October 27, 2013

When life gives you lemons


I believe that anyone who enjoys making delicious food should have a lemon tree. Lemons are quite possibly my favourite fruit simply because they are one of the most versatile foods you'll find. They can be juiced, zested, preserved, squeezed, sliced into drinks, used in baking, dips, stuffings, sauces, meat dishes and salad dressings. They are an ├╝ber-fruit in my book.

Unfortunately I can't grow lemons to save my life. My poor, tatty, weather-beaten Meyer lemon is in the final stages of a long, slow death. I have long had a dream to say casually to Harper, hey can you go get a lemon from the tree, as I stand quaintly before the kitchen bench. It's not to be.

But a friend has come to the rescue. She has an old tree that seems to have an endless supply, and she generously gave me a bag full. And in order to make the most of this bounty, I anticipate every meal I make from now until I can see the bottom of this bag, possibly sometime in mid 2014, will have some part of a lemon in it. I intend to use lemon in all it's glorious forms in as many ways as I can find. Right after I've had this gin and tonic.

First up, it's in hummus. This is no ordinary, 'buy it in a punnet and it tastes a litte like blended up cardboard'. No sirree. The beauty of making your own hummus is you can adapt it to the way you want it; more garlic here, a little less lemon there, a bit of chilli and coriander, you do it the way you like. You can also - have mercy! - not even use tahini, and I don't because it costs a freaking fortune. I use peanut butter instead, a staple in our house for toast, sarnies and just eating by the sneaky spoonful.  
Here's the recipe I used - by the domestic goddess herself Nigella Lawson, but I add a bit of fresh  coriander and some chilli flakes for extra oomph.

March 20, 2012

Where I've been

I've become a multi-blogger, writing about the garden here at Helston Heights for Stuff. If you haven't read it yet, it's called Woman vs Wild and is all about gardening. That doesn't mean I won't be blogging here anymore, - no - you'll still be able to get your fix of my blathering on about running, writing, crafting, parenting, DIY-ing, and overthinking. Watch this space.

March 01, 2012

Things I have learnt about running

Last Sunday, Ange and I took part in a big runfest called Round the Bays. We trained for it and everything. We've gone from not being able to run very much to being able to run quite far. There were 11,998 other people entered in Round the Bays, and it was full on. I felt fairly confident that I would not come last, and 20 minutes after I finished the run, people were still pouring across the finish line like river in flood.
It was a sunny, windless day, so from about 1km in it was baking hot. My favourite part was about halfway along Oriental Parade - I could see hundreds of bobbing heads in silhouette about to round Point Jerningham, the fountain in the bay was looking glorious, and the streets were empty apart from us runners and sleepy looking people waving from their apartments. There were a few people who had brought their hoses round to the front of their houses and were squirting people, which I have to admit was heavenly. I even did that thing where runners grab a cup from the drink station and throw it over themselves. It felt amazing.
At about 5km, I felt my tummy go a bit funny and wished I had done more core work in training. I could feel myself start bending inwardly, it felt impossible to hold myself up straight. It was so hot I had to make a huge effort not to look at the sparklingly cool water of Evans Bay, not to see the family of cute people going swimming. I had to focus on keeping my feet going.
With about 200m to go, Ange appeared out of the blur of spandex shorts. I actually put some effort in and caught up with her. My legs weren't happy about it, but amazingly, I realised I did have something left after all, and I managed a wobbly sprint to the finish line. I was stoked to come in at 44mins and 25 seconds.
I learnt a few things about running that day.
First, run your own race. Ignore what everyone else is doing. Especially children.
Second, music choice is everything. This track got me to the finish line.
Third, the faster you go, the sooner the pain will be over. Fourth, work on your core in training. When you get tired, it's the thing that will hold you upright. Fifth, don't try to meet your family at the end when there are 12,000 competitors. It was like looking for Wally trying to find Dad and Sweeney in the crowds.

February 29, 2012

Autumn Red

The weather has just recently turned a touch autumnal. Where summer is bright blue sky and yellow daisies, and winter is a sea of black coats walking headlong  into a southerly, autumn is the red of a ripe chilli pepper and a turning leaf. I'm noticing lots of red at the moment, especially in the tomato patch. Seems everyone's tomatoes are ripening slowly.  The cherry tomatoes have been ripening steadily for a few weeks now, but the last remaining grosse lisse tomato plant has just the one ripe tomato shining up like a beacon from the green of the plant. It is the first time in three years of gardening that I've had a large size tomato ripen, which is, in this climate, and with everything I've had to go through to keep these babies alive, a bit of a miracle.


Autumn makes me think of Tokoroa, and the start of hockey season. Hockey practice after school would end about 5pm, and I would walk home afterwards with it getting steadily darker, the sky big and wide and still. I was a dreamy teenager, kind of lost in some other place. I loved walking home and seeing the lights on in people's houses, seeing them going about their evening rituals. I wrote poems in my head as I walked. It was lovely to get home and find the fire on, I can hear the sound of my mother pulling the drapes closed across the patio door. The drapes were red. My cheeks, chilled by the crisp air, were red.

February 14, 2012

Lovey dove


Remember that movie Love Actually, in which the premise was that Love, actually, is all around us, just like the Troggs song says. The filmmakers chose to illustrate this by showing people greeting loved ones at airports. It showed love at its least self-conscious. Today, Valentine's Day, is all about showing love. I saw women walking purposefully with bunches of flowers, I saw men walking purposefully with boutique chocolates. It occurred to me some time ago that love doesn't have to come in the form of a card, or a bunch of flowers, or a hug at the airport. It's in the way Iris clutched my arm and gave me the banana muffin she hadn't had time to eat this morning. It's Joe smoothing aloe vera into my sunburn (that's a whole other post) trying diligently not to hurt me, it's running with women I've only just met in the breathless evening on the waterfront and congratulating each other at the end. Love is the bus driver waiting while you totter across the road in the rain and high heels. It is indeed all around us.
Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

February 06, 2012

What a happy birthday looks like




H kicked off his 4th birthday with a present treasure hunt. His presents were all over the house with picture clues as to the location of the next present. 
I spent hours whipping up all sorts of kiwiana-style party treats. My first attempt at Rice Bubble Slice was not very successful. Lucky that onion dip is impossible to mess up.
The traditional Aunty Ange cake went down a treat. H couldn't decide what to wish for, and the letters on the candles were unreadable by the time he blew them out.
I had no idea H was so popular with the ladies.