Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hanging with guys in sheds

A Rocket Three in the process of being restored …

… drag bike in progress …

… it's taken about three years so far, and got as far as dyno testing. Then it blew a piston. The guys designed and built it themselves, and have made it too powerful for the pistons they originally bought. New super-duper ones have been ordered, but are at present "lost in transit".

These photos were taken the day before race day, here's Rob welding up a clutch part for Zot's Harley:

Zot turning another clutch part:

Putting the clutch together:

Beer is a necessity …

… but not advisable when racing. Ice cream is better:

Beer was required again after this happened:

Top of piston

Close-up of piston

Inside of head
A very expensive race.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bye for now

I'm off to the North Island for a couple of weeks, attending a motorbike race meeting this coming weekend, and a wedding the weekend after. I won't have much internet access, so I'll be posting again after I get back.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The Omega plums arrived last week:

They're mostly in the freezer by now. The ones I haven't eaten, that is. They are delicious.

Luncheon sausage

Aka Belgium (in the south of New Zealand's South Island), ham and chicken (when I was small), poloney (in Australia, except South Australia) and fritz (in South Australia). Children love it, especially in sandwiches with tomato sauce.

My grandkids are coming to stay in a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd have a go at making some. Normally you just buy it - it's cheap as, and made from floor sweepings I think.

I got some pork shoulder and a turkey leg …

… actually I got two turkey legs because they came in packs of two, but I only used one for this sausage. I boned out the turkey leg …

… what a chore. Those things are full of tendons.

Then I boned out the pork and cut it up (saving the skin with all the other pork skin in the freezer. One day I will make that Thai pork skin sausage):

I minced the meat (it was about 1kg all up), added half a cup of milk powder, half a cup of iced water, 20 g salt, a minced onion, half a teaspoon of #1 curing salt (I finally bought some from America so I don't have to raid the labs at work any more) a teaspoon or two of pepper, same of nutmeg, and half as much of allspice.

Then I mixed it in the Kenwood, whizzed it in the food processor in three batches, and mixed it again in the Kenwood …

… before stuffing it into some synthetic casings, vacuum packing it, then cooking it in the waterbath at 70°C overnight.

I made a tiny tester first, wrapped it in glad wrap and put it in the waterbath for 10 mins or so:

It tasted pretty much like luncheon sausage:

And it all looked pretty much like luncheon sausage in the morning too, although it's not as plump looking as the bought stuff. Probably because it contains no breadcrumbs and very little fat:

You will notice I made two "sausages". That's because I had my daughter-in-law's sister with her husband and one-and-a-half year old staying for the weekend. The smaller one was for Mackenzie. We tried it and it met with approval, but Mackenzie is teething and not eating very much at all at present, so it will go with me on Thursday when I visit my friends in the North Island who have a small daughter. The bigger one is in the freezer waiting for Emily and Caitlin.

I gave the turkey leg skin to the cats. They were so funny, each one had an end in his mouth and they were eating it towards the middle - like spaghetti. But of course by the time I got the camera Eddie had let go and Lucas was licking his chops:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fusion 3

Or playing with plantains and gnocchi again.

Some gnocchi I made the other day from yellowish plantains boiled until tender, flour, salt, ginger, coriander, cayenne, and a little brown sugar. No egg, as this mix was moister than that made from green plantain. Sautéed in olive oil with a little garlic:

Runner beans from the garden boiled until tender then drained:

Some crab sticks from the freezer chopped into one inch lengths:

Half a teaspoon of Panang curry paste sizzled in a spot of oil, then some yoghurt* added:

Everything all mixed together and heated through:

Quite tasty.

*This yoghurt was a failure. I think I didn't heat it up quite enough, and although it went very thick it had an odd texture and wasn't very tart. It was very sort of elastic - slimy, I suppose you'd say. Tasted fine, and the texture wasn't noticeable once it was cooked but was a bit off-putting eaten neat.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I'm mucking around with Google's new template editor thingy, so don't be surprised if this blog changes its appearance a bit over the next few days.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fusion2 - Mexican ramen

Tonight's very quick and easy dinner:

Stir-fried home-made Mexican chorizo from the freezer and runner beans from the garden …

… tossed with ramen noodles …

… and some of my home-made hot sauce:

See the cute label? I'm geeky, I make self adhesive labels for all my preserves. And I have a strange, semi-autistic obsession about things matching, so all my jars and bottles are bought ones and match each other. All my clothes-pegs are the same as each other too, otherwise I waste far too much time making sure every bit of clothing has matching pegs when I hang them out.

Recipe for hot barbecue sauce

No Smoke Without …

2 - 3 kg tomatoes (approx) quartered
2 big onions chopped
6 cloves garlic chopped
3 heaped tablespoons treacle or molasses
2 handfuls sultanas
200ml Worcestershire Sauce
6 big dried (or not) Habañera (Scotch Bonnet) chilis, stalks removed, seeds left in, ripped to bits
2 teaspoons cayenne powder
3 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup malt vinegar
2 tablespoons salt

Pair of rubber gloves; put them on before ripping the chilis to bits. This will save you any amount of grief if you get itchy eyes within the next couple of days. Or if you are a person of the male persuasion and need to empty your bladder.

Put everything into a preserving pan or large pot.
Bring to boil, then simmer until everything is very mushy.
Put it all through a Mouli (food mill) or press through a colander or coarse sieve.
Discard the stuff that didn't get through - skins etc. There shouldn't be very much because you have been very thorough in your sieving.
Whizz the pulp in a blender until it is smooth.
Return to cleaned preserving pan or pot, bring to boil, simmer for as long as it takes to reduce the sauce to a nice thick consistency. Taste it, and adjust salt, sugar and vinegar.
Leave it until the next day and taste again (when your tongue has recovered) adjust again if necessary.
Bring to boil and bottle in hot sterilised bottles.

Red shoes

How cute are these?

They were a mere $5 on TradeMe - leather, and made in Spain. I love them, they look almost like Scottish highland dancing shoes. Except with heels.

Monday, March 8, 2010


Tonight's dinner:

Two green plantains …

… boiled until tender …

… peeled and passed through a sieve …

… mixed with an egg, some finely chopped onion, some grated ginger, some salt, and half a cup or so of flour.

Rolled out and cut into gnocchi …

… and boiled in salted water until they floated. Then fried in some oil until browned …

Added to a soup made from a teaspoon of green curry paste fried in a little oil with half an onion, a cup of good strong chicken stock and another cup of water, some runner beans from the garden, fish sauce, lime zest, a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar, juice of most of a lime, and a tablespoon of coconut cream powder:

Not too bad at all, and a good bit still left over.

Black Doris plums

Some for eating …

… and some for freezing …

… vacuum packed:

Black Doris plums have dark dark firm flesh and are quite tart, the stones come out easily so they are ideal for bottling or freezing. They make the best stewed plums and plum jam. My father adored them, and I always think of him at Black Doris time of year.

Next up is the Omega plums, which are similar but possibly even better for eating raw.

And another pair of sensible sandals

What can I say? They were cheap, and all my other ones seem to be black.

Present from Yoshio

My friend Yoshio brought me back some bento boxes from Japan just after Christmas (or at least his wife did - Yoshio had to bring his golf clubs). I'll post about them when I start using them - at present I'm still eating salads for lunch.

He also brought me a gift that he rescued from the back of his late grandmother's linen cupboard while the family were cleaning it out. It came in this box:

Which looks like this when you open it:

And is this is what it turned out to be:

- I don't quite know what to call it. If it were longer it would be a table runner, but it's not. If it were lacy it would be a doily, but it's not. It's made from kimono fabric and is rather beautiful. It needs ironing, but I'm a bit scared to iron it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Frock for a wedding

My motorcycle racing friend Ian has finally decided to get married at Easter - for the first time, and at the ripe old age of 67. This is very exciting, because I'll get a chance to wear a hat. No matter that the wedding is "smart casual", I'm past the age of worrying that I'm overdressed and I have a lovely hat that I've never worn. OK, I have several hats that I've never worn, but this one is really very nice. I bought it in Edinburgh nearly five years ago.

So I had to make a dress to go with the hat, didn't I? It nearly drove me crazy, I broke ten sewing machine needles just putting the zip in. Plus the material I first chose for the bodice decided it didn't like being unpicked, so I had to make the bodice twice.

Never mind, here is the finished article, front view (with hat):

And back view (also with hat):

The bodice is actually ivory, not white, and is a much better match for the hat than it looks in these photos. The skirt is a full circle, and is about four inches shorter at the front than it is at the back. Sort of like Dior's "New Look" of the fifties.

I plan to wear it with my lace-up ankle booties, mostly because the wedding is in a garden and the boots are wedges so will (hopefully) not sink into the grass. I also know, from experience, that I can wear them for hours on end standing and walking; they're amazingly comfortable for such high shoes.

First stop tomorrow on my way to work is the sewing machine fixit guy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sheep acting like sheep

I've been away in Christchurch for the weekend at a motorbike race meeting (that's why I didn't post any cooking), and on the way home my eye was caught by a number of sheep following each other around hillsides in single file - as in the proverbial sheep. Usually sheep just mill around with their noses stuck to the ground eating grass. When I got home and looked over the back fence I saw this:

More sheep being much more sheep-like than normal. I wonder if it's seasonal.

I've been eating snacks so far this week. I made another salami last night, and couldn't be bothered cooking a proper meal. I cut up a few pork trimmings, rubbed them in salt and curry powder (I like the flavour of curry powder, I don't care how unauthentic it is), quickly fried them …

… added some yoghurt, and ate them:

It was good too.

While I was making the salami and cooking up my 2 minute curry I was also boiling up some chicken carcasses for stock. I got three from the supermarket for about $2.50 and they actually had a decent bit of meat on them. After I'd made the stock I picked all the meat off the bones …

… mixed it in with a little soy sauce and mirin, and fried it in the fat from the top of the stock for a long long time until it was pretty nearly dry:

… I put it in the fridge where it should keep quite well. I can use it as a topping for rice or, as I did tonight, mix a little of it in with a vegetarian curry for extra flavour and protein.