Sweet Shards at Sunny Ridge

The ideas for school holidays can sometimes feel lacking, or too-familiar, or too boring…

“let’s go to the park”

“let’s go to the library”

“let’s go to the movies,”

And although these are all great ideas, things I would do again and again, we all need something different sometimes, don’t we?

And even though it ain’t strawberry picking time, it doesn’t mean you can’t go to a strawberry farm, right?

I mean, part of it was for my own indulgence too. Other than strawberries (yum) and other café indulgences (drool) it was to satisfy my own little curiosity, something that has been brewing for years and years, ever since my very first visit to Sunny Ridge with Hubbie, while I was pregnant with baby girl.

Back then it had been high strawberry picking season. I had picked myself a punnet (or two), gotten some other take-home goodies, and also indulged in a most fabulous strawberry sundae on that superbly warm day.

Before…

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And, after.

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Both myself and growing baby girl had been in agreeance: delicious!

So this time we headed on down again, at the end of week one of Sunny Ridge’s school holiday program, which unbeknownst to her, was her second visit 😉

Week one saw an activity where kids could let their inner Jamie Oliver/Heston Blumenthal/Nigella Lawson soar with a creation of what was basically, a giant chocolate freckle!

(Maybe even Gordan Ramsay, if the chocolate was not melted to the right temperature?) 🤣

The workshop started at 10:30am, with the general café and store opening to the public at 11am as per their Winter timetable (see website for opening times below).

A small group started off, soon growing into a large group of kids ranging from about 2 to 9 years of age, with parents to boot, each expressing their foodie selves onto their own personal piece of melted chocolate on a plate…

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Throw in some things like honeycomb, coconut, cocoa pops, and of course freeze-dried strawberries along with their own cup of mini marshmallows, m&ms and other little chocolatey goodies…

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The decorating part took as long as the fussy or not so fussy kids allowed. Let’s say, about 15 minutes. Into the giant freezer it then went, and while they waited for their chocolate to set, the colouring paper came out.

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A nifty idea and cute little activity to keep them busy as they waited for their take-home treat.

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I have to say at this stage, the staff were pretty awesome. There were two main women helping out, one was the host of the crafty bit, going around and getting personal with the kids and their creations, while also providing some sweet feedback, and then there was another one who was busy running around putting plates in the freezer, and hurriedly attending to kids with a sharpener for the flat colouring pencils. Top marks for care factor.

I was meanwhile, busy eyeing off the corner coffee machine and the specials up on the wall. DRRROOOOLLLLL.

When baby girl seemed to be getting overly decorative with her drawing, (it must have been at least 20 minutes) I gently prompted her by telling her that we would get some drinks and treats when she finished…

And suddenly she was finished! Fortunately so too was her chocolate freckle, as the host went into the freezer and brought it out all set and ready to eat!

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What a fantastic and fun idea. Melted chocolate on a plate? Who knew? (Actually we all know, chocolate is delicious).

The deets!

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm is located at 244 Shands Road, Main Ridge

During the Winter school holidays and in general during their ‘off’ season, which is May – October, they are open Friday to Monday, 11am – 4pm (plus public holidays and VIC school hols)

In the ‘on’ season (sunshine time!) from November – April, they are open 7 days a week, 9am – 5pm (excludes some public holidays).

‘Pick your own strawberries’ is available during the ‘on’ season. You pay for entry (kids 4 and under are free) and pay for the strawberries you pick.

***In the second week of the school holidays from July 8th to 12th, kids will be making their own hanging strawberry origami and berry page munchers! Starting 10:30am, this fun activity is only $12!***

Check out their website here or call 5989 4500 to book.

And let’s not forget the cafe…

They have a selection of strawberry-themed and other warming desserts on offer, and their food store displays a range of strawberry jams, biscuits, candles, chocolates, candies, and other local fares from the region…

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Even if you don’t like strawberries, there is something for you:

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We got a deliciously scented strawberry body cream, and a fresh but sweet soap.

You know how I said baby girl was perfectly happy with me eating strawberries when she was in my tummy? Well she ain’t so much a fan nowadays… never mind, because…

You know how I said we were getting treats after her activity?

SCONES!

HOT CHOCOLATE!

COFFEE!

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It was amazingly warming enjoyed in the crisp and sunny Winter’s air. There is nothing quite like sitting amidst nature and taking some time out to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Let me finish on this image…

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Sweet. 🍓

P. S. The chocolate freckle was, AMAZING!!!! 😋

You should know her name

There’s something that I want to share at this late hour.

I want to tell the short story, or rather, the little set-up as it were, of how my Mum and Dad came to know each other.

How their families got to know each other. The Ks, and the Gs.

My Mum would visit one of her older sisters who lived with her then-husband in a village that wasn’t quite next door to hers. It took considerable effort to go there, and yet she did visit, and often stay there too.

Do you know who lived across the road from my Mum’s sister?

My Dad. My Dad and his family.

Due to this lovely set up, the Ks and Gs knew of each other and were well-acquainted for a long time. As it is in small villages. Sure the families were spread out and there was a lot more siblings behind my Mum and her sister for the Gs to even start to comprehend… and yet as things are in those places, from those times, of that age… everyone knows everyone.

When my Mum and Dad finally did start to date, they did so for only 2 weeks. They had known of each other for many more years before. But 2 weeks later and there was a wedding celebration happening across the road from where my Mum used to visit her older sister.

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And this is all well and sweet, but sadly this post isn’t only about that beautiful time of my parents’ union. I write this because my Aunty has died. My Mum’s older sister passed away, and we only found this out today, but to be honest she may have been gone for days and no one was to know, she was living on her own and only found after someone had to break into her home when she didn’t answer.

What makes me happy is my Mum telling me tonight that she had spoken to her sister only last week. I am sure my Mum had some sign, as she always does with these things… she had a feeling and followed that feeling, and fortunately spoke to her older sister one last time.

But also, this all makes me terribly sad. Because apart from the whole death factor, I can’t help feeling like if she had passed away here in Australia, things would be a whole lot different. Firstly, people would care more. They would actually give a fuck that an older generation of their family that frankly they would not be here without, had passed. They would pay proper tribute. They would think, and pay respects, and give thanks for her presence in their life.

I honestly…. I met her once. In my whole life I met this Aunty once. But I have a tremendous amount of respect for her, from hearing about her through my Mum, and also, knowing what her presence did for my future, and how my parents came to be together…

It just sucks. She was old, and people will say she was old, and that her time had come…

But it still sucks. She still deserves some fanfare. She had a hard life, she had to witness many people die around her including her own son, and then to be reduced, to this?

To be found, on her own? Is that it?

And so while I see people celebrating Orthodox Easter and posting about eggs and chocolate, I just had to do my bit…

There will always be eggs. There will always be chocolate.

But there won’t always be the woman who introduced your parents to each other.

R.I.P.

M.G., 2019.

 

 

 

Unannounced Cake in a Nanny State

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Photo by Lorene Farrugia on Unsplash

Something unbelievable happened today when we picked up baby girl from kinder. And it was so unexpectedly liberating, innocent and reminiscent of when I grew up as a child, that when I realised what it was, only then did I truly recognise that in this day and age, this was a thing to be noticed.

Baby girl, along with all of the kids in the class, was eating… chocolate cake.

All of them. They were on the floor, cross-legged, some of them asking for spoons so as to not get their fingers dirty (ahem my daughter), smears of brown sponge smeared across their faces, as happy as Larry’s and Lassie’s that it was someone’s birthday.

But more profoundly shocking of the fact they were eating chocolate cake at the end of their kinder session was that…

… wait for it…

The teachers had not informed the parents about it.

(Dum da dum dum!)

And I couldn’t have been happier about it.

I grew up in a time where my Mum was able to bake a whole damn cake and bring it into class, and as the birthday girl I was a God-damn legend. You could hand out lollies, share snacks, and no one batted an eyelid.

I ain’t talking allergies here. No I totally get it if you have some. I had an allergy myself growing up, so I am not putting down the fact that there are some kids that can’t eat certain foods.

I am talking about the fact that we live in a precious nanny state, where every little thing has to be recorded, and every little thing needs asking, permission, and a written personalised autographed hand slip.

For God’s sake.

I have TWO prime examples I came across just in the last year, and I’m only one year young into this whole ‘schooling’ thing too. I came to pick baby girl up one day, and the teacher informed me that she had hurt herself – the poor thing had poled herself climbing down on an A-frame. Ouch. She had been checked out and all appeared fine, but because of this I had to fill out an incident report.

An incident report. I scraped my knee in grade 3 and was sure I could see my bone, there was NO INCIDENT report then.

A second example. A letter taped to the door at kinder last year informed parents that Christmas songs may feature in some of the end of year activities with the children… however if anyone opposed, they would not be included.

Hold up…. WHAT?!?!

Do you see what these two examples represent? A nanny state that is afraid of offending others or getting things so wrong so as to make themselves vulnerable to lawsuit…

Seriously, is this the world we are living in???

When did we start needing permission to eat dessert? To have fun? To sing a freaking Christmas carol???

NO, don’t get me started on Christmas songs. DO NOT touch Christmas festivities. If they don’t let my daughter sing Jingle Bells, I am gonna get violent on their arses.

I can only imagine what lies in store for me for the many decades worth of school years ahead of us, but my hope is that this general wide-spread stupidity dumbs itself down enough so that people stop tip-toeing around each other, and start living with freedom and happiness and trust, so that if anyone DOES want chocolate cake…

They should damn well get it.

Sure, the cake did kinda ruin baby girl’s lunchtime meal… but I was so happy I hadn’t been asked, I didn’t even care.

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Photo by Becca Tarter on Unsplash

 

Cadbury on Toast?

In the first (and possibly last!) of my solo food product reviews I have had to review this:

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When I first feasted my eyes upon this unbelievable sight on my facebook feed, I had to question whether it was in fact, a joke. Vegemite, and chocolate? You’re kidding me. But in the land of the Aussie, anything is possible here.

I love chocolate (uh, hello!) and I do love vegemite. The correct application of vegemite spread across some freshly hot, straight out of the toaster buttered-bread is H-E-A-V-E-N. Note this is in italics because the angels even sing it. Those yanks who eat vegemite straight out of the jar with a spoon  – puh-lease, you are SO not doing it right. You need a true blue Aussie to show you how it’s eaten correctly (see above) and not some shit-talker just trying to get the maximum facial effect out of you.

But chocolate, and vegemite, together? A reliable friend posted this online, and as soon as I saw it I knew I just had to try.

At the end of a very busy shopping trip last week, a trolley FULL of groceries with an increasingly impatient baby girl chomping on rice cakes in front of me, I headed to Coles (which is one of the places they are stocked, I believe) and searched the entire store before finding them conveniently located near the front registers. A huge sign with a massive arrow should suffice next time, guys. (As if they’re not well acquainted with that oh-so-cheesy ‘finger pointing sign.’)

At home, after baby girl had gone down for her afternoon nap, I fixed myself a tea, and sat down to discover if this unlikely combination was indeed, up to scratch.

What I didn’t realise was there was a caramel addition, and it is this that probably makes the vegemite acceptable in the chocolate. The caramel camouflages the strong vegemite taste that you’re used to, and only after you’ve chewed your way through most of the piece of chocolate do you get the vegemite after-taste, as it kind of very subtly lingers in the back of your throat. It’s interesting, is my best and not so specific verdict of it.

Being a massive fan of salty + sweet (think Reece’s chocolates, and peanut butter cheesecakes, uhhhh drool), I could see how this combination may work. I cannot for the life of me imagine which food invention guru actually came to the insane idea of gelling vegemite and chocolate together though.

The caramel addition is a bit of a cheat. The true way to have vegemite and chocolate, is to literally smear some vegemite atop a block of solid Cadbury’s. That would be harder to swallow, but are you a true blue Aussie or what?

Having said that, the stuff wouldn’t sell. The caramel makes it edible.

So my verdict? I went back for more. And then said I wouldn’t buy anymore. But then went back for more…. and then said I’ve had enough… and now I’m still eating it.

I think I’ll stick to my standard peanut butter and chocolate for contradicting flavour combos, thanks. I will not be buying it again. I’ll have my beautifully toasted butter and vegemite on bread, and on the side have chocolate on its own.

(I have not in any way been sponsored or paid by Cadbury for this review… however with the amount of people who have bought the stuff as a result of my facebook post about the above said venture, I am certainly open to payment. Cadbury, anyone? 🙂 )