'You are a strange young man,' said Juno. 'I can't quote make you out. Sometimes I wonder why I take so much trouble over you, dear. But then of course I know, a moment later, that I have no choice. Now have I? You touch me so, my cruel one. You know it, don't you?'
- Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
It was beans overload day recently as I met my friend L for lunch found the only thing I could eat on the menu was baked beans on toast. Not a problem since I like baked beans but I'd forgotten I'd requested a bean dish for dinner at the parents that same night!
I think she used the usual kidney bean filling she uses for her vegetarian shepherds pie (which I'm pretty sure is from Simon and Alison Holst's Meals Without Meat) and the scone topping was another Alison Holst recipe made into pinwheels with chutney in the middle. I ate heaps and it was delicious (perfect for the slow descent into winter we're having here) so clearly having beans for 2 meals in one day is not a problem!
Clearly on the beans roll (yeah, it really is lucky I like beans) a couple of nights later The Chef cooked up some beans for tea a couple of nights later served in a sort of nacho-like way.
With the beans (and copious amounts of corn chips...we polished off the whole bag through the course of the evening) we also had (mostly) crispy potato and kumara chips.
The big black-looking thing in the centre of the photo is actually a purple Maori potato. It's not burnt, just looks like it 'cause of my terrible photography skills! It's actually a beautiful purple colour all the way through. I have never been a big fan of potato (but I love kumara) but I am so in love with Maori potatoes...it's making my mouth water just thinking about them!
This last meal does not involve beans (although, if you think about it, tempeh is fermented soy beans so I guess it does fit the theme!), but going along with the theme of the purple potatoes we had purple carrots the following night which we'd picked up at the Parnell market.
Um, yeah I should have used the flash but I was lazy so imagine beautiful purple carrots instead of almost black, burnt-looking things! They were lightly steamed and tasted really delicious and sweet (and have a thin strip of white inside up the middle). There was also tempeh baked with chutney, and we scored roast veggies, peas and beans off The Chef's parents. Yum!
He tells her frequently he loves her best first thing in the morning when her hair is messed up and her face scrubbed clean. He loves her in old sweats, baseball caps, and his oversized sweatshirts. That's how she looked when he fell in love with her, he tells her, seeing her at meetings looking as if she had just fallen out of bed.
- Second Chance by Jane Green
I normally have Fridays off (unless it's chaos at work which has been happening of late) so that leaves me with a 3-day weekend...every week. Oh yeah!! This weekend was fueled by food (shouldn't they always be?)!
It all started on Friday lunchtime when The Chef and I met up with my awesome cousin D at Revive.
I got the hotpot of the day (Urid Dahl with Spinach and Tofu "Paneer") and the Bangkok Slaw. Yeah I know, pretty much every time I go to Revive these days I end up getting the slaw but it's so good that I can't resist.
Clearly on an 'eating out' run, we hit up Blue Bird for dinner that same day. I got the Hing Pie (rice and various veggies I think) with peanut sauce and salad.
Oh man, this was real good (hmmm, peanut sauce...how could I possibly resist!). I was also tempted by their chocolate cake but somehow (I don't know how) managed to resist...crazy!
Then on Saturday we braved the drizzle and grey skies and hit the Oratia Farmers Market in West Auckland. I love Farmers Markets but I don't go to them as often as I should. Actually, I haven't been to one in ages so it was all rather exciting!
As well as getting a selection of stuff to make lunch and dinner we also got some (sweet) steamed cassava.
I think it is basically just cassava and sugar with coconut on the top but whatever it is, it's delicious! They also had steamed rice which was pretty good (rice, sugar, coconut) but this was the best.
The Chef also bought me some nice New Zealand olive oil from one of the stalls. They had two different flavours...a grassy one and a peppery one. At first I liked the peppery one best but once that flavour hits the back of your throat (a few seconds later) it was a bit much so I went with the grassy flavour. It's amazing drizzled straight onto your salad (as long as you're not super clumsy like me and tip way too much on). The oil is made by a company called Goose Creek and is super local. They are based up at Huapai which is about 40 minutes drive from my place.
I also picked up some Really Good Peanut Butter. How is it possible that peanut butters can taste so different from each other when their ingredients are just peanuts and sea salt? This particular one is incredibly strong and rich. Definitely not for the faint hearted!
So by the time we got back from the market we were pretty starving so lunch was a quick salad with tomatoes and snow peas from the market and beetroot, carrot and lettuce from The Chef's garden. Some almonds from my fridge and a drizzle of the new olive oil and it was just perfect.
We also had a 5-grain fruit and nut bread (also from the market and mine was smothered in the new peanut butter of course) on the side. I could have eaten half the loaf in one sitting it was so good. It didn't even need anything on it but peanut butter is addictive.
I forgot to take a picture of dinner but here are some of the leftover Maori potatoes The Chef cooked up.
Boiled, then fried with a dash of oil and some rosemary. I'm not normally a huge potato fan but these were really delicious. I'll have to go back and get some more!
The Chef was working all day and into the night on Sunday so my lovely cousin D and I decided we'd have a girly Valentines Day together instead. After a quick blat round the bike park (and spinning out on a root, landing in the wet sand) I picked her up and we headed off to lunch at The Library...
...where I had pancakes again and ended up on a major sugar crash (seemed to skip the high and went straight to the crash unfortunately). Not a good idea...but they tasted good!
Then we spent the afternoon curled up on my bed watching 2 girly movies in a row while devouring popcorn and chips (I think our eyes were about to pop out of our heads at this stage)! After all this we were hankering for some real food so I cooked us up some dinner.
I sliced and fried up the leftover maori potatoes from the night before and served them with lemon tofu chunks, salad (where I practiced my oil-drizzling skills) and a ginormous corncob each (unpictured in case you hadn't worked that out). Very tasty. After this we were completely stuffed...but incredibly satisfied. Perfect!
The attendant looks the body up and down and shakes his head. He slides it back inside on near-silent rollers. A heart attack, they say. Extreme shock and terror, they say.
So, the attendant wonders, why is the corpse smiling?
- Nonstop from Rite by Tad Williams
Sunday morning did not quite start off as planned (this being last Sunday, not today in case anyone was confused). We had planned to go to The Orange Tree for brunch but it was closed. So off to the art centre market it was for souvlaki from the Dimitri's stall instead! It might not be what I'd typically see as brunch food but you really can't go to Christchurch and not have a souvlaki.
Yep, that's one HUGE falafel souvlaki because B made us both get doubles. Seriously could not finish this but it was delicious. We washed them down with fresh lemonade from the market whilst lazing in the sun. Awesome.
Once we got home we also might have snacked on some chocolate biscuits B had picked up from the supermarket...
Once brunch had settled (which took a hell of a long time!) we headed off to McLeans Island.
While B fitted in some mountain bike training I ran round the walking track and took the detour out to the river. I wish I'd had my camera out there as it was beautiful.
Not much is open on a Sunday night in Christchurch but we did manage to find somewhere, the Dux de Lux, which used to be a vegetarian restaurant/bar but has since added seafood to their menu. They still have a good selection of vegan options though. Both B and I picked options that we could share.
My meal came with salad and I picked the rice and the carrot salads. Very tasty and I had to restrain myself from eating all of it whilst waiting for the rest of my meal to be served.
I ordered the sweetcorn and vegetable fritters which came with a beetroot chutney.
They were huge and delicious with a crunchy outside and a gooey, creamy inside and the chutney went really well. Filled the spot perfectly.
B also picked the rice salad and also went with a couscous salad which we weren't fans of.
For his main B ordered the Indian curry which was served with rice, chapatti, raita and mango chutney.
The curry was pretty delicious and hearty but the chutney was best avoided...tasted like eating a really sweet mango jam which would be fine in some contexts but not this one.
Because we were starving and getting quite good at ordering (and eating) WAY too much food, we also ordered some kumara fries on the side with sweet chilli sauce. I love kumara fries and we polished them all off despite being so full we couldn't move!
Because we hadn't had dessert (which was a requirement for the weekend challenge!) we made brownies (yes, crazy I know)!! Using an Orgran Chocolate Muffin Mix, we followed the vegan version but used soy milk instead of water and added peanut butter and chopped chocolate (I think we got a bit carried away on the chocolate chopping front but hey, chocolate is all good) and then cooked it in a large square cake pan.
It turned out really well especially when served warm with Lite Licks Hokey Pokey ice cream. Just to state the obvious, I was ridiculously full after this again! Hmmm...perhaps the theme of the weekend?!
Everyone talked about food, all day and all night! No sooner had lunch been finished and cleared away, than supper would be discussed and a shopping list drawn up for the second meal of the day.
- from Viva l'Italia by Julie Biuso
Sometimes you just need a change of scene, some time to yourself, a break. Life has been incredibly difficult lately. I’ve never been that good with change, coping when things don’t go to plan. Everything suddenly feels so much harder and food tends to get pushed lower down the list and when it does get eaten it tends to be very basic - cereal, toast, muesli bars...
So about the middle of last week I jetted off down to Queenstown to stay at our fancy work apartments with the most amazing view (see the photo below) and a feeling of lightness inside for the first time in a while...
I got picked up from the airport by a good friend and workmate who promptly took me on a tour of the local supermarket and Mediteranian Markets where I well and truly stocked up on enough food to feed me (and a small army) for the week! It was fun as she took me round her favourite places to shop and pointed out some of her favourite things at the Mediteranian Market.
There was no way I was going to get through all this food but I hadn't even thought about what I needed and what I was going to cook so made sure I had plenty of choice. Some of it is coming back with me in my suitcase since I didn't have a chance to use it (hopefully I'm not overweight...it was close on the way down as I had all my art gear packed too).
Despite the fact that it's winter, the idea of salad seemed highly appealing since minimal effort is required (hmmm, I'm sounding really lazy about now). Salads are not something I’ve had that often but if they are good they can be the best thing in the world.
This one was SO good. I should totally do this more often.
Queenstown has quite a cool little health food store, Destination Organic, which I always check out when I come here.
I picked up this prune and linseed bar there which was pretty good - tasted very healthy but I won't hold that against it! It was perfect fuel for my run that day which took me right up into the snow!
Of course, a trip to Queenstown is not complete without a visit to Patagonia Chocolates.
I got 71% dark chocolate with mixed peel and nuts, dark chocolate coconut and dark chocolate ginger...SO delicious.
When I got lazy (or tired) I resorted to simple food...
...a wholemeal bagel with almond butter and blackberry jam...
...and more salad.
One of my favourite quick meals to make used to be nachos but even the thought of cooking that seemed rather daunting. Too much chopping, too much cooking, too much work...but the stove here is seriously awesome...I wish it was mine!
I had leftover tofu which I chucked in for a change and tried to use up as many of the vegetables I had as possible so I didn't waste anything.
It made enough for 3 large servings which meant I didn't have to cook something each night! Not as spicy as I'd usually make it but you make do with what you have.
We had snow yesterday which was pretty cool but sent the temperatures plummeting. Here's the view out my window yesterday morning...quite a change from when I first arrived!
So here I am, about to leave for the airport and head back up to Auckland, to the place I apparently call home and the real world but I think I'm a bit more ready to deal with it now...we'll see.
Here in the trees it was much easier to believe the absurdities that embarrassed me indoors. Nothing had changed in this forest for thousands of years, and all the myths and legends of a hundred different lands seemed much more likely in this green haze than they had in my clear-cut bedroom.
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I'm feeling a little jaded this afternoon. Tomorrow night is our family Christmas party so I've spent pretty much all of today in the kitchen preparing some of the food for the evening...but you'll have to wait until next time to find out what's on the menu! Of course, before ending up in the kitchen we got up not long after 5am for the final spin class of the year complete with champagne and strawberries! Then it was home to have breakfast of last night's tofu scramble. What a way to start the day!
This is actually last night's dinner but hey, breakfast looked pretty much identical so deal with it.
Anyway, on to more exciting things. Last Friday I got to meet Theresa from The Tropical Vegan for lunch as she was visiting Auckland for a conference! Being my usual self I was a nervous as anything but, as usual, there was nothing to worry about!
Meeting up in town meant the obvious place to go check out was Raw Power. Theresa ordered the Tofu Burger which I've talked about here. Despite being a fairly warm day, I had a craving for soup (needing comforting perhaps?!) so got their soup of the day, Curried Vegetable Soup served with focaccia bread and hummus. It was creamy and delicious. Washed down with one of their freshly made juices, it hit the spot perfectly.
Since you can't really go past dessert if it's offered I got a Caramel and Date slice (or at least that's what I think it was but I couldn't even remember by the time I'd decided what I'd wanted let alone now, a few days later!). We took our treats to enjoy in the sun (you have to make the most of it round here sometimes!) in Albert Park across the road from the university.
That evening we drove up to our family beach house at Wai Kauri Bay to escape for the weekend and enjoy the fine weather. As usual we had to check out the Matakana Farmer's Market on Saturday morning which included an On Yer Bike chocolate smoothie which you were supposed to blend yourself by riding this stationary bike attached to the blender. Unfortunately no amount of pedaling was getting my smoothie blended...I must have broke it!
In the afternoon we took our bikes over to Tawharanui Regional Park for a bit of adventuring (and a bit of scaring of the farm animals as we came flying past). We got some awesome views at the end of the peninsula looking all the way out to Little Barrier Island.
It may be summer now but that doesn't mean the water is warm and inviting for swimming but hey, all you gotta do is toughen up right? Anyway, after all the mountain biking in the hot sun, a little cold water never hurt anyone!
The jetty at Wai Kauri Bay
The death moment was at hand now. Again and again Inigo thrust forward, and again and again the man in black managed to ward off the attacks, but each time it was harder, and the strength in Inigo's wrists was endless and he only thrust the more fiercely and soon the man in black grew weak. "You cannot tell it," he said then, "because I wear a cape and mask. But I am smiling now."
"Because I'm not left-handed either," said the man in black.
And he too switched hands, and now the battle was finally joined.
And Inigo began to retreat.
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Apparently it's spring...try telling that to the weather. It's pouring with rain, the wind is wild and the temperature has dramatically dropped again! But we did manage to squeeze in one week of spring before the bad weather hit again!
J and I decided to escape the city for the first weekend of spring when the weather was actually nice and test our bikes out at Tawharanui Regional Park, over the hill from my family's beach house at Wai Kauri Bay. But first, we had to go and explore the Matakana Farmer's Market. Despite being only about 15 minutes drive from the beach house I have only gone to the market a handful of times. There is heaps of fresh, organic vegetables, homemade chutneys and james, fresh bread, oils, wine...lots to see and taste.
We explored the river's edge while savoring sorbets in the first warmth of the spring sun. J was determined to find the killer eels that the sign post promised but we had no luck!
A little further down the road is the Matakana Country Park Market. Mum always gets sidetracked here with all the garden sculptures and art. Look at what we found at the market..a buzzy cow!! Classic! We also reverted back to childhood and played with toy blocks!
So what did we pick up at the farmer's market in the end?
Here we have feijoa wine, feijoa and apple juice, organic macadamia butter, an organic pumpkin, an organic avocado, an organic and gianormous capsicum, organic ginger rocky road and a pear, prune and walnut chutney. Yeah, we got a bit carried away!
After lunch we took the bikes over to the reserve (walking them up the hill from the bay was one heck of a challenge...there was no way I was going to try biking up that hill!) and I finally got to test out riding clipless with my new mountain bike shoes (the weirdest name I've ever heard...despite knowing why they are called clipless pedals it doesn't make sense as you have to clip your shoes into the pedals so, therefore, they should be clip pedals). There was a lot of yelling of frustration and several bruises but in the end I finally managed to work it all out. J clearly has A LOT of patience!
Above is my bike on the deck of our beach house afterwards...we had to put the normal pedals back on as I wasn't game enough to try riding along the gravel road in them in case I, well, fell off and forgot to unclip!
It was a pretty exhausting day and by the time we got back from the ride we were in desperate need of a shower and a hot dinner. Unfortunately not all plans end up how you want them to and we couldn't get the hot water cylinder for the bathroom going so had to wash ourselves down with a bucket of hot water from the kitchen!
At least we still had power though so a hot dinner was definitely on the cards. Roasted kumara chips, delicious curried vegetable pies and fresh salad with a squirt of lemon juice (lemons straight off the tree from outside) and chutney from the market...perfect!
The following morning J took his bike over to the reserve to explore some more while I ran the tracks. Tawharanui has a maze of tracks through the farmland and native bush and having spent hours of my childhood exploring the place I know it like the back of my hand.
On returning it was, again, a wash using a bucket before sitting down for lunch. The previous night I'd roasted up the pumpkin while making the kumara chips so with the roasted pumpkin (it was beautifully sweet and rich) I whipped up a pumpkin and peanut butter soup. Although I was lacking in all the usual things I'd add to the soup to add flavour it still tasted delicious. Marmite mixed in hot water makes a great vegetable stock!
Here's the view from our deck at Wai Kauri Bay. It's like being in paradise. I spent a lot of my childhood up here in the holidays and weekends...swimming, kayaking, exploring the hills and forests, making sandcastles...ah, it's making me dream of summer now!