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.

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 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.

February 04, 2012


Tomorrow you turn four. Four years sounds very serious. Not quite serious enough for school, but not frivolous like a three year old. My mother, your Nana, always tells me about how she and my father walked around the rose garden the morning I was born. And then I arrived with a holler at 3.20pm, in time for afternoon tea. Before you were born I would roll my eyes and groan something teenage-y whenever I heard this story; oh Mum, you're embarassing me. But I get it now. I get it because every year on the 4th of February I do the same thing. I tell you about how your dad and I went and had a last supper, well, it was lunch, at Ernesto's. We ate hash browns and eggs and hollandaise. I went to the chemist and bought the last of the supplies I thought I would need to look after a little baby. We went home and packed those few last things in my red suitcase, which is now your suitcase, and then at 5pm we went to the hospital. It was a dull overcast day, a little windy. As we came down the hill to Newtown, Christy Moore was playing on the stereo, a song I'd been teasing your dad about. I asked him how he felt. Scared, he said. When we got the hospital, your dad took photos of me beside the sign at the hospital, with my suitcase and my bump where you were. I knew I wouldn't have the bump next time I stood in the carpark. The same Christy Moore song was on the stereo when we brought you home two days later.

So it's six hours until you are four. Tomorrow when you wake up you'll come into your mum and dad's room and clamber in between us. There will most probably be a tickle fight. I will look at you and see every day since the day you were born, and when you're five, I'll get nostalgic about it.

January 31, 2012

2011 - The year in review

What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before? Where to start. There were so many firsts this year I'm bound to miss something out.
1. Went to Vancouver, Whistler and a tiny snippet of coastal British Columbia; that trip saw many firsts, like having a migraine while sea-kayaking, flying first class, encountering a baby bear, going shopping for maple syrup at 10pm with an old Kiwi friend in a suburban supermarket, and eating all sorts of amazing new foods like Arctic char, clamato juice and raw buffalo.
2. On the home front, I painted my own kitchen and made a blanket out of crochet.
3. Became a runner. I joined a women's running group, ran up hills I never thought were possible, entered a running race, got injured and had my first MRI.
4. Hung out with my cousins James and Morgan.

What countries did you visit? Canada; land of Mounties, salmon and maple syrup from the supermarket.

What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? That elusive Canon award.
What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? February 22, 12.51pm. The day of the Christchurch Earthquake.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Writing the Elsa story.
What was your biggest failure? Not finishing my first 10km because of a pesky migraine.
Did you suffer illness or injury? I had nine migraines this year, which is more than I've had in the decade. They were often at inopportune times. I have learnt to get over my panic when a migraine comes on now. I also had the aforementioned running injury.
What was the best thing you bought? My mountie tin.
Whose behaviour merited celebration? Those volunteers who dug people out, patched them up, shared facilities, raised money, and donated anything they had.
Where did most of your money go? Gardening and secret brunches at Cafe Thyme next door to the garden centre.
What did you get really, really, really excited about? The final of the RWC. Running up Mt Vic. Snow in my front yard - for three days.
What song will always remind you of 2011? The national anthem, sung with an ever changing lineup of lyrics by H R Graham. Who knew "in the bonzo love" and "God of masons" were the words? And the rainbow song, which Harper learnt from his beloved Nana.
What do you wish you'd done more of? Had more haircuts. I'm wearing a blankie of hair on my head right now.
Did you fall in love in 2011? Neh. I thought I would love the chooks, but they're a pain in the butt.
What did you want and get? Chooks. Revising that decision.
What did you want and not get? A thriving raspberry patch. A Canon award. A medal for finishing a running race.
To see 2010's wrap up, see here.