Coffee fields and friends!

After being on the road and hearing stories from other backpackers, we knew we needed to make time to visit Columbia. So we shuffled around our plans and before we knew it we were on our way from Lima to Columbia! First stop Salento, the seriously beautiful coffee region, with a quaint and charming town.

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We stayed at a place 20 minutes walk out of town called La Serrana, an Eco farm and hostel.

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Such a peaceful and magical place, with panoramic views of the valley and mountains.

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Our stay here was going to be amazing no matter what as we met up with 2 friends from home, Jared and Ryan. It was great to catch up, drink, eat, share travel stories and enjoy being in this cool place together!

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Our first night got rolling with the delicious hostel dinner, some drinks and then we headed out to play the local game, tejo aka hit the gunpowder with a metal weight. Only in Columbia.

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The next morning we headed out to the Valle Del Cocora, all tightly squeezed into the jeep

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The views were breathtaking, ground muddy and fields green and lush.

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It was fun to be in the wet, rainy, muddy wilderness together

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And the highlight was of course paying a mysterious ‘park’ entrance fee in the middle of nowhere to a mans restaurant which came with a complimentary hot chocolate and cheese. FYI Break the cheese up and put in hot chocolate.

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After a tiring day, drenched and hungry we ate and relaxed then night time called for a poker game… Excuse the awkward pic but the runner up is staring right back at ya ๐Ÿ˜‰

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The next day we went to a local coffee farm, where we took a tour around the family run farm learning about the coffee plants and how they produce their coffee.

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Salento is the type of place you can really lift your feet up and be swept away by the slow-pace, tranquility and beautiful surroundings. It was so great to spend a few days here, surrounded by nature and great company ๐Ÿ™‚

Next stop Medellin! For those of you just tuning into our travels now, be sure to check out our travel page and of course foodies and runners feel free to stay and explore!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

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Volunteering in the Amazon Jungle

Next stop, Taricaya Conservation Lodge in the Amazon jungle! In 2009 I spent a month volunteering here here so I couldn’t wait to return this time with Josh.

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We caught an hour long long-boat to the lodge hidden deep in the jungle along the Rio Madre De Dios

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Arriving at the lodge, it was time to meet and greet the volunteers mosquitos, wasps, ants, bees and all the other lovely creatures. And of course it was time to get working! Our first morning job was feeding the animals.

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Taricaya takes in animals who are in need of care and rehabilitation with the ultimate aim of releasing them back into the wild. But for now, nothing beats a cuddle with these cheeky little things!

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These baby spider monkeys all have their own story of why they are here e.g. Kept as pet and seriously malnourished, lost their mother etc. it was great to see that many of the spider monkeys that were there in 2009 had since been released and are now living free and wild.

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Feel the love?

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Now this little fellow, 1 month old Theo, is the newest member to the Tarikaya Tapir family. He is the cutest, oddest looking creature on earth!

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We had fun cleaning out the tapir poo pool (on Josh’s birthday)

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One of the afternoon jobs at the new farm near the lodge is feeding the turtles which have been bred in protected area at the lodge to prevent hunters poaching the eggs to all in town. This project has been so successful and it was great seeing all the beautiful turtles! Here we are preparing their food which consists of extremely finely cut spinach, cabbage, carrots and chicken liver. We were sweating buckets here!

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But the turtles of all sizes enjoyed their meal

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And in return, we enjoyed playing ๐Ÿ™‚

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Another activity was animal enrichment where we made paper mรขchรฉ snakes and filled them with meat for the cats to practice their hunting. Loved seeing josh being creative ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Now in Tarikaya you feel as though you are taking risks all the time. Climbing the new animal enclosure (no adequate ladder of course) to continue on with the building is just one example. I never quite made it up…

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A few hours of machetting in crazy humidity takes it out of you!

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But other projects like butterfly catching and releasing are a bit more chilled

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As is picking mangoes that have fallen off the trees near the hammocks and devouring them… Knife not even necessary!

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Where ever you go here, there are animals! This man paid us a visit in the dining room.

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And Trumpy enjoys his regular tickle under his chin by the hammocks

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Other birds require binoculars and a 45m rickety canopy platform to be sighted.

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My favourite thing to do in the jungle is just to walk, listen to the sounds of the forest an enjoy the serenity.

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Night time in the jungle involved many games of cards

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And an awesome cayman catching session on the long boat with Stuart. He first gave us a talk about the creatures which are part of the crocodilian family and then we set out in silence and darkness on the long boat where he spotted, pounced and caught a cayman, showed us and released it.

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Finally, Josh got to play his long awaited soccer! Peruvians verse volunteers for a large coke. Peruvians won 10-9.

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And last but not least we celebrated a very special milestone in the jungle, Josh turned 25! Yummy dinner (home cooked food was well received by us)

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And then cake time…

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Followed by machetting the piรฑata ๐Ÿ™‚

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A birthday spent in the Amazon jungle, not bad ay?

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I just love this boy!

Plane is now taking off to Lima where we are super excited to scrub up, wear clean clothes, no insect repellant, use a dry, fresh towel and enjoy the city for 2 days before heading up to Colombia! Let the adventures continue…

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Boots up, Bums down

Next stop, Pucon!

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Beautiful quaint town with a great vibe, cool street markets, good restaurants and amazing warm weather!!

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Our 1st day here we hired bikes

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And explored the small streets, unpaved roads, rivers, farms…

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and visited these beautiful waterfalls.

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It was an awesome ride. I am seriously considering trading in driving a car for a bike when I get home ๐Ÿ™‚

Day 2 was time to get the boots dirty again. We hit up Huerquehue National Park. The showers turned on but we enjoyed trudging along in the mud

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and making new friends..

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Now day 3 was what we came to Pucon for.. To climb one of Chile’s most active volcano, Villarrica. For this you need to go with a guide and assistants, in proper gear including real boots, wind and rain protective gear and a backpack filled with things I have never seen or heard of. Think crampons, gaiters and plastic toboggans.

Gear on and ready to go! Note the weather at the bottom of the mountain.

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As we made our steep ascent up the mountain, we trekked through the clouds and slowly began to rise up and above them

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And slowly but surely the blue skies graced us with their presence!

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The higher we got the more magical the view was

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We finally reached the top… 2850m!

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We sat, enjoyed the crazy view and re-layered up as it got pretty chile chilly pretty quickly.

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Looking down inside the volcano we didn’t see any lava but we saw and smelt the smoke coming out which was pretty damn cool

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Now the question on everyone’s lips was how the hell are we getting down from here???
Considering the practically vertical ascent there was no way down but via the bum..

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Wish we could have taken videos of us coming down. But no need for an explanation on why this was not possible :p What took 5 hours to climb up, took only 45 mins to come down. This is a pic of a group who came down after us…

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After an amazing sleep, the following day called for relaxation and time to enjoy the town before bussing off to Santiago.

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We spent hours enjoying the sunshine and watching that little volcano in the distance

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Pucon, although you were a bit out of the way for us to get to, you made our stay worth every ounce of our energy!

Adios amigos xxxx

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Josh’s Thoughts – What I’ve learnt travelling with my girlfriend

So i admit I have been quite slack in keeping my side of the blog updated, following my introduction in our Ushuaia Post. With a little spare time on my hands, I thought it’s time I share some more of my thoughts.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken several great holidays, with most of them being with my best (male) mates. Guys are guys, and lets be honest, we function very differently to our opposing gender. While this isn’t my first trip away with Kel, the nature of this trip has really opened my eyes to some interesting things about travelling with your girlfiriend – some of them are just interesting differences between us. There are, however, many simple things that guys could learn from our female friends and I thought I’d share them so that those that haven’t travelled with a girl don’t miss out!

Before I get into it, there are some obvious differences that I am not going to bother discussing here ( e.g. The role of wingman is probably not necessary, personal hygiene is not an unaffordable luxury and paper-scissors-rock is not a viable way of settling an argument/making a decision ).
Rather I am looking at some subtle things that I have found to be amusing/helpful.

So here we go:

1) The many uses of wet wipes – these little gems are something that most guys (without kids) would have no idea about. Great for cleaning hands after a packed picnic lunch, but even better – when you get to the point where one more wipe with hostel toilet paper will likely draw blood, call on the wet wipe! Also can be used in lieu of a shower during long multi day treks! (Great for the hard to reach places…)

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2) The time-money-HEALTH relationship – The extent of one’s travel is generally subject to two main constraints – TIME and MONEY. For example, when planning a holiday, you are normally limited to the amount of leave you get from work, and how much cash you have in the bank. You may be able to get more time off, but do you then have to lower your daily budget to be able to make use of the extra time? The same can be said when actually on the road- e.g. You really want to do a 3 day trek – you may have the money, but do you have the time? Thus the theory of constraints – Obvious, right?

But travelling with Kel (and maybe this is not applicable to all girls), a third constraint exists – HEALTH. Take the example of eating lunch- if i was travelling with guys, i imagine my lunch would consist of 2 empanadas (typical south american street food) and maybe a beer from the supermarket. Its quick and very cheap, leaving plenty of room in the budget for the rest of the day.

One of the few empanadas I have indulged in (almost as delicious as my Granny Ida’s perogen!)

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However what about the HEALTH budget? 2 empanadas for lunch may mean there’s nothing left in the health budget for dinner, and therefore I have to get something smaller AND have a salad.

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Hence I am more likely to agree to a tuna and avocado sandwich for lunch, to leave space for a 500g sirloin for dinner!

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Luckily Kel and I both love the physical activities (trekking, bike riding etc) so that boosts the size of our health budget!

3) Dessert is a possibility – when travelling with guys, dessert after dinner is not even considered, as dinner usually consists of cooking in a hostel, leading into a massive drinking session and then into a big night at a bar/club and spending all your money on drinks before stumbling home, and waking up with a hangover. However cut that all out, and you actually leave a lot of money and time (and health budget) to enjoy ice cream or a chocolate fondante!

The BEST ice cream I have ever tasted… And I mean it – Juaja in Bariloche (apparently they have a shop in Melbourne too so check it out!)

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4) Sometimes asking for directions can help – but only sometimes and it’s probably because you have a bad map…

5) Check border customs restrictions before crossing – Chile, like Australia, has very strict rules about what you can bring into the country, with fresh fruit and vegetables being a big no-go. If I was with guys, this would never be an issue. But when travelling with Kel, bus rations do not consist of chips and chocolate, but rather a fresh green salad (with dressing) in a Tupperware container, plus 2 bananas, an apple and 2 carrots!!
You should have seen the looks on the faces of the border staff when emptying our bags. Luckily I insisted on ticking YES on our immigration form for “does your luggage contain fruit or vegetables”.
Believe it or not, Kel even tried to take an apple across the border the next time, and only agreed to chuck it once we saw this sign:

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6) Your travel companion is 50% of your trip – so make sure you have a good one! Even after spending all day every day together for just over 3 weeks, Kel and I are still powering on and loving (almost) every moment of each others company. We live every day like its our last day of the trip, and we always end it with a laugh. This trip wouldn’t be half as special if it wasn’t shared with Kel! Hopefully I’ll feel the same after 3 months!

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That’s all for now- Thanks for reading and we look forward to updating you all again soon.

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Bariloche Part 1: Revenge of the nerds

The Argentine Lake District’s largest city, Bariloche, was our next stop and bring it on – we were ready for it! Arriving at Hostel 1004, which came highly recommended from a number of our friends (thanks Lee, Brad and Bortzy) we knew this would be a place we wouldn’t want to leave.

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We immediately felt at home with the lovely staff and the beautiful views over the lake and city.

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With our Spanish slowly progressing and the hopes of staying put in Bariloche for a little while, we thought we might try some Spanish lessons. We planned to meet Carolina the lady at the Spanish school for a brief introduction conveniently timed at 8:45pm (everything happens late here) – our time or dinner. She sat us down for a hard core test and we were not happy Jan.

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Needless to say, the nerds rebelled. Cheating our way through the first part of the test and failing to complete the rest of it, we threw away our hopes of mastering Spanish. Instead, we planned our revenge and opted to spend our days exploring the city by bike, car, foot, kayak and chairlift all fuelled by the most delicious food and an awesome city vibe starting in the main square and extending across the city.

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The streets of Bariloche are lined with cute chocolate shops (hello endless days of taste testing!), restaurants and cafes.

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This city doesn’t do healthy. Most nights I ate the local fish, trout drenched in the traditional butter and lemon salsa

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and Josh enjoyed his schnitzel or steak, nicely portioned ay?

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Needless to say when we came across this next little gem it was well received by both of us even if Josh is too stubborn to admit it ๐Ÿ™‚

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Heaven!! Amazing juices, assortment of different veggie delights and complimentary sweet tea to finish the meal off with. So good, we went back a second time!

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But enough about the food, the real heart of the city lies in its beautiful surroundings. One of our highlights was hiring bikes and doing the 25km ‘Circuito Chico’ route. To begin with, the hilly terrain and cars speeding past almost blowing me away left me screaming and close to tears at many points.

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But Josh was patient, gave me many a pep talk and soon enough we were flying down those hills in unison.. Stopping every now and then to enjoy the incredible views.

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At about the halfway mark we turned down a gravel road with steep inclines and decided to tie up the bikes and walk down to the lake. We found a beautiful spot and enjoyed our picnic lunch.

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Back on our bikes we got and our next stop was at a little Cervazeria (beer house) where we sampled some beer and enjoyed the view for a little while before completing the rest of the circuit. Awesome day!

The following day we changed our mode of transport from bike to hired car, where we set out bright and early to drive the ‘Circuito Grande’. Our cute station wagon took us all over town.

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We cruised along the freeway, trying to figure out these roads with no rules; plugged in the iPod and sang our way through the mountains and shimmering turquoise lakes.

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We felt really spoilt with these views.. It is amazing how beautiful and so diverse a region can be.

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After a long day on the road, we chilled with a competitive game of cards and some drinks.

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Guess who won? ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s all for now,friends. Pease leave us a comment and fellow travellers, feel free to ask us any questions or share your thoughts/recommendations. We love hearing from everyone!

Stay tuned, Bariloche Part 2 is on its way!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

5 Healthy Living Tips for All Ages!

I had a great day at school today.. got to visit Healthy Harold with my year 1 class which was a blast from the past! Healthy Harold is a giraffe that arrives at school in a magical caravan and strives to empower Aussie kids to make the best choices for living a safe andย healthy life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harold has all the answers to healthy living, well summarised for all ages:

1. Make water and milk your favourite drinks.

2. Eat lots of different foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

3. Be sun smartย 

4. Limit screen time.

5. Be active.

After school and my Harold dose, I headed out for a great run. Ooo and I ran in my orthotics for the first time..

I ran around my neighbourhood, which always involves running into people I know- ย a great excuse for a mid-run break ๐Ÿ™‚

It felt nice to be out in the sun!

Not the longest or fastest run but I was feeling the strain of the artificial arch in my shoe, so didn’t want to overdue it

Ran strong up a few big hills

which werecattered all along the run

A good run really lifts the mind and spirit! Now time for dinner. Tonight my grandparents are coming over and just look what we have cooking in the oven
Eeek a massive salmon, my favourite! Veggies and salad as well ofcourse ๐Ÿ˜‰
Nothing beats my mums cooking ๐Ÿ™‚
Happy Friday, friends!ย What weekend activity have you got planned?
Oh and for old time sake-
Any healthy school programs you remember?

Spring Running and Delicious Vegetable Quiche Recipe

Spring time in Sydney! It is just THE best waking up to the sun shining brightly through my blinds.I also has my first run of the season today..

It was a steady and very hilly 5km run, and what a bonus is was catching up with a good friend at the same time! Thanks Ar ๐Ÿ™‚

Now for WIAW… Please note this is not everything I have eaten today! Just my packed lunch and dinner ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks Jenn from Peas and Crayons for hosting this blogging partay.Peas and Crayons

 

School packed recess and lunch was yoghurt and frozen berries and left over quinoa salad, with cottage cheese and greens. My sister made a big batch of quinoa at the beginning of the week and have taken it for lunch everyday this week. So nice and easy!

Now for dinner.. I am going to share my mom’s vegetable quiche recipe and you have to try it! It is honestly amazing and so easy to adapt to suite what you have in your fridge and what your preferences are.

Vegetable Quiche
Doesn’t photograph very well.. but looked so hearty and delicious in person ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ingredients (to serve 4)
2 onions
Mushrooms (Be very generous – once cooked they shrivel down to nothing)
2 zucchinis
2 bags baby spinach (once again, be generous!)
Bag of rocket
6 eggs
Cottage cheese (as much as desired, we used one small tub)
Olive oil, salt, pepper

Method

1) Prep all vegetables. In a large pan, add some olive oil and chopped up onions. When onions have started browning, add mushrooms and zucchinis. Season with salt and pepper.

2) Add spinach and rocket

3) Remove from heat and drain out any water if necessary. In another bowl mix together 6 eggs. Mix with vegetable mixture and add cottage cheese.

4) In a greased oven-proof dish add mixture. And place in preheated 180 degree celcius oven (360 degree farenheit).

5) Serve with a crunchy Greek salad.

Enjoy making it and sharing it with loved ones!

Whats your favourite recipe you have learned from your Mom? and
What is your favourite season?

Happy Wednesday, friends!