Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dawn Service

I'm the first to admit, I was a little surprised at the enthusiasm shown by the kids when I suggested we go to the ANZAC Dawn Service. It did wane slightly when we told them they would need to get up at 4.15am, but still, they agreed.

The service was held at the War Memorial Museum in Auckland which provides a majestic back drop.

We secured a great position at the heart of the happenings. It's possibly the closest I will ever physically be to the NZ Prime Minister in my life. As always, I sprouted goose bumps when the bugle boy played The Last Post – very sombre.

When it was all finished, we had a cup of tea while we waited for the crowd to thin out before heading home. Now I'm off to try my hand at making some gluten-free ANZAC biscuits but I haven't had much luck in the past.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I wonder why...

On Saturday I was at the supermarket, stocking up before the rest of the family returned from Oz later that day. As I approached the bakery section I was surprised to see they were still selling hot cross buns and couldn't help but wonder why.

I mean, I've still got some in the freezer which I am dutifully working my way through but that's different. Who would want to buy hot cross buns when the shops have been pushing them since February? Surely everyone is over them by now and has moved on to the next thing which we all know is ANZAC biscuits!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Italian rice, vegetable and feta tart

Ok, here it is. Typed out, with love, as I couldn't for the life of me find the site where I found it originally.

1 cup arborio rice
knob of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary or thyme
2 medium zucchini, diced
6 large silverbeet leaves, shredded
¼cup thinly sliced sundried tomatoes
4 eggs, lightly beaten finely grated zest 1 lemon
½ cup grated Parmesan plus extra for topping
150 grams feta cheese, crumbled
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

20 cm round spring form cake tin, well-greased (it is wise to also line it with baking paper).

Preheat the oven to 180℃

Add the rice to a saucepan of boiling salted water and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain well, tip into a bowl and stir through the knob of butter. Season and cool.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan and cook the onion, fennel, garlic and rosemary with a good pinch of salt until the vegetables are tender. Increase the heat, add the zucchini and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the silverbeet to the pan along with the sundried tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until the silverbeet is tender. Season and cool.

Combine the eggs, lemon zest and Parmesan in a large bowl and season. Gently mix in the rice and vegetables and ¾ of the feta.

Pour into the tin and sprinkle over the remaining feta, a good grating of Parmesan and a few small pieces of butter (I forgot this bit and it was fine without but go ahead and add it if you like).

Bake for 20 minutes until golden and the centre is set. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing the sides and transferring to a serving plate.

Serves 6-8

Our new toy

Yes, this is the new addition to our iFamily – the iMac. Having two iPads in our family already we opted not to get a laptop but to go back to a desktop. I looove the BIG screen and the extra space on my desk [real that is, not virtual].

We got it in Australia where it's much cheaper to buy than here in NZ. I wonder how cheap it would be to get one in the USA?

I am now slowly re-training myself to become a Mac-user. [Please note my tidy desk!]

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Delicious vego dish

I am so excited about this dish that I just had to share it with you: Italian rice, vegetable and feta tart. It tasted and smelled so good in the oven I could hardly let it stand for the required 15 minutes before eating it!

Naturally, it's gluten-free and I think I could confidently serve this up to my discerning diabetic friend, Simon, without any problems [I'm not totally up to speed with that dietary requirement though so don't quote me on it.] Think fennel, garlic, zucchini, rosemary, parmesan and feta – mmm, maybe t is off-limits to you Simon. It's vegetarian though which is great because I am always trying to think of ways to create a satisfying meal without relying on meat. Of course, if I'm truly honest with you, I have to say that I did fry up a few bangers to go with it. I know! I was almost there – but not quite. It was just so easy to do when one is short on time compared to "creating" something else. Actually, the sausages look quite sad next to the tart. A nice salad would look much more appetising.

Anyway, with or without meat, you're going to love it. That is, if I can find the link for you. I've Googled the recipe but can't seem to find it. Don't worry though, I'll type it up and post it for you. Watch this space!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Back to Briz

If we have time, going to GoMA is always on our "to do" list when we are in Brisbane.

Some people were spoilers.

Busy making birds and nests. It's not often I see Ruby so focused.

Then there was the trip to a certain Swedish shop in Logan with the Aspros girls. That's how I tried playing it down to Steve but I couldn't fool him. There was no flat pack furniture on my trolley but I did pick up a couple of small things – that is the best thing about IKEA after all.

We also went up to Caloundra for a couple of nights and caught up with old friends – as in long-standing not over-the-hill! Was so great to have a few laughs. [Sorry no pics but that's probably a good thing!] You guys make me feel normal. Thank you!

Sadly, I had to return to NZ ahead of Steve and the girls for work. Ho hum. Had take-aways last night and off to the movies tonight with some girl friends [sigh].

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter!

I'm not sure what it's like in your little part of the world but here in NZ we've been a bit ripped off with what this summer has had to offer. That is until now. In the past week, despite forecasts of weather bombs, we've had the most amazing weather [they often get it wrong here]. Good weather is not normally associated with Easter here but it's as though summer has finally kicked in. Sitting at work on Thursday, looking out the window, it was hard to imagine the weather could get any better but then Good Friday turned out to be Spectacular Friday!

Luckily for us, we have Kiwi friends with baches. One of our friends have just finished building a bach at Omaha, moving in last weekend. Just an hour's drive north of Auckland, yesterday we took a drive up for a visit. I should clarify that it is normally an hour's drive in good traffic and even though we left home after lunch, we hit the dreaded Auckland long weekend traffic making it more like a two hour drive. I just couldn't understand why all the holiday makers left it so late to hit the road for their holidays.

Anyway, we got there – eventually, and enjoyed good company, good food, a quick swim and a few wines before heading back home just after 10pm.

Today began as another fantastic day but by the afternoon a cold change had come through and we used the fire place for the first time this year.

Happy Easter everyone! I hope the EB visits you overnight.
m, xox

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Something to smile about

Last Saturday was the last swim in the State Ocean Swim series for this summer. My swimming buddies, Helen and Charmaine, were all smiles as we squeezed into our wetsuits.

As usual, just before the start, things got a bit more serious.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 19:38.

When it was all over, we had something to smile about. I'm so pleased I did the swims. It was a good challenge and very rewarding. And maybe even a bit competitive – watch out Helen!

It wasn't just about the mums. Some of the kids swam too. Nice style Eadie! And Steve of course, who we have aptly named Coach Steve. Sorry, no pics coach.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Melting moments

Today I am off work as I have a sick child at home. Apparently she is one of 16 in her class sick with a gastro bug. Although nobody likes being sick, and I would never wish that on anyone, it was kind of nice to have an unexpected day up my sleeve to get a few extra things done around the house. A couple of days ago a friend* gave me a gluten-free recipe for melting moments with passionfruit cream. I love melting moments; they're a weakness I rarely indulge in. So with a bit of spare time and a few wrinkly passionfruit in the fruit bowl, I decided today was the day to indulge.
If I didn't know better, the passionfruit would have ended up in the bin they looked so bad. When cut open however, they were full of sweet, orangery pulp – perfect!

OMG! They were soooo good. No points deducted just for being gluten-free. They look so pretty in the jar too. I wonder how long they will last.

My busy-ness in the kitchen didn't stop there. I made lamb casserole and créme caramel for the famiglia. Not me; I'm off to dinner with some girlfriends but I secretly hope there is at least some dessert left for me to try tomorrow.

* I have many friends who look out of great GF recipes for me – thank you to you all.