Monday, 22 March 2010

Late summer

So yesterday morning we slept in, woke up to a beautiful sunny day, leapt out of bed (as much as the bottle-of -wine-each the previous night would let us) and got ready to go for a walk on the beach and around the Mount while we still could.
I'm out of the shower and drying off when I notice Basil skedaddling around in the corner of our room looking crafty. I go in. "What are you doing in there Mr Brushie boo?"

Turns out Mr Brushie boo was weeing in the corner! Zipping out the door and hiding outside, he gets away with it. Never having had to deal with this before - Basil has always been exceptionally well toilet-trained - I stare at the puddle uncomprehendingly. Snapping into action, Rich grabs the paper towels and I go to work, butt nekkid, hair dripping. Cursing the rule I put in place where I have to clean up poos and spews, and Rich cleans up dead things, I get it off the carpet using just water.

Lately next-door's kitten has found his way into our house through the cat door, and is eating all of Basil's biscuits. It's very hard to scare it away because it has no fear, and it's very cute, a miniature version of Basil but with 6 toes. It's polydactyl (is that the right word??) and has huge paws compared to the rest of it. But we now have water pistols, we've locked the cat door from the outside and we put the biscuits away at night. But Basil is obviously not happy about it, and shows his displeasure by doing a big wee inside. Thanks pal.

Taking the soaking paper towels to the kitchen, I then see a big blot on the landscape. An enormous cockroach has found his way into the house and is cruising up the wall. Now I can handle any insect - snakes - anything - but cockroaches make my skin crawl. I don't know what it is. Screaming for Rich, he comes running yet again with the paper towels, but misses it and it runs under the oven. I spray the hell out of it and wait. Nothing. Knowing there is a massive cockroach IN MY HOUSE makes me feel ill. Eventually it drags itself out, looking like it has survived shelling from the Germans in WWII. Rich nabs it and flushes it down the loo.

Not a great way to start Sunday. Funny thing is, the first thought I had was - if I was in Auckland, this would have ruined my day. We're so much happier here that it takes a LOT to get us down. In Auckland, burning the toast would have meant not speaking all day. Amazing huh?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Top of the mornin' to ye laddie

So today, in honour of my non-existant Irish heritage (there's probably some in there somewhere) I am making Beef and Guinness pie.

Everyone loves a good pie, with rich dark gravy, tender pieces of beef, with a golden flaky crust. Yum. So I founds me a recipe from Jamie O. I used a slow-cooker - he used a oven-casserole dish. Each to their own. This is enough for the two of us (we are - ahem - large eaters).

1 Onion
1 clove Garlic
1 Carrot
Celery (I hate this, so I left it out)
2 large Mushies
500 g Steak (a really tough cut - I used skirt)
2 tblspFlour
1 Tin of Guinness
2 tblsp black pepper

Chop up onion and garlic and fry gently in oil and/or butter. Add carrot, mushies and herbs.
Dice the steak into 2 cm squares against the grain. Add to pan and fry quickly. Throw all in the slow-cooker along with the flour, Guinness and pepper. Cook until tender (I did mine for about 6 hours).

If it's too runny when you're done, pour into a saucepan on the stove and reduce until nice and gloopy.

Put filling into a pie dish and cover with pre-made puff pastry. I'm going to make a little shamrock shape too and stick that on. I really do have too much time on my hands. Glaze the lot with egg wash and bake at 180c for about 40 mins, or until golden brown.

Jamie says to serve with peas but I'm going to do a salad as it's still summery-ish here. We'll also have a Guinness each and talk in stupid Irish accents all night. Potairters potairters fiddle-dee-dee.

Happy St Paddy's.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Here he is, my North, my South, my East and my West, my working week and my Sunday best....until Richard gets home that is. Doesn't feature here nearly enough, but he was sitting purring at my feet and stayed still long enough to get a pic. Isn't he handsome?

Called Wookie because I call him Snookie Wookie, Wurzel Gummidge, Kitten Meow Meow, Mr Brush, Reow, Friend, Pal, anything other than Basil. He's just the right amount of cat - friendly to kids, snoozes with us, chases other cats, comes running to the sound of a tin opener. I luff him.

A spot of gardening

One of the best things about moving back home is always having something to do. Back in Dorkland, Richard and I would have to leave home to create our fun, which usually meant spending money, or screaming at each other in traffic jams over which way we SHOULD have gone. But here in Tauranga, I have a list a mile on that keeps me happy at home. At the top are always gardening tasks, because I would rather have a tidy garden than a tidy home (I WIN OVER NATURE).

Anyhoo we have a lovely guy Ian Dickie do our lawns (our lawn mower being a fire hazard). He noticed that we had a lot of oxalis poking its head up through our flowerbeds. This oxalis only showed up after we mulched using pea straw. WEED FREE EXPENSIVE pea straw. Hum. Anyway, he gave us a tip that, at this time of year, oxalis creates a bulb way down deep, and all you have to do is dig it up. So today, I did.

Let me tell you, finding these pointy pink knobs deep in the dirt was like popping a huge pimple, or extracting a stubborn ingrown hair. Disgusting but oh so satisfying. The whole garden only took me 30 mins and so long as I'm onto it, we should be oxalis free.

This is my raised veggie patch. I've got, from bottom up, broccoli, brussel sprouts and beetroot. All Rich's favourites. At the top is some late-summer cos lettuce. We have a white moth infestation at the moment so I have to derris dust every day. Not so sure how good it is because I have seen the moths landing directly on top of the dust and there's still tiny eggs on the leaves. Will just have to be vigilant I guess. Looking forward to the brussel sprouts, I was watching Jamie Oliver grow them and they look fantastic, big knobbly stalks. Hopefully we get a couple of good frosts this winter to make them extra sweet. Otherwise they just taste like farts.

The grape vine was left to grow wild while we were away, which means it's a big mess of canes and weeds. Hasn't harmed the grapes any though, and I probably eat an entire bunch a day. They are the most delicious things in the world. Grapes from a supermarket don't taste anything like these. Why is that? Anyone?

This half-wine barrel was the subject of my previous post. Look closely on the ground and you'll see lots of annoying white balls. It looks great on the corner of our deck and the pansies are coming up nicely. Although the "red" pansy is coming up severely yellow/orange. If I wanted ginga, I would have asked for it.

Richard was given this drinks bath as a present in his younger years. When I laid eyes on it, I said "we're too old for parties anyway." Half a bag of potting mix and a few drill holes later, I have all my favourite herbs close by (basil, rosemary, sage, thyme and mint). Plus I can move it around to sit in the different sunny spots according to the seasons. How Martha is that?

This is my edible Thai area, with a lime and chili plant. The lime we took with us from Auckland. It's grown more in one month here than it ever did there - needed full sun, which we didn't get. Unfortunately we'll get no fruit this season but am sure that next year it'll be chockers. The chili has also taken off and is still flowering. Tonight I'm making Thai beef salad with rice noodles and one of these puppies will be chopped into a tangy lime and fish sauce dressing.

And there you go. Send me tips, advice or kudos!

Monday, 1 March 2010


Richard and I spent the weekend breaking our backs in the garden, getting everything back to how we like it, which to me, is not a blade of grass out of place, and to Rich, is somewhere he can sit and drink a beer.
Last year we bought half a wine barrel for the absurdly cheap price of $30, and it's been sitting doing nothing since then. Finally we put it in the corner of the deck. I decided I wanted it to be full of lovely flowers. So rustic and charming! Anyhoo it's very large, and would cost a lot to fill with potting mix, all for some shallow-rooting flowers. Rich pipes up.
"I saw this thing on a gardening show once, where they filled the bottom of the pot with beanbag beans, and then put the soil on the top to save space and allow for drainage!"
Makes sense to me. Off we potter to Bunnings to buy said beans and also lots of potting mix. Keep in mind we'd been gardening all day, it was 28 deg, and we had fairly bad hangovers from too much wine the night before. Brains were not fully engaged.
Getting home, we pour the beans into the wine barrel. They fill it halfway. So far, so good. We break open a bag of potting mix and start to shovel it on top of the beans. Flump. The dirt immediately sinks to the bottom. We try again. Flump.
Brows are furrowed. Turns out we'd forgotten about the laws of gravity and density. By now, the tiny beans are dotted around the deck and are sticking to our clothing and hands. I have the incredibly bright idea to water them down with the hose.
A good 5 mins later, I realise that the beans aren't spongey, and therefore are merely floating on top of the water. We now have dirty bean soup.
We still don't give up, and try laying plastic sheeting over the top of the beans. We dump more dirt onto the sheeting. Flump. It disappears under the sea of beans.
By now we are giggling like school kids. The beans are floating all over the place, and it looks like it's been snowing.
Finally we give up, and scoop out the beans with a bucket and into a rubbish bag. We are totally covered in the little fuckers and get maybe half into the bag. The rest fly off into the ether.
We end up doing what we should have done all along and filled the entire barrel with potting mix. 120 litres. Ah well. I planted red, white and blue pansies which hopefully will make an appearance in a couple of weeks. It looks rull pruddy.
The white beans are everywhere however and hopefully get munched in the lawnmower. Sorry environment.
Later on, I say to Richard: this gardening show. They used 1 cm of beans with a very small pot didn't they?
There is a pause.
Yes, he says.
Ah well. God loves a trier!