Winter is just around the corner here in Australia, and already the mornings are frosty and bone-chillingly cold.
One morning I was rousted out of a sound sleep by Bear who instructed me to dress warmly and meet him in the kitchen of the farmhouse because we were going to watch the sunrise.
Bleary-eyed, groaning and still half-asleep I stumbled around my room collecting woollies and jumpers, hat and scarf, warm socks and Ugg boot slippers and followed the light to the kitchen where Bear was grinning like a little boy and handing me a steaming cup of very strong sweet tea.
I wrapped my numb fingers around the piping hot cup and sipped tentatively, waiting for the warm brew to bring some life to my frigid limbs.
It was pitch black outside, but slowly a glow appeared over the neighboring hills and we decided to be very brave indeed, and head out into the frosty morning to watch the sun come up.
One breath of that icy air and I was wide awake! We shuffled across the yard in our slippers, making the dogs and chooks wonder what on earth we were up to, and took up a spot near the front gate which gave us an unimpeded view of the lightening sky.
All at once the sun was there in a burst of golden light. It danced along the fence lines, illuminating the waving grasses as if they were candles.
It was glorious.
The sun hit the tree tops first, turning the fading blossoms and drying leaves into richer, deeper colored versions of themselves.
Even my half-completed greenhouse was rendered sublime in the glow of the sun.
We strolled around the property, greeting the animals and feeling incredibly, wondrously alive.
By the time we reached the backyard it was awash in golden light, so achingly beautiful I could’ve watched it for hours.
It was definitely worth being woken up for.
As the days get colder I’m drawn to hearty, warming, rib-sticking meals, and am a fan of anything I can make in the slow cooker (crockpot).
The other day I was craving boeuf bourguignon but didn’t have a bit of beef in the house. I did have chicken, however, so I made up my own version, rich with red wine, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and earthy herbs like rosemary. It was so easy and the house smelled amazing by the time dinner rolled around. I poured the stew over garlicky mashed potatoes and served it with cold beer one day and red wine the next. Delicious.
When is the last time you watched the sun rise?
Slow Cooker Chicken with Olives and Red Wine
3-4 chicken breasts cut into squares
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
2-3 Tbsp bacon grease or olive oil
1 onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, quartered and sliced
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
2 cups red wine (Merlot or similar hearty red)
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 bunch parsley, chopped
- Place flour and seasoned salt in plastic bag, add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
- Melt bacon grease in saucepan, add chicken and cook, stirring regularly, until browned.
- Pour chicken pieces into slow cooker.
- Add onions, carrot and garlic to sauce pan. (Add more bacon grease if necessary) Cook until onion is softened. Add to chicken pieces.
- Add remaining ingredients except parsley and stir to combine.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours.
- Serve over warm polenta or garlic mashed potatoes and sprinkle with parsley.