A Village Life

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday Lunch with Friends

Pete has taken to calling it "our blog" now because of all of his seafood adventures and experiments.  So, yesterday we had some friends over for lunch and Pete worked hard on recipes for nibbles and for the main course.  He loves trying to smoke anything and everything (I'm not talking about drugs here).  He caught quite a good sized snapper the other day and as he was cleaning it his mind started churning as he noticed the huge roe and the liver that would have been so wasteful to just be tossing in the bin.  So he smoked them.  We didn't even know if the liver of fish is something edible but he went for it anyway.  Browsing the internet for recipe ideas, he came up with the tradition Greek dish for smoked cod roe, taramasalata.  He chucked in the liver as well and proclaimed the whole thing delicious.  For the main course he went for a lemon and ginger scented crumb crusted snapper fillet.  This got me into action wanting to produce something nice too, not just for our friends but for "our blog" as well.  I came up with a Persian omelette called Kuku made with courgettes, mint and feta.  For dessert, I took the beautiful fresh NZ apricots that we had just bought the day before and made them into a tart with a macadamia nut frangipane sort of filling.  The whole meal was really delicious.  Have a look for yourself.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Food Hero, Darina Allen

Last weekend there were two write ups in the newspaper about Darina Allen's new book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking.  On closer inspection I noticed that actually she was going to be in New Zealand doing a book signing at Cook the Books, a bookshop in Auckland specializing in cookbooks.  I promptly ordered my ticket for the event and spent the past week feeling incredibly giddy inside at the thought of seeing Darina again.  Back in 1997 after travelling around Europe with some friends, I hopped on a ferry from France to Ireland after learning that I finally had scored a coveted spot at the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School.  People questioned my going to Ireland to learn how to cook but Darina and her mother-in-law, Myrtle Allen were way ahead of the game back then.  The school is set in the middle of a 100 acre organic farm.  Students live in little cottages around the farm and all the food for the school is grown or reared on site.  It was magical, to say the least.  This was real cooking, french technique, with real food.  I had only read a paragraph about the school in the Guide to Cooking Schools that is published every year and this sounded amazing.  After spending 12 weeks living and learning how to prepare every type of food imaginable from soups to desserts and everything in between, I was ready to get stuck into working in the industry.  Darina's passion for fresh food served simply but elegantly is infectious.  People looking for chefs go to Ballymaloe to scoop up the newest students who are willing to work all over the world.  Fresh from the course, I headed first to Switzerland as a chalet girl. This opportunity was great while it lasted and very hard work but unfortunately I ended up back in California doing physiotherapy after a ski accident ended my chalet girl career.  I spent the next 3 months desperately searching for more exciting work and once again Ballymaloe came through.  I flew up to the Shetland Islands north of Scotland to work at the Burrastow House.  After this summer stint I spent time on a yacht in California as a temporary stewardess, I worked at The Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester, UK and then I went on a string of interviews in the UK all thanks to Ballymaloe.  The highlight was my interview with the Queen of Greece!  I chose to take the job that was in the most interesting location and headed to Brunei on the island of Borneo to be chef to the British High Commissioner.  After a year and a half working that post, I went off to work on yachts and the rest is history.  Now back to Darina.  I ran into her once years ago at the Culinary Institute at Greystone in California and she seemed so delighted to run into one of her past students.  Last night's event was the bit of inspiration I needed after a challenging day at home with the kids.  She was as infectious as ever and so passionate about her new adventures.  They are now running a year long horticulture course and her new book highlights lost arts such as butter making, foraging, smoking foods, plucking and skinning birds and animals, preserving and bread making.  She is an ambassador of slow foods and sitting down with your family to enjoy a meal of real wholesome, nutritious, homemade food.  Nothing flash, just simple honest food.  Of course I had to refresh her memory of who I was after nearly 15 years since my course but she was just as delighted to see me as she was in California.  She introduced me to Annabelle White who took this photo of us.

Also in attendance was Lauraine Jacobs, a well known Kiwi food writer. 
If you ever get the chance, head to Ballymaloe.  They run day courses, weekend courses and week long courses as well as the 12 week diploma course.  It will change your life, as it has mine.  Their philosophy cannot be ignored.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dinner Party Part 2

What to do when you have an overabundance of kaimoana and produce?  Have friends over for dinner.  This week's work schedule for Pete included obtaining a large pack horse crayfish whilst diving to free up an anchor and collecting 40 odd scallops whilst doing something else 'work' related.  We also doubled up on vegetables since Pete stopped at a produce stand on his way back from Tauranga and I thought I was doing well to stock up in Pt. Wells after work on Thursday. 
Alors....voila, le dinner party part deux........
Juicy scallops fresh from the sea

Tasmanian cheeses with artisan sourdough baguette
Crudites and crayfish, tomato/cucumber/feta/mint salad and bbq'd scallops served with homemade wasabi mayonnaise and hummus

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Garden Bliss


roma tomatoes

snow peas


mystery self seeder


my favorite, hydrangea

I even transplanted a rose bush successfully!

the ever beautiful succulents

We've got potatoes, basil, goji berries, aubergine and lettuce too! 

Friday, December 3, 2010


22 weeks pregnant with Gigi

19 weeks pregnant with Rita
I thought it would be interesting to look at old photos of myself at the same stage of pregnancy as I am now.  Well, that was a bit depressing!  With Rita, I barely look pregnant at 19 weeks.  With Gigi, I am smaller at 22 weeks than I am now at 20 weeks.  What a difference a few years and a few babies make!  Hope it isn't that much more difficult to bounce back after baby number 3 but something tells me it will be.  But it could be negated by all the extra running around I'll be doing come April when I have 3 kiddies to chase after, bathe, feed, change, comfort, discipline, clean up after, etc.  It makes me tired just thinking about it.  It'll be a workout in itself carrying two littlies around!
It's all worth it in the end right?  (Or maybe that's just what we try to tell ourselves.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010