The day we went off Tuakau to Turangi was unpleasant for a 4 hours driving trip. It was windy in Tuakau and raining along the way we arrived in Turangi. We were a bit disappointed because we could not see the beauty of Mount Ruapehu from Lake Taupo. However, we arrived safely at a 'home' where we stayed during the trip.
On our way to Taupo, we stopped to lunch at a car park where Huka Falls is situated. The parking lot was quite large with two buses and lots of cars. People were wondering around with their camera in hands. Pretty much like me, never want to miss out. Other than that we were quite lucky that the sun was shining in between drizzles.
Huka Falls is located near Taupo (just click to see the location). The interesting part about this waterfall is that the water is flowing recorded to be 220,000 litres per second. That is huge!
You can find more information about Huka Falls at Huka Falls Website. We did not take Huka jet to get closer to the waterfall as we did not plan to do. The weather was quite temperamental and we did not want to take a risk being caught in a flood somewhere near Taupo-Taurangi. Besides, we were so hungry after a long, long drive and it seems that our tummy soon had to give more attention.
Traveling with two young children means stuffing your baskets with food, food and food. I've made batches of New Zealand iconic biscuits such as Afghans, Anzac, Peanut Brownies, and Ginger Crunch to nibble along the way. I also mixed nuts, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and sunflower seeds with lots of raisins, prune, and dried apricots to make a good scrogging. Besides that, I had also prepared macaroni cheese bake, chocolate sponge pudding, and blueberry pudding for our first dinners away from home. I want us to be able to eat home-cooking although we're far away from my kitchen.
I made large portions of baked goods for the trip as there are two families with 4 adults, 5 teenagers, and 2 young children traveling and staying together. I might be spoiling them a bit, but I also just want to stick with home-cooking. In the end, everyone is enjoying it, so that is a bonus.
Macaroni Cheese Bake
I used 3 small loaf foil tins and 1 large regular baking tin. You can substitute the smoked chicken with leftover cooked chicken, beef, or even corned beef. For vegetarian version, use broccoli or spinach instead. Make experiment with your favourite vegetables for optimal satisfaction. I don't usually use salt for macaroni cheese as I find that the cheese will give satisfying saltiness in food while extra salt isn't always necessary, but I do think this can be a personal preference.
We usually eat macaroni cheese bake with homemade tomato sauce or chutney with a bowl of crunchy salad.
This kind of food is quite nice to accompany you while watching the Olympic games. I think it's better than those salty ordinary chips. Did you watch the opening? Boy, it was some spectacular ceremony. I love the form of those 2008 drummers performance. That was amazing!
We watched hockey today and was a bit disappointed as we lost to Japan's team. But we're having a high hope on rowing. Go NZ Team!!
500g macaroni, cook according to instructions
1 can evaporated milk
5 cloves garlic, minced with 1 tsp ground white pepper
3 large shallots, finely sliced
3 Tbs finely chopped celery leaves
3 Tbs finely chopped spring onions (white part included)
2 cups shredded smoked chicken
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbs self-rising flour
300g Gruyere cheese, finely grated plus 50g extra to sprinkle
oil for frying
salt to taste, optional
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease lightly the tins with butter.
Heat the frying pan and add oil. Cook the sliced shallots until light brown and crispy. Drain on paper towel. Set aside.
Heat the frying pan again and add in oil. Cook the minced garlic until fragrant. Set aside.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs until frothy and is about to go fluffy. Pour in the milk. Add in the fried minced garlic-pepper. Reduce the speed to slow. Add in the cooked macaroni, cheese, fried shallots, finely diced celery leaves and spring onions, and then smoked chicken. Mix well. Add in the self-rising flour. Mix well. You may add salt if you like at this stage.
Pour or Spoon into the prepared tins. Sprinkle with extra cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked. Enough for 4 adults, 2 young children and 5 teenagers.