Saturday, February 26, 2011

Darker moments, lighter moments

This is how my five year old daughter is making sense of the earthquake in Christchurch. She told me that her doll, Ella, was a bit bruised by falling stuff in the earthquake, but she's okay.
We haven't had the t.v. on while the wee ones are awake but still...there are images everywhere and it's no secret that there are many dead and wounded. I don't know how to make sense of it at all. I am reeling thinking of the loss of life, the loss of heritage, and how on earth a city can recover from such a thing. Cantabrians, I am so sad for you.
We have to take the lighter moments when they come in these troubled times. might be amused to see my latest foray into bottling beetroot.
I plum forgot about it. I do believe this might be the universe paying me back for being so smug about all my preserving. It was a great laugh though, and on the enjoyment stakes I rank laughter higher than eating beetroot, so all's well that ends better.

But back to practical things. If you would like to make a donation to assist the people of Canterbury there is a list of places to donate here. Thanks.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You say 'tomato', I say 'tomato sauces'

At this time of the year every roadside stall around Nelson is heaving with 'cooking tomatoes', which makes me very happy because making preserves is about the most fun thing I can think of. It's my perfect way to spend an afternoon.
If we're talking nana-style tomato relish I always use this recipe over at NZ Gardener. It's the old-fashioned curry powder-mustard type, but it doesn't have flour or cornflour in it, which I like because then there's never the risk of that goopy consistency that you sometimes find in that type of relish.
I like to try out something new each year, too. This year, Mrs Fernando's Sri Lankan Chutney from the Feast Maniototo cookbook. I see someone has put that recipe online over here, if you're interested. I'm not sure about it just yet. It has lots of good things in it, ginger, garlic, chillies, etc. but it's so very very sweet. I think it might be best used in the same way as sweet chilli sauce, rather than tomato relish. I'll keep you posted about how it works out over the year.
Then there's pasta sauce. It's something we use for lasagne or spagbol or pizza at least once a week, so I like to have plenty and a couple of different types. This year I did a roast tomato and capsicum one, made simply by roasting tomatoes and capsicums, pulling off most of the skins with the tongs, then cooking up the mixture with some onions, garlic, and marjoram. Then I add some vinegar (about 2 T per 500 mL jar) and bottle it using the overflow method.
Tomato salsa, my old friend. Secret code "10 rice crackers and salsa = 1 point". If you don't know what that means then clearly you do not have the same battles with weight that I do. Anyway, I do like salsa and rice crackers as a wee treat, and I very much prefer my homemade version to the bought stuff. I have 20 jars of this in the cupboard now.
Perhaps you would like the recipe? Here's the original, from my sister Miriam, as written in my cookbook:
Salsa Picante
2 kg ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 mild chillies, chopped
1 large onion, chopped small
1 green and 1 red pepper, chopped
150 g tomato paste
3/4 C white vinegar
1/4 C lemon juice
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T salt
2 t paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
Boil all together in a large pot, uncovered, for 1 h, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust chilli and salt. Add more lemon juice if you like it more piquant. Bottle and seal (or freeze). Makes plenty.
(Notes in the margin of my recipe book: I don't always put in the tomato paste, sometimes I add 1 t cumin, or I use 1 C of a mixture of lime juice, lemon juice, and various types of vinegar, the proportions of which change according to what I have available. Using cider vinegar makes it sweeter).
If I'm short on ideas or time, I deal with tomatoes by roasting and freezing them. Just the usual method (halve, sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme, olive oil, roast at 140 degrees C until collapsed, cool, then pack and freeze).
My sister Mary Anna accused me of being excessively smug about all my preserving. I think perhaps I might be.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

National Costume

My last project for the summer holidays was a project for me, which had to be completed by tomorrow, Waitangi Day, for patriotic reasons. I'd found this great New Zealand tablecloth at the opshop, and as soon as I saw it I knew it wanted to be a skirt. It elaborated, "Just as a feature panel though, not a whole garment. That would just be silly."
I've been listening to fabric ever since I saw the original fabric whisperer, my sister, do it. She should run classes.
I used my go-to skirt pattern for this, Simplicity 4369. A simple A-line shape with a yoke and a side zip. I've made this up several times now and it all goes together in a flash. The back and yoke pieces are black cotton drill. There is white top-stitching along the back yoke and hem, and red top-stitching along the front yoke. I really like how it turned out.

I said to my husband "What do you think of my new skirt? Not too silly?"
He said "No, just silly enough."
I said "Do you like the map?"
He said "Yes I do. I would like it even better if it was a map of Tasmania though."
And that made me larf and larrrrrf and if you don't know why then your mind is just not rude enough.

My children also made me laugh when they saw it.
Sylvie said "Hey! What a great idea! A map! We'll never get lost with that skirt!"
Harry said "Woah! That's a SKIRT with a MAP on it.

Well yes, yes it is. It's a map of my favourite place on earth.
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