Preserving your Wild Forest Mushrooms (Pickling and Drying Methods)

Hello,

I have ventured to the forest a few times since my last post and I have noticed this year’s season has produced a great crop of wild mushrooms in our South Australian forests. The decent rain in April and warmer temperatures all throughout Autumn have certainly helped the supply, although the mushroom season did start a little later than usual. Now at the end of June, I’m still finding some Saffron Milk Caps at Mt Crawford and Kuipto Forest. I was also so ecstatic when we found our first Slippery Jack growing in our garden last week! A Polish dream come true!

With so many mushrooms about this season I thought it may be useful to share with you some of my recipes to preserve them so you can enjoy their deliciousness throughout the year. I have included two of my family pickling and drying methods that I tried recently.

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A glorious Polish bonfire: grilled kransky with sauteed forest mushrooms

The best way to enjoy foraged wild mushrooms is to consume them immediately. Sometimes we don’t even make it home, cooking them up in a pan with butter over a camp fire. Delicious! If you want to add a bit more zing to your pan-fried mushrooms the following is my go to recipe for a great balance of flavours.

 

Rustic fried mushrooms 

What you will need:

  • Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms, stems cut and sliced or keep whole (see my last post on tips to identify them correctly)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • 3-4 garlic sliced cloves
  • A small handful of finely sliced flat leaf parsley or dill
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • A generous sprinkle of pepper
  • Salt to season

Method:

  • Saute the mushrooms in the butter.
  • Add the garlic and continue to saute for 2 min
  • When the mushrooms have softened take off the heat and add the herbs, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve with a slice of rye or sourdough bread. Enjoy!

If you have foraged more mushrooms than you can eat in the next day or two it is best to preserve them. The two common methods my Polish grandparents would use were to pickle them or dry them. Pickling suits the Saffron Milk Caps the most as they are quite mild in flavour and combined with a few spices and vinegar they make a great accompaniment to a plate of smalls goods or part of your antipasto. You can dry most mushrooms and they keep for years if you keep them stored well.

 

Pickled Mushrooms

This is a simple pickling recipe that can easily be adjusted by adding different ingredients. You can add garlic, oil, herbs and spices to your liking. Pimento/ Allspice is popular in this recipe but I did not have any on hand when pickling this batch. This recipe below compliments the Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms but you can pickle other edible mushrooms.

What you will need:

  • 1kg Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms
  • 1 litre of water

  • 500ml white vinegar
  • 50g salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns

 

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Method:

  • Remove stuck pine needles from the caps and clean your saffron Milk Caps by soaking in some water for about 30 min. This will help eliminate any bugs that may be contained within the mushroom.
  • Cut off the stems and check the hollow cavity for bugs. If you see any, rinse again before use. Slice the mushrooms to about 1/2 cm in thickness.
  • Place in a pot with the water and bring to the boil for 10-15 min. Drain and cover.
  • Bring the vinegar, salt, pepper, onion and bay leaves to the boil for 5 minutes. Completely cool.
  • Divide your mushrooms in clean glass jars. You can pickle in one large jar or several smaller ones.
  • Pour your cooled vinegar mixture over the mushrooms right to the top. Seal the lids tight.

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The following method is important to sterilise your pickled mushrooms. There are many ways to sterilise your jars, either before you add your pickled mushrooms or after. My grandmother uses the following method and I enjoyed giving it a go!

  • Line a pot with a cotton cloth. Place a few jars on top but be sure not to cramp them too close together. This ensures your jars won’t break from rattling against each other.
  • Cover with water so that the jars are completely submerged.
  • Bring to the boil and reduce heat to maintain a steady boil for 15 minutes. It felt a little odd to sterilise my pickled mushrooms this way but it is an effective way to sterilise them.
  • Once cooled, store in a dark place and they are ready after a few weeks and can be stored for 1-2 years. When opened, store in the fridge thereafter. Enjoy!

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Drying Mushrooms

Drying mushrooms is quite simple and there are two main methods; oven drying and air drying. I recently tried the oven method as an excuse to warm up our home.

  • Preheat your oven to 50-60 degrees Celsius.
  • Remove pine needles and gently clean your mushrooms using a damp cloth. Remove stems.
  • If drying spongy mushrooms like the Slippery Jack variety (Suillus Granulatus), it is useful to remove excess moisture using some paper towels or a dry clean cloth.
  • Slice and arrange slightly apart on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  • Place in the oven with the door slightly ajar or routinely open the door to allow moisture to escape. Dry for as long as required until your mushroom pieces snap. Drying time will depend on the type of mushrooms and how thick you cut them. Alternatively you can also dry your mushrooms as the whole cap. My batch pictured below took approximately 4-5 hrs with the oven door ajar.
  • When your mushrooms have completely dried, store in a sealed container somewhere dry. A great tip I found online suggests to reuse those small silica packages you find in your vitamins or other dry foods, and place one amongst your mushrooms to absorb any moisture.
  • To re-hydrate these mushrooms, place a few in a little hot water and stand for 10 min before adding to soups, sauces and stews.

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I hope these tips and recipes are useful to you and you have fun preserving your forest mushrooms.

Have a lovely day,

Jacqueline

 

 

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Wild Mushroom Foraging at Mt Crawford Forest

Hello,

One of my favourite activities in Autumn is taking a trip to Mt Crawford Forest and indulging in the sport of wild mushroom foraging. Mt. Crawford, located at the north-eastern side of the Adelaide Hills, is a pine plantation forest with several areas open to the public for camping, hiking, weekend bonfires and mushrooming. Autumn is an especially popular time to go there, particularly within the Polish community in Adelaide, I have been going here with friends and family since I was very young. As Poland is abundant with majestic pine forests, such an annual pilgrimage offers an opportunity to reconnect with the familiar natural landscape and revisit the nostalgia for the motherland many have etched within their hearts. In fact, I do not recall a time I have ever visited this forest without bumping into at least one Polish family, especially in the Rocky Paddock area. I often see someone I know, or easily identify other Poles by sighting a group cooking their Kransky’s pierced through a stick over a bonfire, or a little crowd wandering in the forest with cane baskets filled to the brim with pine mushrooms. The stereotype holds quite true!

For us Poles and many other Slavic communities, mushroom foraging is one of the most enjoyable cultural pastimes. I love the opportunity for the younger and older generations in a family to spend time together, where the elder’s can pass on their very valuable foraging wisdom to the next generation. In my family, my grandmother is the mushroom guru who had the respected role in carefully checking that our collected mushrooms are safe to consume.

Our most recent trip this Autumn was quite special as it was the first time I began passing down some of my mushroom knowledge to my young children. It was such a beautiful sunny Autumn’s day. Golden light filtered through the pine trees as I breathed in the calming fresh scent of pine needles scattered across the slightly damp forest floor. I will forever cherish the memories made with them by my side, running through the forest finding and collecting mushrooms. There was a sense of bitter-sweetness though. I spent many years foraging  in the same places with my late grandfather by my side,  and felt slightly overwhelmed with a sense of longing for him yet a comforting closeness to his memory.

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The common varieties of pine mushroom quite easily found and safe to pick at Mt. Crawford are Saffron Milk Cap and Slippery Jack/Weeping Bolete mushroom.

Saffron Milk Cap ~ Lactarius Deliciosus

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The Saffron Milk Cap mushroom has a distinguishable saffron-orange cap that can range approximately 4-15 cm in width depending on its maturity. They are also commonly referred to as pine forest mushrooms. The cap is sticky when wet but otherwise dry and some of the larger ones can concave into the centre. Underneath they have light reddish-orange crowded fanned gills and green stains can occur due to bruising when handled or naturally at maturation. The stem can range approximately between 3-8 cm and is hollow inside. Found beneath conifers in well drained moist soil, usually surrounded by pine needles. They often grow in clusters so if you find one it is likely you will find more nearby. When sliced, the milk is deep orange in colour. Saffron Milk Caps have a mild taste and strong woody scent when cooked. Discard the stem before cooking.

 Weeping Bolete (commonly known as Slippery Jack) ~ Suillus Granulatus

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The Slippery Jack is distinguishable by its brown cap and yellow porous sponge beneath and when young, its underside is covered by a thin veil. As it matures the veil thins out and forms a ring around the stem. Similar looking mushrooms that fit this description without a veil can be often confused as ‘Slippery Jacks’ are from the same Bolete family, but are in fact technically Weeping Bolete as pictured above. Both are safe to eat and will be referred to collectively as Slippery Jacks by many. In fact, I previously distinguished both as Slippery Jacks prior to undertaking more research!

When young, the Weeping Bolete/ Slippery Jack cap has a conical chestnut brown to darker brown cap that later flattens out and may even concave slightly at the centre upon maturity. The cap ranges approximately 4-10 cm in width. The cap is quite slimy to touch and can be easily peeled off before cooking to avoid gastric upsets, but some do keep it on. I prefer to peel it off. Like the Saffron Milk Cap, these too are found near the base of conifers and often in clusters, the stem should also be discarded before cooking.

When you have identified a mushroom confidentially as either the Saffron Milk Cap or Slippery Jack or Weeping Bolete, take your small knife and cut through the stem, leaving the roots and partial stem behind. This ensures the mushroom will regenerate and leave opportunity for others to forage for many years to come. It is considered very disrespectful and poor sustainable practice to pick mushrooms with their roots attached. It is also very important to note that always check with credible sources that a mushroom is safe to pick. I’m not a mushroom expert and my advice is based on my family knowledge and personal research, so please take your own precautions and remember “When in doubt go without” as some mushrooms can be very poisonous. It is also wise to become familiar with mushroom varieties that are commonly confused with the ones you want to pick and find out if the confusions are safe or poisonous.

Where to find useful resources:

  • Inquire at the Mt. Crawford Information centre for specific guides on local mushroom varieties.
  • There are several useful apps with detailed taxonomies of many varieties, use with caution.
  • Search for credible online sources, particularly from local governing and educational bodies.
  • It is very useful to find someone with experience and knowledge to accompany you on your initial mushroom foraging adventure. Extra points of confidence if you can take a Polish grandmother or grandfather with you! (That’s a potential business idea! Hire a Polish Babcia hehe).

While great caution needs to be taken, foraging for your own wild mushrooms is such a wonderful experience and a great way to get back in touch with nature and enjoy how food was once commonly acquired. I hope you have found some inspiration to give it a go and take a trip to Mt. Crawford* for a great weekend of adventure. Stay tuned for my next post which will include ideas and recipes on how to prepare your foraged wild mushrooms.

Stay warm and have a lovely day,

Jacqueline

* Or alternatively the more southern Kuipto Forest in South Australia.

Harvest Mylor Cafe

Hello,

recently I was on going for a country drive through Mylor and stumbled upon the Harvest Mylor Café. Tucked underneath some majestic oak trees, this charming cottage has been transformed into a vibrant modern café, whilst retaining it’s rustic charm. The outdoor dining area is a lovely cosy set up; with wooden tables and chairs accompanied by inviting colourful crocheted blankets, to keep toasty on those chilly mornings. Such a lovely location in a leafy and peaceful setting, certainly a way to experience the slower-paced lifestyle up here in the Adelaide Hills.

The menu is full of healthy wholefood options, ticking most dietary boxes. Harvest emphases their use of locally sourced seasonal produce, mostly made fresh in house. One of the things you will notice when exploring local cafes in the Adelaide Hills is the frequent warm personal service, Harvest is certainly true to this.

When we arrived late morning, my daughter already had a little breakfast at home earlier but was slightly peckish. We were served by Danielle who went out of her way to chat to my little one, suggesting to make her a custom mini egg and bacon slider to satisfy her little craving, at a smaller cost than the larger one on the menu. She kindly also made her a babyccino on the house which was not expected but a lovely gesture of her warm hospitality.

I ordered the buckwheat waffles topped with Harris smoked salmon, a softly poached egg, creamy hollandaise, dressed in a generous amount of sprouts and garnishes. It was delicious, nourishing and plated well, providing a lovely harmony of textures. My husband ordered the breakfast Brioche bun filled with fried eggs, crispy bacon, greens and served with a house made spiced relish …. and he certainly enjoyed every mouthful of this comforting breakfast, particularly the relish! We also enjoyed a coffee with our breakfast and I must say it is worth the trip up just for their amazing espresso, their crème was perfect. They also had an additional sweet waffle menu (not pictured) that will certainly satisfy those with a sweet tooth with several decadent options.

A trip to Harvest Mylor Café is a perfect way to start your weekend if you are keen on a little country exploring, and a great alternative stop on your annual pilgrimage to Hahndorf this Autumn (Mylor is only 10 min away). Visiting Mylor also offers the opportunity to check out the local Strawberry Farm ‘Walker Family Farms’ or go for a hike on part of the Heysen trail. Harvest Mylor Café is located on the main road of town, with plenty of parking next to the café and across the road at the main oval.

Harvest Mylor Café

240 Strathalbyn Road, Mylor

Opening hours: Thursday to Sunday 8:30am – 3:30pm

 

I hope you enjoy some lovely adventures in the hills this Autumn.

Have a lovely day,

Jacqueline

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Zesty Lemon and Lime Curd

Hello,

Recently I have been quite keen to make some homemade preserves, as there are many times during the year where we find a temporary oversupply of delicious fruit and vegetables. Making my own condiments with local produce has been a little dream since the beginning of our whole tree change adventure, a rite of passage for the country life! The funny thing is I have returned home many times with large quantities of strawberries, plums and tomatoes, intending to preserve them. However, they have always magically turned into cakes or soups!

I had a few lemon and limes remaining from a cocktail night, so today I would like to share with you how I turned them into the most delicious and zesty Lemon and Lime Curd. What I love about citrus curd is the harmony between sweetness, sourness and creaminess of the egg and butter. I have refined this recipe a few times to find the right balance between zesty citrus and that lingering creaminess.

This Lemon and Lime Curd can be used as a spread on toast, pancakes, pavlova and tart filling. I find it most ideal as an accompaniment with light and buttery scones topped with a dollop of cream.

Lemon and Lime Curd

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What you will need:

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

170g caster sugar

Juice and Zest from 2 lemons

Juice from 4 limes

150g salted butter (chopped)

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Directions:

  1. Separate egg yolks, finely grate lemon zest and extract juice  from the lemons and limes.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, the two yolks and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is well combined.
  3. Add the juice and zest and further combine.DSC_6133
  4. Place a double boiler or a bowl over a post of simmering water. Ensure the base of the top pot or bowl is not touching the simmering water.
  5. Add the egg and lemon mixture and cook using low to medium heat, stirring continuously for 10-15 min or until thickened.DSC_6135
  6. Add the chopped butter individually and whisking the mixture in between further additions.DSC_6134
  7. When thick and glossy turn off the heat and cover to cool aside.DSC_6138
  8. Serve when slightly cooled or store in a sterilised jar and refrigerate.
  9. Test the lemon curd regularly with a little spoon when no one is watching, just to check if still delicious!

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I hope you enjoy this recipe and have some fun making your own zesty curd preserve. Please note that I forgot to label the jar with ‘lime’, the featured curd is made from this recipe!

Smacznego and have a bright and zesty day,

Jacqueline

 

 

Building our Cosy Stone Fireplace

Hello again,
In Autumn we made one of the best decisions since moving to chilly Stirling, we built our very own fireplace. This cosy little corner has become central to our daily lives throughout this past winter. I’ve been so drawn to its soothing radiant warmth and it has become a refuge where I plan my day, make phone calls, read, knit and kick back with a night cap when the children have gone to sleep. The fireplace has also become very useful to leave yeast dough to rise for freshly baked breads and my Polish cakes.

I have had several friends and family ask us how we built the fireplace, especially after our recent storm where the fireplace was our savior during several blackouts! I thought it may be useful to introduce a DIY section to this site, since we have many more projects we are working on. Part of my absence from blogging recently, has been due to getting stuck into various projects and renovations, that have been keeping us busy. So I will endeavour to share our experiences and provide any tips or lessons we learn along the way.

It is quite common to renovate and customise properties here in Stirling. I love how individuality is celebrated in the unique culture up here. No home or garden looks remotely similar to the other. Century old heritage homes sit next to modern architectural designs, with quaint cottages and partially renovated country homes in between. Such an electic mix, with the only similarity being the abundance of majestic trees wrapped in vine, weaving these homes together. Our dream is to achieve a harmony of rustic and modern, in natural tones with a subtle elements of mountain culture, that we fell in love with on our last trip to the Alps in Europe.

When we decided to build our fireplace, we took a while to decide on the perfect location in our home. We currently have ducted heating upstairs, but not downstairs where we have our bedroom. Fortunately, we also inherited a significant amount of firewood with our property, so we wanted to use the opportunity to reduce heating costs in the cooler months. My clever husband devised a plan to have the fireplace installed in the corner of our lounge room, where the main bedroom sits directly underneath. We did this so we could direct some of the heat downstairs from the fireplace through a floor vent using a ducting system and fan. This has maximised the use of heat energy we have produced, without the need so a secondary heating system. A smaller fireplace in our bedroom was considered, but our concerns were the possibility it may produce too much heat for a bedroom, and the space required for the installation.

The fireplace  was an opportunity to add style to our lounge room,  so we decided on a mix of natural grey stone tones and rustic timber for a cosy Alpine chic feel. My husband Mark built the hearth himself using a simple timber frame, topped with a fibre cement sheet and durable tiles. We chose modern large grey stone tiles in a matt finish and matching grey grout. To achieve that stone-wall look we used stack-stone tiles that were easy to install using a tile adhesive called tile mastic. This adhesive is more suitable for heavy wall tiles and allows some flexibility compared to other tile adhesives. For a natural look, Mark offset the tiles so the end point of the tile did not line up and reveal a line along the wall.

We chose a wood heater by Ultimate and have been very happy with the design and quality of the heater. There are three fan settings and the flue was included in installation price organised by the store.  My favourite feature of the fireplace is the timber shelf that Mark carved from a log laying around the garden. He used angle brackets recessed behind the stone wall to hold it in place. It is so nice to have a hand made element and token of our garden inside our home, it has become a great mantel piece for displaying garden gatherings and candles.

We are really happy with the result. The new fireplace has brought a new homey cosiness to our home. Mark’s clever idea worked and we have managed to heat our bedroom through the offset heat upstairs by about  5-6 degrees more during winter .  We are also happy with the location we decided on as it is lovely having a window nearby to wander off and daydream while siting around the cosy warmth of the fire.

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I hope this has been helpful and would love to hear feedback on whether it would be useful to continue to share some of our DIY and renovation projects with you. Please don’t hesitate to ask any further questions you may have
Products we used:

  • Ultimate Wood heater, in Champagne / Adelaide Woodheaters & Gas Log Fires
  • Hearth tiles and stack-stone wall tiles / National Tiles
  • Hearth timber and  fibre sheeting / Bunnings
  • Tile mastic (adhesive) / Bunnings
  • Dunlop grout in grey / Bunnings
  • Angle brackets recessed in wall / Mitre 10

Have a lovely day and stay warm,

Jacqueline

 

 

Exploring Roadside Farmer Stalls in the Adelaide Hills

Hello again,

Autumn is coming to an end here in the Adelaide Hills and the cold crisp air has arrived! Wanting to get out of the house last weekend, we decided to jump into the car and explore the towns surrounding us. My little boy has been sick at home for a few days, and I wasn’t prepared to risk extending his illness in this cold. Our solution was to go on a little family adventure searching for the best roadside farm stalls while he remained rugged up in the car.

We decided on our route by simply choosing the prettiest and most scenic roads at each intersection, enjoying the charm of discovering new places and views along the way. Our first find was in Uraidla, where we found such a cute roadside stall filled with seasonal autumn produce such as pumpkins, cabbages, oranges and rhubarb to name a few. We bought some cabbages, leeks and beautiful bunch of beetroot that will be perfect for making one of my favourite Polish soups called Barszcz (Borsch). As we were taking some photos of the stall, a farmer on a giant tractor drove right up to us from nowhere and with a cheeky grin said “Hello there, I see you are admiring my golden beets?” A little embarrassed, we were unsuspecting of anyone watching us, and felt like such city folk with our SLR camera taking photos of vegetables on the side of the road.

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Several windy roads took us through lush green meadows dotted with gum and pine trees, stopping briefly to say hello to some grazing cows. Our little adventure led us to Summertown, Piccadilly, Balhannah, Oakbank, Woodside and Bridgewater. Fields of apple orchards and endless bare grapevines stretched across these country towns. I loved seeing the old rustic farm equipment displayed near the roadside as an ode to the past, and the afternoon sun peering over the gentle rolling hills; quite iconic for the Adelaide Hills!
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The excitement of being the first the spot the next stall along the road made a great afternoon and we were spoilt for choice spotting several little stalls on the outskirts of towns. The Apple Orchard shop was a small store that sold some delightful Fuji apples, so fresh and crisp, it was not hard to imagine them being picked the previous day. Some great fruit preserves from seasonal local fruit can also be found throughout the Adelaide Hills.  We particularly enjoyed a delicious combination of rhubarb and raspberry jam by Naturally Nice Jams that we found in Lenswood, perfect on toast!

Springwood Farm in Summertown was also a great find, they grow raspberries, figs and other berries and produce Granny May’s Jams. Their raspberry jam has such a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness with such a juicy raspberry flavour, that is well worth the trip over!  Friendly farmer David spotted us leaving his stall and chatted to us about his farm and told us that during the peak season in summer, they sell their own ice cream made with their fresh raspberries and blackberries! Find more details about Springwood Farm here.
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DSC_4185On our way back we found some gorgeous flower stalls, and one cannot end a trip around the hills without stocking up on some horse manure for the garden! The kids found it quite amusing we were searching for bags of horse poo and the trip was such a nice family adventure with many laughs all afternoon.
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In our busy lives it is nice to take a step back sometimes and spend a day like this just wandering and exploring with no real expectations and schedule. It was lovely experiencing good old country values such as farmer’s trusting our honesty to pay at unmanned stalls, and knowing we are still able to make a difference in supporting local farms. Additionally it was a good educational lesson for our children in understanding seasonal farm production and essentially where our food comes from.
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So if you are looking for something different and fun to do this weekend with friends, family or even a cool date idea, head up to the hills and explore a little. You will create some fun memories, meet some inspiring country folk and collect a bounty of goodies along the way!

Stay warm and have a lovely day,

Jacqueline

 

Garden Wanderings and Flower Play

Hello,

Today I would like to share with you a fun nature activity that we enjoyed recently. We began our sunny morning with some outdoor exploring as spring has transformed our garden into a floral wonderland. Brightly coloured flowers, interesting gum nuts, berries and pinecones scattered throughout the garden kept Aniela captivated for the morning. We named the plants and flowers, and their colours that stood out to her. We talked about how some flowers close in the evening and move towards the sunshine, and the purpose of flowering during springtime. She was so happy and looked so cute wandering around with her flower basket, so I used the opportunity for a little photo shoot to capture this wonderful memory.

Nature really offers so many opportunities for learning and play. Since moving to Stirling our children have rarely played with their toys, even on rainy days. There is something so fun and adventurous for them when they explore the outdoors. Playing in nature has helped them develop creative freedom, a courageous spirit and involves all their senses (including their sense of motion in a way the indoors cannot).

While there is still value in some toys, I think nowadays some have become so sophisticated, expensive, specific and easily broken, which can really defeat their purpose for their little inquisitive owners! I have realised now as a mum of two how you can gain the same learning and entertainment from simple things found free in our environment. In our garden, Aniela often becomes engrossed in breaking little twigs, making little pictures from stones and throwing camelia petals into the air. Alex is at the stage at enjoying gardening skills and building things that spark his imagination. Playing outdoors also allows them to develop these tactile senses without the worry of damage that may occur indoors.

These experiences in nature help with their development and understanding of the world. For example, when Aniela breaks the twigs she is experimenting with the physical variables for a breaking point (such as width, length and flexibility) that can help her develop skills for building and creating things later on. I’m particularly impressed that many schools and councils are taking note on the importance of nature in learning and it has been wonderful to see more nature-based curriculums and playgrounds. I have been fortunate to find a playgroup that offers only nature-based play in an outdoor setting.

Now with Spring in full bloom, I highly recommend having a wander outdoors with your little ones; be it on the way to school, around the neighbourhood or in your own garden. Children love collecting things and in addition to flowers you can look around for what is in your local environment such as nuts, pebbles, twigs and interesting looking leaves. You can count, name and categorise them and even use them for a craft project. Recently we have enjoyed using pine branches as paint brushes and gum nuts as stamps. When they no longer show interest in their collection you can simply compost them or put it into green waste without having to worry about the waste of money like with abandoned toys.

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Play dough recipe

To extend our nature playtime, we made some home made play dough for Aniela to get creative with the flowers she had picked. I found a great recipe here and I added a few drops of rose water that I had for an added sensory element.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tbs cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 3 drops rose coloured food colouring
  • 1 tsp of rose water or scented oil as desired

1.  Combine ingredients together and continuously mix over medium heat until the dough no longer sticks to the edge of the saucepan.

2. Cool down slightly before play to avoid burns. (Aniela loved playing with the dough while it was still warm and the dough is more pliable.)

3. Store in the refrigerator sealed in a container or plastic sealable bag.

We made two batches of dough in orange and pink and we enjoyed making little flower pots for our floral displays and little cute macarons and other little pretend cakes. Our little wander through the garden turned into a whole morning of nature and creative play and one very happy little girl.

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Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have enjoyed this flower play idea for your children.

Have a lovely day,

Jacqueline

A local treasure: The Stirling Hotel

Hello,

One of the great things about moving to the Adelaide Hills is discovering all the great food haunts; be it quaint little cafes, trendy hotels or classy vineyard restaurants. I will be sharing with you the worthy mentions, starting with the award-winning treasure of Stirling: The Stirling Hotel.

The Stirling Hotel is a beautiful and trendy venue, nestled at the end of the main strip in Stirling (Mt Barker Road). It’s charming ambience draws in crowds all year round. However since Spring has arrived visitors have been flocking here to enjoy their modern menu, whilst basking in the sunny weather we have had lately.

I have dined here several times; for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the service and food has been consistently exceptional. Their bistro menu caters to the traditionals, with some classy pub grub, to more modern experimental tastes with their tapas and signature burger menu. The multi-complex hotel caters to all moods, with a restaurant, a bistro, a pizza bar and a unique licensed patisserie that is located at the rear within the cellars (offering a wine or coffee with your fresh croissant!).

Breakfast has been my favourite time to venture here, to avoid the city crowds coming up during the day and evening. One of the highlights of breakfast is the pancake station that allows you to indulge in unlimited pancakes for $7.90, but get in early to avoid queuing up. My children love this and it is their usual breakfast choice when we come here. Recently I was here with them and we sat outside along the bench with the beautiful view of the main street all greened up on a sunny Saturday morning. I ordered the avocado and haloumi on sourdough dressed with dukkah and vincotto that gave it a lovely texture, it was delicious. For families, the deck area is ideal as it faces a lovely garden and lawn area where kids can run off their energy whilst waiting for their meals to arrive (yet remaining in full sight). I’m yet to experience the bar at night however I have taken note of their interesting cocktail menu, and inviting Sunday sessions on the deck (during my evening walks around town).

Visiting Stirling in Spring also offers the opportunity the wander around town which is right now in full bloom. The magnificent oak and druids provide lush green canopies and colourful bursts of floral hues are on display all throughout the town. A walk down the lovely leafy archway on Druid Avenue is definitely a must this time of year.

The Stirling Hotel is a great spot to mark on the “To Do List” this Spring and a great idea for those who wish to impress visitors or a new date. You can find it at: 52 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.

Hope you have a lovely day,

Jacqueline

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