Friday, December 23, 2011
Nearly there! Merely a flight to catch, a bit of shopping, the planning of the Christmas meal and maybe some sort of rough plan for how to welcome in 2012 still to do. This week has been a flurry and a blur - a highlight being Aro Valley Christmas on Wednesday night, which was nothing short of amazing. It will be blogged shortly! Last night I had the most beautiful meal at the Ambeli with some visiting Dutch relatives, and that too will be blogged in due course (she types ambitiously).
Now though, it's free wireless and mojo coffee at the Airport. Even though my packing included rifling through my dirty laundry basket to hunt down some beach essentials which happen to be covered in brownie mixture and duck fat, I am, now that work is done and dusted, nearly ready for my summer holiday. And I am very excited about it.
Speaking of summer, just last week I received a wee package on my desk. I have loved the hilarious cards of Able and Game for a while, and on a trip to Melbourne last year especially enjoyed their stall at the gorgeous Rose Street Markets. I'd completely forgotten that months ago I entered a competition in response to their very cute and funny emails I get. For Father's day, they wanted to know the best piece of advice your Dad had ever given you. I replied with, in fact, the only piece of advice I could remember my Dad giving me - "don't end up barefoot and pregnant at the kitchen sink before your time" and what do you know I've made it to 27. And I won a bunch of cards and a journal made out of vinyl for my efforts.
Thanks Able and Game!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Gah! I have my computer back. It's free of water, wine and damage. Hurrah! I on the other hand, am not free of water, wine or damage, and a return to bikram yoga yesterday very nearly broke me. It was supposed to be a calming hour and a half of escaping Christmassy chaos, but my hypothesis proved correct and wine is a much better escape mechanism at this time of year (and more socially acceptable than gin shots. But they work a treat too). There was none of the euphoria I experienced that magical week I first tried Bikram, in the aftermath of the royal wedding. Perseverance is the key though, right?
I have, as always, set myself some wildly ambitious kitchen-related Christmas goals, and am, as usual, flailing around having failed at many of them. Curdled curd, burnt caramel, un-iced cookies - it is all go. I am hurtling towards Friday (when I finish work for two weeks, fly home and then hit the beach, yayyyy), and in between it all there have been friends in town, gold glitter nail polish, many and varied christmas parties, barbecues, shopping, coffees and ginger spiced cookies.
I wanted to do a gingery type gifty thing and found these cookies over at smitten kitchen when I was researching wedding cake buttercream (but more about that in the New Year!)
I have made about a million stars, and rolled them reasonably thin to get a slightly crunchier-than-gingerbread biscuit. I followed the recipe pretty much word for word, although I halved it and it still made plenty. Molasses by the way, is available in the organic section of the supermarket, and the smell reminds me so much of my Grandma!
Although I'm yet to ice the cookies with royal icing, on their own they have a depth and a kick that leaves normal gingerbread seem both lacking and childish in comparison. I'll get to the icing despite having used the last of my lemons on a roast chicken we had for dinner tonight, served with an adaption of this quinoa salad. It's nowhere near midnight after all!
Lots to do, not enough hours in the day, and a bombsite of a bedroom, but keeping calm, admiring our tree, brownie in the oven, and annoying the flatmates with plenty of christmas music is keeping things Merry in Aro. And we're having a flat Christmas feast tomorrow night, but more about that later as well. And now that I've been both reunited with my laptop, and strongly advised (refer gin shots, above) to be blogging about recent dates and what not as well as food, well, the possibilites are endless now aren't they? There's still 4 full days to go after all...
Posted by heartbreak pie at 11:23 PM
Thursday, December 15, 2011
It's the silly season. My December so far has featured christmas parties, bubbly, a tummy bug, wedding cake, friends in town, a (successful!) blind date, a midweek mini-break to Te Horo, and an incident involving a cup of wine, Band Aid's 'Do they Know it's Christmas', a knocked over table and my laptop. Not unlike December last year really, when I was also apologising profusely about lack of blogging. Aaah well.
But pre the wine/computer incident, I headed along to the Urban Harvest pop-up shop, and managed to draft the following post. Hopefully computer will be back before too long, and I'll be blogging my December shortly...
Does the thought of supermarket shopping at this time of year positively make your skin crawl? I don't mind grocery shopping at all, but not all sellers-of-produce are made equal, and sometimes the madness and chaos of a supermarket can all be a bit much. The clever folk over at small Wellington outfit Urban Harvest are setting about trying to change the way we shop, and think about what we're cooking and eating. They are an online grocer, connecting local suppliers with conscious shoppers. Their website also features some rather delicious recipes from local chef-about-town Al Brown (one lady was praising the maple parsnips in particular).
Sunday, December 4, 2011
The weekend just ended with a slow roasted lamb shoulder that my friend Nicc nurtured all the way to amazing for 5 hours in the oven. Alongside a taster of Renaissance chocolate stout and two (two!) loads of washing, it's been a perfect Sunday night and a great end to the weekend.
I spent the weekend in Picton with a mix of new friends, and despite the slightly terrifying earthquake, and the slightly stomach-upsetting ferry ride, it was a very relaxing trip away. We ate a delicious brunch on the deck in the sun before the lovely Anna declared that lunch-pudding was totally appropriate, and that it was time for chocolate pavlova, a la Nigella Lawson. Lunch-pudding is ideal for the impending summer socialising, and this one is a treat.
A couple of us had to nap after the midday overindulgence. But that's what summer, and holidays, and weekends away and nearly-christmas is all about, right? YES.
(Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova, made here with strawberries, acquired from Nigella's website. She said it serves 8-10, and 7 of us comfortably polished this entire thing off after lunch. Mmmmm. )
For the chocolate meringue base:
6 egg whites
300g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar, and the chopped chocolate.
Gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in.
Pile up onto the baking tray/paper in a fat circle approximately 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides and the top.
Turn oven down to 150°C and put in your pav. Cook for about one to one and a quarter hours.
Nigella says: "when it's ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the chocolate meringue disc cool completely."
Invert on to a big, flat-bottomed plate and whip cream, and spread on top. Anna garnished hers with sliced strawberries and grated chocolate and my oh my it was delicious. A simple, impressive and seasonal dessert. Especially if it follows immediately after brunch. And especially if it's followed by swings, swims, sun and lots of laughter over some of the best couple-get-together stories I've heard in a while, amongst other things. 'Tis the season!