Monday, November 29, 2010

Pike River Mine disaster

I think most of the world is aware that New Zealand had a mining disaster in the past week with twenty-nine miners killed.

New Zealand is a small country, and the West Coast of the South Island is a tight-knit community with a unique character. Coasters have a name for being very self-sufficient, relaxed, and not always terribly bothered about conforming to the letter of the law in all circumstances. A bit like Burt Munro was.

This is Kevin Ryan …

… he is perhaps an extreme example of the stereotypical West Coast resident. He races every year at the Burt Munro Challenge, and is one of the very few people who races in every event. He usually wins at least one class in at least one event, and is also his own mechanic. Two years ago Kevin won the "Munro Family" trophy, a prize donated by Burt's daughters and son and given by them to the rider who most epitomises the true "Burt Munro spirit". Last year he refused it, saying someone else needed a turn.

Kevin was meant to pick up a mate on his way to the Challenge, but the mate couldn't come. He was waiting for news of his son, who was, and still is, down the mine.

This year the Munros again chose Kevin Ryan to receive the Munro Family prize, and this year he accepted it - on behalf of the population of Greymouth and the families of the lost miners.

Kevin Ryan with the Munro family

The prizegiving ceremony was chock-a-block with big tough motorcycling men, and I doubt that there was a dry eye in the place as Kevin gave his acceptance speech.

There have now been four explosions in the mine and it will be some time before the bodies of the miners are retrieved, if they ever can be.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Just a quick post before I go to spend a week in Invercargill at the Burt Munro Challenge.

I've been making a bunch of things to take away with me, and ended up with a spare egg white (after making aoli).

One egg white - has to mean meringues. The good old trusty Edmonds CookeryBook sits in almost every New Zealand kitchen, and I go to it for old standbys like meringues.

So easy: Beat the egg white until stiff …

… add in 65 g caster sugar …

… and beat again until glossy …

… put into a plastic bag (because my piping bag has inexplicably gone missing) …

… cut off a little bit of one corner …

… squeeze the mixture out onto baking paper in ~ dessertspoon sized blobs …

… then bake at 130°C for one hour, turn the oven off and go to bed.

Next morning, open the oven door to these:

Yum. And they keep for ever too.

I will be back in a week.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lemon Delicious

Or, in this case, Lemon/Lime Delicious. It's my birthday, and I'm going to have one of my favourite desserts for dinner. That's one of the good things about being old, you can have pudding for dinner if you want to.

The only thing wrong with this one is that it requires two bowls, I believe in minimising dishes where possible but it's not possible here. First, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Butter either one ovenproof dish or some ramekins. I'm making a half recipe and four ramekins is about right for that:

Beat the softened butter …

… add the castor sugar and beat again until light and fluffy …

… add grated citrus zest …

… and juice, and mix …

… then add flour and baking powder …

… the recipe says self raising flour, but I never have that …

… mix again, then add egg yolk and milk …

… and mix again. It always curdles, it's the lemon juice and milk and small amount of flour:

Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks …

… and fold into the rest of the batter:

 Distribute the mixture between the ramekins, or pour into the larger dish …

… than bake at  180°C until cooked. The little ramekins cook faster than a big dish will:

I think these were in for about 20 minutes. The tops spring back when you press them once they're cooked:

The mixture separates out into a super-light souflée-ish sponge on top of  a gorgeous lemony custard:

Best eaten with cream poured over - I used yoghurt, which is also good, but cream is perfect.


Lemon (or other citrus) Delicious
(I made half this amount)

220g castor sugar
125g butter
60g flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp grated citrus zest (at least half lemon)
4 tbsp citrus juice (at least half lemon)
2 eggs, separated
1250ml milk

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in flour, citrus zest and juice
Mix egg yolks and milk into the batter
Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, then fold into the batter
Spoon into greased dish(es), then put them into a bain marie with boiling water coming half way up the sides of the dish(es).
Bake at 180°C until done. Probably about 20 minutes for individual dishes, or 45 minutes for one big one.
Serves 6.

Thai chicken for lunches

I'm having salads for most of my lunches these days, I keep the ingredients in my little office fridge, but I like to have some sort of meat or an egg to go in as well.

This week I'm having a Thai style chicken.

Chicken thighs …

… into a plastic bag …

… with soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, coriander seeds and dried leaves, chilli flakes, a bit of brown sugar, a lemon grass stalk, and a little water …

… and sealed:

Then into the waterbath at 60°C …

… with the lid on …

… for about three hours:

I drained of the liquid and put it in a pot …

… with some bruised coriander stalks I found in the garden when I was weeding during the three hour cooking period …

… and a couple of smashed garlic cloves (apparently they're give the meat a nasty flavour if cooked in the waterbath) …

… then reduced it down by about half, and strained out the solid bits:

In the mean time, I dusted the cooked chicken thighs with rice flour …

… and quickly fried them to get a crispy coating:

It would have worked a lot better if they'd had skin on, but you work with what you've got.

Four thighs doesn't divide very well into five lunches, so I cut the meat off the bones and stored it in the fridge with the reduced juices poured over:

Now I just need to remember to buy lots of fresh coriander to put in my salads this week. I can't get the stuff to grow at my house, it bolts as soon as it goes in the ground.

Elderflower cordial

The gooseberries on my bush are getting bigger, so soon I will be cooking them. There are a lot of recipes out there that want elderflower cordial to with the gooseberries, so I thought I might have a go at making some.

So, first pluck your elderflowers. This required an expedition around the corner to a bit of public bush - there are elders growing all along the road from town to my house, but most of them are on someone's property.

I went down to the Broad Bay slip site, which is a bit of hill which was slowly slipping into the harbour until the conservationists planted it with lots of native plants. It's a sort of native bush reserve, but there are plenty of exotics around the perimeter.

There were two different trees with little white flowers, so I picked some of each to bring home and identify. I was pretty sure that one of them was hawthorn, but this one should be elder:

I'm only making a little bit - I don't know if I like it yet.

Here's my car down at what passes for a car park:

And here's the track I followed:

A family of Paradise ducks taking their lives in their hands wings:

Anyway, I pulled all the little flowers off their whatever it's called …

… and put them to soak with a couple of slices of orange and lemon  in some sugar syrup:

If it turns out to be delicious, I'll go for another expedition to pick more.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I just realised I've never actually done a yoghurt post.

It's as easy as anything.

Milk, skim milk powder, and some of the last batch of yoghurt (still in the fridge) :

A cup of skim milk powder in a 1.2 litre plastic container …

… mixed to a smooth paste with a little milk …

… then milk added up to the litre mark:

This milk was raw, so I pasteurised it by heating it to 80°C in the microwave. If I have freshly opened pasteurised milk I just heat it to ~42°C.

After it has cooled down (or heated up) to ~45°C I mix in a tablespoon of the old yoghurt, …

… and pour it into my big thermos flask:

The lid goes on and I leave it on the bench for about 8 hours or overnight, by which time it goes quite solid and looks very ugly when I turn it out:

But a quick whip with a whisk makes it beautifully smooth, and it goes into the fridge …

… where it will stay good for another 3 - 4 weeks.