Tag Archives: food

A fledgling finds the sugar water feeder

After calling incessantly for food from its parents, this young Tui fledgling eventually came down on to the feeder.
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Its pose is very much that of a fluffy, fledgling not long out of the nest.
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But a gnawing hunger and observation of other Tui drinking at the feeder meant an exploration of how this food source worked.
First attempt was not so successful.
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Second attempt and it was getting a little closer
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Then success!! But no photo sadly.

Noises from other Tui had the fledgling showing more of its true size and condition.DSCF2260 (1280x960)
And finally happy with some food in its tummy it posed for me.
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“The Colour of Food. A memoir of life, love and dinner” by Anne Else

“The Colour of Food” by Anne Else is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in 2014. Its popularity was indicated by the wait I had until the local Library copy became available to me. I see on the cover of this easy to hold book, that it is already an International EBook bestseller.
I love adopting a comfy reading position, holding a book, turning the pages and referring back and forth amongst the contents with ease and at a pace that suits me.
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From the first chapter I was hooked. I particularly enjoyed reading of Anne’s many and varied experiences of eating food as a child, as a new, young wife struggling to learn the tricks and art of cooking and then how being exposed to different cuisines from around the world her love of food and cooking developed and grew into a passion and a pleasure. The internet now allows her to share her creativity and pleasure with food via her blog:

At times the experiences she describes around love are very intimate and evoke emotions across the spectrum. There were many times as I was reading when I would pause and reflect on my own life and experiences, as signposts in her words touched me or pointed me back to a link in my past.

I follow Anne’s personal blog and her life without her beloved Harvey so some parts of this book already felt familiar. I also have Harvey McQueen’s “This piece of earth” on my bookshelf which meant I already knew of their special love and companionship and some of their enjoyment of food and cooking together. This familiarity certainly enriched my reading of this memoir.

So much social history is detailed in this book and when I look at my late mother’s recipe books which contain many of her mother’s recipes it is obvious that food provides a rich feast of detail on how we live our lives and how life changes. From my own experience I can well remember the advent of Kai Si Ming ( really mince with a stack of sliced cabbage and a packet of chicken noodle soup stirred through it, but a new idea in Mum’s kitchen) and Coleslaw! Cabbage had always been cooked to a very unappetising gooey mass before shredded raw cabbage came into vogue.

So reading this book was a treat, in a way food should be, and it was a surprise when I turned the final page to find the memoir’s end. As all good books do, it left me with questions unanswered and plenty to reflect on especially around what constitutes “women’s work” and our need to be creative, while also using our education, training and skills. I’ve spent time since finishing the memoir considering the many and varied aspects that food and the preparation and serving of it play in our social, emotional and psychological lives.

And like a very good meal this book left me wanting more. For good measure Anne includes 24 recipes to sample, ranging from very simple to exotic, but with her guiding hand all very achievable. And to tempt readers further she has included two lists of books which have inspired her. These include Memoirs and Recipe books.

I’ve already jotted down her “Fresh Courgette Salad” recipe as I watch the first small courgettes ripen on my plant. Yum!

Tree ripened bounty from Hawkes Bay

We made a hasty road trip to Hawkes Bay over the weekend for a pre-Christmas visit to the eldest member of my husband’s family.
Hastings was always known as “The Fruit Bowl of New Zealand” when I was growing up.
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I’m not sure whether that description and sign is still used but these tree ripened apricots and cherries certainly remind my taste buds that fine fruit comes from Hastings.
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We purchased these treats from “Kirstens” on Longlands Rd, Hastings. Her stall is just a little off the State Highway into Hastings as you travel from the south. She encourages a taste before you buy. You will not be disappointed.

Friday Poem: “Fair February” by Christina Ferens

This poem by Christina Ferens comes from her haunting, soothing and beautiful book: “ The Country Diary of a New Zealand Lady”

Fair February

“ Farewell to February, her fair charm,
Her golden tresses, cut and gathered!
Long days the men enticed have laboured,
An eye to the sky till day was done,
To win her favour, combed and bound,
Lying invitingly upon the ground,
Awaiting embrace, to be lifted up,
Laid high in chambers dry and airy,
Lofty, full to bursting – February,
To be remembered all the year
For her warmth and her bounty.”

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Dinner at Paekakariki

When the film can split its contents all over the floor at the movie theatre there was no point sitting waiting for the technicians to rectify that disaster. We were not meant to see Les Miserables as we had planned.

A regroup was needed. It was getting closer to dinner time and the evening was sunny and pleasant so we headed up State Highway 1 to Paekakariki to the Fisherman’s Table restaurant. They provide simple fare but their fish is always fresh and pan fried beautifully.

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While I was waiting for my main course to arrive I stepped outdoors and took these photos looking out to Kapiti Island (a wonderful wildlife and bird sanctuary) and further north up this lovely coast line.
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The longest day means harvesting the garlic

My gardening eye had been on the garlic in the past couple of weeks. The tops were beginning to dry indicating that the best growth has happened below ground.
Ironically garlic is meant to help keep aphids off over plants but I had discovered numerous colonies of black aphids on my garlic stems. They were not welcome.

Time to harvest was hastened by weather news that we are to experience the dregs of Cyclone Evan here over the next few days. That will mean damp, humid, sweaty weather which is not helpful to garlic…..or lots of other plants……and humans.

After the heavy mists and rain of yesterday morning had been burnt off by the sun I headed out and harvested 41 head of garlic and 5 elephant garlic.

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Can you see the small bulbils on the elephant garlic?
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These heads are Year 2 heads and can be eaten (yum!) and I will plant the bulbils back in the ground to produce next year’s elephants. Ideally elephant garlic grows best in a roughish patch of ground where it can cycle through the years and regenerate as well as offering pickings for consumption.

I lack such a piece of ground and use a black tub instead so bit more intervention and organization is required.

The garlic is drying off in the garage, which will now smell very pungent for a while. No vampires in our garage.

“Love at the end of the road” by Rae Roadley

The interesting play on words in this book’s title and the name of the author drew my attention recently in the library.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I found it hard to put down at times.

I love peoples’ stories, how they grow in life, what makes people tick and this all forms a good deal of this book as Rae documents her evolving relationship with Rex.

But there is so much more in this book that held my attention. Rae cleverly intertwines the history of the area in which she lives. The Kaipara is steeped in history both pre- European and since European settlement. Family history abounds and again Rae cleverly links the people she meets and is surrounded by in her life, back to past generations and their lives. The family trees in Appendix one are very useful reference points to assist the reader with the detail and intricate connections Rae writes about.

I’m a “townie”, just as Rae once was, so I found her stories and experiences learning about rural life entertaining, informative and amusing. I think she adapted to the life remarkably well and in ways I would not have done.

But the house she comes to live in with Rex, at the end of the road, is not just a very old, now historic house, which is in a rural location. It also sits on the edge of the Kaipara harbour and alongside the Otamatea River. Naturally there is a wealth of history and activity to be mined from these important waterways, all of which enriched my understanding of an environment very different from anything within my experience.

The book is packed with colourful characters, both human and animal. In typical rural New Zealand fashion there are endless anecdotes around food and a sprinkling of never fail recipes included in the book.

The photography and illustrations provide visual impact and information.

It is a rich, well researched and well referenced read. I came away having learnt a lot about people and how they tick and how lives and ways of living can be so very, very different. Rae’s book has piqued my interest in, one day, visiting this beautiful part of my lovely country.

You can visit Rae’s website here and she blogs as well.

A gift of 100 apples

We are totally spoilt for choice in New Zealand when it comes to choosing apples to eat nowadays.

This morning a gift of 100 Kanzi apples arrived on our doorstep. They are fresh off trees in Hawkes Bay.

The Kanzi is a new variety of apple, combining the Braeburn and the Royal Gala apples. I love both of these varieties, which are quite different.

Both are very juicy apples and crisp eating apples when fresh. The Braeburn has a sharper quality in taste, compared with the Royal gala which is sweeter and quite perfumed.

I have tried one of the Kanzi’s and have found the Braeburn qualities predominate but every so often I was pleasantly surprised with a bite full of sweet Royal Gala speaking of summer weather.

Apparently Kanzi’s cook well too but I think we will eat these delicious treats fresh from the refrigerator.

A bitter wind today

We have a bitterly cold wind gusting about us this morning. So far the sky is clear and the sun is doing its best to offer some warmth. However with snow and sleet predicted for much of the South Island and the high hills and mountains of the country it is a day to hunker down inside.

The slow cooker is working away on Moroccan lamb and couscous for dinner, the soup pot is now bubbling away gently on the stove, the tea- pot and toaster are at the ready. All to help keep the chill out today.

Jazz has a cozy spot by the gas heater to do his stretching exercises and I’ve got layers of wool on. If you are a New Zealander reader keep warm today wherever you are living.