Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Last year, after a chilly June, our winter was very mild. I felt very short-changed, because I like to feel all the seasons. This year is a bit different. Winter started earlier for us, partly because we were in the South Island, and I delighted in freezing temperatures and snow in the middle of May.

We’ve had a few very cold (for us – about 4C/39F) days this winter, with hail and sleet but no snow. (Last time we had snow was 2011!) Our central heating was struggling to get to 20-22C (68-71F), which is what we set the thermostat to in the winter, so we had to supplement it with another heater. As a result, I got to wear my leopard-print fluffy slippers – I didn’t wear them at all last year at least, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t wear any the year before either, as socks were all I needed. I love my leopard-print slippers.

Over the weekend it was blowing a gale and teeming with rain for the last 18 hours. Floods all over the country, and I’ve just seen a photo of the carpark at our supermarket with water flowing through it. We got off relatively unscathed, though we were annoyed to find one or two leaks. It was kind of nice to hunker down inside as the rain pelted down. For once, I actually finished a book!

Winter food is a highlight of winter – and the red wine that goes with it too, of course. Apart from one roast dinner, I’ve really been sticking with many of my everyday meals (curries and tagines, for example) that translate well into winter food. I have plans for some traditional winter recipes.

So I have researching pudding* recipes. As a child, hot, hearty puddings with custard were the sign winter had arrived. I was always very happy on the nights a steamed pudding or an apple crisp (like a crumble, except crisper) was served. My favourite steamed puddings were golden syrup, and ginger (ginger-flavoured anything is very much a family favourite), but my sisters and I couldn’t find our mother’s recipes for them. So I’ve been googling, and will report back once I’ve experimented! My husband and I both ended up going to the supermarket and buying bananas last week (communication breakdown!), and – as the bananas were rapidly going off – I found a recipe for Banana Almond Crumble and made it last night. It was very yummy. No custard though. Maybe next week.

Yesterday I also made a big batch of pumpkin gnocchi and froze it. I only used half the pumpkin, so may have to do another batch this week. And I intend to have some slow-cooked lamb shank dinners, soup and homemade bread lunches, and my foodie friend and I have plans for a winter degustation menu at their beach house. So I’m hoping that winter is far from over, and we still have plenty of time to indulge in my seasonal favourites!

What are your favourite winter dishes?

* Pudding in NZ/UK/Aus etc is used either as a synonym for dessert, or describes a hot pudding.

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  • Wow, I haven’t done a Monday Miscellany for three months. It’s all I can manage today because the last five nights, I’ve been staying up watching Wimbledon tennis matches. Unfortunately, they have all started around 12.30 to 1 am. And go through until it’s almost time to get up. (The other day I didn’t get to bed until 6.45 am!!!) Fortunately, I don’t have to get up for work! But it has meant that I’ve been feeling rather jet-lagged, and I definitely need a nap after I’ve finished my Monday blogs. I do love watching the matches live though – it’s not the same watching them the next day. The other night watching the women’s Final, I had fun whatsapping with my sister-in-law who lives in Australia and was supporting Ash Barty, and my other sister-in-law in Malaysia who was supporting both. (I said that meant she would win regardless, but she said it would mean she’d feel sad for the loser no matter who it was.) I also commented that it felt very strange to be supporting an Australian, as we usually joke here that we support NZ, and anyone playing Australia!
  • I thoroughly enjoyed a recent morning out doing some errands, stopping for a coffee and Danish pastry (because I skipped breakfast), and a fossick around one new furniture shop, and another that was filled with work from local producers. It would have been lovely on a miserable day (which we had a few at the beginning of this week), but today the sky is blue, there is no wind, and although it is cold, it’s beautiful. I now have the windows open airing out the house.
  • Major routine health checks done and dusted, one for another couple of years, the other for five years. Yay. It’s always a relief.
  • My blog is a book. No, not really, don’t get excited. My blog is not a book. But I have a document filled with all my posts, and with drafts not yet written, and I’ve noticed that it is 383, 199 words, or 674 pages! That’s enough for four books! Good grief. Maybe it’s time to split the document in two. I don’t want it to get so big that it is out of control.
  • I’ve had a knitting break for the last few months. Then about a week ago, just as I was getting back into it, I dropped a stitch. Now, I’ve been knitting since I was a child (well, with a 30 year break!), so I know how to pick up stitches. But this pattern was very tight, with tiny needles and stitches, and the wool was a very dark brown, so it was hard to see and find. I couldn’t pick up the stitch. It unravelled more. Argh! And the more I tried, the fluffier the wool got, making it harder to see. I had to wait till daytime to try, and I was still struggling to find it. Finally, yesterday, I stood in the window in the sunlight, and think I managed to fix it, but I’m not 100% sure. I figure I’ll warn the recipient when it is finished, and just say that I’ve taken on the philosophy of the Middle Eastern carpet makers, who deliberately put in mistakes, because to err is human, and perfection is divine! On the plus side, the dark brown wool makes the repair almost impossible to see.
  • I had another lovely morning out just last Friday, when the weather was again perfect winter weather – cold and calm and sparkling. (As it is today, I might add.) I headed out to the south coast of Wellington, where we can both see the South Island, or south to the Antarctic, and there’s nothing in between. Better photographers go out in wild weather, and impress me with huge waves and dark clouds. But I decided this was just a scoping trip, spent a happy hour or so out there with my camera (some examples below), thinking about what photos I might try, or locations that look good, and wishing I had different lenses and my tripod.
  • And on every trip out, whether it is to the supermarket or a more interesting adventure, I pass the roadworks on the gorge from my hill suburb down to the city. We currently have a section that is only one lane, and the workers at either end of the road works keep a check on the traffic lights. Recently, two cheerful women (at either end of the single lane section) have started waving happily as we go pass. Sometimes it’s a small wave, other times it’s wild and crazy and joyful. We can’t help but smile, and wave back. They make the day better.

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I’ve shown Ti Kouka or cabbage trees before. Quite recently in fact. But I find in my “Trees” photo file there are a lot of cabbage trees, especially ones snapped recently. I could, of course, eke these out, providing material for four different Thursday Tree posts, rather than one. But today I’m combining them all. There are always more cabbage trees in different lights for future posts. I love their sculptural, spiky, shapes. I love them crystal clear against bright blue winter skies. I love their glow with the low winter light coming through their leaves. And I love the shadows they create. I hope you do too.

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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