Sunday, May 30, 2010

Winter activities

Wellington has been getting an early start on winter weather in the last week or so. Loads of rain, plenty of wind and some very chilly days! Today has been particularly cold with rain sweeping through at regular intervals. It's very easy on days like today to turn the heater on and settle down in front of the television for the day. Instead, this morning I headed into town to meet a friend at the weekly market. While the weather didn't exactly make things pleasant I found it energising to be out in the fresh (very fresh) air. I certainly didn't need to have bothered brushing my hair this morning and a hat would have been a fine idea. Sampling various yummies at the market was fun and the cheese and spinach crepe I had was a welcome warm-up!

After a hot cup of tea we headed off to one of my favourite cafes in Wellington - round at Scorching Bay. After a light lunch it was back outside for a walk along the beach. I'm really glad I didn't just shelter at home for the day - it was wonderful and invigorating to be out there in the wind and the cold. As we head into winter I am sure there will be plenty more days like today.

Next week we have a three-day weekend and I'm off tramping. That will be a frugal and energetic way to spend a weekend and I am looking forward to getting out into the bush. I'll take my camera along and try and get a few photos - but that may depend on the weather,

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yet another soup recipe

Last year at a friend's birthday dinner I tried broccoli and blue cheese soup for the first time. It was delicious and so I tucked the idea of making some of my own into the back of my mind.
One vegetable that is particularly cheap right now just so happens to be broccoli so tonight I made my soup. The recipe is as follows :

2 cups chicken stock
250g broccoli
150g courgettes50g blue cheese
Salt and pepper

Heat the chicken stock then add vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables until just tender (and still nice and green). Remove from heat and blend until smooth (or at least not lumpy). Add the blue cheese and blend again. And that's it. Soup all ready to go. I just finished a bowl of it and it is delicious. Of course you would need to like blue cheese to appreciate it. :) Here's a photo of the finished product.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leek and potato soup

I've been a bit slack posting - mostly due to standard busyness and nothing particularly interesting to post about.

Tonight after dinner I decided to try out making leek and potato soup. I haven't made this type of soup before so wasn't sure how it would go. Luckily my mum emailed me a recipe. I pretty much followed it....... but excluded the bacon, used random fresh herbs (it was dark outside!) and haven't added the milk. For once I remembered to take photos - but, to be honest, it's pretty bland looking really.

I didn't bother sticking to the recipe too closely - especially on the quantity side of things. What I did was : slowly cooked one chopped onion and one sliced leek in a little oil until soft. Added 3 chopped potatoes (volume wise there was probably equal leek and potato), salt, pepper, fresh herbs (I think I ended up with a mix of fresh marjoram and oregano) and enough chicken stock to cover the veges. I cooked it up until the vegetables were tender, cooled it and then blended it until smooth. I tasted it and it was delicious.

The bonus of this recipe is that it works out really cheap - the leek cost me $1.30, potatoes from the garden, herbs from the garden. Yup, pretty darn frugal. :)

Of course I had already had dinner when I made the soup so it's destined to the fridge and freezer. Yum! Here are the photos.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Garden tidy-up with a bonus

For a while I have been meaning to spend some time tidying up my vegetable garden - for one reason or another it hasn't happened - until today! I managed to sort out all four of my raised beds. I was considering taking before and after shots but, to be honest, I was far too ashamed of how overgrown they had got so you will have to be content with the after shots - oh, and some photos of the bonus harvest of the day. :)

So here are the photos of the beds after I was finished. I was very surprised at how dry some of them were - usually at this time of the year we would have had a fair bit of rain but it has been drier and warmer than usual.

I know they look a little bare right now. I am never sure what to try grow through our winter as we get quite hard frosts so most things don't survive. Maybe I will just leave them empty until spring. The next couple of photos are the bounty from my weeding session. Would anybody like some potatoes?

Mmmm, pumpkin soup. :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mmmmmm, Thai cooking

Before I get stuck into this blog post I have to apologise for the lack of photos - I was so busy with the class it didn't even occur to me to take any photos.

Anyway, yesterday I went off to my Thai cooking lesson. The class was from 9:30am until 3:30pm and was run by a lovely young Thai woman who has been in New Zealand for five years. She had two other Thai woman to assist her which worked out really well as some things took longer than planned. They were great at helping us catch up when we fell behind. In the class there were eight of us there to learn new skills.

Well, we sliced and pounded and stirred and cooked our little hearts out pretty much non-stop all day. We did have a small pause for lunch which consisted of yummy curry puffs that we had made. They were delicious.

Throughout the day we made the curry puffs (minced pork, potato, carrot, spices and seasoning wrapped in puff pastry), chicken stirfry, pork curry, jasmine rice and a dessert of water chestnuts. The part I enjoyed the most was making our own curry paste from scratch. It's the most that my mortar and pestle has ever been used! We got to use ingredients most of us had never heard of through the day as well as things that smelt like death but tasted fabulous.

My favourite dish of the day was the chicken stirfry which had really simple ingredients of chicken, mushrooms, sherry, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, tamarind paste, water and sugar. Hmmm, I guess that doesn't sound so simple but it was super simple compared to the curry paste we made which had ingredients of lemongrass, galangal, garlic, shallots, roasted peanuts, shrimp paste, salt, coriander, chillies and cumin - all of those were pounded together into a paste. While it took quite a long time to prepare the finished result was divine and totally worth the effort.

So that is one of my cooking lessons off my list of 101 things to do. The next one I have booked is the chocolate one. I am very much looking forward to that one!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Autumn harvest

Today's bounty was unplanned really. I had a self-sown tomato plant appear in one of my raised beds. The plant, with no care from me at all, has managed to produce a decent amount of fruit.
My friends and family will tell you that this is not something I would be especially pleased about it - I can't stand tomatoes. I often wish this wasn't the case as it does place limitations on foods I can eat. I have wondered whether I am just being fussy but the last time I ate tomato I was very ill. It's the only time in my life I am aware of that I was so ill that I burst blood vessels in my eyes from the vomiting. Oops, was that too much information?

Anyway, it's not like me to let things go to waste so I decided to collect up the tomatoes, cook them up with some onion, garlic and fresh oregano and freeze the resultant sauce. Of course the sauce isn't a lot of use to me but will come in handy for my family to use. :) Here are a couple of pictures of the dreaded produce and the sauce I made.