Monday, 13 February 2017

Sharing the bounty

I was given a precious gift just before my friend moved to another part of the North Island; a bag of red currants. Not only are these red jewels delicious, but they bring back so many happy memories of my childhood, heading down to the allotment with my dad, fork in my pocket, ready to strip the bushes of their jewellery.

Mum made strawberry and redcurrant jam, as well as rhubarb and redcurrant crumbles; a tart combination foiled by very sweet custard. Definitely childhood heaven in a bowl.

My friend's garden was a picture, neat and bountiful. She taught me how to grow beans (hardly a difficult task, but for me, a complete disaster in the garden, quite an achievement).

So here are half of the currants, about to head into a plum crumble. I cooked all my plums, and divided the fruit between two oven proof dishes, sprinkling with the red currants and covering with an oat and seeds crumble.

So the fruity blessing gets passed along, multiplying its juicy self. I have just posted one bowl in the neighbouring farm's mailbox. One of their boys will no doubt head down on his mountain bike and ride precariously up the hill with it. At least it is too difficult to sample en route and is likely to arrive intact!

Sunday, 5 February 2017


My husband doesn't often find things to tease me about, but he has a favourite topic - pots and ceramics. This is because I love ceramics from Scandinavian countries. Since we married I have managed to find second hand Figgjo Flint, Inge Laage, Ulla Procope, Finnish Arabia and Royal Copenhagen. I have a particular fondness for items from my childhood years of the 1960s and 1970s. Even better if they are coloured blue or brown. He even bought a piece for me himself, a Royal Copenhagen plate. These lovely plates were produced annually close to Christmas. My much loved Aunt had an entire wall displaying them - a Christmas gift each year from her family. They looked so beautiful, cobalt blue against a stark wall in her York home.

Today we welcomed some Danish guests. We had a lovely time together chatting about so many things. I was presented a gift by the wife, and really could not believe my eyes when I was given two Royal Copenhagen plates, from 1972 and 1977. She could not have given me a greater treasure. I was delighted to hear that these plates, which I have always considered decorative only, are used in every day life in kitchens and dining rooms all around the Danish Kingdom, as will mine now!

Here they are, the desert picture on the darker plate having even greater significance wafting memories back from my life in Arabia.

Friday, 3 February 2017

What the little bird didn't tell me

I was disappointed with our plums this year. I have blamed the appalling weather. However, this afternoon, en route to the paddock to pull out thistles, I wandered under one of our more far flung fruit trees. It was LADEN with plums and around a dozen blackbirds jumping from branch to branch, turning the plumbs into missiles. The cheeky birds had been gorging themselves - the hundreds of bone dry pips on the ground were evidence. This is a tree that has done nothing for 3 years and as if to spite me quietly produced enough plums to sink a boat. Sadly most of them are completely out of reach except for the birds, and they aren't planning to help me harvest them.

So, more plum puree for the freezer methinks.

The mush left over from the last plum culinary experiment was today donated to the Post Office Pig. I mixed it with some left over quince pulp from last year that I had preserved. Mr Post Office grinned when I gave it to him "That will go into his bucket for afternoon tea". As we drove away from the Post Office, I could see a large mound of flesh snoozing in the long grass of the meadow, the only evidence that it was a pig was the large hairy ear flicking away the bees. Oh to be a snoozing pig with quince for tea.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Pie Man and the leaning tower of Pizza

Today I had a "Day Rover" ticket on the local trains, so headed to the capital for the day. One the way home, I decided to hop off at a small seaside town. On its one street resides a butcher who makes the BEST chicken pies in the S. Hemisphere. He was surprised to see me, as he knows I live at least an hour's drive north of his shop. "I dropped in to get some pies." He looked over my shoulder expecting my better half to come strolling in too. "Oh I'm on my own, took the train to the big smoke today. I had a brainwave on the way back. I'm allowed to hop on and off the train, so here I am for pies." He started to laugh "Well you know you are always very welcome, lovely to see you, and you're lucky, there are two left".

Half an hour later, I am sat in an almost deserted railway carriage, when two young men got on, one with a pushchair and a sleeping baby, the other a security guy balancing a tower of pizza pieces cut into slices. Goodness knows where they had come from. He helped the young lad with the baby, then proceeded to offer pizza around the carriage. "It's good bro" as he leaned over to Daddy with the pushchair. We all politely declined, but it was such a nice gesture. Kiwis love their pies and love their pizza, but no so much as they aren't willing to share.

Nice, real nice.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Of plums and piggies

Our plum trees are on strike. The three large trees on the boundary have given up on summer and have refused to produce a single plum. The smaller tree by the gate has obliged with a plateful. This year it looks like it will be one small pie instead of several kilos of jam. Humph! Another downside of the saturated summer we have been treated to.

Yesterday, I was able to enquire after the health of the Post Office Pig. It transpired that Sir Hinu Porker had had a bad case of lice. The postmistress was very concerned and so enquired how much the treatment would cost for such a corpulent pig at the vets. Several hundred dollars for the fluid to rub down the lad and rid him of the pestilence by Jove! Our enterprising postmistress then phoned up a few local pig farmers. They recommended that a few gallons of drained engine oil smeared over the lad would do just as well - a kind of suffocating marinade. So, Sir Hinu was rubbed clean of his lice with a beautifying smear of truck oil, and all is now well.

Use number 305 for Castrol GTX!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Hen sitting

After concluding a very pleasurable week of being Aunty Hen to an unruly mob of clucking youngsters and three stroppy laying madams, I now find I am missing them. In a note to me from her holidays, their owner commented "I see hens in your future". Not sure which crystal ball she was using, but she may be right. Here are the beauties who over a period of 5 days, swore at me, clucked sweet nothings, and projected most emotions in between.

Stalking Pork

Our Post Office owns a pig. It's not a full Post Office, more a dairy with a sub-post office inside. For non-Kiwis, a dairy is like a corner shop, only this one isn't on a corner it is right on the main highway heading north. Anyway, I digress. A few weeks ago, when I was throwing a letter in the letter box, I noticed a rustling of grass next to the box. Snuffling in the knee high grass was a pig. I didn't have time to introduce myself, but the next time I saw our Post Mistress I asked about him. "Is he yours?" to which she replied he was. I automatically thought he was being fed up for a Hangi, but no, the Post Mistress was horrified. "No no, he's a pet pig. He's called Hinu. He's my baby." The said "baby" is the size of our chest of drawers and has a head worthy of a Medieval banquet. I reckon there is 70kgs of bacon rashers on that smiley boy.

I hadn't seen him for a while so enquired about his health. Turns out he had been on romantic stud duties before New Year, and had returned a very Happy Boy, content to rustle around in the long grass and occasionally beg for ice cream from customers.

It makes posting letters a bit of an adventure, as I never know if he is going to stroll out near the fence and give me a cheeky wink.