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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Relishing the Rhubarb

We have a thriving rhubarb plant in our garden and yesterday I made a spicy rhubarb cake, which is absolutely delicious!

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup raw sugar
175g butter, melted
1 egg, whisked
1½ cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp mixed spice
1 cup sultanas
¾ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 180˚.  Line a 2ocm ring tin with greaseproof paper.  Put the rhubarb and sugar in a large bowl, and stir well.  Add butter and egg and mix well.  Fold in sifted dry ingredients, sultanas, and walnuts.  Spoon mixture into prepared tin and bake for one hour.

This recipe came from the “Listener” and I thoroughly recommend it.  We grow walnuts as well as rhubarb, and it’s great to be using our own produce.  The cake would be lovely served as a dessert with cream or yoghurt, and it’s yummy on its own – one of the best I’ve tasted.

“Rhubarb and walnuts from our land
combine to make a cake that’s grand.”

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Four of us had lunch in the South City food hall.  The choice was good, the food fine, and the price excellent.  Two of us finished before the others.  A staff member immediately swooped their plates away, and busily wiped their side of the table.  All this right under the noses of those of us still eating.  We were all too taken aback to say anything.   I appreciate this is a multi-food place wanting a swift turnover of tables, but their staff need to show a little courtesy.

“To clear the plates, far from ideal
when others have not had their meal.”

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Stephen was keen to make a Mexican dish called Cerdo con Frijoles, but lacked one vital ingredient, Epazote.  It’s an annual herb with a strong flavour, widely used in traditional cuisine throughout central America and the southern United States, and we couldn’t find any local substitute.  Amazingly a woman who runs a restaurant in the Yucatan learned of his dilemma over the internet, and told him that dandelion leaves are an acceptable substitute.  We have a generous source of dandelions in a nearby vacant section, so we went foraging.

Harvesting dandelion leaves

Harvesting dandelion leaves

We enjoyed our dinner, but couldn’t really taste the dandelion.  Another time he’ll add more.

“”Missing ingredients are no bar
when cooking tips come from afar.”

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An urban farm is being constructed on the old Poplar Lane site.

Agropolis Urban Farm

Agropolis Urban Farm

What’s growing in the raised beds so far seems to be sunflowers and strawberries.  There’s also compost maturing in wooden bins on the right.

Farm shed under construction

Farm shed under construction

The farm shed, currently under construction, will be made primarily from earth materials, using a range of techniques: adobe, rammed earth, straw bale, and cob.  This is yet another creative project in our transitional city.

“Our city centre has a farm
with beds and sheds designed to charm.”

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Dorset Apple Cake

Dorset Apple Cake

Dorset Apple Cake

The recipe for this cake comes from a daughter in England.  She had it in a cookbook, but I’m not sure which one, so can’t acknowledge the author.  I like the fact that it uses raw apples.  My previous favourite apple cake recipe required them to be stewed first.

1 large or 2 small cooking apples
Juice of a lemon
1and 1/2 cups plain flour (225g)
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
115g butter, at room temperature, cut in small cubes (I gave it 20 seconds in the microwave)
1 cup (165g) raw sugar (2/3 for batter, 1/3 for topping)
1 beaten egg
3 tbsp milk

Use 7-8″ (20cm) cake tin, heat oven to 180 degrees celsius
Peel the apples, cut into very small pieces, and toss them in the lemon juice.
Sift flour, baking powder, and cinnamon into large bowl, then rub in butter.
Stir in 2/3 sugar, egg, apple, and milk, to make a soft mixture.
Put in tin, flattening with spoon
(optional – put a few thin slices of apple on top to decorate)
Mix the 1/3 sugar with a pinch of cinnamon and sprinkle over.
Bake 50 minutes.

Enjoy!

“This is a scrumptious apple cake.
It’s simple and quite quick to make.”

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Boiling Breakfast

Boiled egg

Boiled egg

Boiled eggs used to be a breakfast favourite.  I hadn’t had one for several years, but while in England I renewed my taste for them, and had this one back home last week.

In the past I used to slice the top off the egg.  Now I prefer to gently bash the top of the shell and peel it off.

Are you a slicer or a basher?

“For breakfast they are simply beaut
this oval protein-packed hen fruit.”

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Best Bread

Vogel’s original mixed grain bread has long been my favourite.  Recently I’ve been annoyed by a lack of the sandwich variety on local supermarket shelves.  The toast loaves are too thick for my taste, and I’ve sometimes been reduced to buying the “soft” version, which is not as satisfying.

Original mixed grain Vogel's bread

Original mixed grain Vogel’s bread

I used one of the Supermarket’s comment cards to complain about the shortage of mixed grain sandwich loaves, and a friendly man rang me to explain.  Because the Goodman Fielder factory in Christchurch has gone (Earthquakes, grrrr!) our Vogel’s bread now comes from Dunedin, and sometimes from the North Island. The ordering is done by the Vogel’s rep., not by the supermarket, and there can be poor communication between the rep. and the contractor who makes the deliveries.  In other words, he was saying that he would try, but couldn’t guarantee any improvement.

Next day I went to the supermarket and there were six Vogel’s mixed grain sandwich loaves on the shelf – more than I’ve seen for months.  Was this coincidence?  Or was it because we were shopping later than usual, and there’d just been a delivery?  Who knows?  I simply appreciated being able to get the bread I want.

“I want to buy my favourite bread
not be fobbed off with toast instead.”

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Meting out the Marmite

It just so happened that the last time I bought Marmite before the “drought” I bought a larger jar than usual, because it was on special.  Stephen kindly switched to Vegemite, which he’s happy with,  so that jar has lasted me over a year.  I continued to eat Marmite whenever I wanted, and was down to the very last scrape this week, when Marmite has at last reappeared.

New Marmite and old

New Marmite and old

No sign of any rationing at our supermarket, but I bought just the one small jar, which is likely to last me about six months.

“It’s good to have our Marmite back
some folk have been sad with its lack”

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Passing The Little Bistro we remembered a memorable dinner there years ago when it was called C’est La Vie.  We booked for 7.30pm and arrived to find a small room with 11 tables squeezed in.  The ambience was distinctly French and reminded us of other French restaurants we’ve enjoyed, including (ahem) in Montmartre and on the Ile de la Cite.

I had Akaroa salmon beautifully baked, with summer vegetables.  Having cruised past the salmon farm earlier in the day I knew the fish would have been hand fed and hand harvested.  I hadn’t previously realised that salmon farming is so labour intensive.

We were told that C’est la Vie was damaged by fire in February 2009.  The owners had refurbished the building, but the restaurant was closed until the current owners took over in December that year.  When I remarked on the typewritten menu I was told it was done on an old Smith Corona the owner had found in a London flat.  I wonder how hard it is to get new ribbons?

Dessert was berries, meringue, icecream, and coulis, served in a mason jar.  This was a most memorable meal and I’d warmly recommend the little bistro if you’re going to Akaroa.  On a Tuesday evening it was full for two sittings, so best to book ahead.

“The little bistro is tres bon,
so book, lest tables have all gone.”

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Last night we dined at the new St Asaph Street Kitchen and Stray Dog Bar.  Owned by the man who used to have Le Cafe at the Arts Centre, this is in a warehouse-type building with few operating businesses nearby. Inside is well finished and welcoming, but repairs continue on the footpath outside.

St Asaph Kitchen & Stray Dog Bar

We thoroughly enjoyed our meals.  I had scotch fillet with mashed potatoes and vegetables, followed by my favourite tiramisu. Accompanying this was a most palatable Apple Tree cider with elderflower. The prices were reasonable with most mains just over $20.

Dinner at St Asaph Kitchen

This photo is dark, because we were sitting by the window and it was still light outside. I recognised the outdoor tables and chairs from Le Cafe. This meal out was a welcome break from the stresses of the last couple of weeks.

“St Asaph Kitchen’s open now
providing very tasty chow.”

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