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...
“I’m glad we’re on the same page,” Sam said, and I felt relieved. But I was far from comfortable. We might be on the same page, but I wasn’t happy about reading it.
- Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
So how did I spend the first part of my "summer" holiday (which feels like a lifetime ago now)? Well last Christmas M and I went kayaking in the Queen Charlotte Sound which was amazing so this year a group of us decided we were going to kayak in the neighbouring sound, the Pelorus Sound. The 4-day trip turned into a 5-day trip when the weather went from wet to wild and we were trapped (we did attempt to paddle back but it became apparent there was no way that was going to happen). The days were long and hard and I ended up very sick by the morning of the fourth day. It was quite an experience!
So much gear to pack!
The views are incredible in the Pelorus Sound. It's breathtaking.
Food...food is good. Over half the party was vegetarian or vegan so we all cooked together. When you're kayaking you can take heaps of stuff so we had tinned beans, heaps of fresh vegetables, wraps, tofu, pasta, wraps, rice...epic amounts of food. Turned out to be fortunate as we couldn't get back in on the last day and had to stay out an extra night.
So the boys decided we were going to portage (meaning carry the kayaks) over the bank. You can see that it wasn't exactly flat. In fact on the other side it was more of a sheer drop!
It rained so hard during the second night that our campsite was flooded out in the middle of the night and we had to (carefully) move our tents in the dark. By daylight the water was at least up to my ankles and deeper in places.
_Awesome group of people and an awesome trip.
So there is all of my tale. I cannot die until my time is come, and who can know when that is? Until then I will be alone, alone as no mere man can ever be, alone with my wretchedness and meaningless evil and self-disgust until the world collapses and is born anew..."
- Child of an Ancient City by Tad Williams and Nina Kiriki Hoffman
AGES ago (as in way back in January when I was back in Christchurch...although at least we are in the same year) B and I went to the Welcome Chinese Vegetarian Cafe for dinner. I just did a quick check and yes, it is one of the few vegetarian restaurants that have managed to open after the earthquake. So go there if you are in Christchurch because they make great food.
I can't remember anything that we ordered so you'll just have to make do with the pictures!!! It was all delicious but as usual, too much food but better too much than too little!
I have to admit that once I got home though I was really feeling the lack of vegetables in the dishes we'd chosen. Hmmm, my tastebuds have certainly changed over time!
Back up in Auckland and only a couple of weeks ago I went to a vegetarian Indian restaurant with a couple of friends, Jai Jalaram Khaman after my flatmates raved about the place.
I ordered a thali (most options were vegan apparently) and also got some other random dish on the side that I forgot to photograph because clearly the lady serving us felt sorry for me not being able to sample on of my friend's dishes. It was good, whatever it was though! Actually, all the food was really delicious but again I came home really feeling the lack of vegetables. I think there might be something wrong with me!
How many men had their marriage vows witnessed by fire-breathing dragons and man-eating cats?
- Dreams Made Flesh by Anne Bishop
Oh dear! I'm getting very slack at this blogging thing of late but life has just been so super busy. I flew to Christchurch on Boxing Day then we went kayaking which you can read about here and here.
When we got back I hung around in Christchurch for another 3 weeks. In amongst working (I can do some work remotely) and surviving aftershocks (there was a 5.1 one morning which was a rather interesting way to wake up) we had some more adventures as usual! Then it was back to Auckland...well, for about 5 or 6 days anyway until I flew back down for the weekend! Now I am finally back in Auckland again and attempting to settle back into routine but it is proving a bit difficult!
So in my last post you got to see some of what we ate kayaking. Here are some other holiday meals (you can probably see a theme to our camping meals by now!!). At a holiday park in Hamner Springs we cooked up an indian curry mix from a packet with a tin of coconut cream and as many vegetables and beans as we could cram in. Simple and delicious.
Another weekend we went exploring around Craigieburn and camped somewhere near Mt White Station with some friends. Dinner consisted of veges, beans and pasta sauce on, well, pasta. So good after a long day out adventuring.
Here's the view from our campsite that night. I love the brooding sky.
When we weren't out exploring we still ate pretty well. I got very slack in the picture taking though...
We also had M's parents round for dinner one night and cooked up a storm. I didn't take pictures on the night (feeling a little bit self concious!) but here are some photos of the leftovers...M made a massive vegan lasagna which was pretty incredible. I think he made it with a whole lot of veges (mushrooms, courgette, pumpkin and possibly a whole lot of other things!), beans and tinned tomato.
For dessert I made a crumble with rhubarb from M's Mum's garden, apple and sultanas. It was SO good that it was difficult not to dive in for seconds and thirds but I was way too full.
Another night we went round to their house and M's Mum cooked up a really wicked vegan feast of salad, pizza and black currant crumble. I couldn't believe the effort she went to for us, even finding vegan cheese and I wish I'd taken photos but rest assured everything was super delicious.
"A few weeks ago I'm sitting on a three-ply tea chest which some enemy had left at my place for kindling"
- Half Gallon Jar by Hori
So, umm, I did a race a little while ago, hence my travels down south (and before you know it I'll be heading south again...yay!). It was quite a long race (24 hours anyone?). So long in fact that I even took some satay tofu (and rice) with me!
No, not that much! But I did cook a rather epic amount so was eating it for days...literally (well, 3 days). We even made some of it up into a pasta dish for the night before with some added veggies...
I would give you a recipe but really it just consists of cooking up some veggies and then throwing in a disturbing amount of peanut butter (okay, slightly simplified but I'm sure you can imagine it...right?). I did actually once try to write it out for my lovely cousin D but I got a bit thrown when it came to amounts of stuff. So basically, I'll just tell you what I normally put in it and you can do the rest...
This particular one was a lot plainer than normal since I was going to be eating it on the go but normally I'd cook up a whole heap of veggies like onion, red capsicum, grated carrot, broccoli etc. Drizzle in a little soy sauce/tamari and sweet chilli sauce. Then start scooping in big spoonfuls of peanut butter (and I mean BIG). I normally add one spoonful at a time with a little bit of water. You can also add a big handful of raisins or sultanas (or even chopped dates) at this stage. Crumble in your tofu. Add some more peanut butter and water. I'll be totally honest here and say I can easily use over two thirds of a 300g jar of peanut butter for a whole block of tofu. That's why it tastes so good! Then chuck in a big handful of cashews and voila!
It's awesome on rice, pasta, toast, quinoa...anything really. I've eaten it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, middle of the night, snacks...oh, and it's also great unheated later on. I've even made it with cashew butter instead!
"The world is lighter," he said, "because of you."
- Winter Of Fire by Sherryl Jordan
I am off to Christchurch tonight. Exciting!! Anyway, while I was starting to pack the other night I thought it was ridiculous just how many pairs of shoes I had to pack for this trip (umm, 6 pairs of sports shoes including climbing and cycling shoes, a pair of jandals and some sneakers - it's a busy trip). I'd only just unpacked from going to Rotorua last weekend...some days I think I should just live out of a bag. Oh wait, I've done that before too. If you are getting the idea that I am pretty much never home then you might be right!
Anyway, like I said, I was in Rotorua over the weekend for a race. M flew up on Thursday night and, after feeling too lazy to make our own breakfast we headed off to find food. I heard via the grapevine (well, you know, through an auckland vegan's blog) that the Vegan Revellers was back on the menu at Revel and since I remember it being delicious and I hadn't been to Revel in ages anyway I thought I'd drag M along there for breakfast.
It is slightly different to the old version in that it has fried tofu in place of the falafel but otherwise I can't think of anything different about it. Still delicious. Still awesome. Still super filling. Yay!
But we still needed dessert (yes, even at breakfast time). I sent M up to the counter to get me a slice of their peanut butter pie...
...but he also came back with something else, vegan mint slice. Oh man, this was so amazing we debated going up and getting a few more pieces but since the guy serving us already thought we were crazy for eating so much sugar we decided against it but I really wish we had!
Unfortunately the ginger crunch at Revel (pictured in the background) isn't vegan so that was for M but I will definitely be stocking up on it when I get to Christchurch!
The drive to Rotorua takes several hours so we had to stop along the way for a picnic lunch. I'd made big Blueberry Ginger Spelt Muffins from Vegan Brunch but with extra crystalised ginger 'cause we both love ginger.
I'd also made some sweetcorn and bean fritter things roughly adapted from the Edmonds sweetcorn fritter recipe (using cornflour instead of normal flour, a mixture of ground flaxseed and water instead of the normal egg, added sweet chilli sauce and a tin of cannellini beans, mashed up). I served this with a random chutney we'd bought at the supermarket and a whole lot of grapes. Much healthier than our car food!
I had no idea what we were going to have for dinner so we just wandered round the supermarket in Rotorua hoping stuff would jump out at us.
In the end I cooked up some pasta with a box of Fry's Vegetarian Chicken Style Strips ('cause it seemed amusing at the time) with some veggies and a bought pasta sauce. It was surprisingly good.