In the thick of that season there were few things more magical than ice - the blocks that emerged, impossibly, from the back of a wagon, steaming not with heat but with cold, the unmistakeable stomp of the iceman conquering the stairwell, gleaming blocks of ice piled on his broad back like enormous melting diamonds.
- Wickett's Remedy by Myla Goldberg
So I appear to have been gone from here for quite some time. Oh dear!
Since I’ve gone so long I thought I would give you a little insight into some of the things that appear to have gotten in the way of blogging lately. Basically, life in the south has been filled with many adventures. There has been lots of running. I like running, especially in the hills. One day I will take the camera with me and show you all where I run every week. It's so beautiful here! And with more tracks slowly opening up again (after being closed for SO long because of earthquake/rockfall danger) there are more places you can safely go. There has also been heaps of riding, especially since M bought himself a mountain bike and I upgraded. The best part about where we live is that you can go mountain biking straight from home without having to drive anywhere and there a lovely big hills to ride up and along on your road bike. I can't wait for summer and not needing to defrost after a ride though!
Anyway, below is just a little snapshot of some of my favourite adventures we've had so far (i.e. the ones where we have taken a camera!)...
Oceania Mountain Bike Orienteering in Central OtagoBack at the start of the year, when it was warm and summery (which seems like a lifetime ago since now buried in winter and the weather outside today is particularly unpleasant) we had several days of mountain bike orienteering in Central Otago. It was fabulous (mostly) and I seem to have become addicted to mountain biking since returning home. Sprint the Bay 2012There has been plenty of orienteering happening this year to distract me and Sprint the Bay was one of the events we traveled to. Basically it is 3 days of sprint orienteering on various maps around the Hawke's Bay region. There was a nice big group of us from Southerly Storm up there to represent the South Island. Exploring the West CoastI'd never been to the West Coast of the South Island so M and I went to check out a bit of it. We stayed in the cutest little house right on the coast at Granity and explored a lot of the historic mining sites near by. The highlight was exploring Denniston and getting to see the incline used to cart the coal down from the plateau. It has to be seen to be believed. It was also the first real test of my new bike. I think we're becoming very good friends! Orienteering Nationals 2012Easter equals the National Orienteering Champs and this year it was up in Auckland so I got to have a little trip home at the same time. 4 days and 4 very different maps and getting to see people I hadn't seen in a long time made for a lot of fun (and lots of sand in our shoes and socks). Mountain biking at CraigieburnWe spent ANZAC Day with friends riding in the glorious sunshine at Craigieburn. Beech forest and incredible views made this a pretty cool day, even if the riding was rather scary in places. Hooning along the Hogs Back track down into Castle Hill at the end was an awesome way to finish a long day in the saddle. TWALKTWALK...THE event of the year. 24 hours of madness in the wilderness with a bunch of friends whilst wearing silly costumes cannot really be beaten. As an added bonus, our team won! Exploring the Mackenzie CountryWhat does one do when there is a long weekend? One goes on an adventure of course! For Queens Birthday we took our bikes for a few days of riding based out of Tekapo. Arriving in the late afternoon we had a beautiful ride along the Richmond Trail above Lake Tekapo as the sun was slowly setting. We got back to the car just before dark! Another day we rode up (and up and up) to the Omarama Saddle and pushed up the Saddle Ridge track even further where it was freezing and there was snow across the tops. We were far too cold to take pictures by that stage! Snow Day!Of course, what is winter without a snow day! I didn't believe snow was coming but that morning it was pouring with rain at our house so I dressed up in my wet weather gear and rode my old mountain bike to work. The closer I got the colder it got and the rain started to turn into ice and then snow flakes. By the time I reached work I was riding through snow drifts. It wasn't long before we were all sent home again! That night was the regular Wednesday night run in the hills and it was crazy because we didn't even need headlights as the snow seemed to light up the sky. Riding in RotoruaLast month we flew up to Rotorua for a few of days of riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest. The first couple of days we competed in a weekend of mountain bike orienteering events but we stayed extra days to explore the forest. It's like mountain bike heaven in there! Some of these adventures have not been so fun though. M and I have just recently returned to our flat after nearly 2 months living out of boxes at friends’ houses while EQC (the earthquake commission) “redecorated” it. That was not fun. Sigh. But now we are home and slowly unpacking again. I really should get a move on with that since I have some very exciting visitors arriving this weekend and it would be nice if the house looked somewhat, well, less like boxes and chaos.
There have also been lots of adventures in the kitchen but that is a story for next time...
‘The idea is much too big for my little head.’
- Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
M and I moved house last weekend so now we have somewhere of our own which is terribly exciting. I mean, I have a fancy big fridge all to us and a kitchen that I can arrange any way that I like! And, at last, my cooking inspiration is slowly starting to come back again after what feels like forever (months? Years even?).
But our first meal at the new place was Hell pizza on the only furniture we’d moved at that stage...a table with a couple of chairs! I like to customise the Sinister pizza (which is naturally vegan but mixing the toppings up a little is always fun) and if you get the big one then you have leftovers for the following night when you’re too tired from moving to even contemplate cooking something proper.
The first meal I actually cooked though was pretty boring but still delicious, tofu stir-fry with turkish bread. Always a good safe option especially when getting used to a new kitchen.
I think I spent half the time trying to remember where I'd put everything and getting used to the fridge being in the laundry. Sounds weird but it actually works fine and that means we have more space in the kitchen.
Next up is a rice and veggie casserole which is based on the Cheezy Broccoli and Rice Casserole from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I liked the concept of this and the taste was pretty awesome too but there was far too much rice to veggies even though I had added more veggies than the recipe originally said. Although I didn't have a cup measure and I think the cup I used for the rice was, well, definitely larger than your average! But still, it definitely needs some modification to reach a level of awesomeness!
Yes, it looks quite good in the photo above but the veggies (and beans) are all on the top and the rice is all underneath in a thick mass.
Another night I made a delicious wintery scone-topped casserole (you can tell it's pretty wintery round here by these last two dishes...-3 the other morning when we biked to work!). This has to be one of my favourite winter dishes and you can make it with pretty much anything you have on hand.
The casserole part of this dish has onion, carrot, cauliflower, celery, pumpkin and tinned sweetcorn with a tin of butter beans and a creamy sauce (pretty much just oat milk, flour and sweet chilli sauce). You cook all that up then dollop spoonfuls of scone mixture on top and bake for about 15 minutes at a super hot temperature. Voila, an awesome winter dish that is also brilliant the next day or even frozen.
Anyway, that's enough food for now. I am so tired! It's been so busy since moving and last night we had M's parents over for an awesome feast (which I will blog about shortly) and today we went for a lovely bike ride (route is here) so I feel about ready to fall asleep on my seat. I wish we had a couch!
Oh, and for anyone interested, our new flat is in the white zone which means it hasn’t been assessed yet but I can’t see any reason for it to be classed as orange or red so I think we’re pretty safe. It’s got the usual cracks that every house in this city now has but it all seems pretty superficial. If you are interested, there is more information about the zones here. It is about whether the land is safe to live on rather than whether the structures themselves are safe (that’s different again - but appears to have a similar colour scheme as far as I can tell).
Christopher Robin was sitting outside his door, putting on his Big Boots. As soon as he saw the Big Boots, Pooh knew that an Adventure was going to happen, and he brushed the honey off his nose with the back of his paw, and spruced himself up as well as he could, so as to look Ready for Anything.
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
So...I'm getting quite bad at this blogging thing and right now things are feeling more than a little stressful which is all rather understandable but doesn't change the fact that I have a whole lot of friends trying to live in a city that pretty much resembles a war zone. But I did have a beautiful weekend. M managed to fly up from Christchurch on Friday night (he requested that I bring water and food to the airport - just a hint at how desperate things are down there) and was quite excited about having a shower since his place was still without water. After M showered and we had dinner we escaped up to my beach house for the weekend.
Somehow Auckland managed to turn on a beautiful fine weekend with no rain whatsoever which is a bit of a miracle! After lazying about and sleeping in (felt like the first time in ages) and going for a paddle on our archaic (but totally awesome) polystyrene surfboards and swimming I made us lunch...hummus, tomato and mushroom toasted sandwiches with a red cabbage coleslaw (recipe to come).
After lunch we did a bit more lazing about because we could and then wandered up the hill for some fresh air. The view from the top is always incredible (not that the view from out our front door isn't though!).
Then I made us an awesome green curry packed full of veggies, chickpeas and butter beans (my new favourite bean) on brown rice. We both went back for seconds.
I actually had some bananas I hadn't got around to eating or freezing (this is quite rare since I normally pretty much buy bananas, deliberately leave them on the bench for a couple of days and then freeze to make smoothies) so I decided I was going to make us banana bread. The one from Veganmicon to be specific. I think I've got it down pat now and it's my favourite. It even toasts quite well a couple of days later too.
We had a slice each for dessert straight from the oven and then pretty much devoured the rest the following day. SO good! Of course, we needed delicious banana bread to fuel us for a run in the hot sun over in Tawharanui...
Apparently I am in this photo as a tiny wee pink dot halfway up the hill but I am too small to really make out
And then all too quickly it was time to go home again and for M to head back to Christchurch. It felt even harder than normal to see him go...
"Because you killed him and put him in the cold, cold ground?" Actually, it hadn't been all that cold but I felt I was due a little artistic license. My mind soared and swooped, way above everything. I could see so much! I felt like God. This was fun.
- Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
How come it feels so good to get home again and yet it sucks at the same time? Why do some of my most favourite people have to be so far away? And why does my backlog of photos never stop growing?! Oh well! We'll get there...eventually.
Anyway, you might be pleased to know that I am still in one piece. I did not fall down a 12 metre cliff and neither did I get a stick through my front wheel and come off breaking my sternum or ribs. I left those adventures to others in the team!
I did, however, ride for 25 hours (that's 9 days in a row of racing and training), get some wicked cuts and bruises from crashing into rocks, fell off my bike in a bog and got completely submerged and spent more than 2 hours cleaning the mud off my bike and shoes only to find NZ customs in a relaxed mood.
I laughed so hard that I thought I might explode, got attacked by a magpie (seriously...you can see where the beak of the bird wedged into my helmet!), lazed in the spa pool and learnt more about bikes in 9 days than I ever had in the last 3 years of riding. When I finally get a chance, there'll be more info about the trip up here if anyone is interested.
Oh, and I also managed to eat some pretty good food. I didn't photograph most of it (like the awesome vegan lasagnas that got whipped up for us non-meat eaters one night) because I am a bit slack but rest assured, you will not go hungry even in small towns in Australia (I found tofu, both plain and marinated, veggie burgers, oat milk and all sorts of other staples in every supermarket I went to).
This is the only photo of food that we actually cooked. This was our second night in Mt Gambia and there were three of us girls cooking together in our little unit. We were lazy and bought pre-prepared stir-fry veggies since we were traveling the next day.
Next stop was a farmstay not far out of Carisbrook. It had the most awesome kitchen where we would cook up communal meals each night. Down the road in Marybourgh there was a cafe (Legendz) that could make soy milkshakes. After a hot day out in the forest I couldn't think of anything better!
It was thick, cold and delicious...and I drunk it so fast that I got a headache!
Food-wise, Daylseford was when it got exciting. We'd just arrived and were mulling around town whist some people were sussing out somewhere good for coffee when one of my team mates spotted a sign outside one of the cafes saying it was vegetarian and vegan.
My first trip (we went twice) to the Himalaya Bakery I got a mini chocolate cake and organic cola.
I also got an apple and cinnimon scroll to take away with me too (oh, and later on I got one to eat on the plane home too...they were big and deliciously filling).
Our first night we all went out to dinner at the Old Hepburn Hotel. I got a veganised version of the vegetable and kidney bean nachos which was pretty good but I could have done with more bean mix and less corn chips. It didn't last all that long though (riding every day makes you hungry...and incredibly tipsy on one bottle of alcoholic ginger beer and therefore your table's entertainment for the evening)!
Saturday night was the social function at a pub down the road. Food was catered but I'd organised in advance for a meal to be provided for me. They ended up changing their vegetarian dish to make it vegan which I thought was pretty cool...green curry with tofu and tempeh. Not anything flash or amazing but it filled me up and, quite frankly, I was hungry so as long as it was edible I wasn't really fussed.
And for dessert they served me a big bowl filled with grapes and strawberries. Everyone else at my table was jealous and I had to fight them off!
After our final race we went into town again for lunch and boy did I need food by then...desperately (after nearly 3 hours of mountain biking I was pretty desperate)! I managed to convince over half the team to join me at the Himalaya Bakery again! Everyone had to agree the food was really good.
I got the open veggie burger (I think it was made from lentils). It was good. So basically, if you find yourself near Daylesford, go here. I really recommend it.
For our final night we went out to the Jasmine Thai Restaurant in Hepburn Springs. Items on the menu that could be veganised were clearly labelled which was super cool and my meal was delicious. Of course I was pretty forgetful that evening and forgot my camera again. Typical...
...but after over 2 hours of cleaning my bike and bike shoes (I don't think either have ever been this clean since they were brand new - look how sparkly it is!) I was completely exhausted.
So all in all it was an awesome trip (and this is a ridiculously long post). Plans are already underway for next year...
Though Eric's tone was light as a marshmallow, his meaning was a sharp blade hidden inside.
- From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris
I'm having one of those weeks where my head is whirling all over the place and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the number of photos I have sitting around to be blogged about but we'll deal with that another time. Instead we'll just take a little time-travel back to Sunday because I can actually remember that far (anything earlier has merged together!). On this particular Sunday my best friend B was up visiting me. It was also daylight savings (the one I always dread 'cause you have to turn the clocks forward an hour) which may account for the fuzziness of my brain.
Anyway, after getting up super early (and of course it felt even earlier with the whole daylight savings thing) for a training ride out to Kumeu and back, B turned up at my place and we cruised over to Kokako for breakfast. I was starving by this stage which wasn't surprising.
I love their vege booster juice which is, apparently, a combination of carrot, celery, beetroot and ginger. Seriously, it is quite possibly the most delicious juice ever although I did adore the green juice I had at The Lotus Heart.
There really isn't that much vegan food on offer at Kokako despite it being a vegetarian cafe but the tofu scramble is good and is generally my usual order when I come here. It will fill you up.
On our drive home B spotted the Kraftbomb sign and I realised I'd always wanted to go (I also realised that it's just down the road from my house) so we swung the car around and went inside. Ooo, vegan cupcakes from the NZ Cupcake Queen!!!
I was very unoriginal and got the peanut butter chocolate chip one...typical. Maybe next time I might branch out to one of her more exciting flavours?
It is a bit tragic but we ended up eating a sort of lunch in the car from food we picked up at Huckleberry Farms (there was an apple here as well...not just pie!).
Then it was time to make the drive over to the shore to catch up with our friend E. I made the boys epic pizza...
Well, I did eat more than one slice, 2 slices in fact, but E's place was lacking in decent-sized plates so I drew the short straw and ended up with this tiny plate! This pizza was piled a mile high with vegetables and was of the knife and fork variety. We spent the rest of the night watching movies, eating cookies (good old Oreos!) and drinking tea. Awesome.
"You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have four legs, instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart instead."
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
As I said in my last post, I had a friend come visit me for the weekend...after picking M up from the airport we thought we'd go roam the supermarket because that's what people do on a Thursday night right? Amongst other random buys (chocolate was the essential reason for the supermarket trip) I discovered this packet of chips in the International isle. I mean, how could you possibly pass up a flavour of chips called Mrs H.S. Ball's Chutney? What could possibly be more appealing?!
We ate them all on the car ride home. Of course, this might indicate that they were delicious or something. Rather they were weirdly sweet (well, they were chutney flavoured after all) but awfully addictive...if that makes any sense.
We went out for breakfast but I didn't take my camera which was pretty slack but in my defense we actually weren't planning on breakfast (well, we were...just not right then). Because neither of us checked out the address of our morning destination carefully enough we had to postpone morning plans till later and go eat before I turned into a monster. So we went to Raw Power since we were in town and I had their tofu scramble. It's really good...but clearly camera-shy because every time I've had it my camera has, well, not been there. Oh, and we may have had a giant melting moment cookie as well but that might just be a rumour.
I do, however, have a photo of lunch...which isn't exactly pretty but still tasted good. I suspect that after biking out to Kumeu most things would have tasted quite good though.
We had to retreat to a bus stop to hide from the wind and rain. Typical Auckland (there was blue sky in the morning, then it rained, then it was blue sky again...repeat until you get exhausted...but the weather never does).
And then we biked home again...
We were up at my beach house the next day (after arriving late at night from basking in the Waiwera Hot Pools until we turned all wrinkly) and for breakfast I made us both the Banana Flapjacks from Vegan Brunch. They turned out really delicious (between the 2 of us we easily polished off the whole batch) but I really need a non-stick frypan because I was wrestling with the old cast iron one which was determined to destroy all remnants of a good mood. Luckily I'd given M prior warning that I was likely to turn into a monster when it came time to try and turn them over so he didn't panic when I started cursing.
Served with peanut butter (well, mine was anyway), blueberries, soy yogurt and golden syrup. Quite awesome.
Fuel before heading up over the hill to the reserve for running drills...
This is a muesli bar from my local bakery. They are awesome (the bakery specifically but also this muesli bar)...heaps of vegan options and if you are avoiding wheat or gluten, well you have quite a few choices too.
I attempted to climb the predator fence in an attempt to get out of doing the drills but M was having none of it...
...okay, who am I kidding?! You don't have to drag me out for any adventures (as for the predator fence, Tawharanui Reserve is a penninsula protected by what they call the predator fence to keep, well, predators out...turns out it keeps humans out too if you don't cross at the proper gates so I guess that makes us predators as well)!
By the time we got back it was after 4pm and we hadn't even had lunch! Emergency refueling was called for before I either passed out or turned into the monster from hell (is this a recurring theme for this post?)...
A big bowl of stir-fried veggies and tofu sausages mixed in with a packet of curry/soup (it tried to claim it was both which was a bit confusing) and served with spelt toast smeared with my Mum's kumara and sundried tomato hummus. Oh, and a bottle of Phoenix Cola. Can't go wrong.
And then it was time (well, after lazing on the couch and watching the news about the earthquake in M's hometown which was a bit scary) to head back home which is always a bit sad. I'd like to stay up at my beach house forever.