Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Mothers Day 

May 18, 2017

Mother’s Day rolled round and as usual we had little planned as we are not into the whole commercialisation of the day, however, I was invited to share a Mother’s Day lunch with my sister-in-law Leslie, and her three daughters Sarah, Erin & Frances (they make a reasonable substitute for you Alex! and Antony was coming over later for a visit, for some reason he didn’t want to join all us ladies for lunch?!).  

We headed off to KissKiss in Balmoral for a lovely northern Thai lunch.  A lively bright, colourful setting with quirky touches such as the cocktail menu was in old-school viewfinders…..we all had to indulge in a cocktail of course.  

 Sarah & Fran at the back, Erin and I at the front.

Sarah & Erin on the left with Leslie & Fran on the right.
Lunch…



The food was excellent, the company brilliant and a lovely way to spend an afternoon.  As it was such a beautiful day we headed into Mt Eden for a glass of vino, sitting out in the sun enjoying ourselves.  Thank you for inviting me along to share, it was a laugh and a half. 

In a pickle

April 10, 2017

It’s that time of the year again when it’s time to get pickling.  After visiting the Mangere market garden for beautiful outdoor grown veggies including tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes, it was time to get a pickle on.

First up was zucchini pickle, a certain favourite of a London residing member of the family, and yes, I may be able to sneak a jar into the luggage if she is a good girl 😘.

Zucchini Pickle all done

Then it was time to deal with all the tomatoes, Tomato Chilli Chutney and Tomato Chiil Jam were the main ones to get done.

Tomato Chutney done

Then there is the Giadiniera aka Pickled Vegetables that we love

Vegetables in the brine ready to be pickled.

The bottled vegetables ready for winter eating.

A Busy week

March 7, 2017

Summer may have officially slipped in autumn this last week  but the temperatures are still saying that it’s definitely summer time with lots of sunshine and warmth although I think that is about to change.   It’s also been a busy week what with one thing or another. Friends Brian & Marj came to join us for a few days, funnily enough it’s almost 6 years to the day since  we first met them.  We were real greenhorns then with just one days experience of living full time in the van but they were very kind to us and gave us lots of useful advise about living full time on the road including happy hour etiquette which you can read about here.  However this time I neglected to take a single picture of us together, I must have spent too much time chatting!

It felt as though we were constantly on the go as it was a busy week of appointments, most of which involved fighting the Auckland traffic….groan.  First off Roy had an appointment for a scan, no problem, it was not too far away in Wairau Road which is not too far from Shakespear , just 35km down the motorway.  So one hour and 35 minutes later he arrived for his appointment!  I don’t know how, or why, people commute through the madness of traffic everyday, it would drive me nuts.  But lesson learnt, don’t make any appointments during the commuter/school traffic peak times.  The next day we had another appointment but this time just down the road at Silverdale where the van was getting its brakes sorted and it was 9.30am that the van had to be in so it was a quick trip down the road.  We then went on to Steve & Les’ in Torbay for the day and also to get a bit of shopping done at Albany.  We picked the van up in the late afternoon and headed off to the dump station at Hatfield Beach to take care of necessities before heading back to Shakespear.  

But it wasn’t the end of our running around, the following morning we were both off to the Doctors in Mt Albert for our annual checkups.  This time we allowed plenty of time to get there and with a late morning appointment we had a good run through with it taking us just over an hour. From there we headed to Manukau to meet up with Antony to collect our mail and to have lunch with him before we headed back to Shakespear.  It was another  reasonable run taking just over an hour and a half this time. According to the newspapers the traffic problems are set to continue to get worse with “March madness”  occurring this month.   I think we will try and avoid travelling across the city especially at peak times.  

By the time Friday came, we were both ready to have a day without travelling anywhere!  Not that I was idle mind you, no, it was time to bottle a huge pot of beetroot!

Beetroot getting ready to be bottled.

We had visited our favourite market garden in Mangere last week when we were over that way to stock up on lovely outdoor tomatoes and lots of lovely fresh vegetables picked straight from the ground.  Soon it will be time to make  relishes, pickles and chutneys with supplies from these gardens, in particular using their flavoursome (ugly & mishapen) outdoor tomatoes. 

More visitors through the week, with Gary & Marg calling in for a catch up on their way through Auckland before heading to their home in Tokerau Beach.  It won’t be long and we will be back up their way again where we look forward to sharing some fishy tales as well as some fish!  

Colin & Ed came visiting at the weekend, and it was great to catch up and relax in the sun.  This time I did remember to take a picture 

Meanwhile, a graffitiI artist has been secretly at work as we found two labels stuck on the van, one under the passenger side wing mirror and the other on the back of the van

After extensive investigations we are pretty sure we have discovered the identity of the phantom labeller …….let’s just say that a certain bald Ranger, currently on a road trip around the South Island may get a surprise one of these days!  All in good fun of course. 

Another week of visitors

February 25, 2017

We received a phone call on Monday from Andrene & Lyall, these are friends we met when both of us lived in Oamaru, they moved to Christchurch around 11 years ago, which was probably the last time we caught up.  They were in their motor home having a look around the north island and knew we were at Shakespear so they came to stay with us for a couple  of nights.  It was a though time had stood still with the conversation flowing freely and into the night,  besides,  we haven’t changed a bit and none of us have aged at all!! 

The afternoon started with a few drinks with some fellow motorhomers who kindly took a photo of the four of us.L-R: Roy, Bernice, Andrene, Lyall

It just so happened that we had some fresh snapper ready for our dinner, caught by Roy and Steve the previous morning, as well Lyall is a keen whitebaiter and had whitebait in their freezer which resulted in a fabulous shared dinner with Whitebait patties for entree and snapper for our main and I made some focaccia bread.  Along with a salad or two it all washed down with a suitable beverage or three, a meal to savour.


We sat outside until it bacame too dark  then continued chatting in our van until it was time for bed.  

The next morning it became eveident that Andrene and I have very good tasteSome of the more observant of you may notice that the previous day we both had a liking for blue and white stripes! 

We offered Andrene & Lyall the use of our car so that rather than taking their van off to do their shopping they could nip around in the RAV4.  Lyall had ordered an inflatable boat so they were off to pick it up.  Of course on their return we had to have a trial run at putting it all together.

Roy having a dry run!

We left them to their own devices Tuesday evening as we had arranged to rendezvous with Steve that evening for a fish off the beach with Steve’s torpedo.  Once we had set the line out to fish we sat on the beach watching the sun go down as we ate pizza accompanied by a suitable beverage. Bliss.   The haul of fish was not great, we did manage to bring in four fish but only one was a keeper but we also managed to drag in an awful lot of weed so we will not be fishing off that beach again in a hurry! 

Wednesday evening we headed into Torbay to Steve & Leslie’s place for a meal and get together with Leslie’s two sisters and all the extended family.  Leslie’s youngest sister Gill & I were best friends right through primary and secondary school so it was great to catch up again with her and her daughters who were over from Perth.  Although it was only a couple of years ago since we last met.  This time was a little more restrained however it was great to have everyone together.

Steve was heading north for a couple of days for work, so Roy went along for a ride to keep him company and they just so happened to take the fishing gear with them so that they could have a fish in the evenings.  By all accounts a few fish were caught and a good time was had by all.  

Meanwhile I stayed at the van at Shakespear, helping out a few stray travellers and in particular those who do not read the signs about how to unlock the padlocks! Some people.  I even had a visit from the Jehovah’s Witness…they got the short sharp shrift and were quickly sent on their way.  

Christmas 2016

December 28, 2016

Christmas has been and gone for another year. 

We celebrated it with some of the family on Christmas Eve with my brother Steve and wife Leslie setting up camp behind the van and we also put up our tent for our son Antony who joined us for a few days.  Steve and Les’ three daughters, husbands and children all came out for the day as well as one of my sister Hilary’s daughters, Amy.

The planning started well before hand, with the menu sorted and organised with input from everyone, all should go easily and smoothly on the day.  To add to our planned menu, Ranger Bruce arrived the night before bearing a gift of a side of freshly caught Kingfish Kingfish prior to being cleaned up. 

The kingfish was boned and cut into portions with half of it smoked on Christmas Eve to add to our lunch of glazed Ham, Moroccan spiced Lamb Leg, garlic & rosemary roasted potatoes, lemon zuchinni & asparagus with goats cheese, baby leaf salad with baby tomatoes, snow peas, radishes, seeds and white balsamic dressing.  But to start off the proceedings a large sharing platter was laid down the length of the tables artfully arranged on large banana leaves; cheeses, pates, dips, truffle cured lomo, hot smoked salmon, capers, relishes, crackers and breads completed the feast.   

Once everyone arrived we got into the present opening.  Every year we do a secret Santa present for each of the adults with everyone buying a gift to a pre agreed value, before pulling numbers out of a hat and taking turns choosing a present BUT once you open your gift, you can choose to either keep it or exchange it with someone else’s already opened present.  It adds much hilarity to the proceedings.

Shaun getting assistance opening his present

Steve and Sarah watch Amy open her gift.


Steve trying to swap his gift

Discussing options
 The youngest family members Georgia and Emily having a chat

Once the adults have their turn, then it’s time for the families to exchange gifts

Asher and Ben opening their gifts from Erin

Christmas time for our family also heralds lots of birthdays, with Christmas Eve being Finn’s 6th birthday.  

Finn and his cake with his mum Sarah looking on
Blowing out the candle

And to show that Antony does get to hold a baby occasionally

Antony and Georgia
Later in the afternoon we had dessert which comprised of a sharing platter of; passionfruit meringues, fresh strawberries, chocolate brownies, white chocolate blondies, berry coulis, apricot tartlets, and coconut yoghurt.  It was all beautifully laid out to resemble a Xmas wreath complete with mint leaf garnishes, as usual I forgot to take any pictures and of course there was birthday cake as well. 

Everyone had to leave by late afternoon so the evening was spent very quietly with a ham sandwich for dinner.  Christmas Day we feasted again with a boned turkey which was stuffed with a cranberry stuffing and brined.  We cooked it on the BBQ and I have to say it was damn delicious complete with gravy, cranberry sauce and roasted veg.  And some people think that we don’t eat well living in a motorhome!

Wishing you all safe and happy holiday season and best wishes for 2017.

I shall leave you with this view of the Pohutakawa as viewed through the bedroom window in the van which will be a stark contrast to the white Christmas we shall experience next year in the northern hemisphere.

Cider Shed

December 15, 2016

A stop was planned half way through our journey from Uretiti to Shakespear but where were we going to pause? There are no too many places for us to easily pull off to the side of the road comfortably, although there were plenty of ideal spots on the right hand side of the road, but not many n the left. Just north of Warkworth we spied a suitable place ahead of us on the left. And what’s more,  there just happened to be a cafe there, perfect for a coffee….or perhaps a little something stronger? 


Ample parking on the side of the road for the motorhome and the towed RAV4.

And inside the gate, this is what awaits, with plenty of parking for smaller vehicles too

We wandered in and were warmly greeted by the owner.  Hmmm, something to eat as well perhaps? It was really only late morning, an early lunch or just a bite to go with the coffee.  Ok, just a nibble to tide us over.  We decided against trying the cider this time, but it all sounded rather tasty.


The meals that went past us to other customers looked very nice too.

With large covered decks around the outside as well as play areas for children, and a lovely looking grassed area for sitting in the sun, it looked like a great place to spend some time.  


We will definitely stop here again on our way past and we will have try out a meal and even a bit of their cider.

A Gorm weekend

November 10, 2016

Many, many years ago, when we all lived in the big city of Auckland,  a group offriends  all of whom had a keen interest in good food, excellent wine and having a good time, formed a group which we called The Gourmet Society. Every month each of the four couples put money into a dedicated bank account for which there was a cheque book for the ‘Gourmet Society’.  For those of you young things who have no idea what a cheque book is, talk to your parents or grandparents and ask them!  Suffice to say that paying our bill at the end of a night out with that cheque book raised a few eyebrows.   After a while the name was shortened until we became known as the Gorms, a much more appropriate title.  The group consists of Roy & I, Jacky & Chris, Anne & Greg and Colin & Edwina, most of whom we see on  a reasonably regular basis. 

Over the years we; went out for dinners, had weekends away, did everything from camping to 5 star, involved our children in some of our weekends of fun, had themed parties – who could forget the garlic themed night?, did all sorts of crazy things like rock climbing, abseiling, and other nerve wracking events,  but we always had lots of laughs.   

Recently, some members of the Gorms were celebrating significant birthdays so we thought it was time for a get together.  It was to be held at Jacky & Chris place at Whakapirau on the Kaipara harbour, regular readers will know that we have  housesat for them over the past  few winters and spent a bit of time there.  Somewhere along the line, probably over a red wine or two, it was decided that we would have a Hangi (NZ underground oven cooked meal) with local man Grant offering to set it all in place and be in charge of proceedings.

First the hole had to be dug and the fire started.

Grant digging the hole, the fire started in the pit, then as the fire  gets hot more wood is added before adding the rocks to heat up.  All this takes time and patience, and is of course thirsty and hungry work.

Colin and the left, Roy on the right and Chris in the foreground, digging in to some ceviche and some smoked fish
Meanwhile, we girls lined the hangi basket with cabbage leaves, peeled lots of potatoes, kumara, pumpkin and carrots which once seasoned are tied into muslin bags and placed in the basket.  Chickens and a large piece of pork are then placed over the vegetables which are then all covered with more cabbage leaves before finally topped with well soaked towels and sheets before being lowered onto the hot rocks.  Then it all gets covered with topsoil to steambake for the next few hours. 

Top photo Chris, Colin and Greg look on as Roy helps remove the ash and unburned charcoal just before the food goes in.lower photo is Grant checking all is well – or is he doing pressups?  

There is of course a lot of skill involved with getting the fire right, using the right stones, using the best wood to provide the heat and getting everything to the correct temperature  but we were assured all was in hand and under control.

There was as well all the fish we had caught; some to be eaten as fish fillets, the big fish was being smoked and the rest was made into ceviche.

The smoked snapper.

A whole scotch fillet was prepared with a tasty rub and cooked on the barbecue, nicely rare of course and there were plenty of salads too.  From here on in, I neglected to take any more pictures, so there is none of the hangi being lifted or any of the food ladened tables laid out for all to help themselves, nor any of the subsequent party as neighbours and others from the local community had been invited to come and share in the feasting.  The hangi food was fantastic, and later in the evening the desserts came out for all to share.  It was lovely to meet lots of new people and enjoy a great night together over fabulous food and wine.

All in all a great weekend and fantastic  to catch up with the Gorms.  Till next time. 

Markets, pickling and foraging

April 29, 2016

The Farmers Markets in both Napier and Hastings beckoned and with lots of autumnal fare available, we enjoyed wandering around all the stalls and sampling the various treats on offer.

The Napier market is a smaller affair, set up in the street next to the memorial square.   But the best market is the Hastings Farmers Market which set in the lovely surrounds of the A&P Showgrounds, with lovely mature trees and grass underfoot, it really is very picturesque and a pleasant venue to wander around. 

Napier Market
Hastings Market


The first weekend we bought a load of fresh veggies and fruits as well as cheeses, breads and other goodies.  But it was the plentiful fresh vegetables I was particularly keen to  get my hands on as I wanted to make Giadiniera – pickled vegetables.  I haven’t made any for the past couple of years and we were missing having them on hand as they are great on an antipasto platter and make for a lovely addition to make a nice crisp salad in the winter.

First I had to sort and chop all the vegetables and put them in a brine mix for 24 hours.

selection of veggies – cauliflower, broccoli, yellow and green zucchini., capsicums of all colours – red, yellow, green & purple, baby red onions, green and yellow beans, celery 
Draining the veg.
Time to make  the pickling mix and cook, add the veg and then bottle.


That should keep us well supplied with our 5+ a day!

On our way to the Hasting Market, we drove across a tree lined road, not anything unusual in that but in this case the trees lining the roadside were walnut trees.

There is a man lurking under those trees somewhere.

With enough walnuts to last us some time, we continued on our way home, but with just one more stop.

Cider and beer tasting at the Filter Room. However, after we had sampled and made our choices of the cider varieties we liked, we went to the counter to make our purchase only to be told that they don’t sell the cider to take away, only the beer, ginger beer and Perry was available to purchase! Weird.

Bistronomy Napier

April 21, 2016

I apologise now for the following blog – it’s food porn at its best!  We had heard about a new restaurant called Bistronomy in Napier so we decided to go to celebrate Roy’s birthday.  We decided on the six course degustation menu with matching wines and what was to follow was a treat in all senses.  You can read all about them here

First course was Crumbed mussel with ras al hanout aioli on vegetable spaghettini – oops we ate them before I took the picture  
Smoked mackerel fillet | confit heirloom tomato | pumpernickel crumb | basil ice cream  
Golden egg | mushroom vegemite | Hohepa vintage tasty

 

Pork cheek | cooked sauerkraut | granny smith | fermented garlic | caraway   
Grilled Waikanae blue beef skirt | pistachio chilli chimi churi | spinach  
Chocolate Mousse | chocolate sorbet | shortbread | extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic  
And to prove that we were there…  

  

Books and Quinces

April 6, 2016

On our sleuthing around the Wairarapa, one member of the touring party saw that there was a book sale on in Greytown, so of course we just had to visit didn’t we?  I went along for the ride, and I admit that I could not help myself – the books were bargains with a reasonably good selection.  However, I was not buying for myself, I was buying for my niece Natalie and her two young girls Renee & Michelle, well can you blame me? Childrens books were 10 for $1!!!  On our previous visit to see Natalie, I had noticed that Renee (age 7) seemed to be always reading, and reading well in advance of her age as she was reading Black Beauty and White Fang so I thought it was only right that we foster that interest.  Michelle is 2 1/2 so picture books were more her forte and I had to get a few good books for Natalie as well as she is about to go into hospital for treatment so needs some good reading material.   

We visited the book fair on Friday and returned for another session on Saturday.  We then devised a plan on how we were to get the books to the recipients in Wellington.

You see a certain member of the touring party has one of those Gold Cards, it’s for those who are of a certain vintage, which means he can get free train trips. On checking the timetable we found that he could leave Masterton at 4.30pm, arrive in Wellington at 6pm and return on the 6.25pm train getting back to Masterton by 8pm.  

  The collection of books
He was loaded up with around 40 children’s books and a dozen or so novels for Natalie. 
  Off on the courier mission

Mission accomplished, and now they all have plenty of reading material!

Whilst we visited Garrick & Marguerite at Longwood, Margureite gave me some lovely big quinces from her abundant tree.  I don’t think I have ever seen such huge specimens, so  whilst Roy was on his courier mission, I set to to make some quince paste as well as bottle some of the delicious fruit. 

   
 Quince paste

I can tell you that it is the best and easiest quince paste I have ever made.  

  And the bottled quince segments are also delicious and will be a welcome addition to our menus over the coming months.