The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory

Junee is located in the Riverina of New South Wales, about 350km southwest of Sydney. It is a nice looking town with some well-restored old buildings, surrounded by the sorts of landscapes that I grew up thinking were iconically Australian: low hills, brown grass paddocks dotted with sheep and trees, and fields of wheat and other crops.

Situated in a beautifully restored old building which used to be the town’s flour mill, The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory was the drawcard that brought us to town while we were visiting family in Griffith, about 2 hours’ drive further south.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch in the outdoor area under the shade of Virginia creeper supported by old wooden beams. The menu may not be extensive, but the food was absolutely delicious.

Visitors can stroll through the building and watch the different kinds of chocolates and sweet treats being made through large viewing windows.

The factory’s chocolate shop offers a multitude of organic sweet treats: plain chocolate, regular or raspberry licorices in plain or chocolate coated varieties, rocky road, freckles, chocolate coated pretzels, varieties of chocolate with different fruit or nuts in them, just to name a few. The hardest part is deciding what you want to take home, and how much work you’ll have to do to make up for it later on.

In addition to all the sweet things, there are all sorts of produce on offer: pickles, sauces, balsamic vinegar, jams and chutneys, honey and olive oil – all locally produced.

It honestly doesn’t get much more Aussie than this.

Out of responsibility to the folk who read my blog, we bought some chocolate to taste-test, and we are not sorry.

The chocolate is smooth, creamy and delicious. That freckle I just bit into for the sake of the photo is the perfect blend of crunchy and smooth. The rate at which my husband ate his chocolate covered raspberry licorice bullets was definitely indicative of superior quality and taste. The chocolate-coated pretzels I bought were as good as the ones I had in Amish country in Pennsylvania, and that’s really saying something! Consequently, they did not last long enough to have their photo taken. It was only a small packet, after all.

In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing that the Junee Chocolate and Licorice Factory is a ten hour drive from home.

The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
#chocolate #organic #travel

Fibromyalgia Friendly Salad Dressing

A locally produced hemp oil that I bought at Timboon Railway Distillery.

I’ve been making my own salad dressings for a while, but have recently changed up one of my recipes with a new ingredient: hemp oil, also known as hempseed oil. 

Hemp oil is not the same as cannabis oil. The variety of hemp from which the oil is obtained doesn’t contain any of the interesting qualities that some people seek in the leaves of some of its cousins, but it does possess enormous anti-inflammatory properties due to its high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fats. It’s also really good for your skin

I have been using hemp oil instead of olive oil in my balsamic salad dressing, which I use for my lunch most days. The balsamic vinegar and mustard help to balance the flavour of the oil, and combine with the oil to produce a delicious dressing that gives my salad and my body a boost. 

Some people make larger quantities, but I prefer to work with small amounts and make it more often. I don’t think that there is any particular health advantage to that – it’s simply personal preference. 

It’s a very easy and straightforward recipe: 

  • 3 tablespoon hemp oil
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon whole grain mustard 

Simply put it all in a jar or jug, and stir with a fork. Some people might like to shake it to mix it, but shaking a jar causes me pain in my arm for some time afterwards.

If you’re storing leftover dressing in the fridge, make sure you stir or shake it well before using it on your next salad, just to keep the ingredients mixed and distributed evenly. 

I use this dressing on a salad full of fibre-friendly foods: dry slaw, mixed leafy greens, capsicum, beetroot, cucumber, roasted pine nuts, and a few cherry tomatoes. I generally add some cold chicken, or occasionally switch that up with some tuna or other fish. And because I love dill pickles and pickled onions, there’s usually one of each of those chopped into the mix for a pop of delicious tang.

International ‘Ice Cream For Breakfast’ Day Is Actually A Thing!

Until today, I had no idea that there was a day of international observance for ‘Ice Cream For Breakfast’, but it’s one I can totally get behind.

It’s celebrated on the first Saturday of February each year. Who knew? And why didn’t they tell me?

Of course, I found out after breakfast. But hey… it’s Saturday, and one can have breakfast at any time of day… right?

So, I’m thinking of skipping lunch and heading right for breakfast. Of course, it will depend what I’ve got in the freezer, given that I am also observing my own very localised day of ‘No Plans To Leave The House’.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Otherwise, I’d be very tempted to head back to Timboon Ice Creamery for another serve of their maple and cinnamon ice cream, which tastes like Canada and heaven and happiness.

The 12 Apostles Gourmet Food Trail

The area where I live is rich in food production. My home town of Cobden is a service centre for the dairy industry, and is home to the factory that gives you Western Star butter, Mainland cheese and Perfect Italiano cheeses among other excellent dairy brands. 

Completely separate from the big companies like Fonterra, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter and Sungold Milk, there are a number of artisan food producers that offer excellent products in local settings. 

On Saturday, we headed out to visit a number of places on the 12 Apostles Gourmet Food Trail. To be honest, I don’t think you could do them all in a day and still do each one justice, but it would make an absolutely fantastic weekend trip from Geelong, Melbourne or Adelaide. 

We comfortably managed five of the stops in addition to lunch in beautiful Port Campbell. 

Our first visit was to Apostle Whey Cheese at Cooriemungle, where they make a delicious range of cheeses. My favourite is the marinated feta, while my dad loves their smoked cheddar.  The views are spectacular, and the garden is beautiful. 

The next stop was Gorge Chocolates at Princetown, Victoria, just a few kilometres from where we spent fifteen years dairy farming.  There are dozens of varieties of chocolates on offer, with a limited number available to taste. 

Also available here are a number of llama and alpaca wool products and themed gift ideas.

Next was the 12 Rocks Beach Bar in Port Cambpell for lunch. This place is a bit of a favourite – their steak sandwiches and burgers are excellent, and they do a delicious chicken parmigiana. 

After lunch we had a walk on the foreshore and checked out a few of the local shops before heading off to the nearby town of Timboon. 

The Timboon Cheesery is excellent, but because we had visited recently, we skipped that stop and went on to visit the Timboon Railway Shed Distillery. We hadn’t been there before, but it’s really nicely set up. You can have coffee and cake or a meal there, enjoy a whiskey or liqueur tasting, and shop for a range of locally produced products – jams, sauces, oils, meat and smallgoods, and the list goes on. 

Almost next door is the Timboon Ice Creamery, where the ice cream is just divine. I usually have either honeycomb or their passionfruit meringue, but this time I was excited to find a new flavour – maple and cinnamon – which was so good it nearly blew my mind. It made my inner Canadian very happy indeed. 

To complete the homeward loop, we headed to Dairylicious Farm Fudge. With at least a dozen different varieties of fudge on offer for tasting, there’s something to please every palate. They also offer cake and coffee or tea, and a range of cold drinks. 

By the time we got home, we were all ready for an afternoon nap after a most enjoyable day. 

Further information: 
The 12 Apostles Food Trail Map
12 Apostles Food Artisans 

Think About What You’re Asking.

My sister just called out to me from the kitchen while she was chopping vegetables.

Her: Are you two big vegetable eaters?

Me: If they’re big, we cut them up first.

Her: Huh?

Me: How do you even cook it unless you cut it up?

Her: No. That’s not what I’m asking.

Me: *looks at her expectantly*

Her: Do you eat a lot of vegetables?

Me: See now, that’s an entirely different question.

Her: *shows me the saucepan* Is this enough for four of us?

Me: No.

 

And she has the nerve to walk away rolling her eyes. Some people are just hard to please.

cornucopia-of-vegetables

The Hell-Fired Pizza.

I want to establish from the outset that I am not a wimp when it comes to spicy food. Indian, Asian, Mexican… I love it all.

For lunch today, my husband ordered a meat lover’s pizza with chilli. It was delicious – until I bit into the hottest fuelled-by-all-the-power-of-hell piece of chilli I have ever experienced.

What I experienced at that point in time was way beyond taste, pleasure, or delicacy. It was excruciating.

My mouth was on fire.
I lost sensation in my lips, then almost passed out.
My eyes were streaming.
I was using bad words, but slurring them terribly.
My dear man thought I was just being funny. I wasn’t. This was one of the rare moments in my life where being a comic genius was not something I had in mind.

That supercharged little sucker burned my mouth, throat, oesophagus and stomach for at least an hour, only moderately assuaged by milk. I have had a persistent stomach ache for 9 hours, and my mouth and throats are still sore.

And now, the assault continues as the nugget of hellfire works its way through my system.
N e v e r  in my  e n t i r e  l i f e  have I experienced anything like this.

Suffice to say that while the volcano is not erupting hot lava,  it is definitely shooting out dangerous levels of sulphur and brimstone.  It’s probably worthy of an official health and safety warning.

At least there is one thing of which I can be certain: this, too, shall pass.
And that, my friends, is going to hurt.

pizza

Edit: On reading this, a friend sent me an article about two guys in New Zealand making someone eat a Fijian Bongo Chilli, which had exactly these after effects. He was suing them for assault.
I don’t blame him. 

Racking up the laughs.

This morning, my man made bacon, eggs and grilled tomatoes for an Easter Sunday breakfast. 

One of our guests dropped a little on her white skirt and commented that it was going to be hard to get the mark out.

“Make-up wipes will get it out,” I said helpfully.

“Oh, thank you! Great tip!” she said. 

Just as she was putting more food in her mouth, I leaned over to my husband and whispered quite loudly, “She said I’ve got great tits!”

Just as I had hoped,  my friend nearly spat her food out again as she laughed. 

And then, as diplomatic as ever, my husband said,”I don’t think that’s what she said.”

“As if she didn’t,” I said, indicating the general area, “Check ’em out!” 
And then nobody knew what to say.

Good times. 

Pulling cheese.

Okay. This is a new one on me. I’ve just had my first string cheese experience.

  

Apart from the very “American cheese” colour, it looks just like the Kraft cheese sticks that we have in Australia, but it’s a lot more fun because you can pull strings of cheese off and torture your cheese as you eat it.

  

 You can even have competitions to see who can pull the thinnest string.

Food and entertainment in one hit.
Aces.

Thanksgiving.

It’s Thanksgiving in Canada today. It’s nice to be here for it and to share in such a nice tradition.  

I’m looking forward to sharing a special meal with some friends who are very dear to me, although I confess to being slightly nervous about meeting some new people at the same time. 

Thanksgiving Day is clearly a Notth American thing, but I have been surprised at how many people here think the whole world does it. My hosts were quite shocked this morning when I told them we don’t have it in Australia.

Maybe we should. Giving thanks for our freedom and blessings cannot be a bad thing, and it might make some people less selfish and xenophobic.  

The Irish Harp.

The Irish Harp is a wonderful Irish pub in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario. 

 

The atmosphere is warm and friendly, and right from the start, the service is outstanding. 

  
 

The food is good: there is an extensive menu of traditional Irish pub fare and more standard pub-style food with a slightly Irish twist.  

The Magner’s cider is cold and delicious, and the house beer is pretty good, according to Sean.  It’s fair to say that he knows and appreciates beer a great deal more than I do, so I’m happy to go with his opinion.
 

We really enjoyed our visit to the Itish Harp. I’d definitely make this my regular pub if I lived nearby.