A mum and a wife and sometimes just me

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Delectably divine!

My tour of the fish market in Auckland continued on to me buying some prawns! I had to take my time scooping them into the bag because I was very tempted to go overboard with the amount I was getting. I had spotted a recipe by Annabel Langbein which I was very keen to try.

Lemon Chilli Grilled Prawns

500g raw prawn tails
1tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp chopped red chilli
Freshly grated rind of 1/2 lemon

Mix prawns with chilli sauce, garlic, chilli and lemon rind. Chill until ready to cook (they can be kept up to 12 hours in the fridge). Lightly oil a barbecue hot plate and cook prawns about 2 minutes each side until they turn pink (of course I was kind of missing the barbecue hot plate so I stuck mine under the grill and the time does not really change that much and the smell that was emanating was driving me crazy) Eat as they are or serve on Avocado and Snow Pea Salad.

Of course I very much liked that suggestion.........

Avocado and Snow Pea Salad
200g snow peas
200g sugar snaps
1/2 telegraph cucumber, cut into 4cm long batons
1 large spring onion, finely sliced
2 just-ripe avocados, cut into chunks
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander or mint

Pour boiling water over snow peas. Drain at once and chill briefly in cold water. Just before serving combine all the dressing ingredients and toss with snow peas and other ingredients. Divide between serving plates and top with prawns.

I think the the sweet chilli sauce really makes this menu and is a relatively new ingredient to me...I had a hard time choosing which one I wanted to get at the supermarket....so I think I will have to start experimenting and trying different ones to decide my favourite now. I chose 'Golden Sun' this time round and made enough dressing for a week of salads :) Trust me we were sopping it up with the bread and licking our fingers.

It was a delectably divine experience.

Back to baking

I have been browsing through "Taste Magazine" which I found here one day in Auckland. Actually hubby bought it for me as a huge hint I think as I had been neglecting my cooking these days. Actually this is where the fish recipe below came from. So kids are back at school and work is a bit slow and I find myself with time on my hands these days so its back to baking....well something like that anyway. As the article by Sarah Bowman says
"This slice recipe came from my mother-in-law Gwennie and is one of those magical recipes that takes just minutes to make and everyone loves!"
Bren's Crispies

250g butter
1 cup sugar
4tbsp cocoa
2 cups flour
1tsp baking powder
2 cups coconut
Thread coconut, for sprinkling on icing
Chocolate icing
3 cups icing sugar
4tbsp cocoa
1tbsp butter
A little boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Melt the butter, sugar and cocoa in a saucepan, then remove from heat.

  2. Add flour, baking powder and coconut and mix until combined. Press the mixture into a baking paper-lined slice tin and bake for 20 minutes

  3. Ice while warm and sprinkle with thread coconut. Cool, then slice and store in an airtight container.

  4. For the icing, mix icing sugar, cocoa and butter with enough boiling water to make a thick smooth icing.
Mine all went pretty much to plan until slicing it out of the cake tin and bits started to fall apart from it. I quickly shoved mine in the fridge....saved!

Hubby's big smile as he was digging into not just one but two slices means it could not have tasted too bad!

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Whole Fish with rosemary, garlic and parmesan crumbs

So I guess technically this is a continuation of the previous post. My thoughts on buying fresh fish developed from the fact that that is exactly what I was doing yesterday. I guess I should mention that in Auckland maybe I should do research first before going to buy fish because I am lucky if I recognise the names of fish here! Snapper...always get snapper...hmmm mullet...oh ok recognise that one...SOLD!

On the menu today from Julie Biuso

Whole Fish with rosemary, garlic and parmesan crumbs

1.2kg whole white fish or fish of you choice gutted and scaled
3tbsp olive oil
1tsp fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2tbsp rosemary leaves
1/2tsp salt
1tbsp lemon juice
2tbsp dried breadcrumbs (or use panko crumbs)
2tsp freshly grated parmesan
Lemon wedges to serve

  1. Rinse fish thoroughly, drain briefly then pat dry with paper towels. For dressing, mix oil, fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary, salt and lemon juice together in a bowl.
  2. Line a large roasting tin with a piece of tinfoil, then a piece of baking paper, each large enough to wrap around the fish. Put the fish on the paper and spoon over the dressing. Sprinkle with crumbs and parmesan. Firstly wrap fish in paper then foil, without turning it over.
  3. Preheat oven to 200C and cook fish for about 30 minutes.
  4. When cooked, fold back the foil and baking paper and carefully slide fish onto a heated serving platter. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
For me definitely an experience to repeat!

Monday 22 March 2010

It's better fresh

Hubby and I love fish! So how happy were we when we were in Glasgow to find a small fish monger close to home. I personally don't think that Scottish supermarkets really serve the best quality and it certainly never justifies how much you spend so this made it extra special. If you are ever in Glasgow and have a reason to go you seriously have to check it out, the Fish Plaice! A small family business they are all really friendly and you watch the fish come in fresh everyday.

So it wasn't long while we were in Auckland before we had to go and check out the infamous Fish Market in Westhaven. Possibly a bit more upmarket, offering it's own cooking classes and sporting a selection of cafe's and restaurants, the fresh fish still remains the star of the show!

My advice if you are going to buy fish, it's better fresh, from the fishmonger!

Thursday 18 March 2010

Purple Hibiscus By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

So it took me all of 24 hours to read this book! What can I say other than I really enjoyed it! The story drew me in and I was so disappointed when it came to an end. Never mind her great writing style and how easy it is to identify with the characters that they become a real family in your head, it's a damn good read. There are so many facets and dynamics to this story from the family to religion to the politics of a country. They interweave so well to become a part of each other.

It is the story of a family in Nigeria in the grips of a father who is a religious fanatic. But that grip loosens as the children leave to spend time with their Aunt Ifeoma. It is also the story of a country breaking down in the midst of military coup.

It is a very emotional story, there is love, fear, admiration, respect, so much that not only was the story speaking to me but I started speaking back.

Monday 15 March 2010

'Brida' by Paulo Coelho

So I have just finished reading my first novel by Paulo Coelho. I guess for an avid reader I should probably have read Coelho before and am unsure why I have never been attracted to his books. I guess one of the best things of being part of a local library is introducing yourself to books of 'old' i.e not the recent international best sellers put on show in your average bookshop. Yes these are available in your local library by the way but there is usually a long line of people that you have to work through before you can access them! Also being in New Zealand this past year I have found lots more time to read and enjoy books than I have had in the past.

I have mixed feelings about Coelho's book and yet I am intrigued to read more works by the author and boy there sure are many. I always am intrigued by best-sellers and books which win awards...I guess I want to know what the hype is about and why the review experts like it so much.  It was not until I had reached the end of the book that I managed to read a small autobiography of Coelho that maybe explained a bit about the book itself, that is it appears as a reflection on his own life and experiences of things literary and spiritual.

'Brida' kind of left me hanging though and wanting a lot more from the story line. Yet I guess 'Brida' is a book not about the story, which is about a young girl in Ireland who goes on a search of herself, but I think about the meaning of things as it really could be a story set anywhere in any time. Sometimes I felt like maybe I should be taking notes. It is also the story of witchcraft so if that bothers you I would suggest you might want to stay away, though it is maybe more spiritual than scary, a kind of coming of age I guess.

I leave and now head into 'By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept'

Sunday 14 March 2010

What is my story?

Recently on Facebook a friend of mine posted a video of a talk by the author Chimamanda Adichie:

I was immediately drawn to it as I had read her novel Half of a Yellow Sun and was just about to head to the library to borrow her other two books Purple Hibiscus and The thing around your neck.  The best thing about watching it was how much it moved me and really made me think.

Firstly I thought about the stories that people tell and the stereotypes that are drawn from them and embedded in our minds, that have been embedded in my mind. It is true as well that so much of it is usually so negative maybe because these are the stories that have more impact. Then if the story is positive it is how much we have done to help others with the negatives, stories about proving ourselves to others. I want to now rehear and rethink the stories that I have been told about people. How objective can we be when we listen to the stories that people tell us? The challenge now is to really open my mind.

Then I thought of my own story, my own experiences in life that make me question who I am. What is my story? Maybe more scarily what is the assumptions that others have made of me. I remember my early University days when I joined the African/Caribbean Society and was forced to face the stereotypes of who I was supposed to be. I remember the surprise from others that such a thing as a White Jamaican existed. I used to always question how it was that people who were not originally born in Jamaica but were of Jamaican parents were more accepted than me, was it because they were black? or were they just doing Jamaican better than me? Then I used to consider that I lived in Jamaica and was only away for University. Now I am lucky if I go home every two years. Am I loosing my 'jamaicaness'? Who I am now is so much more than just where I came from and being Jamaican is just the beginning and maybe even a small part of what makes me me.

I used to always fill out those equal opportunity forms (does anyone despise these things as much as me) ticking white other and then wrote Jamaican. It wasn't until I started doing my social work degree that I was then really challenged about what difference and diversity really meant. And if you really want to question who you are do a social work degree! I guess the idea is you can't help others until you can identify with yourself. It was with genuine surprise that my supervisor during my first placement queried whether I should not being saying I was mixed. I realised I guess I was always ticking the box of what people saw of me from the outside. I guess his surprise was how little I felt towards this need to qualify what box I ticked, I mean the only thing that gives my ethnicity physically away is the frizzy curly hair! Me is more than my ethnicity and not just who I am but who I want to be.

As my story continues to develop I guess I will let you know!

Monday 8 March 2010

Variety is the spice of life

Well so it is said, which is maybe why I am up for trying out all different types of accomodation when I go on holiday. All part of the experience right?

I have been camping...in the sunshine in Croatia mind you....with decent facilities. I've heard stories of camping in the rain....something about using a shovel to dig a trench around the tent...say what? I have always wondered why hubby is not too keen to go camping in Scotland. I think my worst story is when we were overrun by ants.

I have been hostelling. Well it's usually an excuse to spend our money in the evenings fine dining instead :) During a trip to South Africa our hostel was literally a train and there was one right on the beach. It is supposed to be a great way to meet people which doesn't help if we are somewhat anti social. I don't mind sharing shower facilities but I am not too keen on the dorm rooms.

I have done hotels and B&Bs, many with very different reviews. I stayed at a 5 star hotel on the Isle of Skye which blew us away especially as that is where hubby proposed. Now I understand why we were treating ourselves so well. I have stayed in self catering apartments, once in the mountains in Italy with the most amazing views and in Lanzarote with a pretty cool roof patio and which meant we did not have to stay in one of those huge hotels. While on honeymoon in Africa I stayed once in a banda and in a 'chalet' both with shower and toilets outside to enjoy the views and share with the animals.

So finally it was about time we went on holiday in a camper van for our visit to the South Island of New Zealand. It seemed to be actually a very popular way to do it and they tended to be the vehicles we would meet along the road. We were a bit apprehensive at first but soon realised how easy was. Yes even the visits to the dump stations were quickly mastered. The flexibility is great as you take your home with you and you only have to unpack once and then pack again at the end. We were very good and cooked mostly ourselves and there was always a cold beer in the fridge! So if you don't mind driving a big vehicle and going a bit more slowly on the roads this might be an experience for you.

Maybe my next spice should be camping in the wild.......

Are your photos safe?

The great thing about going on holiday is to take pictures of where you have been! I mean especially now with digital you don't even need to worry about how many you take because you can delete delete delete when you get home. I know you will probably disagree and say it is about relaxing, seeing and exploring new things, having fun with friends....but if you can't take pictures of it all something is missing! I don't know if it is simply because you have a record which you can enjoy again and again, as proof to friends and families that you have been somewhere 'cool', 'interesting', 'different' so they can share in your fun or just simply be jealous of you. Or maybe it is because we knew we took some really great pictures of things my husband and I have never seen before and now it seemed we had nearly lost them all...

So the story goes that recently hubby and I went on holiday to the South Island of New Zealand. It was an 11 day campervanning tour. We had just visited Christchurch, Dunedin (where we saw a whole host of animals in thier natural environment...I might save this for another post), done the Southern Coastal Route, the Te Anau and Milford Highway and here we were on a boat tour of Milford Sound. It was at the end of the tour that hubby came to me with a rather tearful look in his eye and showed me the screen on the camera 'CF CARD ERROR'. Well my heart dropped to my toes and I think I was ready to cry right there. All the spectacular things we had taken pictures of just gone...I mean over 1000 pictures!!!!

That afternoon rather downhearted, unsure if we could go any further, we entered the photo shop to meet a man who ended up being our saviour. I was very seriously tempted to hug him right there. He was able to retrieve our photos from the card and save the pictures on to a CD for us. I have added a few said photos for your viewing pleasure. While we were waiting for the CD, there was this sign outside the shop which read....

Are your photos safe?
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