Hunua Falls are part of the Hunua Range Regional Park south of Auckland. The park is not very far from where we live so it is one of
the favourite spots for our overseas guests and visitors. The highlight of the
park is this main water fall that is 30 metres high.
The tall Ponga fern (or Silver fern) with its beautiful canopy.
These grilled drumsticks were marinated Thai Street Style.
You will need:
12-15 Chicken Drumsticks, scored two of three lines across
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
¾ cup coconut milk
½ Teaspoon chicken stock powder (or salt, if you prefer)
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 coriander roots (if roots are not available, use 2-3 whole stems with
leaves and all)
Grind garlic, coriander roots and pepper corn with pestle and mortar (for
authenticity, ha,ha..) then add salt/stock powder (if you do not have pestle
and mortar, you can blitz garlic, coriander, salt and pepper with a little bit
of coconut milk in your food processor – the kind with dishwasher safe bowl
will be best!). Mix this concoction with soy sauce, oyster sauce and coconut
milk. Marinade chicken drumsticks in this mixture in plastic bags for 2 or 3
hours before cooking them (massage the chicken a few times through the bag when
you have to open the fridge for something). Grill on medium heat BBQ until
brown and cooked through.
Serve with hot sauce and sticky rice.
For Street- Style Sauce, you will need:
1- 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 Tablespoon Maggi/Soy Sauce
A squeeze of lime or lemon
1 teaspoon chopped coriander leaves
1 teaspoon chopped spring onion
½ teaspoon hot chilli flakes
Mix everything together apart from fish sauce. Add fish sauce last –
1 tablespoon at first and taste as you go to see if you need another one. Fish sauce
is pretty powerful (both smell and taste) so treat it with a bit of respect.
My friend Marieke gave me this jar of chef's candle last Christmas.
It works magic in my kitchen and eliminates most of the cooking smell. I
normally light an ordinary candle when I cook food with strong smell and it
also works to some extent but this one seems to work better.
It is from Candles of NewZealand
and made of soy wax so it burns quite clean. However, it is quite pricey – when
this one is gone I might have to go back to normal candles unless someone gives
me a new jar (wishful thinking!)
2 Tablespoons sweetened condensed milk (or golden syrup if
you don’t have condensed milk)
½ cup plain flour
¼ cup self raising flour
¾ cup rolled oat
50 gram dark chocolate and 50 grams milk chocolate roughly
chopped (I use Whitaker’s for both – for high cocoa content)
Beat butter, sugar and golden syrup until creamy. Add flour
and rolled oat and then chopped chocolate. Line square baking tin with baking
paper and place the dough on the tin. Spread and flatten evenly (I put another
piece of baking paper on top of the dough and use potato masher to flatten it).
Put the tin in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degree C and line the baking sheet
with baking paper. Remove the paper from the dough and cut into 12 bars. Place
them on the lined baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.
Cool on wire rack and store in an air-tight container.
Bonnie enjoys sunbathing - and often with downside up.
Pipi enjoys it too. They will be in this undignified position for at least 10 minutes. I have read somewhere that they can get sunburn if they stay too long in the sun - but not as easily as us humans and we can apply pet-formula (no zinc) on their sensitive areas (with less hair or no hair). No worries about Pipi here as her tummy is very fluffy.
Hamilton was normally not
our visiting destination until we have discovered Hamilton Gardens. They are
open all year round but the best times to visit are in spring and early summer.
The admission is free and parking is not that difficult. You can bring along
your picnic basket and have an easy picnic lunch over there. You can also bring your dog(s) as dogs are also allowed apart from the enclosed gardens.
The best Tonkatsu I had ever had was in a small place in Tokyo 15 years ago. I could not remember either the name of the restaurant or its exact location. My Thai friend who was working in Japan at the
time I went there took me on the train to this smallish restaurant specialising in
Tonkatsu somewhere away from the CBD. The place was upstairs in the
oldish building. It was long and narrow and I had to squeeze myself onto the
bar stool at the counter and ate with the elbows tucked in while negotiating the
chopsticks. But man, the Tonkatsu was so good, so yumlicious. I would never be able to replicate that. Never. However, I use
the recipe below when I am desperate. It is not too bad if I pretend I had
never been to that restaurant in Tokyo. Better than nothing, I would say:)
Tablespoons breadcrumbs (I use wholemeal fresh breadcrumbs but Panko
or Japanese breadcrumbs will be much better)
salt ( I use ¼ tsp chicken stock powder + ¼ tsp salt)
lightly beaten with a bit of water
for coating with an extra small pinch of salt and pepper
in plastic bag with pork and shake until all pork pieces are well coated. Mix
breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Dip pork pieces into the egg and then the
crumbs. Press the crumbs onto the pork. Rest crumbed pork in the fridge for at
least half an hour before deep frying on medium high heat until golden. Serve
with Tonkatsu sauce, rice and salad.
Homemade Tonkatsu Sauce
¼ cup Tomato
soy sauce (I use Kikkoman)
1 Tablespoon Lea & Perrins’ Worcester Sauce
Mix the above
ingredients together until combined. Drizzle over Tonkatsu.
Cheat’s Miso Dressing
tablespoons Rice Vinegar
Japanese soy sauce
Instant Miso Soup Base
1 – 2
tablespoons sesame oil
Put all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously (with the
lid securely on) until combine – refrigerate until use. Pour over Mesclun salad mix with a few cherry tomatoes and avocado. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
We have two or three duck
ponds within a walking distance from our house. This is one of them. The ducks
here are quite plump because people feed them with left-over bread and chips.
When they cross the road, they can cause a bit of traffic jam (3 or 4 cars
stopping and waiting.....). And you often see people trying to direct the
traffics during the crossings. We take Bonnie out for her walkies – quite often off-leash and she is so good
with these ducks and does not try to chase them (maybe she knows that she is
out-numbered and some are as big as she is).
Mother duck with her
ducklings resting after a few laps of swim.
We have been training Bonnie to wait for command
before she can eat her food or treats and she is so very good at it.
Recently we have trained her to balance her treat
on her nose and wait. When she’s got green light from up she can flick the
treat in the air and grab it with her mouuth – sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn’t – but
she will surely improve with practice:o
My neighbour has several hydrangea plants in her garden and
I cut (with her permission) a few stems of the flower heads for my centre-piece
arrangement from time to time when they are in full swing from December to early February.
My favourite colour is this purplish blue.With long stems they look elegant but they do not last long.
Around the third day I normally cut the stem of the good one
quite short and float it in the fish bowl vase. It will last for another few
days this way.
These truffles are so good with coffee after dinner...or any time really.
150 grams dark chocolate, chopped or dark
100 grams milk chocolate (I use Whittaker’s milk
1/3 cup cream
4-5 teaspoons dark rum
¼ cup ground plain sweet biscuits
¼ cup raisins, chopped
Good quality cocoa powder to coat
Warm the cream in the microwave on high for 15-20 seconds.
Place chocolate melts, chopped milk chocolate in
a heat proof bowl. Add warm cream and stir - the chocolate should melt. You can also put the bowl over a saucepan of hot water until the chocolate just melts - but make sure that the bowl does not touch the water and the water is not too hot or boiling.
Remove from heat and keep stirring until
it is smooth and glossy. Mix raisins with ground biscuits so that the raisins
do not lump together and add the mixture to the ganache. Add rum and stir to combine. Cool and rest in the
fridge for about an hour or until it is firm to the touch and easy to handle.
Scoop up with a teaspoon and roll into small balls and roll them in cocoa
powder until they are completely coated. Refrigerate until half an hour before
These Davidson cloud
glass pieces are so quirky. They are fruit bowls/boats in hexagonal shape and
look good grouped together for February showcase. I believe they were made
around the Art Deco era in 1930’s.
I am not one of those hottest bakers – I cannot bake that
well. However, I have a few pretty props to help my cakes and biscuits look
better. Good presentation can help a lot when you entertain.
I have got the above pieces from either online auctions or charity shops. Our local Hospice shop often has beautiful stuff - and it is nice to know that when you buy from there, the proceeds will go to good cause.