Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Different salmon and same custards

Today's lunch is almost the same as yesterday's, except I have salted salmon instead of hot-smoked, and I have stir-fried zucchini and onion instead of lettuce.

salted salmon = 110 Cal
zucchini and onion = 20 Cal
peppadews & caperberries = 30 Cal
oil the zuccini was cooked in = 40 Cal
roast veges = 50 Cal
spinach custard = 80 Cal
ragu custard = ~100 Cal

Total = 430 Cal.

This morning I was getting very close to the end of my shoes that can be worn in cold weather. I had to wear either some cream and brown ankle boots that go with no clothes I own, or these latex-looking, but actually some sort of vinyl, high heeled thigh boots. I bought them a while ago because they were very cheap and I thought I might like to wear them to a fancy dress party at some stage. I sort of collect costume-y things.

I am no longer quite so close to the end of the cold-weather shoes however. I got a promotional email from No1 Shoes (a cut-price chain) this morning telling me all of their boots were two for the price of one. It just so happens that I've had my eye on two pairs of boots there for a couple of months, and have been biding my time waiting for just such a promotion. Needless to say, at that sort of discount I found two more pairs of boots I just had to get as well. It's a very "booty" sort of winter this year, the shops are full of them.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Salmon and custards

I made some custards yesterday in the oven when it was cooling after I baked some bread to take when I went out for dinner. I made some from egg mixed with ragu Bolognese and sautéed capsicum and onion, and some from egg mixed with garlic and spinach. Each had a sliver of Ramara cheese either in or on it. Ramara is a smelly washed rind cheese with a creamy mild flavour. I bought some from the short dated bin at the supermarket to try out - rather nice. I also made a batch of roast kumara, parsnip, yams and carrots while the bread was baking. Some salad and salmon completes this bento.

hot-smoked salmon = 110 Cal
lettuce = 0
peppadews = 20 Cal
mayo = 40 Cal
roast veges = 50 Cal
spinach custard = 80 Cal
ragu custard = ~100 Cal

Total = 400 Cal. Pretty good, considering how yummy it was.

I'm wearing these Dreamwalker ankle boots today because it is cold.

They are very comfortable, but make my ankles look fat so don't get worn often. They are also a size 9. I take a size 7 and they fit perfectly, so no wonder they were on special when I bought them.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Smoutertjes and fudge

Mirjam from the Just Bento forum introduced me to the concept of smoutertjes. They are oliebollen which have been pan fried as flat cakes rather than deep fried like doughnuts. Oliebollen are one of my very favourite things in the world, so I had to try this, didn't I? As Mirjam says "smoutertjes are less fattening and don't make the house smell like oil for a week".

So here is my oliebollen dough, nicely risen:

Never having actually seen smoutertjes, I had to guess as the size of spoonful I dropped onto my new cast iron griddle:

I turned them over when they were browned on one side:

Then I ate them.

Oliebollen are served with icing sugar dusted over them, so I did likewise with the smoutertjes. Yummy. Then I thought they'd be nice with butter on (having a texture somewhat similar to an English muffin), so I did that. Delicious. Then I put icing sugar on top of the butter. Absolute heaven - although I fear they are no less fattening than olibollen when eaten thus.

I need to get Mirjam to have a look and see if they look right.

My oliebollen recipe is from Margaret Fulton's Superb Restaurant Dishes, and I halved it.


1 envelope dry yeast (mine doesn't come in envelopes, so I guessed 1 tsp)
3/4 cup warm milk
1/2 tsp sugar
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
good pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 medium tart apple, peeled and chopped finely
2/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped candied peel
1 tbsp grated lemon rind

oil for deep frying
icing sugar

Mix yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar with the warm milk and leave to sponge.
Mix sifted dry ingredients in a large bowl
Add everything else (except the oil and powdered sugar of course) and stir with a fork until well mixed. It should be a soft dough, but should hold its shape in a spoon. Add more milk if too dry.
Leave to rise until doubled in bulk.

For oliebollen you deep fry heaped tablespoonsful in hot oil, then drain on paper towels and dredge with icing sugar.

For smoutertjes you shallow fry spoonsful on a buttered griddle or other pan, turning them over half way and flattening them slightly.

My friend Stephen has invited me and a couple of other friends to his place for dinner tonight. We are to eat a leg of a deer he shot a wee while ago. I asked if I could bring dessert, and he said "no", he has the meal all planned out. I dislike turning up empty handed though (I will be bringing wine, of course), so I decided to make some chocolate fudge for his kids. He and his wife have four children, ranging in age from about eight to fourteen or so, and I've yet to meet the child who will turn up its nose at chocolate fudge. And they deserve some sort of compensation for having their house invaded by semi-strangers and having to be on best behaviour.

Say "chocolate fudge" to any New Zealander and they think immediately of the Edmonds cookbook. It is the all time biggest selling book in New Zealand, and is the book our mothers and grandmothers used. We all grew up eating food made from the Edmonds book; from scones to puddings to stews to preserves. And sweets.

Chocolate fudge is made from these few ingredients:

They all go in a pot:

Are brought to the boil:

Cooked to "soft ball" stage, then beaten until the syrup starts to thicken:

Poured into a dish and spread out:

The pot is scraped and licked by any children who happen to be about. Me in this case.

The fudge is cut into squares:

And then it is usually demolished in no time flat, or divided into cellophane bags to be sold at school fairs and other fund-raising activities.

I put mine into a wrapping-paper-covered and tissue-paper-lined box that originally had mylar sheets for overhead projectors in it.

There was just one bit left over for me to eat.

From the Edmonds Cookery Book (I made 1 1/2 times the rcipe)

Chocolate Fudge

1/2 cup of milk
2 cups of sugar
25 g butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder

vanilla essence

Grease a pie dish or other shallow container, or you can line it with silicon baking paper.
Put the first four ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil.
Boil without stirring until it gets to the soft ball stage (a drop dropped into a cup of cold water forms a soft ball)
Add a few drops of vanilla essence and some chopped nuts if you want and leave it to cool for a few minutes.
Beat until the mixture thickens. Now you have to work fast - it sets quickly.
Pour into the greased dish and spread out to the desired thickness.
Cut into squares when nearly cold.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A bento postponed

This bento ended up being dinner.

One of the young women at work left today; she is off to England on Monday to start a Masters degree at the School of Tropical Medicine. Her immediate boss is away at a conference, so his wife brought in morning tea. You should have seen it - she went to the Friday Bakery, which is a small bakery open only on Fridays and until it runs out of goods. Which is early. We had almond Danishes, pain au chocolat, apple tart, the richest chocolate tart you can imagine, and blueberry muffins. The muffins were left untouched - too boring.

So my bento was also left untouched until this evening. I hate to think how many calories I had at morning tea; best not to dwell upon it.

fish pie = 130 Cal
quiche = 100 Cal
broccoli = 10 Cal
spinach = 10 Cal
carrots = 20 Cal
cheese flowers = 30 Cal
bit of butter the spinach and mushrooms were cooked in = 80 Cal

Total = 380 Cal.

Check out this combination:

Yes, the tights match the shoes perfectly. And what's more, I bought the shoes from America and the tights from England!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fish pie

I've been flat out today; one of the lecturers is off to a conference on Saturday and all of a sudden decided he needed a fancy poster made. It is a race to publish some new structural data. All to do with photosystem II, and a protein called Psb27. No time for a walk, and no time for lunch until the poster was finished - at about 2pm. The stress was getting to me so much I got the shakes. However, it looks great, and will be printed on fabric so Julian can fold it up in his luggage. After the conference he plans to cut it up and use it for place mats!

I have the last gooseberry tart, and another quiche and some potato-less fish pie. There are parsnips under the tart, and cabbage and onion stir-fry left over from last night's dinner.

quiche = 100 Cal
gooseberry tart = 78 Cal
fish pie = 130 Cal
cabbage and onion = 30 Cal
oil the above were cooked in = 30 Cal
parsnip = 40 Cal

Total = 408 Cal

This is my second pair of granny shoes:

They're a little higher than the other pair (I wore them a couple of months ago) and a little less comfortable. But they also have a more attractively shaped heel - which of course you can't see in this photo!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two boxes today

My little gooseberry tarts are yummy, but they don't fit nicely into most of my boxes. Today I brought an auxiliary box, and things aren't as compactly packed as usual. I have salted salmon, quiche, gooseberry tart, roast veges, and there are broad beans under the salmon etc. I also have a little container of miso for soup.

quiche = 100 Cal
gooseberry tart = 78 Cal
salted salmon = 110 Cal
broad beans = 60 Cal
yams = 30 Cal
parsnip = 40 Cal
miso = 10 Cal

Total = 428 Cal

And the shoes are some $12 ones from No! Shoe Warehouse. I mean to put pictures on them. Have to figure out how to go about it - at present I'm thinking transfers with some sort of varnish on top.

Look at what was in the parcel I got today:

All Lodge stuff; a round griddle for making crêpes and suchlike, a Dutch oven for bread mostly, and an aebleskiver pan which I figure I can use for a bunch of different things. It's amazing how many different countries make some kind of spherical pancake. It'll be fine for takoyaki, for instance - when I find some octopus.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Asparagus quiche and gooseberry tart today. Along with some nice healthy veges, and some yoghurt on the tart but under its little star top. The gooseberry tart is sitting in a foil cup to protect it from the roast parsnips on which it is sitting. I'm amazed at how well the yoghurt travelled too.

quiche = 100 Cal
gooseberry tart = 78 Cal
broad beans = 60 Cal
yams = 30 Cal (a total guess, NZ yams are not in any database I can find)
parsnip = 40 Cal

Total = 308 Cal.

Very good indeed.

And look at these shoes:

I have to admit I only wore them for the morning. They have five and a half inch heels - a bit of a hidden platform as well, but they are really very very steep!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The experiment pastry and some yoghurt

Today I have one of the quiches I made with the experiment pastry, some salted salmon, olives and tomatoes, bubble and squeak made with mashed swede (rutabaga) instead of potato, a few wee bits of asparagus left over from the quiches, and some home made yoghurt mixed with dried lime-infused papaya. There are some little cheese flowers that melted on top of the bubble and squeak - I packed it hot; the yoghurt was very fresh and wouldn't be harmed by a bit longer incubation!

quiche = 100 Cal
50 g salmon = 110 Cal
tomatoes = 6 Cal
olives = 50 Cal
yoghurt = ~20 Cal
papaya = 30 Cal
bubble & squeak = ~60 Cal
cheese = 30 Cal

Total = 406 Cal

Pretty good. I seem to be losing weight again too.

The shoes are $7 Fake suede T-bars from TradeMe.

I might do something to these. Attach some sort of decorative element to the T-bar or something. They're really comfortable.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Is it still pastry …

… if it has very little fat? I suppose it has to be - originally pastry had none at all, and was just used as a container for food to cook in.

Last week's apple crumbles were so yummy in my bentos, but they added rather more calories than I'd have liked. I thought I'd see how little fat and sugar I could get away with and still have yummy fruit desserts - actually measuring the ingredients this time, so I could be sure of the calories.

I dragged 150 g of these gooseberries out of the freezer …

… my bush as become very prolific just in the last couple of years, and I have a lot of them that need eating before the next crop appears. I cooked them with two teaspoons of sugar until they were soft and most of the copious amounts of exuded juice had evaporated.

I made a sort of pastry with 1 cup of flour, 25 g butter, some baking powder so it wouldn't be a brick, and water.

Total calories = 580 Cal.

Just as a little aside here - see those black things (thing then, but there's one on the other end too) on my rolling pin? I've been trying to find rolling pin rings for ages; you can buy them on Amazon.com but they won't ship overseas (how weird is that?), however I can't find them in New Zealand. Kiwi ingenuity to the fore, I gave the man at the seals and bearings supplier I drive past every day a bit of a shock when I brought in my rolling pin in to get fitted with O-rings.

They had two different thicknesses of the appropriate diameter O-ring, so I bought a couple of each. These ones are the thinner ones. They really are great for helping you to roll pastry of an even thickness.

My 580 Cal of pastry was divided between five silicon cups for asparagus quiches containing asparagus, cheese, and egg …

… four gooseberry tarts, and about another tart's worth of "tester pastry" that I just chucked in the oven and ate when it was cooked to check for brickishness.

The "pastry" is a bit more like a cream cracker than pastry, but it is nice and crisp and perfectly acceptable.

Here's what everything looked like when it was cooked:

A bit of egg overflow in the quiches; thank goodness for silicon.

By my calculations the quiches come in at 100 Cal each, and the tarts at 78 Cal.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

So elegant!

This is me dressed for housework and sewing today:

I'm trying to rehabilitate these shoes. They're my very first stilettos, bought in the mid-seventies, just as super-high platforms were starting to go out of fashion the last time. My feet have got a little fatter or something - the last time I tried to wear them they were excruciatingly painful, cutting into my feet just where those attractive bits of cardboard are. Which is, of course, why the bits of cardboard are there. And the socks. I'm using my Dad's old trick, which was certainly not intended for shoes like these, of putting them on wet and wearing them until they're dry.

I look so ridiculous I just had to share the sight.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Maki Mono, my favourite local sushi/bento shop, sells a sushi roll which contains tempura prawns. It's delicious - not at all oily, and very crisp. This made me believe I could make tempura (prawns and zucchini) which would be equally delicious cold in my bento.

Not so.

Not repulsive; edible, but just a bit too oily for me. And it was amazingly crisp and yummy when it was hot too! Oh well, you live and learn.

prawns = 22 Cal
batter = 80 Cal
oil = 50 Cal
olives = 15 Cal
zucchini = 12 Cal
kabocha = 60 Cal
parsnip = 50 Cal
crumble = ~200 Cal
1 tsp mayo = 35 Cal

Total = 524 Cal.

Really cheap shoes. Started at $30, were reduced to $20, then had 40% off that.

I bought them with the intention of doing something to them - adding flowers or feathers or sequins or beads or something. I quite like them how they are though.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

To quote Oscar Wilde

I can resist anything but temptation.

On the way home from work tonight the blackboard outside the Gourmet Ice Cream Company had "Lemon curd ice cream" scrawled on it. This is how they let you know they're testing a new flavour, or have made a batch of an irregular one.


has joined


in the ice cream freezer. Which lives in the garage, keeping out of temptation's way.

What's so terrible about those, you ask?


1 kcal, or Cal*, = 4.2 kJ. So one "serving" of this stuff is nearly half of my daily calorie intake. Admittedly the Lemon Curd and Brandy Snap flavours have ever so slightly fewer calories in them than this Christmas Pudding one, but it's still very very fattening.

*1 calorie is actually one thousandth of a dietary Calorie. A dietary Calorie is therefore a kilocalorie. The abbreviation for calorie is "cal"; for kilocalorie is "kcal"; and for dietary Calorie (note the capital "C") is "Cal" (capital "C" again). Cal and kcal are interchangeable.


Today I have the spinach and bacon omelette I made last night. It looks a bit mangled, I have to say, partly from being carried to work, but partly bacause I made it in my tamagoyaki pan and the corners didn't cook as well as the rest and were a bit difficult to fold. It's really nice though. The rest of my lunch is much the same as yesterday.

egg = 90 Cal
35 g bacon = 80 Cal
spinach = 5 Cal
tomatoes = 12 Cal
kabocha = 60 Cal
parsnip = 50 Cal
brie = 60 Cal
crumble = ~200 Cal

Total = 557 Cal. Better than yesterday, but not much. It's the apple crumble that's doing it.

I bought a big bag of Cox's Orange Pippins a while back and didn't eat them all. They've gone a bit leathery so I thought I'd better do something with them. Hence apple crumble. I may well be overestimating the calories in it though.

Aren't these shoes gorgeous?

They're another TradeMe purchase, and cost $15. The patent leather is just beginning to look as though it might crack in places, so I think a bit of pampering is called for. It's not as if I'm going to be wearing them daily anyway.

I was very proud of myself today. A pair of shoes I've had my eye on for months was in a sale, down from $200 to $150, and I didn't buy them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Egg, spinach, and bacon, and some tempura.

I didn't intend to make this for dinner tonight …

… but I made a spinach and bacon omelette for tomorrow's bento (just ordinary omelette, not tamagoyaki) and the smell was getting to me. I started off the same as I started the omelette - sautéed the bacon until it was crispy, then added the chopped spinach and wilted it - but then instead of using it as a filling for an omelette, I made a depression in it, broke an egg into the depression, covered it, and turned the heat to very low for about five minutes. Delicious. Would have been more delicious with Hollandaise, but you have to make a few sacrifices in the name of health and beauty.

So to make up for not eating fattening and delicious Hollandaise, I made prawn, zucchini, and broccoli tempura. All just so I could have the little crispy bits of leftover tempura for the next time I try making okonomiyaki. And to try out my new tempura flour.

I was very good though - I didn't eat much of it. I'll ration it out to myself tomorrow and the next day. What I did have though, I had with kewpie/QP mayo - and it was scrummy.

Back at work

The snow has all melted, and the roads into town weren't even very icy this morning. There's still a fair coating of snow on the hills though, and people who live in the hill suburbs are still having difficulty getting down.

Yummy roast veges with a sprinkling of "Spirit of Fire" spice mix, tomatoes, salted salmon that's been quickly dry fried, and another apple crumble cup make up my bento today.

100g salted salmon = 220 Cal
tomatoes = 12 Cal
kabocha = 60 Cal
parsnip = 50 Cal
brie = 60 Cal
crumble = ~200 Cal

Total = 602 Cal. Oh dear.

I'm wearing my very warmest boots today:

Canterbury Sheepskins. Wool all the way on the inside, with nice thick rubber soles. The slippers I wore yesterday (and every day, at home) are made by the same people and have the same soles. Great for walking out to the mailbox - or wandering out to the gate to see if the snow's too deep to drive down the road.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Snowed in today

People in snowier parts of the world will laugh at this, but we've had a couple of inches of snow, and everything has shut down. We get snow only once every two or three years, so no one uses snow tyres, only skiers own chains, and the city's infrastructure is just not set up to cope with snow. We're also quite hilly, as you can see, and I'm too scared to drive down my road in case I slip into the sea. There are no buses running either, so I'm not at work today.

This is my back yard and the farm over the back fence:

With cold sheep trying to snack on toi toi (pampas grass):

My poor vege garden:

And the view down the hill to the harbour:

But I had made my lunch last night, so I ate it at home. I have tomatoes, zucchini curls, tamagoyaki with spinach, roast parsnip and kabocha, a bit of brie, and some apple crumble:

tamagoyaki = 110 Cal
zucchini = 10 Cal
tomatoes = 6 Cal
kabocha = 40 Cal
parsnip = 30 Cal
brie = 60 Cal
crumble = ~200 Cal

Total = 456 Cal

But I've done absolutely no exercise today, and I'm eating cheese and onion Breton galettes for my dinner. I can just feel the inches going on.