Tonight, Megan, we made an Indian stir-fry!

Posted in Food and Drink on May 31st, 2009 by Coffee

To be precise it was Kadhai Paneer  – stir fry of Paneer cheese with peppers.

This is one of those dishes that needs a fair but of effort in constructing a sauce, and then you chuck the final dish together at the end. So this morning I was feeling a bit bored and got stuck into the sauce early. I’m really glad I did, and the prep seemed to go on for far too long when you compare it to the list of ingredients, and then the cooking of it took even longer! If we’d started cooking at our normal time I think we might have expired with hunger by now!

Anyway, on to the checklist…

  1. It was a stir fry of Paneer cheese with peppers, as I think I’ve mentioned.
  2. The ingredients we didn’t have were dried fenugreek leaves, so we skipped them.  I also went a bit easier on the chillis than the recipe suggested, as I didn’t want Bec accusing me of trying to knock her block off!….
  3. The only thing that confused me about the recipe was… Well, not really confused me, but it was one of those recipes where a whole lot of things are in weights, not volumes.  How many cloves is 30g garlic anyway?!  I’m glad we had scales handy!
  4. But on the whole the recipe was pretty clear, as usual. It just would have been more helpful to have some idea how long it would take, especially if you were looking through the book later at night and thought it sounded good for a quick dinner… It ain’t!
  5. If I made it again what I’d do differently is get someone else to help with the prep!  I was really sick of “finely chopping” stuff by the end of it!
  6. We had it with nothing else, other than a glass of Chardonnay, and it really didn’t need anything else.
  7. If we had it again I’d have it with nothing else again!
  8. On a scale of 1-10 we’d give it a 9 (only to give for something amazing still to come…)
  9. see yesterday.
  10. see yesterday
  11. I’d definitely make it again! Well, Bec is saying “I’d definitely have Mike make it again!”.  Which is just as well, as I decided right at the start that I would make enough sauce for 2 meals and shove one lot in the fridge.  So we have another really quick and easy meal coming up one night soon.  Yay!

Tonight, Megan, we made something kinda a bit odd for dinner!….

Posted in Food and Drink on May 30th, 2009 by Coffee
  1. It was a this kinda weird yogurt and chickpea flour dumpling dish. Pitod ka saag, apparently!
  2. The only ingredient that you might have trouble finding in the cupboard was asafoetida, but luckily we seemed to have some in the spice drawer from some previous dish that we can’t now remember….
  3. The only thing that confused me about the recipe was that the whole concept seemed really weird!  You basically cook yoghurt and gram flour (chickpea flour) until it gets to the state where it makes a kind of cake, let that set and make a sauce.
  4. But on the whole the recipe itself was pretty clear and easy.
  5. If I made it again what I’d do differently is to add a bit more ginger at the end to counter the lingering sweetness of all the yoghurt in it. And maybe have a few more green chillies on the side to add a bit more bite to some mouthfuls.
  6. We had it with plain rice, and a chenin blanc.
  7. If we had it again I’d have it with plain rice, definitely. It really seemed to need a mouthful of dumpling, sauce and rice to provide a really nice balance.
  8. On a scale of 1-10 I’d give it a…. you know, I’m still not sure! We’ll try to decide on that a bit later…
  9. Who’s Michael?!
  10. WHAT KIDS?!
  11. I’d probably would make it again, if only for the fun of stirring the cake thing!


See Megan, it’s easy! Tee hee hee…

But honestly we’re really not sure what to make of it as a meal.  It tasted fine (in fact more than fine, it was really quite nice), but the texture was a bit odd.  The best we can come up with is a cross between polenta, paneer and icecream (without the ice cream sweetness).  Try imagining that!

Worth a try though, if only for the fun of stirring this weird gloop around the pot for while.

Tonight, Mike, We Made [Insert recipe title here…]

Posted in Food and Drink on May 27th, 2009 by Coffee

We know our friend Megan in Houston likes to cook, and likes a nice curry as much as I do.  Well, maybe not quite as much as I do, but she likes them.  So I was telling her about the curry book I talked about earlier the other week, and we even bought her a copy. Before our copy arrived she borrowed it from the library and was going to give a recipe a go. And promised to write a blog about it.

Apparently she did cook it. But as she thinks it’s fun not to post it just to wind me up we’re still missing the blog bit, so I have no idea how it went and what she thought of it.

So I’ve decided to help her out, even though I’m not sure she deserves it.

So here’s a recipe review template, just for her. Let’s see if it helps… Although she might have to change the “tonight” to “last month” soon…

Tonight, Mike, We Made [Insert recipe title here…]

  1. It was a [insert small description here for those without the book]…
  2. The ingredients we couldn’t find/had to substitute/don’t like anyway so skipped were…
  3. The only thing that confused me about the recipe was…
  4. But on the whole the recipe was clear/easy/a bit fussy/totally and utterly confusing [delete as appropriate].
  5. If I made it again what I’d do differently is…
  6. We had it with…
  7. If we had it again I’d have it with…
  8. On a scale of 1-10 I’d give it a…
  9. On a scale of 1-10 Michael would give it a…
  10. On a scale of blech-yum the kids would give it a…
  11. I’d definitely/maybe/never [delete as appropriate] make it again.

A bad case of wind…

Posted in Rants And Rambles on May 19th, 2009 by Coffee

It’s been really quite windy here for a few days now. Like annoyingly windy for an annoyingly long time. I’m not sure how many days it’s been, but it’s a few, and it looks like carrying on for a few more too.

Where we are it’s been an annoying gusty, irritating wind that even the sound of starts slowly winding us up the longer we have any doors or windows open.  And we need to have some open now and then as this new apartment gets too hot (especially if we’re cooking) if we don’t.  So we’re up and down opening the door, then slowly finding we’re grinding our teeth and tensing our shoulders more and more as everything rattles and blows everywhere until we eventually have to shut it again, and then the heat builds up again and the cycle continues. ARRGGHH! It’s not helped by the fact that we’ve only got one outward facing wall, so if the wind or rain is coming from that quarter/third of the compass we’re a bit stuffed. And it seems to have been for the last week.

The poor plants on the balcony aren’t liking it either, but at least they seems to be staying upright. Some of their poor leaves are taking a battering smashing themselves into the edges of the pots though. Poor babies!

It has reminded me of living in Windy Wellington, where I lived for many years. I’ve not really thought about that for years and years, but the latest weather has definitely brought back some memories. From that site link: “Wellingtonians learn to live with the wind, some claiming they like it.” Like it?! Bollocks! I never met anyone there that ever admitted to liking it. I would have to admit to getting used to it, though. But I suspect you can get used to anything if you have to deal with it long enough.

I guess it could be worse. It could be a real gale, like we used to get regularly in Wellington, especially when I lived on the top of a ridge in (I think – it’s been a long time now) Khandallah. There, when there was a real wind, the window, the tiles, the bins outside, all used to rattle all night, and if there was any rain it sounded more like hail on the windows. I say “all night” because I suspect I’m not willing to try to remember what it was like going outside during the daytime…

But I kind of wich there’d just be a big blow here and it could perhaps be all over?  It’s just getting too damn annoying now.


Posted in Plants and Gardens on May 19th, 2009 by Coffee


Sob! I think the coriander plant we planted first might have bolted. Not yet having grown much I can’t be too sure, but there appears to be a distinct lack of new leaves appearing, while there are a couple of big, thick, darker stalks with some feathery leaves on the top. To me that makes me suspect it has.

I also suspect from reading a few sites that it’s probably my fault.  I think it might have been due to either replanting it (unlikely, I think) or I’ve perhaps let it get too dry now and then (quite likely!).  It is sharing the pot with the now massive parsley and as there have been some really hot days a while ago I think I might have just left watering it a bit long.  It’s always hard to know how damp the pots are. Must start sticking my finger in more often.

It’s a good job that I planted another few seeds a few weeks later.  I’ll just have to keep an eye on those plants and see if I can avoid the same happening to them.

The only good news in all of this is that if it has bolted, and we get lots of flowers that don’t get blown off in the very windy weather we seem to have at the moment, and if we do get a a bunch of seeds, and if we do manage to catch all the seeds somehow, then we can use those in our cooking anyway! Stay tuned for that…

Book of the month….

Posted in Food and Drink on May 13th, 2009 by Coffee

Actually, rather than just the month, maybe this is my favourite book of the year so far!

Curry: Fragrant Dishes from India, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia


Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows I like chillis and hot food. Bec sometimes asks that we have something without chillis or spice in now and then, and my lip curls up (though we do have that plain type stuff now and then…) So this book was bound to appeal!

We’ve got some other curry books, but something about this book just really appeals. Somehow it’s a bit less fussy than some others. The ingredients are easily available here either in the supermarket, if not already in the spice drawer or fridge. It also really seems to get across the slight difference in regional ingredients, and therefore tastes, in the world of curry, and all the recipes we’ve tried have been fantastic so far. You might have seen the bread entry a couple of weeks ago.  Even the bread is fantastic fun!

One thing I’ve really noticed, going though the book, and with the recipes we’ve already tried, it’s amazing how many are soooo close to each other, but but adding or removing just one ingredient, or changing just slightly the balance of spices etc, you get a completely different taste and/or texture.

I’d love to be able to just know the ingredients and methods well enough to get the exact taste I want without a recipe.  I guess it’s just going to take a lot more practice.  Damn! Oh well, the sacrifices we have to make for our art… Or dinner! However, it’s going to be harder to bring ourselves to try too many of some style of curries now we’ve found out how bad for you coconut cream/milk is!… I really, really wish we’d not found that out!

I’m really looking forward to trying all the recipes we’ve not got to yet!

Recommend it to anyone so far.

My Little Red Thermette…

Posted in Rants And Rambles on May 13th, 2009 by Coffee

Yay!  Looks like I’m the proud owner of a Kiwi classic: a Thermette!

Mum grabbed me one at auction this week. Waddaya mean you’ve never heard of them?! Bah!  Check out the Wikipedia entry, or a current distributor’s site (no connection to me).


I can’t wait to get back to NZ so I can go camping or fishing or driving and stopping  at a picnic area for an excuse to fire it up!

Who needs gas stoves! Bah! Where’s the fun it those?!

New World Wines…

Posted in Food and Drink on May 10th, 2009 by Coffee

I have to confess I’m feeling a little, erm, “tired” as I write this. Yesterday we went to a Decanter New World wine tasting with Rach and Rup. Apparently there were 300 wines there on 59 stalls. We didn’t quite try all of them, but we gave it a fairly decent try! My “tasting notes” indicate I sampled 52 wines from 24 stalls during the afternoon.

I say “tasting notes”, but really they really aren’t more than a few words to show that we’d actually tasted a wine, mainly so we didn’t keep going back to the same ones. In fact often I’d just put a random squiggle thing under the wine listing. And no, that’s not because that’s all I was capable of, honest! Some notes are actually slightly more informative.  “Yum” and “good” appear a few times, along with “blech” and “nah”.  No mention was made of any sweaty saddles.

We also seemed to manage to get the balance of spitting and swallowing right too.Why do I say that?  Biggest giveaway was that we were still standing at the end of it all! And even still able to take note of what we’d tried. But we’d had just enough to bring ourselves to ask a couple of the stall holders if we could take away their opened bottles…  Including quite an expensive one.  Certainly more than we’ve ever considered paying for a bottle, anyway.

I guess it also helped that we were sensible and  went and got a big greasy lunch from a pub nearby after a couple of hours!
A really fun day out, but I’m glad we had nothing planned for today.


Branching out a bit…

Posted in Plants and Gardens on May 3rd, 2009 by Coffee

As we had a bit of dirt left, and a few pots, we decided to see what else we can grow on the balcony.  We chucked a few spring onion, lettuce (2 lots of cut and come again stuff), rocket, radish and dill seeds in pots today.

Now to see if they grow!

There is still room to sit on the balcony in chairs and enjoy the sun, honest!

In chilli news, nothing much is going on really.  The plants seem to all be having a bit of a rest after their re-potting, hopefully before a big growing spurt. Either that or it’s been a bit cold for them still outside. Fingers crossed for them anyway…