The End of June Month

IMG_0832   I know it’s July now. I just noticed people say that here when they talk about some goings on in June. Not just “june” but “june month.” Unnecessarily specific, but has a nice sound to it.

Im just having a sit on the couch. It’s nice outside and inside. The window is open, and I can hear all the warblers warbling and the tits tittering. The wind shaking the leaves all crazy, flipping them like a million green coins, the sound is like a shimmer. It smells like pollen and plants and I cant fill my lungs full enough of this warm air. I count 16 mosquitos now, pressing their little fiendish faces up against the window screen, thirsty for my blood. The one and only downside of summer. It’s turned me into a pretty paranoid predator. Slapping little buzzing bodies anywhere, anytime, remorseless. Im getting good at it too. Like a ninja. There’s limited collateral damage now, mostly in the form of upsot cups of tea. CBs disapproving eye at my frantic flailing and slapping while he is trying to play Fallout. I’ll keep my blood thank you, it is not in me to give.

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Green green green all around me. The urge to climb these trees surges up so strongly in me sometimes. I have to remind myself that it’s just whimsical nonsense and in reality I’m old and fat and slow and will just hook my ass on a branch and get stuck forever and they will call me Mongo The Tree Girl and throw apples at me to eat. Or a spider will run on my hand and I’ll scream and fall out and break all my hips. Broken Hip Hospital Vacation! NOT A BAD IDEA!

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The worlds slowest growing nasturtium. I like to yell at it every time I walk by its sad little cement pot of saddy sadness. OH GAWWWWD why do you still only have 6 leaves?! You should be full of flowers! What am I feeding you all that delicious hot bacon grease for if you’re not using it to GROW GOD DAMN IT! *green thumb*

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Found these weird things. Wonder what they will be? They look like they are from another planet. Theres all kinds of uncanny ass plants popping up all over now. All around the house are all these little ferns with bumpy blue stems. Upon further investigation–grabbing them–I realized it was in fact a regular green stem but covered in millions of tiny beetle babies and my hand came up covered in bug guts.  YAY!

Today I was thinking that Newfoundland probably must have the most beautiful ditches in the world. Riding around on the motorcycle today with CB I saw ditches brimming with alien stalks of pink & blue lupins, palm sized dandelions, fiery orange hawkweed, fluffy white snowballs of labrador tea flowers, fuschia lamb laurel bushes, wispy white beards of bog cotton, wild blue flag irises, pretty pink seathrift…  its overwhelmingly gorgeous. Its such a stark contrast to the endless bleak whiteness of winter. Everything wakes up in a rainbow! Theres a million different sorts of birds and a billion more sorts of bugs. This island literally buzzes with alive things. Anyway, its pretty nice. Here’s a link to someone elses blog about newfoundland flowers.

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Put on a record. Clean the house. Wash the dishes. Wash the clothes. Wash our dirty stank butts.

I took these pictures in early June, but never got to write about it. We had a nice lobster dinner, just knives and meat and butter. I never liked lobster before I met CB. He invited me to one of his family lobster “feeds” and I was so shy and scared and just tentatively nibbled a claw soaked in butter. But now I am A BEAST! Well, not really. CB breaks them down, but I eat everything until I cant eat anymore. CB’s mum is still the lobster champion of all time. She is small but she can take down 4 of those buggers in a sitting. What a woman. IMG_0732_2   Fresh from the fish plant! Watching CB come out of the building with a bag full of lobsters looking so proud.

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This is the smallest and feistiest one. I named him Hank. He was delicious.

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CB demonstrates his east coast party trick of lobster hypnosis. Make him do a handstand, tickle his forehead with your forefinger.. STOP PLAYING WITH YOUR FOOD!

IMG_0786   COME AT ME, BRO!

IMG_0775_2   Sorry Hank, you salty little sea spider. You were just born too damn ugly and too damn tasty to live, man. IMG_0771

Notice this one. The Big Guy. Is. The. Size. of my baking pan! His claw was the size of CBs hand! He could barely lift it! What a hero.

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What a beautiful sight.  Knife, board, beers, towels, pile of lobbies. Yeah thats what I call them now, I think it’s going to catch on.

IMG_0816   And now the massacre begins. Look away if you’re squeemish, or you might get lobster juice in your eye.

_MG_0808 That’ll do Hank, that’ll do.

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Pork Roast + Sunsets = Romance

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The sky was so pretty tonight it looked like a painted back drop.

I’ve had the better part of 4 days off with my precious bearded one and it has been lovely. But, as he growled off  into the sunset to work on his little suzuki, sweater all warm from hugs and backpack full of donuts for the guys, I felt like it really wasn’t enough. We made the most of it though! Spent lots of time farting about in the sun, curdled up on the couch watching David Attenborough tell us all about how totally nasty spiders are, or cooking together. That was my favourite bit because we haven’t done that in a long time. We made some proper warm up your guts winter food and ate it while making noises.

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This morning we got a nice big old roll of pork tenderloin from the butchers. It was beautiful. I gave it a sensual oil massage and rubbed rock salt into the skin. Then we roasted it up until it was golden brown and crispy. The smell in the house was intense and I was literally jumping up and down in front of the oven with excitement like goddamn Santa Claus was going to come out.

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Dummmmm dummm DUMMMM! Seriously.. it was even better than it looks.

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Skin so crunchy it klinked like pork glass when CB gave it a tap with the knife.

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Hog heaven.

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It also made the best gravy of my LIFE! (Sorry mom, but you would have been jealous)

As we ate CB commented that he wishes he could take credit for this masterpiece, but the credit is entirely due to whatever awesome little pig friend made this with his porky bod. The crackling was amazing, but no human being should eat that much crispy pig skin so the bulk of it, sadly enough, went into a soup stock for later this week. I know, sacrilege, but we are trying to be healthy and aside from all the pictures of donuts and gravy on here lately it’s working pretty well!

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I don’t know why, but I thought I would take a picture of our chair. Its really comfy and good for drinking tea in and flipping through seed catalogues like an old cat lady.

Once CB left for work I took the opportunity to go buy a new pair of pants. I’m down to just the one, and its kind of embarrassing. I feel like if I wear them with cuffs one day and none the next people will be fooled into thinking I have two pairs of the same pants… I doubt it’s fooling anybody, but I also doubt anyone is paying any attention to my pants anyway so its all good in the hood. Anyway, I took my sad booty to the mall, which is so tedious I like to spare CB from the indignity of watching me try on pants and proceed to then spend 85 minutes staring into the depressing department store mirror adjusting the crotch area trying to find that sweet spot where it doesnt bunch or billow weird.. I can do that on my own. Success! I came out with a pair of jeans that actually fit so VICTORY IS MINE! In the spirit of buying jeans that fit I also managed to avoid going to Yoghurt Story and eating tiramisu frozen yoghurt covered in gummi bears by myself in the food court. So, also, small victory there. Things are looking up, for this gal! Self control, you shall be mine some day! Christ this is sounding like Bridget Jones started working for the Pork Board of Canada or something.

Oh! On the way into Henderson I have to come down through the ranges and at one point I was driving on a ridge between two valleys. On one side was the city, with it’s millions of sparkling gold and pink lights under the turquoise sky and on the other side was the sunset that almost identically matched the colours. It was so striking I almost crashed into a mail box.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with Mr. Attenborough and some bug that wears the carcasses of its dead prey as a costume. Sounds like a romantic evening continues..

Kumera Doughnuts

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Remember my promise to be healthy.. well.. ignore it for the next few minutes, because we did something bad…

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DOUGHNUTTTTTTTTTTTSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

And then.. we made it worse..

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It all started off with one of my favourite lazy morning day off activities, a brainstorming session over coffee about fine french desserts. We talked about beignets. Then we talked about kumera beignets. And then I bought a kumera.. and then I made doughnuts with it.. and CB made pork patties with garlic, salt & pepper, smoked paprika and marjoram like a breakfast sausage burger. And we put on the doughnut… with cheese.. and an apple.. and we ate it.. and we ate another one.. and another one.. we ate 6 of them… and then, we gave eachother fat greasy high fives while crying.

And then, while CB was on the couch with doughnut burger induced paralysis, I snuck into the kitchen and made the worlds fastest doughnut glaze, glazed the rest, and had a couple more for good measure.

In America, a cheeseburger made on a Krispy Creme doughnut is called a Luther Vandross. In New Zealand, I think it should be called a Che Fu. CB knows Che Fu, so maybe this weekend he’ll ask him if that’s okay. He’s a White Lady regular, soooo I have a feeling, he’ll be cool with it.

These little bad boys are soft, tender and sexy inside and crispy outside. They aren’t greasy at all, and have a gorgeous kumera flavour with a soft background flavour of coconut. Kumera is like a sweet potato, the only difference I can see is that its not as sweet and cooks much faster. So you can eat your doughnuts and still get in a serving of veg!

Kumera Doughnuts

Time: 30 minutes prep, 2-4 hours rising time, 30 minutes frying

Yield: 2 dozen 3″ doughnuts

Cost: < $5

1 medium kumera, or sweet potato, or about 2 cups of mash

1/2 cup brown sugar

Squirt of lemon juice

1 cup coconut cream

1 egg

3 tbsp butter

1 tbsp yeast

6 cups flour

2 cups of canola oil for frying

Chop the kumera into pieces about 2cm large and put them into a little saucepan. Cook them on medium along with the brown sugar and lemon juice until soft and squishable, about 10 minutes. At the point either puree or mash them up real well with the back of a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and pour on the coconut cream. This should cool the mixture down to about blood temperature. If its still quite warm, leave it sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until its about 90-98 degrees.

Sprinkle the yeast over the kumera mash mix and stir well. Add a beaten egg and room temperature butter and stir. Sprinkle your flour over, about a cup at a time, while mixing with your hand. Once all the flour is mixed in, you can start kneading your dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for at least 10 minutes.

Transfer to a well oiled or buttered bowl, cover with a tea towel, plastic wrap or in my case, Avengers t-shirt and place in a nice warm place to rise. My house is freezing right now so Ive found a spot of sun for it to sit in. Let it double in size.

Punch it down, give it a couple of good kneads to redistribute the yeast. Roll it out about 3/4 of an inch thick, and cut out ya ‘nuts. Put them in a warm spot, covered with a clean tea towel and let rise about 30 minutes until fat and fluffy. Meanwhile, heat your oil to 180 degrees. If you dont have a thermometer, you know its ready when you drop a wee drop of water in it and it sizzles instantly. I always make a few rough little balls of leftover dough to test the temperature of the oil. You want it to start to brown and bubble around the edges of dough almost instantly, but not to get too dark. Usually the first one is too light or too dark but good for snacks.

Quick Coconut Glaze

2 cups icing sugar

4 tbsp hot melted butter

All of your leftover coconut cream– you want to add just enough to make it thin enough to dip, but stay thick enough to stick to the doughnut.

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Blue Brie Broccoli Soup

This is a funky ass soup. It’s creamy, and full of sexy flavours. I’m always circling the cheese sections of supermarkets like a hawk, and grabbing up any cheese that have a reduced to clear sticker on it. Its less than half the regular price, and old cheese is even better! So I picked up this blue brie, and it was really ripe. Gooey and soft, I couldnt even cut it, it just squished all over. Amazing. It had a real blue cheese foot smell to it that was pretty wonderful. I also got 2 massive heads of broccoli yesterday on the cheap, so decided to make a pretty serious soup.

Chop ya Broc’

Gently ladle off the sexy layer of schmultz from the chicken stock.

Unless you’re using it from a can, in which case, no schmaltz for you!

Sweat your onions and sprinkle on the flour.

Simmering the broccoli. Don’t for heavens sake, do what I did, and put the cream in before the broccoli is done. I was experimenting to see if it made a difference if boiling the cream and curdling it would effect the quality of a soup that youre just going to puree the crap out of anyway. It does.. its a bit grainy and not smooth.

Blue Brie Broccoli Soup

Yield: 10 cups
Time: 25 minutes
Price: $7.50, or $1.50 per serving

2 heads broccoli
1 200g Waimato Blue Brie, or Blue Cheese
2 onions
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
2 cups full fat milk, or combo milk & cream
4 cups chicken stock
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp honey
Salt & Pepper

In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat your oil and butter. When sizzling and brown, add in rough chopped onions. Cook down 10 minutes, adding a little stock if need be. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir. Pour in your chicken stock and bring up to a boil.

Chop your broccoli into 1/2 inch pieces, and add them to the soup stock. Add vinegar, paprika, honey. Cook until broccoli is soft. When the broccoli is soft enough to puree in a blender or with an immersion blender, slowly add in your milk & cream, while stirring. Add in the brie, chopped into pieces. Puree until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken Fingers are the Best Ones

CB MADE CHICKEN FINGERS! GOD THEY ARE SO GOOD! OH I LOVE THOSE CRUNCHY CHICKENS FINGERS! CAPITAL LETTERS! EXCLAMATION MARKS! For real.

Spicy Chicken Fingers

Yield: 20 chicken fingers
Time: 35 minutes
Cost: $10, or $2.50 per person

4 chicken breasts, cut in 1″ strips

2 cups flour
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp salt

2 cups milk
1 tbsp sri racha
2 eggs

1 litre oil

Heat oil to 300 degrees, or until it goes batshit when you drop some chicken in it. We only have a meat thermometer handy and it spun around twice.. so.. whatever that is.

Mix flour, paprika and salt together in a bowl.

Beat eggs, milk and sri racha together.

Coat each strip of chicken in flour mix and let sit for 5 minutes.

Dip each chicken strip into the milk mixture, let drip off a bit, and then back into the flour mix.

Gently lay into the hot oil. Fry for about 10 minutes, you’re looking for the crust to get dark and golden. Lift out of the oil with a spider or carefully with tongues and lay on a rack to cool.

Try not to eat all of them.

Tomato Rescue Sauce

Rosie called up this morning and mentioned a fruit & veg shop that is near her new house– and the house we’ll be moving into in mid September. So we went to check it out this afternoon. It was amazing! So fresh and so cheap, cheap. They had a box of nearly rotten tomatoes and a box of almost mushy fruits, each for $2.99. Of course, being a tight wad, I had to rescue them from their garbage dump fate. It was easily 10kg of fruit and tomatoes, which I had CB carry around while I asked him questions unrelated to the task at hand and watched him get increasingly frustrated.

Haw haw haw!

Anyway, it was a nice surprise to find a mix of tomatoes inside; some small golf ball sized ones, some medium sized vine ripened, large hot house and some really large ones I didnt recognize that looked kind of ruffled and had a lovely cherry colour and lots of flavour. I carefully sorted, washed and cut off any spots of moldiness and mushy bits. Threw some onions in a heavy bottomed, very large, stock pot to sweat with a bit of olive oil and a pat of butter. After my onions had started I threw in some rough sliced garlic, followed by my tomatoes and just let it simmer. I didn’t add any herbs and spices to keep it neutral so I could use it for a variety of things in the future. Then I gathered up all the scrap bits and brought the pigs an afternoon treat!

$2.99 Tomato Sauce

Yield: 4 Litres
Time: 1 hour

Price: $0.75 per litre

4kg tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
4 yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
** I added the leftover juice from a jar of pickled jalapenos we finished off this morning, and a couple shots of vodka, but that is optional

Sweat your onions and garlic in the olive oil and butter until soft.

Quarter chop your tomatoes and add them in. Cook down 10 minutes, add brown sugar, vinegar and stir well. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes until sauce is reduced and thick, stirring every so often to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. Taste and adjust salt/sugar/vinegar to taste. It really depends on how sweet/sour your tomatoes are.

Smothered Chicken

Southern Goodness

This is a hearty southern recipe that is good eating on a cold rainy day like this one. This is basically fried chicken covered in gravy.. basically. Traditionally it would be ladled onto rice and buttery home made biscuits. BUT, we’re trying to be healthier so Im replacing that with pumpkin and turnip. So sad…

This takes a little bit of prep work but is actually pretty easy, and easy to multitask. Also if throw the unused chicken bits into a pot or slow cooker with the veggie scraps you’ll get the extra added bonus of awesome chicken stock too!

Being a recovering vegetarian I’d never taken a whole chicken apart before, but after watching some demos on youtube I did them both very cleanly in about 5 minutes. Make sure to sharpen your knife before hand! This meal felt really nice to make, good quality ingredients being taken care of by fire and cast iron.. what more could I want, really. Its also, damn tasty. I feel like it would probably be killer with the addition of some mushrooms, but I think they are horrible little funguses so I don’t know for sure! Just a hunch.

Smothered Chicken

Time: 1 1/2 hours

Yield: Dinner for 6, plus 2L of chicken stock.. and maybe some leftovers..

Cost: $20.75 or $3.50 per person

  • 2 whole chickens
  • 1 cup flour 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 medium sized leeks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups really good stock
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt + pepper

Slice leeks, onions and garlic and throw them into a hot pan with a little oil or butter and let them sautee.

Cut each chicken into 8 parts: thighs, legs, breasts and wings, making sure to trim off the tips of each wing. There are some great little videos on youtube, like this one.

** If you’d like, throw the leftover bones into a stock pot, along with the leftovers of the onions, tops of the leeks and garlic skins. Add in a rough chopped carrot and a quartered onion, fill with just enough water to cover and let simmer for 3-4 hours and you’ll have an awesome chicken stock for later **

Heat up a second, thick bottomed pan, with a little oil.

Mix 1 cup flour with 2 tbsp salt and dredge chicken pieces. Shake off well and place skin side down into the hot pan. Let each piece brown on each side, 2-3 minutes a side, and place them in a casserole dish. Repeat for all pieces.

Chicken Frying and Onions Browning
Chicken Frying and Onions Browning

When your onion & leek mixture is looking softened and beginning to brown, add a good couple of splashes of balsamic vinegar and salt to taste. Add in your stock, sprinkle the 4tbsp reserved flour over top, stir and let it simmer.

When all your chicken is finished and in the casserole dish, pour onion stock mixture over the chicken. Place a lid on it and put it in the oven at 150C OR 300F. Leave it in for about an hour, chicken should be fall off the bone tender and read atleast 160F at the thickest part on a thermometer.

Crispy Chicken

I rough chopped some Turnip and Pumpkin, tossed them in a little olive oil, vinegar and a “cajun style” spice mix I found in the cupboard and chucked them in with the chicken. They should be done around the same time.

Smothered Chicken & Slow Roasted Vegetables