Whats in a name?


Valle Laguna (Pronounced Var +Lay Laguna)

What’s in a name? A great deal apparently.  When we first purchased our farm we tried to re-name it. We tossed around many ideas but none really felt right. We tried combining our first names, our surnames, even our initials. We then moved onto other things like local flora or fauna, and indigenous words that had historical significance. Nothing seemed to fit. We where also mindful that there would be a business element to our farm, so we didn’t want anything too cliché like Kangaroo Crossing or Wombat Hollow. Great names, but they didn’t quite fit the vision we had for the far. Friends that stayed with us tried to be helpful, but I have to say the quality of their suggestions decreased as the wine consumption increased!
Anyway, over time we got busy with building and what to name the farm seemed to lose it’s importance. We have always just referred to it as “the farm” but at the back of our minds we knew it would eventually need an “official” name. Turns out it already had one and it was brought to our attention quite by accident. We were filling out some paperwork (neither of us can remember exactly what is for) and the property was referred to as Valle Laguna. We did some checking and sure enough it was a “registered” name allocated to our property.
The original owners had Italian heritage so they incorporated the Italian word for valley, Valle. Given that we are located in a valley, in the township of Laguna…in the Hunter Valley …. it’s not hard to see where they got their inspiration……..
Darn it! It seems so simple. Why couldn’t we come up with a name? As I sit here now, a few years down the track I don’t think we where ever meant to re-name it. Perhaps it’s like the superstition
that sailors have about re-naming boats. It brings bad luck.
I’ve settled into the name. The only real issue I have with it now is the pronunciation. It’s not easy for people. Whenever people call about accommodation there is always that awkward moment when they cant quiet get their mouth around the first word. I always jump in and say the name for them, much to their relief.
So for the record the Italian pronunciation of Valle Laguna is Var +Lay Laguna.
I’ve also been informed that the Spanish word for valley is also Valle. The Spanish pronunciation is Va+Yay  Laguna.

VarLay, VarYay, whatever….. If you’d like to come and stay with us just call and we’ll work it out!!
Hope you have a great day. Cheers Kylie

Almond Cake with Lemon Syrup


So the weather forecast was not entirely correct. Go figure!!
Saturday was ok, so I managed to ride both of my horses, weed around the fruit trees and give them a little fertiliser. (aka horse poo that I’d picked up.) I then tackled a few of the more mundane household task that I had been putting off. Funny how they don’t magically disappear even when you ignore them….
Sunday was cold and raining. Most people would find this depressing but I found it just perfect for relaxing by the fire reading my book, drinking cups of tea and eating cake. Almond cake with lemon syrup to be precise. With lemons from our very own tree! Recipe below. Hope you enjoy.

Cake

4 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
150g melted butter
1 cup almonds- (1 cup almonds blitzed in the food processor)

Lemon Syrup

1 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
2 Lemons thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 160C and grease either a large loaf tin or a square cake tin.
Note for young players- a loaf tin works best. The cake takes longer to cook in the square tin and you risk the outer edges drying out.

Lemon syrup; combine the sugar, water and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon slices and simmer for 15 minutes or until they are completely soft. Arrange the slices on the base of your cake tin and then pour in the syrup.
For the cake batter; combine the eggs, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is pale and tripled in volume. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Then gently fold in the butter and almonds.
Spoon batter into the cake tin, smooth over the top and bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Let rest for about 5 minutes then turn out onto a platter making sure to collect all of the syrup. Serve as it is or with vanilla ice cream!! 

Wednesday …with a view to the weekend

Is this just the most perfect time of year? Look at the weather forecast for the weekend. PERFECTION.

I’ll be making the most of the beautiful days. The garden is starting to look a bit tired but there is still plenty to do before the winter frost arrive. Weeding and mulching around the citrus trees will be first on the list. Also draping nets over the trees to protect the fruit from the cockatoos. It’s such a shame because the trees look so beautiful when they are loaded with fruit. However nothing breaks your heart more than to see all of the almost ripe fruit laying on the ground. 
The cooler weather also means we light the fire at night. Our nights look a lot like this…

We’ve also been busy preparing the villa for our guest over winter.
Check out the website to see the new photo’s.
www.vallelaguna.com.au

Another Job for Winter

There is nothing I love more in winter than sitting in front of the fire and gazing into the flames. The  warmth seems to reach into every corner of the room. What I dont love is the extra work that it creates. Aside from the work involved in collecting and stacking the fire wood, there is the monotonous task of cleaning it out each day and re-setting it.
I’m not sure if it’s the type of wood that is being burnt or the effect of a slow smouldering fire that causes the glass to turn black. Whatever it is, it’s a nightmare to clean. Over the years I’ve tried many different methods of cleaning it off. Hot soapy water, Gumption, vinegar & bi carb soda. None really worked that well and they all made a huge mess. Then out of the blue my Mum gave me the secret recipe. In my world this is what’s known as a “Game Changer”.

Take a few pieces of newspaper, scrunch them up then dampen them slightly with plain old water. Dip it into the cold ash at the bottom of the fire. Using a circular motion wipe the inside of the glass. Hey Presto! The ash makes a fine abrasive paste that takes off the burnt on black soot.

 It might take a few pieces of paper to get it totally clean, but I just throw them into the fire and they dry out by the time you need to re light the fire. If you do this at the first sign of discoloration then it’s a 2 second job.

 

 

Week Of Wild Weather

Wow! Can we just take a moment to reflect on this week of crazy weather? I mean really enough already.

Monday & Tuesday saw us flooded out of the farm. The creeks came up so quickly. I feel nobody was really prepared for this flood. Previously when we’ve had flood warnings or the creeks are “up” and they predict more heavy rain you assume that flooding is likely so you get yourself prepared. Add wind gust of over 100klm per hour and its serious stuff.  Come Friday the water levels had dropped so we were able to get into the farm to asses any damage. Luckily there was no damage to the house or villas, and we only had a few trees down across the fire trails. Others in the Hunter Valley were not so lucky. Tragically 4 people were killed in flood waters and may people lost their homes.
Due to the widespread damage across the region it took 7 days for the power to be restored.

 
Saturday afternoon brought the second wave of freaky weather in the form of a hail storm. Sydney was hit the worst, but we got a light covering of hail that made the paddocks look like a winter wonderland.

 
Some of these photos are mine, others I’ve taken from the Wollombi Fire & Flood Face Book page. The FB page is run by volunteers who do the most amazing job in keeping people connected in times of crisis. Community spirit at its best!