it! It has been a dream of mine since childhood, and I can definitely say it was well worth the wait :) Apart from the necessary blasts of the gas burner, it is such a peaceful sensation, floating quietly along above the scenery, and certainly an experience I will remember for a very long time!

Photo copyright "Up, Up and Away"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thought for Thursday. . . This is not how the story is going to end!

With thanks to "Daily Vitamins for the Soul" (Facebook feed.)