Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category


March 18, 2016

We all went down the country lane
for blackberries, sweet blackberries 
And there we saw them wet with rain
Those blackberries, sweet blackberries
And oh my dear it was such fun
To see them glistening in the sun 
We ate them all, yes every one 
Those blackberries, sweet blackberries.

This is a nursery rhyme from my childhood (I think I have recalled it reasonably accurately) which every year at about this time comes to mind especially when we find blackberries growing. And this year we found a nice couple of places where we have managed to find them growing in abundance. The first patch of blackberries we found were not too far from Gladstone where we were parked last week, so Roy and I went off to pick a few. 
  growing wild
Roy in gathering mode
On one of our trips out and about with Pat & Sue we found a lovely apple trees growing on the side of a road, of course we stopped and picked a bag each of some very good cooking apples. We are not sure what variety they are but they are very tart, and when cooked fluff up beautifully. The perfect combination – blackberries and apples.  

A bag of apples and a bowl of blackberries
It didn’t take too long to get the first lot of Blackbrry Chutney in a pan cooking away. This is a recipe that I developed a few years ago whilst at the Lodge when I was looking for a chutney to accompany a specific cheese and after trying a few recipes, I worked at developing my own recipe very carefully noting all the quantities and methodology along the way.

  Chutney in the making

  Chutney at the front and the start of Blackberry & Apple Jelly cooking at the rear.

Chutney was made, Jelly bottled, then apples cooked up and portioned into bags and put in the freezer along with a few small bags of blackberries. Blackberry & Apple tarts were also made,  individual ones made in muffin tins and these have provided us all with a treat at the end of dinner.  A few pears have also been foraged and added to the larder and a few more blackberries were added to the freezer after we moved to park at the reserve by Lake Wairarapa where we found another irresistible patch to raid.  These will be used at some stage over the next few months to remind us of warmer times.

Fixing, fritters and fishing 

October 21, 2015

It’s so nice to be back at Matai Bay, relaxing in the warmth and sunshine and generally keeping ourselves busy with one thing or another. 

 First on the list was a trip into Kaitaia to pick up the replacement fishing kite, line and accoutrements and also to check on mail that was being forwarded to us at Kaitaia as well as catch up with extended whanau.   The parcels were duly retrieved from the courier depot then it was back to the van and the beginning of getting our lines sorted.

 This is what the damaged kite line looks like when it’s removed from the reel.

Next  it was the task of joining the last of the old line onto the new line and wind the line onto the reel.  The traces (these are the short lengths of line with the hooks at one end and clips to attach to the dropper rig at the other end)  were put onto the trace rack and a few new ones were tied.  Now it was time to try it all out and a trip to Tokerau Beach was in order, as if the fish weren’t biting, we knew that there are plenty of tuatua (shellfish) to gather in the shallows.  

No fish were harmed in that expedition but the kite and line all worked perfectly and there were  plenty of tuatua gathered.  The shellfish were left in a bucket of sea water overnight so that they purge themselves of any sand, as there is nothing worse than eating gritty fritters.  Sue and I made two batches of fritter mixture using two different methods and recipes – one an Al Brown recipe and the other Lauraine Jacobs recipe with Lauraines  version getting the thumbs up from us all.

  Sue wondering who ate all the fritters?

Another day and we headed off to another beach close by to try our luck fishing (we can’t tell you where as you would all want to go there) this time with much more success, with good sized snapper being caught and brought home, and a barracuda returned to the sea to swim again.  Of course you will have to take my word for it as we were so busy living in  the moment we forgot to take any pictures. 

However, another day and we returned from a mornings fishing and with 6 snapper, this time I remembered to take a photo of the fish.

Shame I neglected to take a photo of our delicious dinners the past few nights though, they were pretty damn good even if I say so myself!

Our new home!!

August 9, 2015

Have we got your attention??

Yes we have a new home….and this is the view from the deck this morning


This is our home for the next six or seven weeks whilst we housesit in Whakapirau on the Kaipara Harbour for Jacky & Chris.  It’s lovely to be here and enjoy all the “luxuries” of being in a house wherr we don’t have to watch battery levels and power consumption, nor water consumption or waste water levels.

We do have some responsibilities whilst here though, as well as the cat to look after we also have chooks to mind and this morning (our first morning) they rewarded us with 5 eggs – a record apparently!

imageA slight variation in sizes of eggs.

I am also taking advantage of the laden Seville Orange tree and have a batch of marmalade on the go


Tomorrow it will be cooked up and bottled ready for eating later.

Today is our daughter Alexandra’s 29th Birthday, we hope she has a lovely birthday and celebrates well in London where she lives.  And if she behaves herself then she may just get a special belated birthday delivery from Jacky & Chris in a week or two😉

The Italian Job

April 21, 2015

Roy’s 70th birthday revleries were to be a little less raucous than previous ‘0’ birthday celebrations, however, we did celebrate and celebrate well.  Steve & Leslie invited us to their place for dinner with Roy’s eldest son Simon and wife Anita joining us along with our son Antony, oh and Steve and Les just happened to be babysitting their granddaughter Bea and she joined in the fun.  And  Alex joined us via Skype from London for a chat before the evening got started.

It was to be an Italian themed dinner.  We were having a slow cooked Pork Ragu for the main so once that was all prepped and in the oven, Leslie and I could head out for a bit of retail therapy to gather the rest of the necessary ingredients for the festivities.   We only away for an hour or two and on our return the making of the pappardelle pasta to accompany the main  was well underway with Steve getting lots of help from Antony and Bea.

  The pasta making production line 
Once Simon & Anita arrived we were into the cocktails – an Aperol Spritz, which is an Italian aperitif that we had wonderful memories of trying when we were in Lucca although at the time we could not recall the name of it.  Aperol is made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and cinchona, the latter is apparently also known as quina which is one of the plants that gives us quinine.  It makes for an interesting drink, quite bitter on first tasting, but something that does grow on the palate!  Antipasti accompanied the drinks and these were platters  of olives, sun dried tomatoes and other vegetables, Italian cheeses, salamis and other cured meats, bruschetta and the like. The main was a tender pork Ragu with the delicious pasta along with some greens.  

 Happy birthday!

Since the evening had an Italian theme we all wore moustaches (Roy already has his own version) and speaka lika theees.   
  A right looking lot!
For dessert we could not go past a Tiramisu which also became the birthday cake complete with appropriate candle adornment.

A lovely evening was enjoyed all round.  Further celebrations are planned for later dates with censored reports posted here,

Hot and Cold

April 13, 2015

Roy had a piece of bacon curing in the fridge for the past few days, and it was now time to smoke and cook it.  That must mean it is time to get out one of the new toys – the cold smoker.  This is a totally different process and result from the usual hot smoking.  The difference between hot and cold smoking is fairly self explanatory according to Wikipedia; cold smoking is a gentle drying process at around 25C, which imparts a smoky flavour but doesn’t “cook” food through. Hot smoking is usually more a way of cooking than of preserving, a sort of light roasting at around 80C to 120C.  

We use our BBQ as our smoking apparatus for hot smoking, as everything in the van has to have at least two uses to warrant storage space, and we can also add a third use, for cold smoking.  It helps that there was an access hole in the side of the BBQ where you place a long match through to ignite the BBQ.  However, it just so happens it is not only the exact right size to attach the cold smoker but it’s also in the perfect place.


The smoker was attached to the side of the BBQ a and filled with some Manuka wood chips before being set alight,  the smoke is pumped into the BBQ without any heat.  After and hour or so the bacon is done and then ready to be cooked slowly in the oven.  

Then the next new toy comes out – the electric slicer!  We bought this one after seeing and using John’s one whilst we were in Whakatane, we figured that we could very easily justify its use. The bacon is all perfectly and evenly sliced before it is packaged up and yes, you guessed it the next new toy is put into use – the vacuum sealer. 

Next is the turn of the Pastrami.  First the meat has its coating of carefully selected and ground spices rubbed all over it and then it is left for a day or two.  The next step is to put the meat into the cold smoker for a gentle smoking before it is then steamed to cook it.  We use a thermometer to test when the internal temperature has reached the desired level so we know that it has been cooked properly.  


Once it is cooled, we slice it up and vacuum seal it into portions for later use.  Mmmmm, delicious!

  We also smoked a couple of pieces of salmon for our dinner, but this time it was using the hot smoked method.  With a chilli glaze on it, it was done in a short time, delicious for our dinner served with a creamy mustard mash and braised baby peas and greens. 


Cooking up a storm

March 13, 2015

John & Jude returned from their trip to Melbourne last Saturday, only to head off again on Wednesday for a fishing competition off Whitianga which means we are still here in Whakatane minding the ranch.  Not that we mind as wehave not been completely idle, we have been cooking up a storm.  By that, I don’t mean that it has anything to do with the impending arrival of Cyclone Pam, just that we have been busy in the kitchen.

Myrtle, Mabel and Mildred(the hens) have kept us well supplied with fresh eggs every day.  I used some of the eggs to add to the Passionfruit proliferation by making some Passionfruit Curd as well as some Passionfruit Syllabub.  The hens give us one egg each a day but on one particular day, one of them obviously decided to give us an egg the size of the other two together!!

We are unsure which of the hens is responsible for this monster, but it was a double yolker.   Roy has also been busy in the kitchen,  both inside and out.  John has a cold smoking unit as well as a large hot smoker, but it is the cold smoker in which we have put to good use.  First there was the making of some pastrami,  giving it a burst in the cold smoker before steaming it.

He also made a batch of bacon, also using the cold smoker – oh and of course John’s electric slicer to neatly slice it all up.  We then packaged it all up into portion sizes and vacuum packed it ready to stack neatly into our small freezer. I neglected to take any photos of this process.  Howeve we did buy ourselves a new vacuum sealer as our other one had decided to die on us.  The vacuum sealer is very handy for us in the van as we can repackage everything that goes into the freezer into portion sizes as well as being able to efficiently stack much more into the small space.  Not to mention being able to seal up smelly fish bait!

Another day and we decide it’s time to make some fresh pasta.  I had purchased a new Pasta machine last year but the other day I finally found a pasta drying rack which pulls apart and packs away neatly into a small box thus not taking up too much room. Now there is no excuse to making fresh pasta.  It hardly took any time at all before we had beautiful silky pasta for our dinner.  With a simple sauce of lemon, oil garlic and rocket, it was a delicious, light and quick evening meal.  

And then there was a batch of mint sauce to make (with mint jelly on the to-do list), this did not take more than half an hour to make which included sterilising the bottles and lids as well as making the sauce, with the longest time spent of chopping the mint.  Now we have plenty of mint sauce to accompany the traditional roast lamb.

Pickles and relishes are also on the to-do list but these will be done once we are back through Auckland so that we can go to our favourite market gardens in Manukau to pick the produce required.  Watch this space!

PS.   it’s our wedding anniversary today – 33 years, and yes, I was a child bride 😉


March 3, 2015

fruit!  John has a very prolific Passionfruit vine so it only seems right that I do something with them. First of all I froze a heap of the pulp in ice cube trays for later use.

And another large lot was processed into syrup and bottled

Another lot has been made into Passionfruit Gelato.  

And yes John, your freezer and pantry has its fair share of the spoils.  I am now passionfruited out!  



February 4, 2015

Steve & Les came back to join us for the weekend as they had left their tent and boat all set up ready for a weekend of relaxing. They arrived on Friday evening in time for dinner which we enjoyed sitting outside watching the sun set. An earlyish night was in order as the boys were planning to head out first thing in the morning for a spot of fishing, however, that was not to be as during the wee small hours, the heavens opened and for the first time in well over a month we had some rain.

Saturday morning over a leisurely late breakfast of Steve’s home cured bacon, free range eggs with mushrooms and tomatoes, the head Ranger from here at Shakespear arrived at our door carrying with him a chilly bin. Bruce had not been put off by the rain and had gone out fishing with a mate in the very early hours of the morning to catch the dawn change of light as they thought it would be good fishing. They caught two kingfish, one weighing in at 8kg and the other 11kg. In the chilly bin was one side of one of the fish that Bruce brought down to generously give to us. Well, that set the wheels in motion, Roy & Steve decided it was time for them to head out and try their luck fishing whilst Leslie & Bernice set about sorting out a menu for dinner utilising the Kingfish.

Later in the day the fellas returned having caught lots of snapper but only bringing one home that was large enough to keep. Meanwhile, fellow motorhomer Frederick had arrived to spend some time with us but more of that later.

IMG_0304 Frederick’s bus, our van and Steve & Les’ tent.

It was time to portion up the fish, some was portioned up ready to use in an entree, 5 large steaks were cut for the main course and the remaining two largest pieces we put aside for tomorrow.

Steve portioning and trimming the steaks. The entree portions of fish are marinating in the glass dish at the rear.

Entree was a ginger marinated kingfish which we served over a salad of spinach, cabbage and grated raw beetroot. We can report that it was particularly delicious and we all agreed that that dish was a success.


We had our main well under control and we were just about to start cooking the fish when a contingent of about 10 vehicles rolled into camp. First of all we had to check the new arrivals in and make sure they were welcomed, there was around 32 young men in the group which we had to admit made us think, oh no, we could be in for a lively night. However, it turned out they were the Black Sticks – the NZ National Hockey Team who were in camp as part of a training and team building weekend.

Back to main course, the Kingfish steaks were entrusted to Roy & Steve to cook on the BBQ whilst Leslie and Bernice prepared the rest of the meal. A wonderful citrus mash was made along with a pickle ginger mint & cucumber salad which we enlivened with a few extras. We also made a warm salad of roasted red pepper, tomato and corn.


We all agreed that this meal in particular was a winner in all respects. Every last morsel of every dish was finished off and all plates scraped clean, this will certainly be remembered and put into our favourite, must make again list.

Time to sit back now and enjoy dessert. Dessert you ask? Yes, well, eye candy counts as dessert doesn’t it? Previously we have reported that in the evenings all the children come out into the central area to play cricket or football and the like. On this occasion some of the kids started a cricket game and one by one, the Black Stick members joined in until there was a large group playing. After some time, a game of touch rugby started, soon enough most of the Black Sticks were playing, the two side distinguished by shirts, or no shirts – aka eye candy!!! A wonderful end to the day 😊


Steve & Les went home on Sunday, again leaving their tent set up and the boat behind as they will join us again this weekend as Friday is yet another public holiday. We look forward to another weekend of fun, swimming, fishing and of course eating some fabulous food!

Before and after

September 9, 2014

IMG_0056-0.JPG Before

IMG_0060-0.JPG After

Says it all really!

Bringing home the bacon

August 29, 2014

We have never been kite fishing before, we have watched others putting out kites but were unaware of the intricacies of this type of fishing. Kites are an effective way of getting a long line out from the shore to deeper waters, there is of course the torpedo/electric Kontiki option but that starts adding up the $$$’s – something we cannot justify as yet. Perhaps after winning Lotto this weekend??!! The following is a diagram of how kite fishing works, copied from Paul’s kite Fishing web site.


Jim has a selection of kites with all the associated gear required, so our first trial was off Matai Bay with a good offshore breeze making it for a good day to have ago. Off down the beach we trotted with all our gear in tow, and with only a couple of trips to return to the vehicles to pick up forgotten bits, we settled down to sorting ourselves out. After many trials with various setups, different kites, secondary kites (called sky hooks!), we got the line out in what we thought was the right spot, in the middle of the bay, and then we waited. After about an hour we hauled the line in bagging ourselves a reasonable sized snapper, guess what’s for dinner?


The following day Jim & Roy headed off over to Karikari beach to try their luck out there, the wind had swung around so this side of the peninsular was where to be. They set up the kites

IMG_0023.JPG Jim & Roy setting up the kites

IMG_0025-1.JPG kite and ‘skyhook’ in flight

Not trusting their fishing/catching skills, I had taken some steak out of the freezer for dinner, however, to prove me wrong, they came home triumphant with 4 very good sized snapper. Plenty enough for us for dinner for a few nights.

Since then we have been out a couple more times, chasing the wind on some occasions. We went to Karikari Beach as we thought the wind was offshore there, only to arrive to a wind change, so off down to Rangiputa where again it was the wrong wind direction. Next it was over to Tokerau Beach where not only had the wind changed direction again but the damn wind had dropped off completely so no kite flying that day. Never mind, we still had plenty of fish left from the previous days fishing.

Jim went out fishing one afternoon with some locals who were keen to pass on their skills at kite fishing, although they ended up not using a kite but a Kontiki, the principle is the same. Not only did he gain a little more knowledge of the ins & outs of rigs, He came home with a good catch of lovely sized snapper to fill the freezer.

Meanwhile, we have been bringing home the bacon, literally, as we have had a go at making our own bacon, the first attempt was completed this week and has been a huge success.