Archive for the ‘Monday miscellany’ Category

It’s that time of year again, when I stay up on cold winter nights to watch people enjoying summer on the other side of the world, batting tennis balls around a court. It was worth it last night, to see Rafael Nadal win his 22nd major, and 14th French Open title. I played tennis briefly when I was younger, and always wished I had played it more, as it is a great social game. I always admire the athleticism, the quick decision-making required, and the artistry of the perfect placement of shots. Roll on Wimbledon!

Of course, watching tennis in the middle of the night means that my sleep cycle gets completely messed up. Hence, a miscellany post. Following a recipe post last week, I know I’m going to have to improve my game next week.

Winter has officially arrived, and in temperatures too. After a gorgeous week of weather for our guests from tropical climes, the weather turned wintry last week, and our heating system has been working overtime. Still, I haven’t worn a winter coat yet. I think that has more to do with hibernation at home rather than outside temperatures.

After lauding my easy and delicious bread a few weeks ago, I have to share a failure. I wanted to share it with my visitors, so prepared it one night. But oops, I spilled some of the yeast. It wasn’t till the next morning when I saw it had barely risen that I realised how much yeast I had spilled. The brick that was the bread loaf ended up being thrown out. Oops!

I haven’t had my hair cut since mid-January. The length now is shoulder length and fun. I’ve discovered at this length that I have curls and ringlets naturally, though I have yet to wear them in public. Am I brave enough, after years of cutting off the curls?

We haven’t been on a road-trip at all this year, and suddenly it is June. We’ve been muttering about a trip to Australia, but no bookings have been made. I think the pandemic has seen inertia set in. I’d love to travel. The stories of flight cancellations and massive delays at airports overseas aren’t appealing. Decisions, though, need to be made. I need to get out of this house!

Finally, how is it June already?

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This morning, my husband brought in some mail for me – a rare occurrence these days (the mail, that is). It was from a Canadian blogging friend who blogs only sporadically these days – but we have other ways of keeping in touch. It was such a delight to read her words through her own hand-writing (timely after my post here two weeks ago) as I sipped on my Early Grey tea, and nibbled on my homemade* passionfruit shortbread. Her letter was written on a series of cards, each one featuring an inspirational woman and her achievements. I love a letter that shares something of the writer, and provides comfort, humour, AND education!

Later, as I completed my daily Worldle, Globle, Wordle, Dordle, Quordle, Octordle, and Sedecordle puzzles (to keep it from seeming obsessive, I leave Nerdle for the evening), I listened to the Nine to Noon (yes, it is an unoriginal but helpfully descriptive name) morning National radio programme, featuring news and interviews. I heard an intrepid tramper talk about the dangers of “abdicating route finding” responsibilities. It made me laugh, as I do that when I travel with my husband, even to the extent of getting disoriented about which way to turn out of the lift in a new hotel sometimes. As a result, he doesn’t really believe that I don’t get lost when I travel on my own. So he worries if I go out on my own! In the future, I will try not to abdicate route finding to him, ensuring I can find my way home, or at least, back to my room from the hotel lobby!

Less delightful was the news that rising sea levels, expected globally in around 2060, will come much earlier here. A new study combined the tectonic plate movements under New Zealand with the expected global sea level rises, and showed that previous 100-year-flood/tide events may soon occur almost annually.

Finally, today the border opens to international travellers from approximately 60 countries (countries that have a visa waiver scheme with NZ). Friends from the UK are back in Australia. Other friends from NZ are in Berlin. And my sister is finally able to be in Australia, meeting her 20-month-old new grandson for the first time. It feels like we’re rejoining the world again. It is wonderful, if slightly scary after so long.

* that recipe is a keeper

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I read that those who like spicy food are more likely to take risks, which makes sense I guess. I love curries and hot food, though not too hot. So when I order spicy food in Thailand, I am distinctly risk-averse, and ask for only one “met” of chilli in my somdum (green papaya salad). I guess it’s par for the course – I will take some risks, but not go crazy!

I had a few more mistakes in the kitchen a while back. I was trying a new bread recipe that didn’t specify which yeast to use, so I used my regular yeast, not fast-acting “instant” yeast. I was wrong. It did not rise, and it did not rise, so I decided just to give it time – all day and all night. Then baked it the next morning. Turned out not too bad! And in fact, the flavour was so much more developed than when I made the same recipe (correctly) a week or so later. Here’s the evidence of the “mistake”:

But my second failure was trying hot cross buns. The recipe helpfully said to leave the buns proving in the fridge overnight. That did not work at all! The buns were not a success. It was a good thing my husband did his regular Good Friday run over to our favourite bakery with the best HC buns in the city and bought some delicious buns to enjoy over the long weekend. I didn’t need to buy Easter eggs though – I made these delicious marshmallow (NZ’s favourites) chocolate eggs.

I tried another new recipe, recommended by a friend, who got it from her brother, whose friends are all making it and who got it from his friend – in other words, it seems to be popular! And it worked great. It was a mix of bread flour and wholemeal flour, with seeds and nuts in it. Very yummy for a sandwich, and made great toast. It was another recipe that just requires all ingredients thrown together and mixed overnight, and then kept in the fridge to rise, before baking it in the morning. I’m going to try it again, with different seeds and nuts, and a variation on the flour. Looks good, don’t you think?

It was ANZAC Day here yesterday. For several years, I had baked the traditional ANZAC biscuits and shared them with my father-in-law, who liked them. But he’s no longer with us, and my husband isn’t a big fan, and there just didn’t seem to be a point. Sigh. I’ll have to find an excuse to make them for someone else. They’re a Kiwi/Aussie (the ANZ part of the ANZAC biscuit) favourite, I grew up with them on a regular basis, and I haven’t had any for two years now. I need to make some!

I enjoy the baking, despite the occasional failures, but when it comes to dinner time, I’ve really lost my mojo recently. I’m in a rut, cooking the same Thai curries and stir-fries (which I love), plus a few other basics, over and over again. Does anyone else get the what’s-for-dinner blues?

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