Winter solstice dinner

Still no snow this winter…we did have a bit of a teaser dump mid-May but nothing that stuck around…21 June was the shortest day. We have a largish expat community here, mainly outdoorsy types like guides and ski field staffies, who get a bit homesick for a winter Christmas dinner so we did one, bring a plate style…

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My opted plate was Christmas pudding, the unhealthier the better, and who better for unhealthy culinary fun but Nigella. This is her ultimate Christmas pudding, made exactly as per the recipe except I for got on the day to make the whiskey sauce…I guess we’ll just have to do this again so we can see how that goes…

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It is rich as, mainly sherry-soaked fruit with about half a cup each of flour and breadcrumbs to tie it all together and steamed for a total of eight hours: five hours for the initial cook, then three hours to warm for dinner itself – in the interim, Nigella says it will store nice on a dark shelf for months…

…and yes…we did set fire to it – with four firefighters in attendance – next time I will serve it on a more dished plate so that the surplus fuel pools there and not on the table…

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It burnses, it burnses….

 

If the Beatles lived here…

snow snow snow

Here comes the snow, here comes the snow
And I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold rainy winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the snow, here comes the snow
And I say it’s all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here

Here comes the snow, here comes the snow
And I say it’s all right

Snow, snow, snow, here it comes
Snow, snow, snow, here it comes
Snow, snow, snow, here it comes
Snow, snow, snow, here it comes
Snow, snow, snow, here it comes

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear

Here comes the snow, here comes the snow
And I say it’s all right
Here comes the snow, here comes the snow
It’s all right, it’s all right

And with the snow, come the Darwinists, people who are just too dumb to be allowed outside on their own…

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Finally…

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…with more to come…

…winter is here…

Woke up to snow at home this morning…mainly windblown but nice to see it making the effort…slushy snow on Raurimu Bridge and then increasingly realer snow into National Park Village and then down SH47/48 to Whakapapa…

All images (c) sjponeill.wordpress.com

All images (c) sjponeill.wordpress.com

Even though the plough and grit trucks are out, temperatuires are still below zero in most places…with the ski fields and ski field roads being closed, I’d really suggest people want to stay off the roads unless they really need to be somewhere…

Today’s post as been brought to you by the number 4 and the letters W and D…

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All images (c) sjponeill.wordpress.com

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All images (c) sjponeill.wordpress.com

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All images (c) sjponeill.wordpress.com

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Coffee Catch-Up #2

 

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Inspired by Inspiring Max’s Coffee Catch-Ups, in this case #12

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am well over this series of mechanical mishaps: first the engine in the truck blows just before ANZAC Day – six weeks to get the sorted and a big dent in the savings; then the water heater in the kitchen floods under the wall into the back pantry – not expensive but days of mopping and cleaning til I was sure there was no permanent damage; and on the weekend, the big fridge just stopped being cold – lights still come on, just no cold. Found a failed fuse and thought that was it but the replacement popped as soon as the power went back on so now I have to wait til the service guy is out this way in a few weeks (it’s a mega-beast to move).

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that aside from the frustration of having a stand-in  fridge only a fraction of the capacity of the real one, I really like the more open access into the kitchen enabled by the reduced profile fridge: the big one came out to the edge of the lino in the picture above…I think it may be relegated to the back pantry with a smaller profile device going into that corner of the kitchen with just the most popular ready-use items…plus I’m already in love with being able to just grab fruit off the top like this…DSCF0334.JPG

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my battle with the bank is making some headway and we are getting some wins but will they be enough to change the outcome before everything goes? I’m getting great support from my legal team and those Members of Parliament that are assisting me and also looking at the potential changes to legislation that might fall out of this. But will it be enough…?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I was rapt today to be cleared by Michaela at PhysioDirect Ohakune to be able to return to a normal life after popping a disk in my back a month or so ago. One of the silver linings to come from that mishap – never dance with a big dog when it’s icy – is that I have had to return to a daily stretching regimen: something that I should never have stop doing…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this is being a drearily grey winter so far…yes, there’s snow on them thar hills but just not enough of it…DSCF0300.JPG…the dreary greyness can be quite depressing but apparently banana peels are rich in serotonin so we’re blending our bananas whole to see how that works…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I bought yet another coffee toy, a capsule expresso machine only to find that I didn’t have a single expresso-sized cup that would fit the machine…I finally dug out an old tea cup that came with the house that is doing the trick for now…

DSCF0330I finally bought a frother too: the coconut milk doesn’t much like the heat of the steam frother.

DSCF0332Now my work towards world domination a perfectly frothed non-dairy milk can continue…
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Wrapping up a Coffee Catch Up with a coffee…

 

 

Good for the Soul

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So far this winter has been more wet than cold…three winter’s ago, we had already had some serious snow by now…
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This is a time when root vegetables, carrots, potatoes, parsnip, kumara, etc, are seasonal and thus cheap at the moment. I’ve been investing heavily in freezable storage containers to store the vegetable largesse as soup…

I scored half a large bag of potatoes that survived the ‘Kune Carrot Carnival a couple of weeks ago and scored the net for a variety of tasty light things to do with potato. There are surprisingly few variations on the theme of potatoes, less than consume large quantities of the target vegetable….

Although not a big consumer, this recipe combined potato with chicken and cheese. Like most soups, it is simple and quick to make.

Ingredients

100 grams of butter (probably should have used coconut oil but didn’t think of that at the time)
1 onion diced
3 carrots diced
3 spring onions (the recipe calls for celery but I’ve gone off that for now)
1/3 cup of flour
2 potatoes diced
2 cups of coconut milk (the recipe calls for cow but I don’t have that in the fridge anymore apart from occasional small quantities for guest brews)
1 teaspoon of black sea salt (yes, you could be boring and just use normal salt but I’m trying to stay away from processed foods: if it’s white, it’s bad)
3 cups of chicken stock
1 decent size organic chicken breast (after the Hot Doc’s warning about the growth additives that go into commercial chicken, I avoid it now) diced
1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar/Colby/tasty cheese
Fresh parsley and or coriander, finely chopped

Directions

Melt the butter in the pan
Add the onions, carrots and spring online and cook for 3-4 minutes
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir it in.
Add the coconut milk, chicken stock, potatoes and chicken.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes.
Slowly add and stir in the cheese until it has all blended into the soup.

Sprinkle with the parsley and coriander. Serve with stick bread sliced longways, or toasted jalapeño cornbread

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I’ll be making this again, for sure, not only is it tasty as and filling. I’ve already had a few requests for it and one can’t ignore one’s fan base. Changes I would make apart from those listed above? Probably only to add a diced parsnip: I forgot I have a bag of them in the pantry: it’s sweetness will go well with the chicken and cheese flavours…

The Power of Touch | The Daily Post

The Power of Touch – Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?

Source: The Power of Touch | The Daily Post

Texture…more than meets the eye…

Juicing versus blending….

Juice is smooth and drinkable, like water….blended oozes with pips and bits…

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Here’s where the texture goes…

Wint’ring Up: Parsnip Pumpkin Soup

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It’s really winter up here on the Plateau and that means a couple of things: first up, for here, it’s really bloody cold; and there’s lots of cheap-as vegetables from the Chocolate Eclair shop in Ohakune (+ dangerously nice eclairs, donuts, sponges etc!!). Between juicing for breakfast and souping for later, I go through a big bag each of parsnips and carrots about every fortnight.

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The roasted veges about to go into the stock.

This is a nice and fast recipe from Weight Watchers that makes 4-5 double servings with a minimum of fuss or mess. I pretty much make it as directed except that I, as I do, added a three bubs of garlic to my second batch ( still needs more!!). The total cost – so long as I get the cheap veges from the eclair shop is only about $5 max including the garlic and pumpkin (only uses about 1/4 of a medium pumpkin!)

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Brought to the boil over a slow heat and simmering away.

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Good to go…

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Using the power-wand to mulch out the lumps – a neat piece of kit: only $17 at Harvey Normal but don’t put your finger in it to clean the blades when your other hand is still clutching the fast button…

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All set for consumption and freezing…

We’re on our third batch of this now with plenty stashed in the fridge for the long drought when there’s no cheap ‘Kune carrots and parsnips. It goes great with toast or scones (even better again with cheese toasties or cheesed scones) and, thick as it is, is uber-filling…Although it has a deep sweet texture and flavour, I think we’ll drop a little spice in the next batch just to add a little zip to the mix…just tossing up between upping the garlic ante or dropping in a tablespoon or two of curry…

Wear sunscreen…

 

…and other handy things to know…

Yes, winter has finally hit the Central Plateau…and with it, the usual outbreak of idiots…

Handy tip #1. Snow is wet, hard and cold. Just because it is sunny, does not mean it is warm. Dress appropriately and, yes, that does include wearing sunscreen…

Handy tip #2. Your big 4WD does not make you immune from the laws of physics, or the road.

Sub-tip 1 to #2: when you crest a hill on the ice-covered road and you see the flashers on the Highway Patrol car at a breakdown, don’t hit your brakes. Score SH47 3, 4WD idiots 0.

Sub-tip 2 to #2: Chains are not equal to 4WD, nor do they make you a world-class rally driver. If you are not used to driving on ice, get the bus. If you miss the bus, get out of bed earlier.

Sub-tip 3 to #2: The absence of signs saying ‘slow down’ does not equal a defence when you are in the ditch. Use of the defence may justifiably be taken as provocation by the guy you hit on your way into the ditch.

Handy tip #3. Your quad headlights that can blind a possum at five kilometres will not melt ice on the road. Bridges and shaded corners may be treacherously slippery all day – drive appropriately.

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DSCF8580 DSCF8579 Cautionary tales and idiots aside, heavy snow fall often sucks all the moisture out of the air and makes for beautiful days…The lower level tracks in the Park are all accessible and walkable but the higher levels of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing remain restricted to those with equipment AND experience above the snow line – those without should seriously consider signing up with one of the guided tours because a. it is safer, b. the Crossing in winter is a totally different experience to the Crossing in summer, and c. it is an experience not to be missed.DSCF8583DSCF8584DSCF8585 DSCF8586

Chilly…

…and I don’t mean the magic spice that overcomes all food preparation shortcomings…

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I was driving back from town yesterday and could not help but notice that both Ngauruhoe and Tongariro had had some decent dumps of snow over the last two days…couldn’t tell you about Ruapehu because that is under that big mass of cloud where the fence line meets the skyline…DSCF8391

DSCF8390Compare Ngauruhoe with the shot I took of it at sunset a couple of posts ago...

The temperature dumped as soon as the sun disappeared…it was a beautifully clear and starry night…so still and so bloody cold…down to 0 at midnight and -2 at first light with a good frost…

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The sun is dealing to the frost already and it will be a ripper day til the sun goes down…I think we will get snow here as soon as we have a cloudy night…it’s been trying the last couple of days…

It’s safe to say that winter is here so if you are visiitng up this way, think about putting some warm clothes, maybe even a sleeping back in the car, with some sensible footwear, gloves and a warm hat…just on case…it’s this time of year when drivers are still in summer daze and don’t think of shady corners and the risks therein. Just like the new Road Safety ad, not matter how good a driver you may be, it might be the other guy that makes the mistake that gets YOU…take care out there…