Saturday, October 31, 2009

Labour Weekend

Last weekend was New Zealand's Labour Weekend, and this was me during part of it:

Some motorcycling friends of mine came down from the North Island to a party weekend in Timaru, a couple of hours drive north of where I live, so I drove up after work on the Friday to meet them. On the Saturday we went for a ride to the Levels (Timaru's motor racing track) where the South Canterbury Post Vintage Motorcycle club was having a race day and bike show to mark its centenary. I'm imagining it can't really have started off 100 years ago as a "post vintage" bike club, there not being a great deal in the way of vintage motorcycles around at the time, but that's what it has become over the years.

This little Rickman Metisse is what people used to ride while scrambling back in the 1950s; a friend of mine owns one, although in nowhere near as good nick as this:

This one has a Triumph motor in it I'm pretty sure; there were about three others on show, one of which had a Norton motor, the others were Triumphs.

This 1974 Triumph Trident was absolutely mint:

These speedway bikes were raced back in the day by Ivan Mauger, who was attending the centenary:

I was rather taken by the wicker sidechair on this one:

I can just see myself in a big flowery hat sitting in it being driven around at ~30kph.

But this one was my favourite:

No-one knew exactly what motor it had in it but it was a Triumph single cylinder, around 350cc. Lovely wee thing it was too.

This is us parked at the track (well, not me, I'm behind the camera) totally surrounding that cute wee mini; I wouldn't have minded it either. They stick to the road like glue.

It was a gorgeous day for a ride, and after we left the Levels we rode out to the pub at a rather picturesque little place called Cave …

… where we had a couple of drinks outside in the sun before riding back to Timaru to party all night. Not very successfully on my part - I crashed at about 5am. Getting old.

Next day we lazed around in front of the television, then my best friend of "the boys" and I went out and got sandwiches from Subway for dinner and ate them at Caroline Bay:

I hadn't been there since a family holiday about 45 years ago, although I've driven past it a number of times.

It's really rather lovely; this is the edge of the bay …

… and around a wee bit further is the port of Timaru and this memorial to fishermen who have lost their lives at sea.

On a more cheerful note, look at these eggs I was in the process of overcooking:

I couldn't believe it; out of three eggs, two were double yolkers. The next day was the same! One pack of six had four double yolked eggs. Some sort of mutant chooks, we decided.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Two cheeses

Today my friend Heather came to visit for a cheesemaking lesson. I was making provolone (after adapting the non-functioning recipe from my book and only cooking the curds to 118˚F rather than 144˚F) and Heather made Camembert.

Here are my successful provolones soaking in brine:

Aren't they cute? It was so much fun to make. I experimentally smoked one of them - I used my hot-smoker turned as low as I could, and placed a tray of ice between the hot part and my cheese. I took the cheese out when the ice had about half melted.

Here the cheeses are hanging up in the guest shower to age:

The middle one is the smoked one, as you can no doubt tell.

These are Heather's Camemberts just after she removed them from their moulds:

She has salted them and applied P. candidum and taken them home to do their thing. That's $10 worth of raw milk there by the way. Not bad for three good sized Camembert cheeses.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shoes from Bangkok

I bought these wee shoes in Bangkok in 2005.

I love this sort of shoe, but there are not very many in my size so I didn't have a lot of choice as to colour. My feet are small by Western standards (38 european, and I'm 5'6"), but large in any Asian country. A size bigger and I'd find nothing to fit at all.

Anyway, having bought a baby pink cardigan a couple of weeks ago I can now wear these shoes! Previously I had absolutely nothing that would go with them except unrelieved black - and that doesn't quite suit their style.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Getting closer to the Chanel look

Got these new tights from the UK last week.

They don't match the shoes I bought to go with them unfortunately, but they do match these ones, that I got from No1 Shoes for $20 (and they're leather) last week, quite well. They look good with black shoes too.

I've ordered some black and white tights, and when they come I'll dye them the cream of the other shoes - cream dye isn't going to do much to the black part!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More meaty goodness

My bridge friend Alec is having a "sausage sizzle" at his house next weekend to celebrate his dog's 15th birthday. Any excuse, I suppose - although he is very attached to the dog, who is a sickly wee thing (but very cute) and it's amazing she's made it to 15.

I made some sausages to take because pork shoulders were on special at the supermarket, at $7.99/kg. I made the sausage mixture pretty much the same as I did here,

but I then took out a little less than half of the mixture and added in some of this:

I smoked all of them …

… then chucked them in the freezer.

Then I decided to make a version of this recipe; I used kumara (sweet potato) instead of potato, and instead of beef soboro I made a chicken one, with sage and onion stuffing flavours.

I had some chicken boneless thighs which I chopped up finely (couldn't be bothered dirtying the mincer), along with a small onion, and some parsley, thyme and sage from the garden.

I browned it all, then decided it wasn't chopped small enough so I put it in the blender then slowly cooked it for a bit longer.

I used it to stuff a boiled and mashed kumara/flour mixture (which is exactly what I use for kumara gnocchi) …

… and formed little buns:

I've already eaten most of them, and they were supposed to be for lunches! Too scrummy.

The Great Home-Made Jam Sandwich

Two of the nanny goats at the farm where I get my milk had kids; these wee brown and white twins …

and this snowy white singleton:

They're so gorgeous, I wish my grandkids lived closer so I could take them to see.

This week I wanted to make some parmesan cheese. Parmesan uses low-fat milk, so I needed to find a use for all the cream that comes on top of my raw milk (this week I got 10 litres). I ended up having a bit of a dairy binge - I made the parmesan cheese from ~7 litres milk, butter from a bit more than 1 litre of cream, yoghurt from a litre of the milk, and ricotta salata from the buttermilk and whey. I have also kept a litre of milk for my weekly consumption, and about 400ml of cream for my morning porridge!

Here's the cream I used for the butter:

I was a bit nervous about this, I wasn't sure that gravity and pouring-off-the-top would give me a high enough fat percentage cream to whip. All seemed pretty good though:

It whipped up beautifully.

But then it deflated and just didn't seem to want to turn into butter. Eventually I rubbed some between my fingers and decided that it actually had turned, but the low fat percentage was preventing it from all joining up into a big hunk. I poured it through some fine muslin, chucked it back in the mixer, and turned it on. Hey presto, within seconds I had this:

I ended up getting only about 160g butter, which is about 1/3 of what I got from a litre of shop bought cream. I'm a bit puzzled about this - I'd have thought the cream wouldn't whip with such a low fat content. Our shop cream is about 38% fat, so I'm guessing this must be only about 13% - nowhere near enough for whipping according to everything I've ever read.

Oh well, who knows. Next time I think I'll get Merrill to separate the cream for me, he's just bought a separator.

So here's my home-made jam sandwich:

They don't come a lot more home-made than this. The raw ingredients for the whole thing are flour, water, sugar, milk, salt, and cape-gooseberries from the garden. The bread was made using my sourdough starter - a wild yeast I captured. It is so satisfying having made something like this pretty much from scratch - I'm not about to start growing my own wheat or sugar cane though!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why we discuss the weather so often

Last month I wore shorts and dresses to work and was looking forward to a beautiful summer.

Last weekend more than 100 cars were stranded on the Napier-Taupo road (in the warmer North Island) because of a massive snow dump. Their passengers had to be rescued by the army in their unimogs, and members of the local four-wheel drive club. We had snow on the hills here too.

This photo …

… was taken on Monday while walking through the Botanical Gardens on my way back to work after visiting the dentist. The cream tulips with a sprinkling of red poppies look gorgeous at the moment - but look at the sky. The weather was beautiful again. Now we've just had another severe weather warning for the next few days.

University exams begin very soon though, and in all the years I've lived here, we've always had hot weather during exams. I well remember sitting in exam rooms 25 years ago with all the doors open and wearing as few clothes as I could get away with, sweating onto my exam scripts. Of course the weather packs in again as soon as exams are finished and you'd really appreciate some sun.

We don't have climate here, we have weather. You never know what it's going to be like, which makes it very difficult to dress appropriately in the mornings.

We've just had another tsunami warning too - not that we're likely to see any here in Dunedin, but those poor people in the Pacific! Some of those people in Samoa have only just been coaxed out of the hills where they fled after last week's tsunami. Hopefully this warning comes to nothing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

First lot of raw milk

On Friday after work I went to pick up my first batch of raw milk. It was pouring with rain, and the goat who lives at the farm was tied up in the cowshed awaiting the birth of her kid(s). Hopefully they'll be hanging around next week so I can take a photo - partly for here, but mostly to show my granddaughter. I just wish she lived here so I could take her to see them.

I got eight litres of milk this time, four of these plastic bottles. See how much cream there is:

You should be able to see the line if you look hard, it's a lot lower than I expected. I poured the cream off two of the bottles, used a litre of the semi-skimmed milk to make yoghurt, stashed a litre in the fridge for using during the week, and used all the cream and the rest of the milk (six litres total) to make a stilton-type cheese.

The amount of curds was comparable to what I'd usually get from eight litres of milk; I think this might end up being economical despite the traveling involved. The cheese is currently in its hoop setting.

Last week's smoked ricotta salata was delicious. I had it crumbled on my lunchtime salads and it added a lovely smoky saltiness.

Smoked rocotta salata is therefore going to be a permanent fixture in the fridge. Yesterday I smoked last week's and the week before's - I'll do a bit of a test to see what difference that extra week's aging makes.

I also smoked the pork belly that had been sitting in the fridge curing for the past week:

This is the skin side with the skin removed:

I made myself a couple of bacon butties with this weekend's bread. Scrummy.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A shoe post

This pair of shoes arrived yesterday from the USA:

I bought them from to go with my new cream and black tights, a la Chanel but much cheaper, that should be arriving from England quite soon. Endless won't deliver outside America so I had to get them sent to a friend, who forwarded them to me.

It's always a bit of a risk buying shoes online when you can't return them (well I could, but it'd cost more than the shoes) but these fit perfectly, and are very comfortable. I do hope the tights arrive before the 23rd October, because that's our Labour Weekend and I'm going away and want to wear them. I have to make a new cream skirt before then too. The skirt will come in handy for wearing with a number of other pairs of shoes too.