Friday, July 30, 2010

Cream flats

New flats I bought from Schuh's sale:

They're taking a bit of wearing in. I do love them, but they're quite narrow. They're leather though, so they are stretching. I've worn them wet with thin socks around the house for half a day, then I wore them with thick socks likewise, now they're at the point I can wear them to work, but I still need to change into softer shoes to go for my walk.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Or maybe jowl bacon.

I bought a $3.50 pig's head the other week to try making guanciale.

There's actually quite a lot of meat in a pig's head …

… I got ~1 kg of cheeks (one was much bigger than the other, the butcher had been a little careless) and the tongue …

 … plus another pile of trimmings that I made into a stew …

 … plus what I assume was the thymus, which I was too chicken to try eating myself, so I sautéed it and gave it to the cats:

The skull was intact, so I couldn't get the brains out even if I wanted to. Which is maybe a good thing, as I'd have felt honour bound to try eating them and I'm not keen on that idea at all.

I boiled the tongue, it was delicious cold.

And I cured the cheeks in salt, curing salt, sugar, some garlic, and a few chopped herbs for a week before rubbing the smaller one in smoked paprika and chilli flakes and hanging them both up to dry.

When they've aged quite a bit more they should be guanciale, but in the mean time, I keep slicing bits off and frying them - it's the most heavenly bacon! I'm not sure they'll get the chance to become guanciale at all.

Pig's head is going to become a regular on my shopping list I think. The only problem with it is getting rid of the skull.


And by-products.

I made crystallised ginger, ginger in syrup, ginger syrup, and ginger and lemon syrup.

Firstly I peeled and cut up the ginger into bite-sized pieces. Then I boiled it in water and discarded the water several times. This reduces the heat of the finished product, and I'd discarded several pots of water before I thought of keeping it and adding sugar to make a syrup for adding to drinks. I did eventually think of it though. I reduced it quite considerably, which resulted in a good strong thick syrup which requires only a teaspoonful or so added to hot water and lemon (and whisky?) to make a cure for anything that might ail you.

Then I added sugar to the last boiling water and left the ginger to soak overnight. My recipe wanted me to boil the syrup for 10 minutes the next day to reduce it, but I added more sugar instead. The next day I boiled the ginger in the syrup for 5 minutes, then I left it for 3 days, by which time it was sort of transparent looking. I brought it to the boil yet once more …

… put half of it in a jar …

and covered it in syrup …

… then dried the other half briefly in the oven at 50°C …

… before tossing it in caster sugar.

I added some grated lemon zest, the juice of a lemon, and a teaspoon of citric acid to the left over syrup, making something that's nice on ice cream, or can be diluted in water to make a delicious drink without needing any additions.

Left to right: crystallised ginger, ginger syrup, ginger and lemon syrup, ginger in syrup.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I bought these a couple of weeks ago from Schuh's sale. They were half price and arrived all the way from England in less than a week.

They're much more comfortable than they look, but I won't be running any marathons in them - or even walking around town all day. Maybe if I parked the car somewhere close I'd be OK walking around  shopping mall for an hour or two.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New toys

I don't get to Auckland (New Zealand's largest city by far) very often. My brother lives there and I used to go once a year for Christmas to keep up with my nephew and niece, but since having become a Grandma I tend to visit the little girls in Australia instead.

I had to make a sudden dash up there last weekend however, as my stepmother died last Thursday evening and I had a funeral to attend. Mum had had Alzheimer's for a long time, and to all intents and purposes had been dead for the last three years so it was not an occasion of great grief, more one of remembering what she used to be like when she was herself. We had some good laughs.

It was the school holidays too, so flights were full, and to get reasonably priced ones I had to stay from Sunday to Thursday - which meant I had time to go shopping.

I had never seen these things before:

They're triple scissors for cutting parsley and suchlike. My sister-in-law bought a pair with five blades which were $20, but I wasn't about to spend quite that much on what may well not get used very much. They are cute though so I bought that pair for $10.

This is my collection of round pancake making pans, the one on the top left is a takoyaki pan which I got at Japan Mart in the new(ish) Sylvia Park shopping mall:

The others, clockwise, are a gem iron, a poffertjes pan and an aebelskiver pan, all of which I've had for a while. The poffertjes indentations are quite shallow, whereas the ones in the other pans are all hemispherical. Truth to be told, the takoyaki holes are identical to the gem holes, so I didn't really need both! The gem iron is intended to be used inside the oven though and takoyaki is made on top of a burner.

The other thing I bought at Japan Mart was the tamagoyaki pan on the left:

It's much more solid than my old one on the right, and the end furthest from the handle has a nice curved edge to make rolling the eggs easier. The old one will go in the bin, it's very thin and cheap and nasty.

I'd love to have got the big copper tamagoyaki pan they had, but it was over $200. It's a jolly good thing I only took a small bag up with me, as lack of luggage space is what stopped me from spending far too much money.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Easy haggis

One of these days Stephen and I are going to kill a sheep and make a proper haggis, using the lungs (unavailable to buy in New Zealand) as well as the liver and heart, and stuffing it into the stomach.

In the mean time I was feeling haggis-ish after going to my Scottish stepmother's funeral at the beginning of the week so I made cheating haggis.

I boiled two sheep's hearts and half a liver …

… for three hours, then left them to cool overnight. This morning I cut up the hearts …

… and minced them along with a couple of big onions …

… added the grated liver (which I forgot to photograph) and about a cup of toasted oat groats, …

… which are the closest thing to steel cut oats we can get in New Zealand, along with as much of the water the meat was boiled in …

… as was needed to make a sloppy mixture:

I had run out of suet so I used olive oil instead, and used far less of it than the cup or so of suet I should have added. Real haggis is pretty fattening and unhealthy.

I seasoned it with salt and quite a lot of black pepper - the meat being pre cooked you can safely taste it, although the uncooked oatmeal isn't the most pleasant thing to have in your mouth.

I then half-filled two large synthetic sausage skins with the mixture, squished out the air, and tied string around the open ends:

I put them into my fish kettle full of water to cook for three hours, …

… by which time they had gone from flaccid looking half empty things to these plump beauties:

They really do swell quite considerably.

I had neither swede nor potato, so I had haggis with mashed together carrots and parsnips for my dinner:

And plum sauce.

And I have an awful lot of haggis left over. The total cost of the haggis would have been around $6-7 I'd say, and it'd happily feed six people. Very economical; Mum would have approved.

The sorta coppa

Is perfectly edible, although I think next time I won't use orange peel as a flavouring.

It's not horrible, I just think I'd prefer something different.

Prosciutto Pt3.

My leg of pig is drying out nicely so I took it down from the spare shower …

… coated the meat surface with lard, and then sprinkled pepper all over. I was going to hit it a bit, but I decided to just leave well enough alone this time.

After that I wrapped it in muslin to keep insects away …

… and hung it on a hook I screwed into the underneath of my sunroom (the sunroom used to be a deck, so the underneath of it is not contiguous with the rest of the underneath of the house. It's nice and draughty but also protected from sun and rain):

Then I covered it in a cage I constructed from some chicken wire left over from skid-proofing the front steps …

… which should hopefully protect it from any marauding cats. I don't think a mouse can get at it, but I'll keep an eye out.

Chocolate cherries

The other week I made some glacé cherries, using the same recipe that I used for the kiwifruit, and Stella cherries I pitted and froze back in January. They were gorgeous …

… but I improved them by dipping them in bittersweet chocolate (Whittakers 72%) …

… and leaving them to set:

Then I took them to pub quiz for Sophie's last night before she moves to Australia. We didn't do very well in the quiz, only fourth, but the cherries went down a treat.

I saved the syrup that was left after making the cherries to use as an ice cream topping. It's super thick and very scrummy.