Friday, 31 January 2014

Eating Out in Echuca at Johnny & Lyle's

It's half past nine on a saturday morning in mid January, and I've found myself a quiet little spot in the leafy courtyard of Johnny & Lyle's in Echuca. Judging by how quickly the tables are filling up, it would be easy to think that this cafe has been open for quite a while, when in fact, it only opened less than a month ago. 

Im surrounded by lots of tables in varying sizes, filled with families and friends, locals and visitors, young and old and I can't not forget to mention those of the four legged variety too!! You can tell owners, Carly & Bec, have put a lot of effort into making this place feel so welcoming and homely.  Johnny & Lyle is actually the middle names of the girls fathers, so understandably, this place is special to them. They also both play crucial roles in this new business venture- Carly being out the front looking after their patrons and Bec, busy in the kitchen whipping up some delicious treats. 

On each table sits a potted plant which serves as a table number.  Inside, and above the counter you will find Carlys Nana's original canisters all lined up next to a pile of cookbooks, bottles of wine and other special treasures found along the way. I fell in love with a long timber table near the front window, filled with lovely light and surrounded by some great Eames style chairs- perfect for those catch ups on a wintery morning!

The courtyard provides a shady oasis (especially in the warmer months) and also allows everyone to really relax and enjoy the time together. Tucked in the corner is a sandpit and blackboard, along with some toys for which the smaller customers can play happily. Having small children of my own, this brings a very big smile to my face as I know that in a selfish way it means I can actually finish my coffee (and perhaps a meal!) whilst the little ones are entertained and safe where I can see them. Oh, and they have a great kids menu too!

Open daily for breakfast, lunch and "the munchies in between", the menu contains a few cafe favourites, but has some lovely fresh alternatives. I chose the fruit bruschetta (toasted sourdough topped with ricotta, bananas, strawberries and a drizzle of honey-YUM!!!) but the popular choice is the Build Your Own Breky, which is exactly as it sounds- you pick and choose what you want, starting with two eggs! 

Lunch also won't disappoint, with a good choice that will suit all appetites.  And for just a light snack there is a lovely choice of sweet treats from the cake counter, or delicious takeaway options too. Vegetarians and those who are gluten free have plenty to choose from.

As you walk inside you can't miss the giant coffee bean roaster. The coffee beans are from Green Bean Coffee and are roasted daily onsite ensuring fresh coffee. Also on offer are a variety of wines and Emma & Tom's juices.

Johnny & Lyle's is located on the busy High Street in Echuca. Nestled between the locals shopping precinct and the tourist strip, which means easily accessible from both sides. And if you're driving past, you can always find a park near by.


So, if you are travelling through Echuca and looking for a rest stop, or your a local wanting somewhere to catch up with friends (particularly with kids!!!), this is a place you must visit….I guarantee, you will be back again…and again, and again!

Where- 433 High Street, Echuca, Victoria, 3564

Open Weekdays from 6am, and weekends from 7am. Close around 3pm.

More details can be found on Johnny & Lyle's Facebook page.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pickled Beetroot

 It's no secret that I have had a crush on the simple beetroot for the last twelve months. Its been a regular in the shopping trolley and consumed (almost) daily. I juice, I grate, I roast and last week, I pickled!

I used a recipe I found in my beloved Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Book (Ireland's version of our Maggie Beer!). This recipe is simple and has the perfect balance of being both sweet and sour-  a perfect addition to the home made hamburger or a refreshing side dish to any summer meal!

Darina's Pickled Beetroot
450g Cooked beetroot (see below)
225g sugar
450ml water
225ml white wine vinegar

Dissolve the sugar in water and bring to the boil. Add the vinegar, and allow to simmer for a few more minutes. Steralise some jars. Place sliced or whole beets in jars, pour over the pickle juice and leave to cool. This recipe isn't designed to be kept away in the pantry for months- It needs to be stored in the fridge and eaten within a few weeks. The upside is, it's so delicious, it probably won't last that long anyway! (Makes approx one large jar)

To cook beetroot- Carefully wash off any dirt on outside of beets. Place in pot and cover with cold water. Add a sprinkle of salt and sugar and bring to boil. Leave simmering for 1-2 hours (depending on size of beets), or until you can put a skewer in them and it comes out easily. Drain, and allow to cool. Once cool, keep whole, or slice thinly.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

4/52- Weekly Stills

1. Stealing a very quiet moment to sit down and read my new favourite mag- Renegade Collective- incredibly inspiring! Filled with stories of people who have turned their dreams into reality and the importance of never giving up on something you are passionate about.
2. Ive had a bit of a thing for beetroot this summer. Having eaten it boiled, roasted and freshly grated, I finally got around to pickling some….heavenly! Hellooooo…hamburgers!
3 & 4. Our eldest flower fairy (all frocked up) exploring in her grandparent's garden…her happy place!
5. Gorgeous Salvia 
6. Happy Australia Day…..the flower fairy is back!
7. Lamington Cake to celebrate Australia Day and our 5th year anniversary of getting engaged! What a great combo- freshly made sponge cake, jam, cream, chocolate icing and coconut sprinkled on top! Yum x

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Guest Post- Leigh's Herb and Pancetta Poached Chicken

Today I am very lucky to have Leigh from ChitChatChomp as my first Guest blogger on Townmouse Countrymouse. ChitChatChomp is a lovely blog filled with delicious, french inspired recipes and the most gorgeous photos, that will leave you salivating and wishing Leigh lived at your home. Leigh's style of cooking is based on keeping it simple, using seasonal ingredients and giving it a french twist. Even if you're not into cooking, this blog is definitely still worth a visit for the visual feast your eyes will be treated too, the lovely french stories that go with each recipe and the other interesting travel pieces Leigh enjoys writing about. Leigh describes herself as "a Melbourne based Taurean, home cook, amateur photographer and a lover of all things french!"- I just love her style of cooking and am in love with her photography (definitely not amateur!!!).
I hope you enjoy Leigh's post as much as I have…..

Being someone who lives and breathes recipes and food, I'm often asked what my favourite type of food is to cook.  Funnily enough, it's not the easiest question for me to answer as it completely depends on the season, time of day and of course the biggest factor, my mood.

If it's a mid-week meal during Summer, I love nothing better than experimenting with salads, and at the moment it's the ones that contain lentils that have me drooling.

A lazy weekend on a cooler day, I can guarantee you that my oven will be on and something yummy and soothing will be inside bubbling away.

However, there seems to be a few common links that bring most of the food that I love to cook together:

1.  Simplicity
2.  Fresh, organic produce
3.  A tilt towards French flavours

Herb and Pancetta Poached Chicken

Oh la la!

Light enough for a Spring/Summer evening, yet hearty enough to satisfy anyone on a cooler night, rugged up under a blanket with a wine in hand.

A dish that also freezes and defrosts beautifully!

You asked me what I like to cook, well....voila!

Special thanks to Leigh for this lovely post.
All photos taken by Leigh.
These and many more can be found on ChitChatChomp.

Are you a lover of all things french???

Sunday, 19 January 2014

3/52- Weekly stills

1. Late afternoon cuddles on the couch - such special moments x
2. Taken outside our local library- love the colourful knitted stockings on the bike racks
3. Its been a week of Apricots…..they look and taste so delicious! Ive stocked up and have an apricot tart in mind for these babies!
4. My little succulent family
5. Old building in near by town of Mathoura
6. A reminder of the scorching week had- CFA truck fuelling up at a local petrol station
7. I love this landscape. Photo taken on The Cobb Highway between Moama and Mathoura.
8. My aggies didn't take well to a week of 40 deg plus weather. The gorgeous cornflower blue firework balls add so much colour to the garden
9. Sorry- couldn't resist….Meet Mrs Watermelon head!!! And yes, she tastes yummy x
10. I found a new cafe in town- Johnny & Lyle- a must for all locals and anyone visiting Echuca.
11. And finally, to top off my week, I was thrilled to find my instagram photo made it to the Sunday Style magazine. You will have to excuse me for being excited….its my first time ever! You can find the recipe to this yummy Raspberry and Honeycomb ice cream here!

Monday, 13 January 2014

The All Time Favourite No Bake Lemon Slice!!!

Today Im going to share with you an all time favourite family recipe that is whipped up quite regularly in our household.

Its a non bake lemon slice! Super quick to make, uses pantry staples and the kind of slice where you just can't stop at just one piece! Its incredibly moreish and will have your guests coming back for more!

I have a bit of a weakness for any sweet treat with a citrus flavour. Somehow, I have convinced myself that citrus = low fat……so its okay to eat seconds, thirds or even fourth helpings!

I found this recipe several years ago in one of my handful of old (and well loved) CWA cookbooks. Its seen many an agricultural field day, morning tea treat at work, playdates, picnics, weekends away with family and friends, and the perfect drop off foodie gift for a new mum or friend who just needs a pick me up! In the last year we have been making this slice at least once a fortnite. Our two eldest have taken a keen interest in helping out in the kitchen and this is a perfect one for them to partake in- although I need to keep a very watchful eye on the mixture which can disappear rather quickly! I now keep a regular supply of Marie biscuits and condensed milk in the pantry, along with coconut, icing sugar and butter.

If your not into lemon (or don't have any on hand) I think you could quite easily change the flavour of the icing to chocolate or passionfruit, etc. Ive often thought to experiment  with it a bit, but then I remind myself of the saying….If its not broke, don't fix it!

For the slice-
250g Sweet biscuits- I use a whole packet of Marie Biscuits
90g coconut
125g melted butter or margarine
1/2 can condensed milk

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
juice of a lemon
lemon zest & extra coconut to sprinkle on top!

Crush the biscuits in a food processor, or the good old anger management way of clip lock bag and roller, until you have fine to medium crumbs! Add coconut, followed by melted butter and condensed milk. Stir together and mix thoroughly. Press into a 9" square tin or 11' x 7" tin and place in fridge to set.
To make icing- Mix the lemon juice and icing sugar together. Pour on to slice then sprinkle some zest and extra coconut on top. Place back into fridge. Once set, cut into small squares or fingers.
I like to keep mine in the fridge (hidden) !!!!!

Have you a favourite slice that is loved by all? 
Until next time…..Kx
PS. Enjoy the slice!xx

Sunday, 12 January 2014

2/52-Weekly Stills

1. This first photo was taken by my husband. He is an irrigation designer and above is one of his latest projects. A good feeling when you 'flick the switch' and the water comes out! Im in love with the clouds in this shot!
2, 3 & 4. Yes…..more tomatoes! We have had tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and tea this past week. Todays variation on using up our tomato stash was home made pizza's- prosciutta, mixed tomatoes, baby bocconcini & fresh basil, all layered of course, on a home made tomato sauce base. Delicious!
5 & 6. Home made lemon slice- recipe can be found here
7. Time to clean the silver!
8. Some Hebe flowers- a gift from my 2 year old son……
9. One of the many lovely old buildings in our local town
10. The mighty Murray!

See you next week…Kx

Monday, 6 January 2014

A visit to Stonefields-The weekend home of Paul Bangay

At the end of Last November, I was lucky to be invited by a lovely friend from Gilgandra in North West NSW, to join her and her girlfriends to see Paul Bangay's Open Day at "Stonefields" near Daylesford, Victoria. We also visited the beautiful "Musk Farm"- also designed by Paul.

It was a rather miserable, cold spring day, with sleeting rain and bursts of sunshine in between dark clouds. But the journey south was definitely worth it-the gardens didn't disappoint. The weather also didn't put off the thousands of visitors that walked through soaking up all the various 'rooms' and clever designs.

The group of girls I was with were from North West NSW. Friends who came together regularly through their gardening group and all big fans of Paul Bangay's work. They had been here two years earlier at the previous open day and this time they had even got up extra early to do the private tour with Paul himself that morning. They owned all his books and had designed their own gardens inspired by Paul's work.

What I found most interesting talking to these girls, is that despite both regions being so different in temperature, climate and landscape, how they adapted their gardens with plants and trees that were a "Paul Bangay" Style but would survive in their harsh environment. For example, using succulents as hedging rather than the traditional box hedging. Watering was a major issue for many of the girls, some living in town and some out on properties. There was lots of water talk, to say the least!

Below are some photos taken by myself on the day. As you will see, the sun didn't need to shine that day to appreciate the love, care and skill needed to grow these gardens….although it would have been nice!

For more information on Paul Bangay's work, click here.

Enjoy x

All photos taken by myself x