Tuesday 31 January 2017

Cook the Books- January

Week One:
I was given a large bag of grapefruit just before Christmas, and thought I had better use them.  Not wanting to make marmalade, I went searching the Internet for a Grapefruit Sorbet recipe.  A lot of them require an ice cream churn, luckily this one  - Grapefruit and Mint Sorbet, only needed a food processor.    A reasonably quick sorbet to make, I doubled the quantities which may be why it took a little while to set.  I would also advise tasting your grapefruit juice prior to making it, mine were rather sweet as I discovered after I had mixed the mint syrup into the juice, so I possibly could have reduced the sugar or maybe added a little lemon juice to give it a little more tang. I also removed all the mint leaves from the syrup, rather than pureeing them up.

Verdict:  Very refreshing, you get a subtle grapefruit finish after the initial mint taste. I am quite glad my family are away this week and I get to enjoy it all to myself.

Week Two:
Requiring sustenance for our hike, I made Banana Blueberry Muffins from my old faithful Alison Holst Muffin Cookbook.  I have often made blueberry muffins or banana choc chip muffins from this book.

Verdict: A moist muffin they were a perfect energy boost after all those steps, still think I prefer plain Blueberry muffins though.

Week Three:
Looking for ways to use the glut of cucumbers I had just picked and freshly harvested beetroot, I resorted to some recipes from my pinterest board.  This Thai Cucumber Salad was an easy salad to make, and luckily I had all the ingredients on hand.   The  Raw Energy Beetroot Salad was an easy make, my only gripe was the recipe didn't state how many servings, so The Scout and I have had it for a few meals.

Verdict:  The Cucumber Salad was a perfect accompaniment to the Thai Chicken Curry and rice we had for dinner that night. Refreshing after the heat of the curry.  Definitely a make again. Yes I will make the beetroot salad again, just when I have a lot of people over for dinner to use it up.

Week Four:
I'm going to cheat here,  and use a meal The Scout cooked while we were away camping from his book New Zealand Back Country Cooking.  He made a delicious Kransky and Pumpkin Risotto from scratch, with a lot of stirring done by the rest of us.

Verdict:   Filling, warming and very tasty, definitely a must have on regular hiking/tramping trips.

This month I am introducing a linky, so that you can link up your Cook the Book endeavours. Simply create your blog post, hop back here and add your link, and remember to link it in your blog too. Looking forward to seeing what you have concocted in your kitchens.

Monday 30 January 2017

Weekending - Mt Pirongia

After a rather sad start to our week, in which we fare welled our beloved 20 year old cat, it was lovely to escape Auckland for a long weekend and have some family time camping and hiking at Mt Pirongia, before school starts again. The campground is in a DOC site, so this means no hot showers or flushing toilets. A small river nearby provided us with fresh drinking water.  The Scout, was camp cook, so he tried out some lovely  recipes from a new book he received for Christmas.  Miss B and Mr J, taught me some new card games, I relaxed and read The Light Between Oceans, if I hadn't been to worried about extra weight in my pack, I probably would have taken some hand sewing.

On  our second day there, we explored the Kaniwhaniwha caves which were not very deep or wide, but still got the adrenalin going - I am not terribly keen on caves, especially when you look up and see the cave wetas gathered on the roof.  Any way I survived ,and so we continued on our hike to see New Zealand's tallest living native tree - this Kahikatea is aged between 400-500 years old and stands at 66.5m tall.  It wasn't a hard hike, however the track was very muddy in places, narrow in others and full of tree roots, still a fun day and the views were great.

Now it's back to real life, washing, work, school lunches and homework . 

Sunday 22 January 2017

Scenes from my Week

  • To date, my cucumbers are the most productive plant in my vegetable garden, I have picked about eight this week. These ones were being used in a Thai Cucumber Salad.  My chili plant which I cut back last spring is now producing too. Beetroot are the next best, this was the preparation for a raw beetroot salad.  Links to these recipes will be in January's Cook the Books post.
  • Some hand quilting  - almost looks like sashiko, but it's not.
  • This beautiful book turned up for me at the library the other day, full of gorgeous horticultural artworks - old and contemporary.  There are some very talented horticultural artists in our world. I am also reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, it is a true crime and travel memoir in one.  Really interesting and entertaining so far.
  • Bunches of pretty - these Cosmos were salvaged from my garden after a good storm on Saturday night.  They never cease to make me smile with their pretty colours.
Wishing you all a fabulous week ahead.

Friday 13 January 2017

Scenes from my Week

  • Miss B and Mr J are fully recovered from Jamboree now.  Yesterday I took the three of us to Clevedon Reserve to hike up to the lookout.  It is something Miss B and Mr J have done quite a lot, as there is a permanent Scout camp based there.  I however, had never walked this track before.  It is a relatively short loop track about 30-40 minutes, but feels a lot longer going up because of the hundreds of stairs.  The views were worth it though, as was climbing up through the kauri grove.  ( If you hover your cursor of the photos, the will tell you what they are of - thanks for that tip Karen).
  • I have been doing a little reading this week.  Kristin Harmel has been my new author discovery. Both books are set in modern times, with some flashbacks to characters lives based on historical events from WWII.  Her books are an easy read, enjoyable and a little sad at times, the underlying message is make the most of today and the times with special people in your life.
  • The garden is extremely dry at present, but a mass of hot colour with all my tropical cannas flowering.
  • A little more progress on my bird dance project, finding buttons tiny and cheap enough for the eyes is proving to be a mission.  I may have to use beads or even sequins.
  • A little baking ready for visitors this weekend - Cornflake Slice, though I only had rice bubbles on hand - I am sure it will still be delicious though.
Have a fabulous weekend!

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Here & Now

Loving //harvesting fresh vegetables from my garden
Eating //lots of yummy salads - usually made with burghul or quinoa, and with all sorts of vegetables, raw or roasted tossed through it
Drinking //long cold gin & tonics
Feeling //a bit apprehensive about a beginners yoga class I have signed up for that starts in February
Making //  felt birds - I really need to start giving them some eyes and legs though
Thinking //how skittish the little stray cat (we've called her Lucy) that has adopted us is, she turns up 2-3 times a day for food, sleeps on the driveway or steps, but won't come near us yet.
Dreaming //of a hot lazy day at the beach

Linking up to Here & Now at Say Little Hen

Saturday 7 January 2017

Scenes from my Week

The Scout, Miss B and Mr J have been away in Blenheim at the 21st New Zealand Scout Jamboree for the past 10 days. They return tonight, no doubt tired, but full of so many interesting stories and experiences of what they have done.  While I do enjoy time alone to do all the creative things I like, it does get a little lonely.  Here is some of what I have been up to.

  • I took myself into the city to the Auckland Art Gallery, ostensibly to see the Monet Painting which is currently on loan there.  While I can say I have finally seen a Monet painting in real life I was more impressed by the Maori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer exhibition.  Photos weren't allowed, but I would thoroughly recommend that anyone in Auckland visit it.  When I had finished I took a little wander up to Albert Park, such stunning blue sky, matching flowers and city scape's that day.
  • Time home alone usually means lots of sewing - I have pieced my Tula Pink City Sampler top - all 45 blocks I made.  I was going to give this to the Hospice, but a family friend has been quite ill so this will be made for her.  Now just to summon the enthusiasm for basting and quilting it.
  • Enjoying making more decorative stitches on another bird for my Bird Dance project
  • Of course reading features too, this is my current read, and I am really enjoying it, interesting quirky characters, a little magic, beautifuly descriptive writing, a little history - almost a fairy tale for grown ups.
Have a fabulous weekend everyone