Thursday, February 18, 2010


Fruit and booze. What a combination! After a weekend in Wellington(capital city) last weekend spent this week making progress through 12 kilos of greengages. Jam and preserving in brandy. That should see us through the winter. Speaking of which yesterday the nations highest temp.29. It felt like it with high humidity as well. Not really the weather for jam making. The workers came home and asked"What's for dinner?" My face said it all. So takeaways it was. Dessert evening at our place tonight - rhubarb and strawberry cobbler and Coffee, walnut and meringue cake. If the response is favourable I will post the recipes.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's got my goat

OK enough already! this hunting/gathering thing is getting out of order. Monday night Mr H (the neighbour) knocks at the door to give me 2 legs of goat(young kid) actually. I had just the recipe Peter Kuruvita's goat curry from his cookbook ' Serendip'. A beautiful book, but for someone with limited access to Sri Lankan ingredients perhaps not practical. Still the curry was lovely. The meat perfect. Having stocked up on vegetables after a trip to the farm on Saturday it all came together wonderfully.The farm is situated on the western side of the central plateau of the North Island of New Zealand. it is primarily a cropping farm of carrots. Number 8 wire innovation has given way to advanced technology as the carrot harvester was invented by Ivan the driver in the picture.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Deer Oh dear!

Walking out this morning spotted this deer being hung in the neighbour's garage ready to be butchered this afternoon. Took over a pot of the jam to ask permission for the photo. This is really buying local in my mind, if you don't hunt it, kill it and then cook it don't bother to tell me to ' buy local'. On a similar note I did my hunter/gather thing today, as I had used up all the lemons in the garden. I spied on my walk a tree overburdened with fruit. I knocked on the door and asked if I could pick a bag. No worries! They even offered me a bag. Not a problem I replied, "I came prepared". Promised a pot of jam will be put in the letterbox tomorrow. By the way Mr & Mrs H next door (they of the deer) tell me they rarely buy meat. Mr H shoots rabbits, goat and deer and is a keen fisherman and diver. His vege garden is immaculate. We are fortunate to live in such a temperate climate.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cut and Paste

Very productive past few days. The Damsons have had a bumper year. This is only my second crop and what you see is the product of my second day of jam making. I had more fruit than I knew what to do with- I tried my hand at making fruit pastes( also called fruit comfits or pastilles). We love our cheese platter and usually buy in the fruit pastes, so why not?
I cooked the plums and a little lemon juice and water, cooled and pureed in a blender. I put it through a sieve and into a pan over a low heat gradually adding equal amount of sugar. Stirred for 45minutes. Then turned out into lined slice pan to cool. It turns from a glorious pink to dark purple. Then cut with a hot knife into diamond shapes. Roll shapes in caster sugar or place a blanched almond in the centre of each. They need to be stored for 2 months before using although going by our tasting last night it will not last that long. In days gone by the paste was poured into large shallow plates to mature for several days in a cool, dark cupboard. Then turned out stacked one on top of the other, interleaved with bay leaves, and covered in muslin. It was brought out for special occasions like Christmas and served with a little port wine poured over. Again yum!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Nothing like a Dame

By now you are aware I was not named on the New Years' Honours List. Not a dame then but this is the view from my Throne. The big red one is the Pohutukawa (the New Zealand Christmas tree).To its right is the Grandiflora Magnolia( flowering creamy- white waxy flowers larger than a dinner plate) and right again is the mighty Kauri(ours is a baby about 30years old). With that to greet me every morning I consider myself very, very lucky. The Pohutukawa is part of a memorial stand that lines our street. Each is numbered and protected. Now that the rain and wind has stripped the trees, the crimson stamens carpet the road and pavement. I get the royal treatment every time I walk out my gate. Damehood who needs it. I am a Contessa!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Teach a man to fish...

...or a woman to blog. This is only my second blog and I haven't got the hang of it at all. I shout for CB! And get told "I have shown you this a thousand times!" or "you do not remember!". I do not remember or I wouldn't ask. Obviously. I try explaining the old adage 'give a man a fish-give a man a fishing rod' but apparently this is a particularly SLOW fisherman.

Still here I am, or there I was to be precise, in Gisborne on the east coast of the North Island 3 weeks ago famed for its surf beaches and fruit growing. Having visited Gissy before and not having great memories of the place, I thought I would be killing time while YT (Yorkshire Terrier) worked. Instead bombing around in our little rented Toyota sans children was fun. The town is accessible, small and easy to negotiate. It has a pleasant rural town crossover vibe. On the days we were there the weather was uncharacteristically mixed. Only on the last day did we have blue skys. Who cares! You don't need sunshine to sample vineyards, the market and the shops. The Muirs bookshop a gem, likewise Interiors- the kitchen shop; I was in heaven. But the best of all was NZ national Arboretum at Eastwoodhill half an hour drive inland from Gissy. Some of NZ's prettiest farming landscape to drive through means the journey itself is a treat. The arboretum is truly wonderful. I must have a thing for trees. The family story of me being rescued in toddlerhood from a macrocarpa pine hanging by the back of my woollen jersey is legend. Too old to climb I loved everything about this place. It is lovingly tended to by the enthusiasts that manage this national asset. The staff were helpful, humourous and knowledgeable. YT and I are determined to go back as soon as our other commitments allow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Summer Pudding = Yum!

Here it is, my classic 'Summer Pudding' made with our own black and red currants. Despite bird netting the birds were only kind enough to leave me 500gms on the first picking. It reminded me of last year when Toby ate them out of the bowl as quickly as I picked them. I kept the pud it the fridge overnight, and turned it out, drizzled on extra fruit syrup, and finally topped it with a few borage flowers. It is times like these when I am pleased my vigorous weeding failed as the borage flowers are such a fantastic blue.
It was Yorkshire Terrier's work's Christmas party last night. The company was great but unbelievably the venue under catered! How can that happen? I have never under catered. It was bizarre.