The Treat Factory, Berry


Hidden out the back of Berry is a rather fabulous place called The Treat Factory. I only discovered it thanks to a local Facebook group where someone was looking for some pickling salt, and another member suggested to look in the downstairs area of the Berry Treat Factory.

That’s funny, I thought. I did not know they had a downstairs area. It turned out after over 10 years of living here I had never been to the REAL Berry Treat Factory which is way off the main street and hidden away behind the train station, at the very back of some commercial units.


So on a weekend not long afterwards, we made the trek to the Treat Factory and discovered so much awesomeness. Above you see their famed downstairs area. You can find all kinds of magical things here, everything from actual Australian dried apricots to hot sauce.


We have been back several times to buy many of their made-on-site goods, which can also be found at the Berry Markets where they often have a stall and in various shops. I took some photos to share with you.


They have gluten free and regular pastry in rolls and blocks, frozen pasta, cheeses, free range eggs, muesli..


The treat factory has all kinds of goodies for sale, including lots of chocolate covered nuts and chocolate treats, many of which would make great gifts to take home for friends and family. They also have some samples of the things for sale that you can try.


My personal favourites are the lime aioli and the tomato relish. The dark chocolate coated nuts – particularly the almonds – are a regular purchase for us, and the dark chocolate covered coffee beans are must buy if you like that kind of thing. We will continue going back and trying different things until we have tried them all. ;)


They have local honey, too.


The large bags of lollies are excellent value in my opinion at just $9.50. They are super huge!


On this trip we bought tomato relish, dark chocolate coffee beans, belgian chocolate mini frogs, a large bag of dark chocolate almonds and the wicked hot chocolate chai flavour for me, a small bag of the almonds plus some rock and jams for a gift for someone else.


Thanks to a different Facebook group, I found out they had opened a milk bar with gelato made on site right next door to The Treat Factory, we have now been there twice and I will post about that on Wednesday.

Berry, food

The Flagon


As much as I love my Beerenberg tomato sauce, I do kinda resent having to pay $4.45 for a 300ml bottle which last us maybe a week in sausage roll season.

And because we have chosen to take sausage roll season into the summer this year with our meatballs in a tin, which is essentially sausage rolls without the filo pastry, we have been consuming quite a lot of sauce.

When a family member travels to RADelaide (yes that is what those of us who lived there but left do call it, because we do still love it) we make one small request.

Can you visit the Beerenberg factory shop and pick us up a flagon of tomato sauce? Pretty please?

And our wishes were granted.


300ml VS 2 litres. This should last us a short time! ;) I have no idea how much the flagon was as I did not buy it. But you better believe we will enjoy every single drop of it. If you have not tried Beerenberg tomato sauce, I highly recommend it. I think what makes it so incredible on the tastebuds is the apple they add.


They make a large range of products and I have never had a bad one yet. The jams are lovely, too. The one thing I do not love are the labels with random names on them. At least they changed the tomato sauce one back to a normal one.

food, Happy Snoskred

Fruchoc Me


Those of you in South Australia can think yourselves lucky. And you are incredibly lucky, but maybe you do not recognize it the way those of us who are formerly South Australian know and understand it. Yes, we can sometimes get a Vili’s pasty. In fact I buy boxes of 12 pasties at a time, from a local cash and carry type place.

Yes, Farmers Union Iced Coffee is available in other states now, even in a 2 litre container in the supermarket. Yes, some Beerenberg products can be found by us on various shelves around the place from time to time.


But the list of things we cannot experience unless actually present in your state is long. I would love a proper Vili’s sprinkled donut SO MUCH. I miss the soup of the day at the Vili’s Cafe. I miss my Barnacle Bills. Crazy as it might sound you cannot get anything comparable here in NSW. My go-to was the two in one snack pack. Fishettes, I miss you! And those sweet, juicy prawns.


Until a year or so ago, I could easily get a Fruchoc here. But with Coles recent booting of many items from the shelves and other stores revising their ranges, it became harder to find them. One recent weekend I tried everywhere I could think of, only to fail. The reason I was looking was because I had found a site with a recipe for Fruchocs and I was hungry for them, but not hungry enough to actually make them myself. Or so I thought.

Once I failed at finding them on the shelves, I had no choice. I had to make them. But even that was more difficult than I expected. The recipe called for dried apricots and pears. Dried apricots are somewhat easy but I did not want ones from Turkey as I find them to be flavourless, I wanted Aussie dried apricots and not a single store I went to had those. Dried pears seemed to be an absolute impossibility. I tried Aldi, Woolworths, IGA, Coles, the local fruit and veg shops, nothing. Though I did find some yoghurt covered fruit bites at IGA which satisfied my craving momentarily.


Imagine my surprise when the answer to all my searching was the Berry Treat Factory. Like many unexpected answers it arrived as a surprise in a local group where someone was looking for some pickling salt, and another member suggested to look in the downstairs area of the Berry Treat Factory.

That’s funny, I thought. I did not know they had a downstairs area. It turned out after over 10 years of living here I had never been to the REAL Berry Treat Factory which is off the main street and hidden away behind the train station, at the very back of some commercial units.


Did they have Fruchocs? No, that would have been too much to hope for. They did have a lot of chocolate covered items like sultanas and nuts. Most importantly in the famed downstairs area they did have Aussie apricots AND dried pears, which I had almost feared I would never find anywhere. They also had a huge range of all kinds of awesome treats. We will be going back, time and again.

This recipe seemed easy but it is the most difficult thing I have ever made. There are no photos of the process, I was too busy! I need a better food processor. I need something that can chop up dried fruits without needing liquid added. I ended up giving up on my food processor and using a blender. Unfortunately this did not work especially well, even with melted coconut oil added. I tried adding water to get these two ingredients to blend together and all that happened for the most part was the dried fruits soaked up the water. This was a happy accident to be honest because the end result is so deliciously juicy. I would definitely add water to the dried fruits again!


I also used Nestle dark cooking chocolate mixed with some Aldi dark chocolate with sea salt, melting the two together to make an unbeatable combination of awesomeness. Next time I would double chocolate coat them. And once we were done coating fruchocs, we coated some caramel peanuts and some of my Wasabi and Seaweed Macadamia nuts which turned out great.


It would have been easier and probably cheaper to just order some Fruchocs and have them shipped to me. It seems you can now get them in a dark chocolate coating and that would be my pick I expect.

I did once try to enquire if it would be possible to purchase some Barnacle Bills prawns in a frozen state so I could cook them for my mother, for her birthday. Nobody ever replied to my email. This is probably a good thing because if I could get them I would order several trucks worth.


Almost Chicken Kievs


Warning – this post contains some images of raw chicken, a bit further down in the post! My apologies but I wanted to show you the chicken pocket. ;)

Sometime in the later half of 2016 we did a run to Lenards at Warrawong to pick up our big order of chicken. We would usually order 12 mini roasts, a bunch of kievs and filos, and other assorted things. We would bring it all home, foodsave it, put it in the deep freeze, and cook it over the following three months.

When we arrived to pick up our order, they informed us they would be closing at the end of October. When I went online to check other locations, I discovered there was nothing nearby and the closest location would now be Menai in Sydney. We did run up in February or so and grab a bunch more chicken, but since then we did some experiments and created our own version of the Chicken Kiev.

Though our version is not a real chicken kiev by any stretch of the imagination. If you do want to make a “real” one, I suggest this video of the Jamie Oliver recipe.

Ours are not crumbed. My kiev does not contain any garlic at all. The Other Half gets a Jamie Oliver inspired bacon and garlic butter with cheese which I wrap in ham. My kievs are seaweed, wasabi, olives and feta cheese wrapped in ham.


How do I make the Bacon and Garlic butter filling? I cook the bacon in the oven first then chop it. I use ground garlic and minced garlic to cover all the garlic bases and I use proper butter but you can feel free to use any kind of margarine spread you like if you prefer. I put the ingredients into a bowl and mash them together. With the butter I do suggest taking it out of the fridge ahead of time and if it is particularly cold as it was on this day, you may need to pop it into the microwave for a short burst before attempting to mash it.


With the feta mix, you can use seaweed and wasabi of any kind. I like to use the Danish style feta as it holds together once you have mixed it, the Greek style is a bit more crumbly and difficult to work with for this recipe. I am lucky because I have a wasabi and seaweed powder which I have sourced from a local nut roasting company, so my powder mix also has macadamia nut oil. I chopped up some olives to add in, as well.


Then I lay out the mix onto a couple of pieces of ham, roll these up, and stuff this into the chicken pocket.


The other half gets some cheese added in because he likes it that way.


Probably the hardest part of this entire recipe is making the chicken pocket. If you do not cut enough of a pocket you can’t fit everything in. If you cut too much, you might create a hole where you do not want one. But once you have done it a few times, you become a bit more confident. On this day we made 18 kievs in total – we like to do this job in bulk.


The kievs were then paired up into foodsaver bags, vacuum sealed, and then placed in the freezer.


There is no reason to stick to any kind of kiev rules here, folks. I once had a chicken kiev which was filled with black cherries and Camembert. I’ve thought about doing strawberries, balsamic vinegar and feta, perhaps wrapped in spinach. The only limit is your imagination and what flavours would go well with chicken. I believe almost any flavour suits chicken. In summer I might try mango and avocado salsa of some kind.

Doing this job in bulk – which took us an hour and a half but we also cut up chicken strips during this time – means that we can eat kievs for the next 9 weeks and all I have to do is take them out, defrost them a little, pop them into the roaster, cook them for 42 minutes, and prepare some vegetables to go along with this great dinner. :)


Sausage Rolls Of Your Choice


Oh S**t, said I, one Saturday evening as we were preparing to make sausage rolls. We forgot to get more tomato sauce. On checking the bottle in the fridge, there was not enough. We will have to run to the shops. No, said the other half. I will just go without sauce. ARE YOU CRAZY, said I. If you don’t want to go, I will just do a quick run to IGA. You can start shredding the veg then add in the mince and the egg, if you like. And so he did.


But of course IGA was out of stock, so was Coles – this was the first time I got a hint they had removed it from their range of products they stock. But they still had Beerenberg chutney so I was able to grab that. It is almost the same as the sauce, just chunkier. Luckily Nowra Fresh stocks it and they were stocking the shelves when we arrived for a bulk meat buy-up, so I now have 3 spare bottles in the cupboard plus one in the fridge and I will grab more when I next see them.


Any South Australian who has ever experienced Beerenberg tomato sauce knows that you cannot settle for a lesser sauce. I normally keep two bottles on hand and replace one when we use the first one up, but we have been enjoying a lot of pasties, sausage rolls and pies just lately. It is winter, and I made a huge batch of chicken sausage rolls a few weeks ago. We ate some, most went into the freezer, where they keep being retrieved and eaten for small lunches or dinners.


Have you ever seen how much sodium is in the shop bought sausage rolls? I have, and it is unlikely that The Other Half will ever be allowed more than a very occasional one now that he has to watch his sodium. We do have some Vili’s in the freezer for emergencies, but at 649mg of sodium when his daily goal is 1000mg.. that leaves him very little for other meals.


And the best thing about making our own – I can pack them full of vegetables. We usually put in carrot and zucchini – this time we added in leek and brussel sprouts as well. I do not use any filler at all – zero breadcrumbs – and the recipe is super simple – it is purely mincemeat of your choice, one egg per 500g of mincemeat, then the vegies. Plus an extra egg for the egg wash.


I take a sheet of puff pastry, cut it in half, lay it on my baking paper, egg wash one side and place the sausage mixture on the other side. Then I use the baking paper to roll the sausage up into the puff pastry. I hand it off to The Other Half, who cuts it up into 4. These get placed into a baking tray lined with baking paper and egg wash the top.


We even make our own chicken mincemeat these days. We just take chicken breast and put it in the food processor. Things are getting very back to basics around here! But in the case of beef mince, I usually get the 5 star from Aldi and it is excellent. We will make our own one day just to try it.


Any leftover mince meat can go into a muffin pan. Just spray the tins with cooking spray of your choice, top them with a little cheese, and they make great meatballs. If you are not feeling like the puff pastry deal these meat and vegetable muffins can be a very easy dinner. Just put everything into the food processor, spoon it into the muffin pan, top with cheese, cook for 30 minutes and dinner is served. Since we tried these muffins we have made them a few times, so easy, quick and so tasty!


If you want to make a non-meat “sausage” roll version, a mix of ricotta and feta with the vegetables would be awesome. I would add in some olives and also some spinach. Maybe mushrooms but lately I have been part cooking them first before putting them on pizza and draining them on paper towel as they seem to be full of excess moisture.


Bernie’s Diner, Moss Vale


Some years ago I began reading Sydney food blogs. The main reason was so that I would know the great places to go when we visited. As we usually day trip and somewhat rarely at that, I want to know where the great places are so we can visit.


Sydney food bloggers often blog food from regional NSW when they travel and this is how I found out about Bernie’s Diner sometime around 2012/2013. I do not think it was very long between my reading about the place and us visiting. We have been back at least once a year since then – well it is about a 60km drive otherwise we would go more often.


The owner was featured on SBS about a week before we went this on most recent visit so it was absolutely packed. Standing room only as you can see in that top pic there – all the booths were full and people were waiting for other people to leave so they could grab a booth. We just got a couple of chairs at this kind of breakfast bar that runs along behind one side of the booths.


We usually go for the burgers here. I get the Waikiki, the other half changes up his order each time. This time he did a double cheeseburger with bacon and egg. We also get a serve of cheese fries. These are amazing. The regular fries are also excellent. I also splurge and have my one occasional soda – so occasional I can tell you exactly when the last one was – November 2016, when we last visited Bernie’s with Sephyroth.


The things you need to know about Bernie’s Diner – BYO paper towel or napkins, because the provided napkins while authentic to the diner experience are not exactly built for cleaning up after one of these great burgers.


There are bathroom facilities hidden out the back after you walk through a spare empty room – I would expect that room might soon be in use with booths and seating and quite rightly so given the amount of people visiting here these days. The sink in the toilets is only a half sink so that is also not very helpful with a good after-burger clean up.

Here is the owner, Ioannis Benardos, being interviewed on SBS. Here is the website with the menu, and here is their Facebook page but I warn you, liking it is going to make you hungry whenever food pics are posted. :)

food, Southern Highlands

Sweet And Sour Chicken


This was the second Chinese dish I ever learned how to make – the first being Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup. For some reason – probably laziness and the fact that KanTong makes a sweet and sour sauce in a jar – I stopped making it from scratch. I would love to know why that is, did I think this was harder to make than it actually is? Never, ever again will I use that jar sauce because this recipe is so simple and easy and incredibly delicious. It is taken from the Golden Circle website but I have changed it slightly to suit ourselves.

You will need –

600g chicken breast fillets chopped how you like them.
your choice of cooking oil to cover frypan (I use half coconut/half olive)
1 leek (chopped how you like)
1 green capsicum (chopped how you like)
2-3 carrots (chopped how you like)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tin pineapple (somewhere between 400-500g) – reserve the pineapple juice
1/4 cup Beerenberg tomato sauce
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce


First cook the chicken – you can dust the chicken in flour if you like, you will find that thickens the sauce slightly. I’ve done it both ways and probably won’t flour it again. Remove the chicken from the pan once browned.


Then sweat the garlic, leeks, capsicum and carrot for a few minutes. While this is sweating, into a bowl place the reserved pineapple juice, the tomato sauce, the white wine vinegar and the soy. There, you just made your sauce! It will look brown and that might seem odd.

Once your vegies have sweat up a storm, add in your chopped pineapple and stir around a bit, mix it all together.


Add your chicken back in. Pour the sauce in, allow to simmer. You will see the sauce change colour It will go from brown to that traditional pink-red colour..ss5

Serve over rice. This makes enough for us to have dinner plus 2 lunch serves. You could also double the amount of sauce and have that over rice as a snack or lunch, if you like. You could add in other vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, snow peas, brussel sprouts chopped finely, zucchini, water chestnuts, baby corn, cabbage might be good, too.


If you look at the Golden Circle recipe it uses a much larger tin of pineapple, and it also says to use Worcestershire sauce. We do not use that, and it is fine without it. I think any more pineapple would be too much for us, and I would steer in the direction of adding other vegetables instead.

This meal is on the weekly rotation for a while because we are enjoying it so much. The only other recipe I need to learn to make from scratch is a version of Honey and Mustard chicken – I will be giving that recipe a try in future weeks. We used to use the Chicken Tonight sauce but it is far too salty for The Other Half to consume now. I would like to try some other Chinese style made from scratch sauces as well. ;)


Herby Baked Chicken


I like to call this one “every herb and his dog” though that is not really true. If I used all the herbs I happen to own thanks to the great Aldi spice packs it would turn out weird I expect and it would take a long time to put the marinade together.


I have made this several times now and I believe this will be the final recipe though it could always change. The orange juice was an addition this week because we bought some – the previous attempts did not have it – but now that I have tried it I would always add it. If I switch some of the herbs it can make this a totally different recipe too. EG if you add in some cumin that would take this in a Mexican direction.

This makes enough chicken for the other half to have 220g of chicken for lunch for 5 days – I often make a potato bake to go with it, or he can have a boiled egg and some cheese and crackers. Plus a leftover bunch of chicken for me to have as a snack.

This is so simple, it takes me maximum 15 minutes to prepare the marinade then everything goes into a baking tray covered with alfoil for a couple of hours in the oven. Here’s what you need and how I do it.

2kg chicken breast – you can use thigh if you like but you would want to reduce the cooking time somewhat, if you used wings and drumsticks you might cook it slightly longer.

The marinade –


put the following together in a bowl –
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt – you can use minced garlic if you prefer
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon rosemary


Whisk ingredients together. Pour a small amount into the baking dish, layer the chicken on top of that, then pour the rest of the marinade on top. You can add up to 500mls of liquid chicken stock if you like. The liquid will reduce down as it cooks.

Cover baking dish with alfoil. Do not skip this step, it is super important!

Cook in the oven at 200C (390F) for one hour.


Remove from oven, flip the chicken over. Put the alfoil back on. Return to the oven at 200C for another hour.


So why do I cook it for so long? Two reasons – so that all the flavours can seep into the chicken creating major awesomeness – and so the chicken completely falls apart when you touch it with a fork.


I like to make this into “pulled chicken” and I do that in the pan it cooked in so the chicken can soak up the maximum marinade.


Kitchen Update


Our new Westinghouse fridge has been a great addition to our household. So much space, and everything has a specific home. Today I will take you on a fridge tour.


The top shelf is where lunches for The Other Half reside. Those are his cans – every second can is a Solo can. While I no longer drink my calories he is losing weight without trying so the occasional can is cool with me. The next shelf down is mainly dairy storage AKA extra cheeses, chook yoghurt and meats.

Then we have a treats shelf, that grey storage container there holds all our dark chocolate, there is some hommus for me and on the other side is a roll out shelf with things like garlic, chili, ginger, jams, and our aioli. I get the wasabi aioli from Aldi, it is amazing.

The final shelf here has tinned tuna, our cheese in use drawer, eggs, and in that little alfoil package is a ham and cheese croissant snack. I made them for lunch for The Other Half yesterday and there was an extra one, so I saved it as a snack for myself in case I wanted it for lunch today. For lunches now I find it really difficult to go past my protein shake. My body needs the nutrients in there way more than it needs a butter croissant, especially after a tough workout.


The shelf with the large pink container – that has all our potatoes – sweet and normal. I can fit about 10kg of potatoes in there. We found a place that sells a 5kg bag of potatoes for the same price I buy 2kg for normally, so when we go past there we tend to stock up.

I keep them in the fridge now which extends their life significantly BUT it makes my hands super cold when I have to peel them. I try to remember to put them out an hour before peel time.There is a watermelon treat for the chooks there too. Next to it in the grey container is my apples.

Then we have two fruit and vegetable shelves. Carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, leeks, zucchini, then in the bottom crisper there is a cauliflower, green capsicum, red capsicum and 1.5kg of brussel sprouts which finally returned to the shelves at Aldi this week. The Other Half had to stop me from buying even more of them! I have missed them so much, we will incorporate them into every single meal this week.


Some more treats reside on the top shelf here. Peanut butter on apples is my daily treat right now, and we usually have something dark chocolate with afternoon coffee – kit kat dark is the present go-to, but I limit myself to just one serving.

San Pellegrino is my other more occasional treat. I grab them if I am headed out for errands or if we are going for a drive in the car. When we are staying here I mostly drink my Soda-Stream carbonated filtered tap water.

Next to that some more condiments – the South Aussies will recognise the Beerenberg tomato sauce. When we first moved here we could not get it, relatives would bring us 2 litre flagons from the store in Hahndorf. Now it is available on the shelves and it is the only tomato sauce I could imagine using. It is that good.

The vegemite is not for me – I am perhaps not Australian enough because I do not like it. The Other Half does, though. The olives are mine.


My soda stream bottles, the Costco maple syrup which I was surprised to find should be kept in the fridge, a bottle of mineral water with lemon for visitors, bottles of water, and then all that milk. I switched to almond milk for my smoothies – it is less calories and tastes incredible to me. The A2 milk you see there will last us for 2 weeks.

Right at the bottom there, some more bottled water, my lemon and lime squeeze bottles and some whipped cream which I will *very* occasionally put on top of a hot chocolate, milo or coffee.

We are down to one grocery shopping trip a fortnight, made after 6pm on the weekends when everyone else is doing other things. The bigger fridge has helped a lot – I can buy milk for two weeks now without having to worry about where I will put it, and the next time I go to Costco I will probably buy 4 of their large cheeses which keeps extremely well, that will mean I don’t have to buy cheese for 3 months at least, maybe 4.

We buy all our meat in bulk once every 2-3 months then foodsave and freeze it except for beef mince which I buy fresh each fortnight. But the freezer and how we organise it, that is a story for another post. :) I just did a big pantry clean out this weekend too. That is also a story for another post.

food, Home

Zucchini & Parmesan Chips


I hope you have some zucchini in the house. If not and you are in Australia, Aldi has zucchini on special this week so STOCK UP because once you make these zucchini chips you will become obsessed and want to make them over and over.

While you are at Aldi getting the zucchini, pick up the two different forms of Parmesan you can find in their fridge section. That is the only other thing you need to make these zucchini chips. I like the two different kinds because they have slightly different flavours – both are grated, but one of them is almost like a Parmesan crumb and I use it when I make the healthy chicken strips.

This may well be the simplest recipe I ever post here – so easy even those who don’t love cooking could easily create this (waves to Mitchell). It involves three simple ingredients two of which are cheese – plus you can add spices if you like – and you do not need any oil at all if you have baking paper handy.


1. Peel the zucchini if you like, chop it into chips. Lay it out on baking paper on your tray.


2. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the zucchini. Add any spices you like at this time.


3. Bake in the oven @200C for 20-30 minutes.

You can take them out at 20 minutes – which is the photo above. But if you leave them in a little longer the cheese gets more crispy. I have cooked them for 40 minutes before and they turned out great but that was with a full oven of chips on fish and chip night. Here they are at 30.


The first time you make them, try one at 20, if you like them take out a few, then leave the rest in for 10 more minutes. Then next time you will know how long to cook them for.