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Archive for December, 2011

Christmas is over. Santa didn’t visit here – because we decided long ago, that we would rather be naughty… and buy our own gifts… who needs the fat-chap in the red suit?? πŸ™‚

We had friends visit for dinner last night. We cooked a beautiful rolled-roast of Pork on the barbecue, I made a simple salad of mixed leaves and herbs from the garden, cooked a huge pot of new potatoes and drenched them in butter… and I also made this grilled zucchini salad…

Would I make it again? Oh yes!… though I probably wouldn’t phaff around with the stripping and grilling part. There is only so much hanging around over a hot grill that you can do, before you get really grumpy… or is that just me? πŸ™‚

The salty olive/anchovy/feta combination is perfect with the herby zucchini and the pine-nuts add the perfect amount of crunch…

4 – 6 large zucchini – peeled into strips, lengthways
roll the strips in a couple of slugs of evoo, then grill them until they are brown on both sides and have softened. Pile them onto a platter
Β 
In a jar, combine 1/3 cup evoo
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped to bits
a pinch of chilli flakes
1/4 cup of fresh oregano – chopped to bits
Β 
You also need:
2 tbsp toasted pine-nuts
1/4 cup black olives – chopped to bits
150g feta cheese – crumbled (I used cows milk feta, because I don’t like goats cheese)
Β 

Pile the zucchini onto a platter and sprinkle everything else over top.

I promise you, it tastes a whole lot better than this photo looks! πŸ™‚

Our friends, some of whom are notoriously picky eaters, all loved it… most of us had seconds!

Note to Self: Β The next time I made this, I cut the zucchini into batons instead of ribbons. I rubbed some of the oil/anchovy dressing onto the batons before baking until tender. I also used mint in the dressing, instead of oregano; and chopped, toasted walnuts instead of pine nuts. I also sprinkled fresh mint onto the salad before we ate it. I liked it even better the second time around.

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Happy Christmas!

A special thanks to Lauren for finding this… πŸ™‚

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Wrapping a gift

My dear friend Susan of Susan Says posted this:

It is so sweet I just had to pass it on – though, if I tried it here, I would need stitches… πŸ™‚

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas. XXXOOO

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Changing the bed

...helping...

 

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My Darling

My nephew, Ben, is 18. He has just finished high-school and is taking a gap-year. He has really no idea what he wants to do next. The main trouble is, he’s good at everything.

Some things he is really good at…

Yoshi by Ben Pearson

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I’ve never eaten truffles – of the dug-by-pigs variety… chocolate truffles? sure! … but pig-dug? – nope.

I’ve always wondered if they taste as wonderful as everyone says…

so…

I bought this:

I was only a little bit hungry at dinner-time, Rick was out at a Christmas party – so there was only me to cook for… I cooked a piece of steak and sprinkled it with the Truffle Oil…

Was it good?

OH.HELL.YES! πŸ™‚

Yoshi is sitting on the arm of my chair, waiting for his chance to lick the plate...

 

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NZ Christmas

I was recently asked – how does a summertime Christmas differ from a more traditional winter one?

Until quite recently – apart from the fact it is usually 24c (75f) here on Christmas day, everything else was done as close to ‘traditional’ as possible. A huge hot meal – in the middle of the day – anything you would find on a Christmas table in England – we had too. I have memories of my nana and mum – bright red, perspiration running down their faces – pulling roasted meat and vegetables from the oven – fussing over a pan of water in which the pudding was boiling.

In the last few years though – most of us have grown a brain, and realised we don’t have to do it that way. Our meals are lighter… glazed ham – served room temperature, a big pot of new baby potatoes, a green salad… prawns as a starter – pavlova and berries to finish. Still too much food of course! πŸ™‚ We’ll drink some bubbles, watch Her Majesty on tv and make the teenagers do the dishes… πŸ™‚

Our best Christmas trees are these ones…

Santa still wears the big red suit

Other than that… we watch the same Christmas movies as you do in the Northern half, and we sing the same carols. We dream of a ‘proper’ White Christmas.

On Boxing day we eat leftovers, lie on the couch and watch the cricket on tv, catch up with friends…

It is also the school summer holidays here now. Lots of families pack up and leave the city – which is lovely for those of us who stay πŸ™‚ – no queues, the city is lovely and peaceful…

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It’s normal to take a while

One of the blogs I follow is by an Australian girl called Sarah Wilson http://www.sarahwilson.com.au. I don’t check in every day, but today I found this:

I’ve been thinking about New Year resolutions… something I don’t usually bother with… I mean, I don’t know anyone who follows through on those – do you?

But, I do have a list of stuff I’d like to do… leaping out of a perfectly good airplane is NOT on that list (!)… I have smaller ambitions… I’d like to learn to do dressmaking for instance. I always wear really simple tunics… it’s kind of Β my ‘thing’… I’ve always had them made for me, but surely I can learn how?…

The one on the right is me...

… and maybe if I can do that… I can do other stuff too???

Thank you Sarah. Every time I check in, I find something that makes me think, and want to do better.

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Nigella… again! … sorry

But… this is delicious!

Nigella makes this sauce for linguine, and serves it with tarragon chicken. But, I have never liked pasta – even in the “before”. I think I can blame it on the tinned spagetti which was the only pasta available when I was a kid. Rick still eats it occasionally – the very sight of it makes me feel squeamish.

The recipe – like most things the lovely Nigella makes, is so very easy. AND it gives me a chance to use this really neat little kitchen toy I bought on my last trip to Wellington… I love kitchenware stores – almost as much as I love book stores…

Shred the zucchini into thin little strips and dry in a spotlessly clean tea-towel. Leave it to dry as long as you can (this is so it doesn’t mush up when you cook it).

In a bowl, combine 2 egg yolks, lots of lemon zest, a splash of cream, some finely grated parmesan cheese and the juice of about half a lemon. If you’ve added too much cream – put in some more cheese… if you want it more lemony… add more zest.. or juice. .. it really is that simple.

Season it to taste with freshly ground black pepper

The sauce is that almost-outrageous yellow colour, because I used eggs from free-range chickens that my Dad’s friend gives him (and Dad passes some on to us). I thought the sauce would be really good with asparagus too…

Cleaning up after taking the photo, I realised I had used my very favourite kitchen toys in making this dish…

When we were first married, Rick arrived home one night with a compete set of beautiful (and seriously expensive) knives. They are brilliant to use, there is a lovely man who goes around all the restaurants and hairdressers etc in our region, sharpening knives and scissors – he comes every few months to keep our knives good and sharp. In between times, Rick sharpens them with a steel. I love my microplane grater – even though I have a scar on my thumb from a moment’s inattention…. the lemon-zester was a gift from our secret Santa one year and I love it!

ANYWAY

Melt a bit of butter (or coconut oil) in a pan – put the zucchini in and stir it until it softens (this will take just seconds!), add the egg yolk mixture and stir quickly. Take it off the heat – you’re done!

We ate it with left-over turkey (and the asparagus). It’s rich, but not overly so. It would be wonderful with ham or bacon too.


 

 

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Christmas Party

One of my best real-life friends is Catherine.

She and Rick used to work together, I met her at a work-do or two and we became friends.

She invited us to a drinks party on Sunday. It was a gorgeous summer afternoon – heaps of nice people and heaps of lovely nibbles, and she had made almost all of it gluten-free. She is very kind – and a true friend.

I dipped some luscious strawberries into 70% dark chocolate – arranged on a plate, they looked really festive. A small contribution to a lovely afternoon.

WordPress is playing silly with me. I’ve been having great trouble accessing my blog, with WordPress not recognising my password – anyone else having the same difficulty?

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