Recipe: Homemade Baked Beans with Smoked Ham

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed a joyful and safe holiday period. It’s been way too long since my last post, but the final quarter of 2012 was incredibly busy for us. We received some wonderful news (more on that later), moved house twice, and are now finally able to catch our breath as we find ourselves at the start of 2013!

If your holiday has been anything like mine, you would have experienced the entire month of December in a perpetual food-induced coma. With weekends and most work days filled with one celebratory function after the next, there’s been no shortage of gloriously decadent food. It’s only once the smoke from new years’ eve fireworks had cleared that I realised how tight my clothes were fitting! So naturally I began to crave for more nutritious and wholesome fare.

What better way to start 2013 than with a wholesome breakfast of good old baked beans on toast. Sure you can just crack open a can of beans, but like most things, its much healthier when it’s homemade, not to mention much yummier!

I admit the name “baked” beans is slightly misleading as no baking is involved. Instead, dried beans are soaked overnight, which isn’t terribly tricky, but does take some forward planning. Then you just chuck it in a pot with a some smoked ham (or that left-over Christmas ham) and leave to simmer. The final addition of flavour and spices gives it a delicious kick you won’t find in any can.
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Explore: Geelong

Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, Geelong was the first stop on our adventure to the Twelve Apostles. At the time, the only thing I knew about Geelong was that it had an AFL team. However, as we pulled into Pakington Street for some groceries and a quick bite to eat, we were about to discover a whole lot more than we anticipated about this thriving port city.

Welcome to Geelong!

We cruised into the mainstreet in our rental car on a sunny Saturday morning, to find it bustling with people doing their shopping, catching up over lazy brunch, or simply just kicking back and taking it easy. As busy at it was, we found the pace to be nowhere near as frantic as the Sydney suburban hubs we’re used to. In fact, everywhere we ventured, we noticed a distinctively relaxed vibe about the whole place. So much so that we suspected all these people were really tourists on holiday, just like we were. But on closer inspection we found the vast majority to be local Geelongites just going about their weekend, as per usual, with a laid-back and carefree attitude that was positively refreshing. I could really get use to this!
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Eat: Circa Espresso Parramatta

My favourite cafe at the moment is in Parramatta. It’s nowhere near my work, it’s a forty minute drive from home, yet I’m hooked on Circa Espresso. Why? Reminiscent of the hip café vibe in Melbourne, this cool place has set the standard for cafe culture in western Sydney.

Circa Espresso, Parramatta

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Café: The Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds of Alexandria

The other day I realised that I could count, on one hand, how many times my husband and I had gone out for breakfast in our local area. And we’ve been living in Sydney’s inner-west for almost six months. Tragic. So when my workmate Linh sent me a link to a café that was opening in Alexandria, I made a point to visit them for breakfast with Patrick (hubby) and Lisa (sis-in-law) on Easter Saturday.

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