Thursday, 25 June 2009

Cooking with Moi!

Thai Green Curry – my way
In the thick of chilly winter nights, comfort food, blankets and slippers, I often get the urge for a sharp, spicy meal to wake up my taste buds. Thai Green Curry is quick, easy and is one of my favourite dishes.
Dice an onion and sauté in a hot pan. Add a big dollop of Thai Green Curry paste (I use pastes because I am far too lazy to make my own. We also have a fantastic range of Thai food in NZ). Stir until fragrant.
Add diced chicken – either breast or thigh. I prefer thigh for flavour, but it’s pretty fatty and rich, so it’s for special treats only.
Add chopped veggies. I like to match the colour of the paste – green beans, zucchini, green capsicum, peas, mushrooms for bulk. Stir a bit to take on the flavours. Add a couple of shakes of fish sauce.
Add a tin of light coconut milk. This stuff is pure poison to the hips – even when you use light milk. But nothing comes close – that Evaporated Milk in Coconut “flavour” is awful. Don’t use it!
Simmer away until the sauce has thickened and the veggies are tender.
Serve with Jasmine or Basmati rice and, I know I’m mixing my cultures here, freshly made pappadums.

As promised.....

There was lunch at the table.....

Dress ups with new pigtails and Karen Walker jewellery

Playing in Basil's cat tunnel.....with fist stuffed in mouth to stop laughing....

Chasing of ducks.....

and feeding of ducks.

It was a smashing day all round.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Toddler fun

I'm baby sitting Amelie tomorrow morning and as usual am worried about all the things she could kill herself on in our non-baby-proofed house. Do I light the fire? Or will she faceplant into it? What about the gas heater? Or just strap her to a hot water bottle?
Luckily when Amelie was born my sister made me an Amelie fun kit, which basically has all the toys she didn't have room for in it, along with some of my old books from when I was a wee tacker, like The Nickle Nackle Tree and Amy's Place, or Kimi and the Watermelon.
However, Amelie's attention span is short, being 2 years old and all, so I'm going to have to come up with games and toys of my own.
First on the list is the fluffy toy that's alive! Basil the cat will be roped into a game of chase. Thankfully, Basil is very good around children. He tolerates, but never scratches. Thank god. Basil may even get a brushing if he is very good.
Second is that old favourite, musical kitchen utensils. Pots and pans will be assembled into a kit Lars Ulrich would admire, and we'll wake up the neighbours.
Third is dressups. I have a jewellery and makeup collection that makes many kids' dreams come true. I just know that Amelie can pull off bright red lippie with some feathered earrings and Karen Walker necklaces.
If she's not tired by this time, we'll go for a stroll down by the creek where many ducks are hiding out from the hunters during the season. A loaf of bread, mittens and a jacket = good photo opportunities.
After this, it's on with the Disney Channel while Aunty Amy has a rest and a cuppa.
A couple of rounds of Row Row Row Your Boat might be in order, or as Amelie calls it, "Wo Wo" followed by some dancing around to the Ministry of Sound.
Her parents will no doubt be back by this time so I'll tearfully hand her back and clean up the chaos. God I can't wait to have one of my own.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Introducing Stella Kate

I've just realised - having gone over my archives for the first time in ages - that I've not posted any photos of Stella-Bella yet. My humble apologies.

Stella was born a very hairy baby, no bones about it, with very light dark hair on her arms, face and ears (it was seriously SO cute, she looked like we could have found her snoozing in a forest being looked after by a unicorn and a wood nymph). Her hair was already a couple of inches long.

This is her at about a week old. You could PERM that if you wanted.
The lanugo hair all fell out as is normal, but to make up for it, the hair on her head has decided to go no-holds-barred, and do this:

Isn't it hilarious? They haven't done anything to it here - funnily enough Amelie's hair did the same - just stuck straight out - but not nearly as thick. Amelie now has beautiful thick straight hair so no doubt Stella's will do the same. Both their parents have got exceptionally thick hair. Unlike Rich and me, who are both non-hirsute, except in parts where we don't wish to be.
I'm getting a visit from the girls this weekend which I can't wait for - have only met Stella when she was first born. Cuddles galore are in order.

Recipe time

Lamb shanks – cooked my way
Get 4 big ass lamb shanks – big meaty ones, not those ones that came off a lamb more interested in gambolling around the fields than munching on grass. Dust in seasoned flour.
Brown them in some very hot oil quickly. Set aside.
Chop up 2 onions and halve some cocktail onions. Use the frypan that browned the lamb, but make sure it’s cooled right down. Caramelize slowly until tender (may take up to 20 minutes. For god’s sake be patient and don’t burn them).
Towards the end, throw in some diced celery and carrot chunks so that they can brown a bit.
Assemble the shanks and veggies in a crockpot, or large heavy-based sauce pan.
Add a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and sage (or any combination of these).
Throw in a can of chopped tomatoes. I love tinned tomatoes...add them to everything. Did you know tomatoes are better for you when cooked?
Add a couple of cups of red wine. Good wine, not the bollocks you get in a cardboard box. Save enough for yourself.
If necessary, top up the pot with good beef stock. Or a trusty Oxo cube. I can never tell the difference.
Couple of shakes of salt and pepper and you’re set.
Bring all to a light boil, then turn right down and forget about it for a day. I always make these the night before.
Let cool, and scoop off the fat. Then, an hour before serving, bring back to a simmer.
I serve with a potato/kumara (sweet potato) mash, made with milk, whole grain mustard and cheese if I’m feeling adventurous, and steamed veg, usually broccoli, or beans, or both.
This is one meal you need to be patient over – even though it’s easy, it’s the time taken to do perfect onions, and the long slow cooking that makes it a wonderful meal. Mmm.

Monday, 15 June 2009

You heard it here first

Tapas bars. Are they not just the 00's answer to Fondue restaurants? Here today, laughed at tomorrow?
I had the pleasure of being taken out for dinner on Saturday by the parentals, and Mum chose Bellota, a Tapas bar on the Sky City complex. Bellota is by Peter Gordon, Mr Chef du Jour. We had both read reviews about Bellota, and they were ALL good. Auckland restaurant reviewers can be notoriously nasty, so we went along, expecting glory.
Unfortunately, like the All Blacks' same night defeat to the cheese-eaters, it was a disappointment.
Firstly - the wait staff looked THROUGH you, not at you. There is a difference. It was as if they did not like us being in their space. Now, it wasn't busy. Humming, but not busy.
Then, the menu stated how you should pronounce Bellota. I have a THING about signs, or menus, that decide to state (lar-tay) on their signs (pee-no-gree) how their products are pronounced. Maybe I am a language snob, but surely if I'm going to a Spanish restaurant with a Spanish name, I'll know that the double-l is pronounced "yih".
We were "seated" inside the very dim bunker that is "Bey-otta" at a small knee level coffee table, on 4 ottomans. My mother and step-dad are young in mind, but not in body. Having nothing to lean back on, and having to bend right over to pick up their glasses was annoying. Proper tables - yes please. The table was promptly laden in water glasses, our glasses, a large cutlery holder, salt and pepper grinders and a bowl of anchovy-stuffed olives (gross). This left a 1cm square area for the tapas that we ended up ordering.
While we read the menu, around us the space was filling up with exceptionally drunk young persons. With a sinking feeling, we realised that Bellota wasn't a Tapas Bar at was a hip groovy too cool for school piss-up joint, that happened to serve food. Being too late to pull out, we forged ahead with ordering.
It was the usual Spanish stuff - chorizo, jambon, pate, calamari, meatballs, something else I can't went on and on. Each plate was okay. There was not one thing that I went, OH MY GOD YUM, except for the chorizo/jambon mixed plate. But then I realised that 12 thin and small slices cost us $38!! Which is the normal price for a main meal at a good restaurant. It was here that I started thinking about getting a combo on the way home.
I was sad by this stage - sad for Mum because she felt bad that she'd picked Bellota - when all we really wanted was a quiet place for a good nosh and some delicious wine, not this pretentious, noisy as hell bar that has the misfortune of being the Place To Be Right Now. Maybe when all the bright young things head off to the next venue, it'll settle down to being more of a food destination than a place to get you up the status ladder at work on Monday.
We all decided upon leaving that while we weren't hungry anymore, we also were not satisfied. Having had so many flavours and small mouthfuls, what we all longed for was a bloody good steak. Next time - Jervois Steak House. While Tapas are "fun" and "different" they are also, in my opinion, a major rip-off and a fad. 5 years. At the outside.


Straight down to business.

What bill do you hate paying the most?SKY TV. Telly should be free.

Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?At Clooney, in Auckland. A very extra special treat. Although, my mega awesome pork roast that I did last night was romantic also, but only between us and the wonderful pig who sacrificed his skin for my crackling. Damn it was good. And free-range.

What do you really want to be doing right now?Reading my new Russell Brand autobiography: “My Booky Wook”.

How many colleges did you attend?1, if by colleges you mean Uni. Otago University in Dunedin. Main memories: being freezing, ALL THE TIME, eating Maccas day in day out, fuggy warmth of bed with my boyfriend, constantly drinking beer. Afternoon TV sopoforic.

Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?It’s a wooly jersey, and it’s neutral and warm. It’s blah and cold out.

What are your thoughts on gas prices?I pay what I need to pay...everything’s relative.First thought when the alarm went off this morning?

How many snoozes can I get away with before I have to get up (turns out 2).

Last thought before going to sleep last night?I hope Rich doesn’t stay up too late.

Do you miss being a child?I miss the lack of worry about being responsible for me – but I guess I just worried about smaller things...that seemed big at the time!

What errand/chore do you despise?MAKING BEDS. I cannot make a bed. Always looks like someone’s jumped all over it when I’m done. So I just don’t make it.

Get up early or sleep in?Get up early-ish.

Have you found real love yet?Yes

Favorite lunch meat?Shredded chicken.

What do you get every time you go into Wal-Mart?Herpes?

Beach or lake?Lake. NO beach. Lake. Lakes are safer. Beaches are prettier. Both.

Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?No way. I love the whole wedding thing. I am a full on Muriel.

Sopranos or Desperate Housewives?Neither. Any programme I have to watch each week – bar Hell’s Kitchen – causes me too much stress if I miss an episode. So – Simpsons re-runs it is.

What famous person would you like to have dinner with?All my favourite comedians – Eddie Izzard, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais. Graham Norton. Russell Brand. Clive James. Dawn French. Danny Wallace.

Have you ever crashed your vehicle?No, but people have crashed INTO me. Auckland is one big city playing dodgems.

Ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purpose?Never. Quite disappointing really! I did once light a toaster on fire by wrapping a piece of cotton wool soaked in nail polish remover around a long skewer and holding it to the element – ALL TO LIGHT A CIGARETTE (couldn’t find a lighter) but when it burst into flame I just ran around in circles for a few seconds then pulled it from its socket and threw it outside (it was raining). Needed another cigarette to calm down.

Ring tone?Like a Feather – Nikka Costa (work phone) Salmon Dance – Chemical Brothers (My phone). Both adapt well to a ring tone.

Strangest place you have ever brushed your teeth?In an aeroplane toilet.

Somewhere in California you've never been and would like to go?Everywhere!

Do you go to church?No, but I think Church is the new black. Good way to meet people.

At this point in your life would you rather start a new career or a new relationship?New career...namely not having to work due to babies!

How old are you?30

Do you have a go to person?Yes a few actually...but mainly Mum.

Are you where you want to be in life?Not quite. When I have a baby, I shall be fulfilled. (This is what I’m hoping anyway!)

Growing up, what were your favorite cartoons?Captain Planet, City of Gold, Loony Tunes, Toxic Crusaders

What about you do you think has changed the most?I notice more what people think.

Looking back at high school were they the best years of your life?I’d have to say Yes. I was thin, fit, could concentrate for more than ten minutes, got drunk on one glass of wine and was always falling in “love”. It was pretty cool.

Are there times you still feel like a kid?TOTALLY. I baby talk the cat and my friends and I have full laughing fits over the stupidest stuff. Then we always say – were our PARENTS doing this when THEY were 30?? No, because they all had 12 kids and enormous mortgages.

Did you ever own troll dolls?No. They were spooky.

Did you have a pager?No – because I wasn’t a doctor on a US TV programme about hospitals.

Where was the hang out spot when you were a teenager?The Botanical Gardens, or the water tower in Napier. To be seen in a mall with a group of young girls meant serious recriminations from our Mums. It just wasn’t “done”. However hanging out in forgotten corners of council parks were okay. Go figure.

Were you the type of kid you would want your children to hang out with?I think so. I was a bit of a b1tch but usually pretty fun. Never did anything seriously naughty.

Who do you think impacted your life the most?
The television.

Was there a teacher or authority figure that stood out for you?No. I do not relate well to authority.

Do you tell stories that start with “when I was your age”?Not yet!

Do this to procrastinate and let me know your answers!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Work shenanigans

We have a “vice” jar in our office, which I share with my 2 male colleagues. Unfortunately, I have a terrible habit of burping. I know. It’s disgusting. However I don’t even realise I’m doing it. One day I was having a go at Colleague 1 for sniffing. He suddenly burst out “but you BURP!!” My gob was smacked. So I came up with the Vice for burping, Colleague 1 for every type of noisy bodily function (every fart is announced and discussed), and Colleague 2 for the same, even though he is far too polite to even raise his voice.
Colleague 1 and I have managed to donate to the jar the healthy amount of $11.50 between us. I still have no control over my burps, and well, he just likes to fart.
We counted the jar today, amid squabbles of the ethics of foreign currency (10c coins from the Solomon Islands DO NOT COUNT) and the fact that you must use any loose change you have (goddam the New Zealand Mint who decided to make $2 coins). Colleague 2 is, as usual, quiet amidst the bedlam, then pipes up. “You guys. Here’s 50 cents. I feel left out.”