Tag Archives: Winter warmers

Clean Efficient Heating for Mudgee

We’re used to the smell of wood fires in winter, but with the world turning to eco-friendly alternatives for just about everything, is it time that local Mudgee home owners made the switch?

We wrote in mid 2011 about heating costs and touched on some of the alternatives to traditional energy guzzling and carbon producing heating methods, one of which was eco-fires, which can also be known as Ambience Fires or Mood Flames. What is interesting about these types of heaters is that although they don’t look like they’re producing a lot of heat, they can actually radiate significantly, and don’t require a flue or chimney.

Eco-fires are essentially an environmentally friendly, vent-free open fireplace fuelled by bioethanol, a renewable liquid fuel produced from agricultural by-products which burns cleanly. This means no smoke and no emissions that are harmful to the environment. One of the best features of these eco-fires is that they can be installed permanently inside the home, outdoors in fully-enclosed cases – or you can buy portable versions.

Some of the places we found online that supply eco-fires are below, but ask around and do your research, because heating your home with a more environmentally friendly source may save you money or time in the long run because you’re not maintaining a fireplace, chopping wood or adding to your gas bill.

Winter Warmers (Cottage Pie Recipe)!

Rugging up, closing doors and sealing draughts are all great ways to stay warm in winter, but nothing beats the good old fashioned ‘Winter Warmers’ the folks used to make. They warm you from the inside out and can add lots of necessary vitamins to your diet. Here’s one of our favourite recipes, which can be found amongst others on the Heart Foundation website – www.heartfoundation.org.au/recipes.

Cottage Pie

Serves: 4 people (individual serves)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 finely chopped brown onion
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 diced large carrot
  • 2 diced celery sticks
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (no added salt)
  • 600g lean beef mince
  • 800g can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • salad or steamed vegetables to serve
  • mashed potatoes
    • 600g peeled Pontiac or Desiree potatoes
    • 1 tablespoon olive grove spread
    • ½ cup warmed low fat milk


  1. Make the meat sauce:

a)      Lightly spray a large saucepan with oil.

b)      Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring often for 8 minutes until vegetables softened slightly.

c)       Add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.

d)      Increase heat to high, add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break it up for 5 minutes or until the mince changes colour.

e)      Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, sugar and water.

f)       Season with pepper to taste and bring to the boil.

g)      Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

h)      Remove the lid and simmer uncovered a further 10 minutes until sauce has reduced slightly.

i)        Taste and season with more pepper if needed.

  1. Make the mashed potato:

a)      Place potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil over high heat.

b)      Cook for 15 minutes or until tender.

c)       Drain well then return to the hot pan.

d)      Add the spread and mash until smooth.

e)      Stir in the milk and beat until smooth.

f)       Season with pepper.

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Into 4 x 1 cup capacity oven-proof dishes (ramekins), spoon the meat sauce.
  3.  Top with mashed potato.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until piping hot.
  5. Serve with salad or steamed vegetables.