Just two short years ago I decided that before I travel to any more exotic parts of the world it was important that I experience my own country. Too many times, had I been traveling and meeting new people only to have someone ask me about Western Canada… to which I would reply with a smile and a nod, agreeing that it’s sooo beautiful, without ever having seen it for myself. What a poser. To remedy the situation, I took a three week backpacking trip to British Columbia and Alberta. I hoped on a plane, then transferred to a train, and then covered the west in an automobile.
It was a really amazing trip, for a number of reasons. The west is very beautiful, and it’s calm. The air is different, the people are all smiles, and the nature is abundant. However, the highlight of that trip, for me… was meeting a lovely young Australian man.
It was pretty much love at first sight… and two years later, after countless skype dates and the longest possible distance relationship ever, I sit in my humble little North Sydney apartment writing a blog about baking (sometimes) and adventures in Australia.
Cuckburra sits in the ol' gumtree...
Well this past weekend was yet another small adventure. Sean and I decided that to celebrate we would go camping somewhere outside the city, and perhaps jump on some horses and see what happens.
So we did just that. Instead of spending heaps of money on a weekend getaway, we simply pitched a tent and tried out our new camping gear that we bought at Christmas. We ended up spending the heaps of money on food though. Naturally.
Our camping took place in Glenworth Valley. It was nice to escape the city for a couple days… even if the weather was creeping towards sub-zero. We bundled up real good, zipped our sleeping bags together and started a lovely fire.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by an impossibly nice ‘cowboy’ named James. I use the term ‘cowboy’ loosely as he probably only worked the front desk and stables, but I could see a cowboy brewing inside. He was pretty young, and rather doe-eyed. He did everything in his power to make sure we had the best campsite, the best horse-riding experience, the best firewood and the best price. By the end of our two minute encounter, I pretty much wanted to be his best friend.
Our campsite was located next to a little creek which made for some soothing night-time sounds, and we had neighbours on both sides. To our right was Ethel and Randolph (as named by yours truly). Two friendly horses who greeted me with open arms every time I said hello. Open arms… or open mouths. They were a bit cheeky, but then again, I did give them my carrot scraps. To our left was the ‘historical’ grave of Owen Maloney, a 22 year old Irishman from Limerick. I don’t actually know the story there… or why we camped beside him.
And I DID NOT wake up in the middle of the night and pull the sleeping bag over my head when I heard a rustle in the bushes outside. And when I heard that rustle… I definitely did NOT think it was Owen rising from his grave to haunt those who sleep next to him. Cause that would be ridiculous.
Our dinner that night was the minestrone soup that I had made earlier that week, and garlic bread toasted on the open fire. It hit the spot and warmed the soul. We paired it with the Two-figs Rose we bought on the wine tour a couple weeks ago… and maybe a splash of scotch as a night cap.
The night was very cool, but nothing a little spooning couldn’t fix. In the morning we feasted on blueberry pancakes, granola, fruit and toast. Amazing… the coffee took forever, but was well worth the wait.
At two o’clock we headed up to the reception area for the much anticipated horse-riding. It was pretty cool, but left us wanting more. We were thinking our next trip might be a little more city-slickers-esque? If you catch my drift… I want to live on a ranch. ok? but one that doesn’t send the cattle off to be killed. ok. Working on that.
curious horses, Ethel and Randolph
The horses we rode we named Deisel and Forrest. And yes, I did tell him to ‘run Forrest, run!’ but I assure you it did not work. He was dead set on following the horse in front of him… he barely even flinched when I tried to give him some gentle direction. oh Forrest.
After the horse-riding, our fingers were just about ready to fall off from the cold, so we packed up and headed home. It was only one night, but it was just enough to make me want to quit my job, buy a farm, raise some goats and chickens and grow my own vegetables. Yeah. If I stopped shaving my legs and armpits right now… you could probably call me a full-blown granola-crunching hippie. And I even make my own granola.
Carrot cake Granola
adapted from this recipe at chocolate and carrots
2 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
2 1/2 c. quick cooking oats
2 c. rice crispies
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. dessicated coconut
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 c. natural unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. molasses
1/2 c. light brown sugar
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. grated carrots
2 c. chopped pecans
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. craisins
It’s easy… combine the wet, combine the dry (minus the raisins and craisins). Combine them together and pop in an oven at 300 degrees for 40ish minutes, stiring and flipping until golden and crsipy.
Allow to cool and add dried fruit. yummm.
yum yum yum