Tuesday, 30 September 2014

September 29th A Birthday Wish

Today was George's birthday. He has been wanting to cook a whole fish at home for a very long time. Eating a whole fish with all the bones intact is really not my thing. However because it was his birthday, because he had been fishing in the weekend and brought home a snapper, because I had been to the dentist and was consigned to a meal of soft food, ie noodles or soup were my choices - I gave in and decided to fulfill a wish on his birthday and to cook the whole fish, caught by his own hand.

To add a little birthday glamour to the meal, George has been wanting to replicate the chilli sauce that was provided in Thailand at a lot of the street stalls. He would purchase a whole fish when we we there and there was always a beautiful (according to him) sauce on top of the fish complete with chillies. Fortunately for him in his birthday month, I had visited a local Thai grocery store and the owner supplied me with a recipe. A very happy Birthday George ate his dinner with extreme gusto - forget the knife and fork, this was finger picking, continual moans of oh my god, dinner enjoyment

The sauce contains 6 Chillies and 4 Garlic Cloves

Ready to be attacked

Monday, 29 September 2014

September 28th The Perfect Pork Crackling

Today we were having a family day. On the 16th it was my youngest (!) son's 30th Birthday and on the 29th my darling George's birthday.

So time for a get together and some cake.  I was going to do a Pork Shoulder Roast or a Leg of Lamb - George thought one on it's own wouldn't be enough - 6 adults and 2 children? - and asked me to do both. So the Lamb was slow roasted in the BBQ and the Pork was consigned to the inside oven.

Now for the dilemma.... Pork Crackling. I have tried so many recommendations and they are so, so, okay. Some have worked out, some still have that chewiness, some remain forgettable they were that bad!  I happened to be reading an online article a couple of weeks ago, and a UK Journalist decided to trial the most 7 popular methods to make pork crackling in the UK. I decided to go with their No. 1 Choice and here are the necessary ingredients.. and utensil!

Yes you are seeing correctly. That is my hair dryer. My Pork Shoulder roast enjoyed what amounted to a spa session.  First you take it totally out of the cling wrap and I put it on paper towels. Then with a very sharp knife, make sure the cuts are all the way down to the meat.  I then spent about 5 minutes blowing extremely hot air on to the skin of the Pork. I am glad I was home alone as I am sure I looked pretty silly using a hair dryer on a shoulder of pork. (Believe me I am not telling Porkies here!!).

When I thought I had spent enough time drying the skin, I then tenderly massaged two tablespoons of oil into the skin. Think a Thai Massage - and you can make a pig of yourself.  Once that was completed - ie I think the massage time took a good 3 minutes or so. I then rubbed in sea salt.

Take note this all happened the day before. I then wrapped the pork as shown above into a tea towel, and left it in the fridge until the next day, taking it out so it would reach room temperature. In to a hot oven for 10 minutes, just long enough to sear the meat. And I then continued with cooking the pork at normal temperature. When the meat was ready, I removed the pork from the oven and cut the skin off (it was close enough to looking good, but very similar to my previous crackling attempts. I then placed it back in the oven under a hot grill for I think approx. 10 minutes. It was all hands on deck with veg, potatoes etc and fortunately I remembered in time my pork skin under a very hot grill.

The verdict using the above method? Wow, wow and wow. I just wish I had taken a photo but it was chaotic serving up the meal, and when everyone saw the crackling - it was devoured before the main meal!  Give it a try it is definitely worth it.

Oh and before the PC Brigade jump in... one of the most requested How To questions on the internet when it comes to Pork apparently, is how to achieve the perfect Pork crackling. I salute you who are ready to abuse, with my one middle finger :)

Sunday, 28 September 2014

September 27th An Awesome Act Of Kindness From Strangers

So there I was at my local supermarket known to all and sundry as Pak n Save - but whom I refer to as Rak n Rave. The food prices are definitely lower but sometimes fellow shoppers can look like something out of  'Humans of Walmart'.  Some are definitely from another planet. Some definitely do not know what they are doing on this planet.  But because I am profoundly tighter with my cash then a priest in a brothel for his first time, I shop there.

Usually George accompanies me, dependant upon whether I am being a work or a fishing widow. Today I was the widow of the fishing kind. He was off sailing the deep blue, hauling in loads of fresh fish (I hoped), and it was up to me to face Rak n Rave on my own.

Which brings me to supermarket trolleys!  I don't know whether it is because my arse is very close to the ground and my height is munted - but when it comes to emptying a trolley I actually have trouble reaching in to them. Being of wider girth doesn't help either. I can't turn myself into rubber woman to squeeze around the trolley in a narrow aisle when unpacking my purchases. I have visions of one day trying to get items out and ending up head down in a trolley with my posterior & two short fat legs sticking out!

I was going along with my usual business and not taking much notice of the world around me (apart from greeting the checkout operator of course, that is a pre-requisite), when a gentle voice asked "Excuse me Madam, can I help you with emptying your trolley'' Normally that sort of enquiry would send me into such shock that I would respond with ''WTF''.  But I had spotted this young lad of approx 16 years of age with his family earlier in the aisles. He was there in the queue behind me with his parents and wanted to assist me. Being of Polish disposition, coupled with being short and a width that matches my height - I said ''Thank You, that is so sweet of you, but I am perfectly fine. Thank you anyway for such a lovely thought" Thinking to myself at the same time - now why aren't 99.99% of NZ youth like that! The young lad went back to stand with his Mum. Then his Dad piped up ''Absolutely not. Let us do that for you'' - and promptly emptied my trolley on to the checkout conveyor belt!

I could not thank them enough. I wasn't in a situation to pay that act of kindness forward today. But it absolutely blew me away.  I don't think I look like I am close to 90 years of age yet and unable to cope with emptying a supermarket trolley. I kept saying thank you, but really wanted to say - hey why not come back to mine for a coffee. But you can't - can you or should you?  I still get teary eyed at my encounter with this lovely family today. I am so pleased they agreed to me taking a photo of them.

I hope life is full of the best for them. I hope their son's grow up and make their Mother and Father proud, and most of all I hope their lives are surrounded by love - from family, friends and strangers such as myself. These are The People of Pak n Save!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

September 26th I Always Wanted Another Name

I don't know why I haven't thought of this before. From now on I am going to be known as Shara. If Korean Airlines can call me Shara, then that is who I am Time for a name change.

Maybe we should have opted for a Korean meal. Actually that is next on the timetable as George has fallen in love with Korean Bulgogi. But this time we were out for Thai instead. Look at this little cutie - there was no way Ella was going to share her ice cream with anyone.

Friday, 26 September 2014

September 25th Another Oh Why Me Lord Moment

Why me Lord, Oh why me? Yes more hand wringing and gnashing of teeth - well if I have any left that is.

There I was enjoying my dinner. A very healthy dinner actually. A home made Mango & Cucumber Salad with Thai style dressing and chopped raw peanuts on top. Refer to my September 11th Blog for a photo - it is seriously good and warranted being made again.

However that isn't why I am crying out why me Lord.  I was enjoying the salad and then thought I think I may have a wiggly tooth, that is weird.  I paused my dinner munchings to investigate and lo and behold the whole damn tooth came out in my hand.

Now if it was a back tooth - that can be lived with. But this is a front tooth. To rub salt into my wounds, the same happened on the opposite top side, not even two years ago I think. I have this gaping black hole in my mouth that resembles the Black Hole of Calcutta. Ask me to smile, and I look like a demented pink haired lady who has crossed her face with an evil clown. Children will run for miles at the sight of me. Psycopaths will greet me and invite me into their homes. I am booked in for a styling session at an extremely exclusive up market designer salon. I don't think I will be crossing their threshold with my leering, black hole grin.

  Why me Lord, Oh Why Me!!!

Not to be confused with a Popsicle

Thursday, 25 September 2014

September 24th The Joys of being a Grandparent

Havana appeared in her first school production. All 150 + pupils from Te Uku School were involved and it was written and produced by teachers and parents . The show was very professional with smoke machines, strobe lighting and children performing and singing. Even down to the fact that no photography was allowed. We had an extremely enjoyable evening. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

September 23rd The Time Warp

Back in the day, ie approximately 30 years ago - actually cringe factor comes into play  here - possibly even 35 years ago, here in small town NZ (then) we had very few drinking establishments. If I remember rightly, after we finished a night clubbing, there were more places to go for an after pub feed, then actual pubs.  One of the stalwarts of mid 1970's Hamilton's late night feeds was The Beefeater Burger Bar. Guess what.. it is still in the same location and still has the same name. Although it has had a bit of a spruce up from a dull green colour to it's existing bright red. I have no idea what the burgers are like now, but back in the 70's... Beefeater Burgers Ruled!

In the reflection of the window, apart from moi, you can see an old building. That was the Bank of New Zealand - it is no longer a Bank but a Bar/Restaurant known as ''The Bank''

Here Endeth today's history lesson.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

September 22nd Twas A Stormy Day

Twas a stormy day
one could not venture out to play
The wind did blow a gale
there even was a touch of hail
Storm damage did abound
when I peeked outside and looked around
I think today I should stay housebound
These photos were taken from inside where I was safe and sound

A branch down and our poor tulips taking a beating

Pot Overboard

Monday, 22 September 2014

September 21st What To Do With a Pomegranate

I have really got into making Biscotti. A few weeks ago, Cardamom was part of the food challenge I am partaking in, and I found a recipe for Ginger & Cardamom Biscotti. Which I have now made a couple of times. Believe me, Cardamom, let alone making Biscotti, have never been part of my life plan before

Well around a week ago, George inadvertently purchased a Pomegranate, thinking I enjoyed them. I have never had one in my life. I certainly knew what they were, but have never cooked with one or even tasted one. So this sole Pomegranate has been sitting in the fruit bowl taunting me. And taunting, and taunting, and taunting.

By the way, here is a ''Did You Know'' moment!  The flesh/seed of the Pomegranate is referred to as an Aril Please don't ever say this blog is not educational thank you.

Back to my sole taunting Pomegranate.  I had no idea how many Pomegranates recipes use, so then wondered about using my sole taunting Pomegranate in my Biscotti recipe. The verdict? I may just have to purchase Pomegranate again in the future.

Please allow me to present my Pomegranate and Orange Zest Biscotti

Believe me, these taste great!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

September 20th Saturday Stuff

Today was Election Day. The huge dilemma for our day was "Do we vote for the $1 Sausage or vote for the $1 drink"?

After a morning of running errands, at our final destination, we encountered this little darling.

"One Day My Princess Will Come - oh why did you not bring yours?"

Saturday, 20 September 2014

September 19th Fish n Chips

Time for some real fish n chips for dinner. So where do you go? Off to Raglan for dinner for us it is.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

September 17th Can You Tell??

Life is always going to have its quiet moments. Whether due illness, being too busy with life, or even sheer laziness - some days life is just life. That's when the photos of flowers abound. I am happy to announce it is Orchid time and our front deck is ablaze with orchids. Well maybe 1, ok 2, alright 3 - oh heck ok 4 orchids are all in the flowering glory at the moment. And with not much else happening on September 17th - if life hands you Orchids, take a photo!!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

September 16th The Native of NZ

For those not familiar with the Kowhai tree, it is a native of New Zealand, and can be found no where else in the world. So it is pretty special. What I love is that you can walk past the tree one week and it is fairly bland looking,, with no buds. In what appears to be a few days, there appears to be an all over explosion of yellow and the tree is covered

Looking up from down below

Getting Up Close and Personal

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

September 15th There Be Dragons

Oh Aye Me Hearties. There be dragons in me fruit. So what is an ancient one to do but eat their dragonfruit - and a yummy lunch it was!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

September 13th and 14th A Weekend On The Road

I have managed to finally turn George to the dark side, ie a dark coloured car and it 'just happens' to be a Volkswagen - a VW Passat to be pedantic. We are now a VW family of two.  This was purchased from a dealership up in Auckland, so a road trip on Saturday was necessary to collect the vehicle.  Who would believe this scene was taken from a busy motorway?

Home with our new baby. Believe me, something is being done about that number plate. She is going baby!!

Then Sunday morning dawned. We had a new car, we have been house bound / work bound for a long time and it was time to blow out some cobwebs with a little help from our new friend. A road trip was called for!

Madam Minnie is comfortable and adapted well

Fitzgerald Glade - no matter how many times I drive this stretch of road, I am always in awe at the beauty of it

This well known cafe has a new owner, who has only been in residence for 10 weeks. Can thoroughly recommend the Bacon & Eggs or Eggs Benedict.

I see alive people

Swanning around Lake Rotorua

If you don't mind, I do look better from the right side. Can you use this photo instead?
Come Fly with me? Apologies but at this point in time we would prefer to drive

My two special darlings

Saturday, 13 September 2014

September 12th My Absolute Worst Nightmare Happened

Today was one of those days where I felt like getting to my knees, wringing my wrists and pleading ''Why Me Lord, Why Me.''  Was this due to being tested to my extremes? A sackcloth and ashes moment? No - definitely not. It was due to a bug of the loathsome kind.

People that know me well are aware that I am a homing device for creepy crawlies. They have their SatNav's set to hone in on myself and my body parts. If it is at home, you can guarantee it is when I am being a work widow and on my lonesome, or when George is fast asleep.  I could never live in the tropics or on a lovely Pacific Island. I only have to visit these places and have the creepy crawlies land on me to occupy my personal space.

Here are a few examples. Throw up in a toilet in Papua New Guinea and turn my head slightly to see what is on the wall next to my face. Oh never mind, it was just the biggest ever, hairy mother forker spider, the size of a man's hand, I have ever encountered in my life. The bastard came back the next night as well. Geckos - they are adorable and frightened of Homo Sapiens - except this particular one. I had one reclining on my leg. Then there was the time I was dining at an exclusive, very upmarket restaurant in a 5 star hotel restaurant in Fiji. This big as, at least 6 inch long,unidentified Black Flying Object zoomed in, buzzed around and decided to land on my arm. Did I say ''Oh Bother, that is tiresome" Oh no, I jumped up and screamed all of the four letter expletive words in existence - and then remembered the company I was in.  Let's return closer to home.. a few months ago whilst it was still warm, I was walking Minnie through the park. After a wee while I felt something scratching my rotund posterior -  I was wearing a dress that was mid calf length.  I felt it through the material and thought is that a ball of cotton - how strange. Then I realised it was a forking big cockroach and I was squishing it next to my skin.  Pass me the Gin Bottle as in right now! These are just a few examples and certainly not all.

You may well wonder what does the above have to do with my daily blog and photo of the day. Well may you ask.  I did my usual morning routine. Black Coffee, Porridge down the gullet, in to the office (negotiating peak hour traffic down my hallway - ie Minnie's toys), work and then it was time to shower before inflicting my presence on a customer.  Just as an aside - does everyone else have the same shower routine every day?  Talk about deja vu and I must break the cycle, just to freak my brain out one day!  Anyway shower completed (and our shower is over the bath), hop out, grab the towel and then see something black in the bath. I had just hopped out - and I didn't have my glasses on. I peered closer... and closer ... and then realised there was a forking, very much alive black cockroach in my bath!!  Where the heck that mother had been whilst I was showering, I don't want to think about. Oh my god and I was butt nekkid!!  One can of flyspray later that bastard was headed to cockroach heaven - via being flushed down the toilet. But I have these nightmares of one day sitting on the toilet - and all of these native black cockroaches I have sent to cockroach heaven, coming back up to bite me on me bum!

Here is what I encountered in my bath.

Friday, 12 September 2014

September 11th A Little Bit of Mango In My Life

Still continuing on the foodlovers.co.nz challenge.  This week the challenge was to try a new recipe (to ourselves) for Mango and/or Cucumber. Oh me, Oh my, I must admit I did cry. Mango? Cucumber? But my best and most loyal friend in the world - Mr Google - came to my rescue again.

NZ readers will be familiar with Nici Wickes, a local food writer. I found her recipe for a Mango Salad, however what appealed is the dressing had Thai flavours. We love Thai food, and the dressing combined with Mango and Cucumber was lovely.  Paired with pan fried crumbed snapper - a dinner well worth repeating!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

September 10th There's A Tui In The Tree

For those overseas, the Tui is a NZ native bird. Here in Hamilton, and very recently, they realised that the Tui no longer visited. Yes they were in the country and elsewhere in NZ, but not in Hamilton. So a project was born to bring Tui back to Hamilton City, which has been successful, with sightings of both the birds and nests.  A week ago I thought I heard a Tui, and today have been listening to the Tui song for the majority of the day. I can pinpoint the trees, but not the bird as the trees are too high. Sorry I love the Tui, but not to the extent of climbing trees - and scaring them/it away no matter what my efforts are!!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

September 9th Big Girl Pants

Today it was time to get the big girl pants out. Hoist them up to my chin, wear a determined grin and drive up to Auckland - on my own. I had a work related meeting to attend, and it was slap bang in the middle of the city, and it meant negotiating peak hour traffic to get there by 9:30am

Could this girl do it? Yes she can! Dare I mention I had to circle a city block a total of three times - just to find the dang car park entrance I needed to access?

Foggy, Foggy, Foggy - but only in the middle of my journey

Inside the concrete jungle lies another concrete jungle

I wonder if McCafe realises their sign is the wrong way?

A fairly arty farty McCafe!

Monday, 8 September 2014

September 8th Minnie's Big Day Out

Time for Minnie to go to Doggy Day Care - well Doggy Sleep Over with Doggy Day Care thrown in, if you want to be pedantic.  Say hello to your new mates Minnie, with maybe a few old faces in the mix.

September 7th The Annual Pilgrimage

Or Bi-annual or even Tri-Annual some years.  Yes it was time to head up the road to the big smoke. Nothing but blue skies on our way

 Where were we heading? . Yes, we were back at Roger's Garden Centre in Auckland. It was time to stock up on summer plants at the best little plant centre in New Zealand

Sunday, 7 September 2014

September 6th The Great Waikato Food Show

This weekend is the inaugural Great Waikato Food Show. Lots of exhibitors and cooking displays and of course yummy samples. I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend, and hope they continue this as a Waikato tradition, as it was well worth seeing.

Yes, it appears we are at the right venue

Just waiting on the Mad Hatter

Rustic table settings in the cafe area

It would be hard to plate up a meal here, but there are plates a'plenty

Steel yourself - wooden you?

Little Ivan learning how to 'man' an exhibit

Friday, 5 September 2014

September 4th Random Act of Kindness

There is a little bit of a back story to today's blog and photo. We need to rewind approximately 24 hours. There was a knock at our front door and I wondered what excitement lay on the other side of the closed door. I opened the door to find a young, early 20 somethings girl, touting a Power Company. No big deal, they do cold call, but this was the third call in something like one month from the same company. Which I nicely advised her of and was promised the last time my house would be marked as not interested. I advised I did not like being a grumpy old bag, but this did tend to make me a tad tetchy. So it was apologies all round, we won't be back, it won't happen again - and I perfectly understand and look at my iPad for this address - it definitely says Do Not Call - Not Interested. Close the door on that one.

Fast forward 24 hours. Time to take Minnie for her daily walk of discovery of new smells and fresh air, and at the bottom of our driveway was the same Power Company girl from yesterday. She asked me for a specific house number and said "I spoke to you yesterday didn't I"?  I reminded her I was the grumpy old bag from up the hill, and she said "You weren't grumpy. Actually I thought you were lovely''  (she can stick around).

So as appears to happen when I have these type of conversations - next minute I started to get her personal history. She wanted to make something of her life and had not only this job but also made jewellery, was a therapeutic masseuse and also wrote poetry.

After a discussion that lasted approximately ten minutes, with that she whipped out a piece of paper, asked me my name, wrote it down the page lengthwise, and this is what she gave me..

Maybe I aren't such a grumpy old bag :)