Showing posts from May, 2010

For what I have done & what I have failed to do...

Achievements: kitchen: red kidney beans soaked and cooked. Hummous made. Beef stock made. Chicken stock made.

Nursing: Favourite Handyman and Brighid are better now.

Childcare: Brighid starts going to Sharon's for Monday and Friday mornings from tomorrow. Both the children are enchanted with her (we've had several visits) and I am delighted to have found someone who fits with our family's needs and outlook, in addition to our beloved Robyn, who Brighid will still spend Tuesday and Thursday mornings with.

Rest: pushing away the lurgy which snaps at my ankles and my throat, reading Marsha Mehran's Pomegranate Soup and Rosewater and Soda Bread. Nice escapism.

Not yet achieved: sewing. I put the denim needle in and did a test run on some heavy denim which went fine. But I am still trying without any success to hem Brighid's red corduroy trousers, the ones which my Mum made for Fionn and I have tacked flowery braid around the bottom to freshen them up and hide the …

Osso bucco

Such a flash term. Italian I believe. I branched out into cooking shin beef with this recipe today. The attraction of cooking with sawn across rounds of shin beef (upper part of a cattle beast's leg) was that the bone marrow which becomes available as it cooks is so nutritious. Turns out it is tasty too.

I adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's instructions in his book Meat.
Brown six rounds of shin beef in olive oil. Put into casserole dish. Then in same oil, sautee 2 chopped carrots, 3 chopped cloves of garlic, a chopped celery stick, 2 chopped onions and some chopped mushrooms. Then add a tin of chopped tomatoes and a big slug of red wine (I love the total decadence of cooking with wine. A shame that the budget doesn't allow for doing it nearly as often as I would prefer) and bubble for a few minutes. Tip all that into the casserole dish with some fresh herbs (bay leaves,thyme and oregano) and put in the oven for two hours on 140 celsius. Six rounds would ac…

In which I find the holocaust and taxes linked

The rich need to pay less tax in this country, according to John Key. That will help the rest of us. This is not because trickle down theory worked in the 1990s but because it didn't and that is how John Key and his cronies like it.

I have been thinking about why I am happy to pay tax and why the government thinks we should pay tax. To me, it is about some redistribution of resources in an unequal capitalist economy. Many persons who pay the higher tax rate (perhaps all, but I am unable to defend that categorically) earn that extra money through the exploitation of lower paid workers (or unpaid workers). Diane Foreman came to my attention in last Sunday's paper. The link isn't the Sunday Star Times one which credited her first streak of apparently wonderful entrepreneurial skills with the babysitting register she set up whilst a teenager on the North Shore. She lined up the parents and babysitters and took 20% of the wages of her peers who did the babysitting. This i…

nursing. tax & 'deserving'

so much fun. Well bits of it are. My kind of nursing involves loads of garlic and potions and lotions and sleep and vitamin c.

loads and loads of vitamin c. Finding sneaky ways to get it in the small kids.

But now Favourite Handyman is crook, as is usual for this time of year. He gets crooker than the kids (they don't smoke tobacco) but also he is more open to trying funny tasting things to help.

Tonight I stumbled upon the idea of an onion poultice to burn out a lung infection. He has been saved from that for the moment because I wasn't satisfied I knew enough about it after my googling and also because I would have to sleep with onions as well if I put it on him. And they might fall out of the poultice wrap and land on me.

Who needs slimey cold onions all through the bedding?

So for the moment, it is winter flu remedy (somewhere in my archives is the recipe - acv, cayenne, garlic, honey), more vitamin c, carrot, ginger, celery, apple juices made with the flash new juicer I …

jinxed housewife

I begin my glorious day of stay at home nurse, mother, cleaner, washer, helper, entertainer and mostly stroppy person by trying to take my sick daughter to the doctor. We are on day six after all.

Has there been an earthquake? A tsunami? A tragedy beyond the skill of the local medics to overcome? No no no. The medical centre computer system is down. So although I am there, with my sick daughter on a cold wet day and although all the doctors and nurses are there, I cannot even have a nurse's assessment (routine for emergency appointments here) while the computer is down. We eventually leave, unimpressed, with a note for the nurse to ring me when the computer is working.

She never rings. Thank goodness today is Brighid's turnaround day and she is now clearly on the mend. Not sure what will happen to medical care here in Wetville when a big earthquake does happen. I don't expect computer systems to survive a big rumble and surely, neither does any other thoughtful per…

chicken soup and hospital politics

Chicken soup made from an entire chicken always seemed way too extravagant to me, like lamb done with anchovies. Now I've broken the lamb and anchovies barrier and the whole chicken soup barrier. I think both of them have been for health food reasons. The extra omega 3 boost of anchovies and the awareness of how nutritious chicken stock is.

I bought a fresh chicken from the supermarket. Bog standard cheap chicken - that's the only kind our small town supermarket sells fresh (and even frozen there is free range but not organic). Cut it up roughly and put it in my large stock put with water, apple cider vinegar, chopped celery, carrots, onions and ginger. Boiled it for an hour, lifting the scum off periodically.

Then I lifted out the chicken pieces, cut up the meat and put it in a smaller pot and put the bones into the slow cooker. Then I added enough stock liquid to the small pot for lunch, some fresh chopped carrot and broccoflower in and boiled it a bit more, then added some no…

stolen moments

Yesterday morning was vomit and then the afternoon and evening was diarrhoea and the whole health parade culminated in a nasty, deep cough with a distinctive 'whoop'. Today I had both children home (teacher only day at Fionn's school), the quarantine continued and I went insane. Not irreparably, but I think some scars take longer to heal than others.

Just for the record, just for the tiny, pathetic houseworking neverending record, I washed and hung out and brought in three loads of washing today. I wiped noses and lit and tended a fire all day long. I made more snacks than I have fingers and toes to count on and often cleared and wiped the kitchen bench just in time for it to be filled again. I refereed inter-sibling arguments about what number piece of fruit each child was on. There will be no prizes for my reffing. I don't think I actually screamed on the eighth round, but I was close.

They are still awake now. I type to the sound of "Muuuuum", "…

The challenges of being professional

Robyn is in Wellington. Her daughter has left home. We have asked about a squillion favours of our friends in the last ten days and surely the meeting won't last long, nor will the chiropractor's appointment.

So the girl comes with me to my work meeting and the boy goes to work with his dad after school and then with him to the chiropractor's. During the early afternoon the girl seems not entirely herself but nothing to start calling the medics in for. Wednesday is supposed to be my day of not doing paid work but this year there seem to be a number of vital meetings on a Wednesday. I balance not turning up due to no childcare vs turning up with a three year old who needs the toilet at very very short notice and I decide that turning up is the better idea.

Except that she turns out not to be entirely well. At one point, I ask her if she thinks she will be sick. Yes. Ever the multi-tasker, I get up (carrying her at the same time) and pull the large black plastic rubbis…

fish n chips n childcare

Fish and chips for dinner. Takeaways. The bliss of it.

Last night I cooked pumpkin bake and one child hid under the table so as not to even have to look at it and the other made noises similar to those probably made by men and women dying of torture in the Reformation. At the prospect of eating perfectly nice food.

So I'll be taking a break from food reporting for the foreseeable future of my breathing existence.

Mostly at the moment I am spending my waking, dreaming and the bits in between when I want to be asleep but am not, thinking about childcare. Our precious K has moved out of her parents' home, taking her boyfriend and baby daughter with her. It isn't to the original flat they had planned and we have decided that Brighid cannot go to K's new home. I've been close to tears a few times this week but also grateful for the wonderful care we have had for Brighid over the last 2.5 years. K's mum will still look after Brighid two mornings a week and I've been…

Blackball Museum of Working Class History open day

Today was fabulous. Quite a few people came out to Blackball and spent time reading the history boards, looking at the exhibits and watching a film. It is no longer a pie in the sky dream project but a resource for everybody to learn about and celebrate the stories and struggles of working people. I did take my camera and I have run out of battery juice and I have lost my battery charger so no photos of today. What I do now have though, are some fabulous, fabulous photos of the May Day opening (two weeks ago). Thank you Jo Edgar, you are a wonderful photographer.
The march from the Community Centre to the Memorial building. I love the backdrop of rain cloud and blue sunshine and a little mist, all together. That's what it often looks like in Blackball.The woman holding her baby is the very skilled worker of the cross stitch banner. I apologise for not remembering her name, but she is one of the Christchurch Anarchists.
Jose Garcia, the Cuban Ambassador, speaking at the opening c…

kohlrabi and yum yum mash

Today was bliss. I gardened, we all stayed home together all day, bar a couple of small trips to the shops for a new tarpaulin and for milk, coffee and more fruit supplies.

I freed one of my roses in the rose nursery from the creeping buttercup (or is it spreading buttercup? either way, it lives up to its name). The three surviving roses in the rose nursery (one section of the garden against the back brick wall) are all from cuttings I took from our clever rose growing neighbours last winter. This winter I will shift them into a more permanant spot, but to do so, I have to get rid of the weeds to get access.

I planted out the six kohlrabi seedlings beside the rose nursery.

I cleared away weeds, punga ferns and the outer leaves going yucky from the silverbeet in the punga raised bed. I have some more to do there before there is room for more vegetables. I think some rocket seeds are worth a go. I cannot imagine having too much rocket.

Tonight I saw this post on drying comfrey and a…

the shape changes from week to end

We did it. The end of the week is here. At lunchtime I collected Favourite Handyman from work and we did some family things which needed doing during regular working hours. Fionn had the rare treat of being collected by his Daddy and slowly we all wound down into homeness.

Dinner: polish sausages from Blackball, baked in the oven. Nice. I tried a new vegetable combo and sauteed sliced carrots and ginger in lots of butter until they were soft enough to pulverise with my whizzy stick. After a bit of cooking, I decided to add some silverbeet and anchovies. So omega 3 from the anchovies and the butter providing the fat and vitamin a for the fat soluble vitamins in the carrots and silverbeet. It whizzed up to a very nice soft mash. I had cooked pasta because I thought the girl would eat it (wrong) and the texture effect of the mash spread through the pasta was rather baby food like. again.

But the anchovies definitely lifted the taste out of babyfood land and I am going to make th…

pulling teeth

Dinner: milo (for the boy with a numb mouth), chicken, avocado and hummous sandwiches, tayberries, cheese, mandarins. It was great to be home and have something to eat.

I never really knew what a root canal was until today. Fionn was in agony last night and as soon as I got to work today (couldn't ring earlier as we had no power after last night's storm), I began to negotiate the school dental service system. Eventually we got him an appointment with a dentist in town for the afternoon and she advised a root canal over an extraction.

The things you learn in pubs. As I went into multitasking mother overdrive, I ran into our local pub to tell the publican who is also Fionn's rugby league team manager that he wouldn't be at practise and why, it turned out I knew the only two patrons as well and they had some strong, indeed vehement, advice on root canals (DON'T!!!!!!!!) and I realised I had 45 minutes to research this.

By the end of 45 minutes I had organised after…

Inequalities & interviews

Pumpkin soup. Very mediocre in my opinion. Not having great joy this season on sourcing rich yummy pumpkins. One vegetable where you cannot tell anything from the outside apart from if it is mouldy. We all ate some. Some of us under more duress than others. Not bad Fallon/Price food except for the shop bought toast we ate with it. Good marks on the cheap front.

This morning Brighid and I drove out to Blackball, populating Old Macdonald's farm with ducks, mice, pigs, horses, elephants, tigers and lions as we went. It is quite exciting to have our Blackball working class history project meetings in our resource room, onsite at the 08 memorial. This is no longer a pipe dream. The shrine to the toil and struggle of working people is here and cannot easily be taken away.

We talked about future exhibitions for the exhibition space (small, but there nevertheless)> Paul is keen on something about rich and poor, inequalities. I'm keen to focus on the dreams and aspirations …

black bean soup

3/4 people ate it. I soaked the beans first which Fallon considers totally necessary for everything except for fresh air. But I think I liked it better when I used the original version of the Nigella Lawson recipe.

I am starting to long for takeaways, for the greasy chips and battered fish with loads of tomato sauce and almost no dishes afterwards.

and no cooking involved.

My clever sister has had some excellent things to say recently. Over on The Hand Mirror, my favourite blog for feminist community from intelligent women who have diverse interests and jobs and who are not scared to call themselves feminists, I like Maia's piece on abortion service inequalities. I did hesitate to mention the 'a' word, knowing the depth of feeling it invokes and understanding (I like to think) why this is so.

But sometimes I have to nail my colours to a mast and say what I think is important. I like to imagine I would never abort a foetus growing inside me, or not one which is the product…

peanut sauce

Dinner: chicken, kale, mushrooms, carrots, rice and peanut sauce.

It was my first ever attempt at peanut sauce. I had soaked and then dried the peanuts a la Sally Fallon ages ago, but I didn't dare look at her recipe for peanut sauce tonight, the sun being on the descent and all. I long for chicken with peanut sauce a la the scrumptious dishes I have had in Malaysian places (like the wonderful cheap place in Dunedin when I was student) and Thai places (like the wonderful place out of sight and trendiness in a forgotten mall in Ponsonby when we were childless and rich). The thing about living in this small wet town is that as there are no Thai restaurants and no Malaysian restaurants, it isn't about coveting the riches to eat out for dinner, but about learning to make the food yourself. Christchurch (3.5 hours drive) is too far to drive for a meal out.

Kid test: Fionn yes, Brighid no. She did eat some chicken earlier on.

After dinner I played around with the juicer. I'…

project day

Sausages and carrots and broccoli and rice for dinner. Same people ate and same people did not. No long soaked rice for Sally Fallon, just food on the table fast. The best bit is that I did not cook it. Ah Mothers Day, where consumerism is somewhere we are not and I got breakfast in bed and dinner cooked for me (and the dishes done). I got the camera out today...
Above is the raised bed which Favourite Handyman made above the graves of our three first loved chooks. We had to pull the lemon tree out of here - it seems that the lemon needs to be in a pot to thrive here. The bare soil to the left of the photo was once sporting a thriving line of carrot seedlings until one night some greedy fattening slug ate them all. Now I have some celery plants in there and hopefully the bokashi liquid I gave them this afternoon will help them thrive. The rest of the bed is queen annes lace, calendula, alyssum and rocket.

Rocket is my favourite treat in the garden. I don't bother offerin…

Needs & nourishment

Herbs to soothe, nourish and satisfy. When we moved here 3.5 years ago, the strip of so-called garden alongside the path the back door was filled with gravel in an ugly attempt at a no-maintenance exterior. Not long afterwards, I found that my baby daughter was lying across me, not a good move for a woman who not only didn't want a caesarian, but wanted a home birth. I did a pile of exercises and got her to turn breech. Next stop, to turn her head down. Every day I would part fill a bucket with stones from this strip on my hands and knees. Brighid turned, we got our home birth and the previously neglected strip of stones was planted with broccoli, then garlic and later herbs.

When life is so busy I barely get to look at my garden and weeds grow rampant and unchecked, my herb garden, with its minimal care requirements and all season greenness (temperate enough here that the herbs mostly don't die off completely), brings me great happiness.
Above is the rosemary and the lemon thy…

beef steak

A couple of months ago, our coffee group friend Ruth had a beast killed from their small farmlet. Just as she was about to leave for Christchurch, baby in the car and three year old all set to go, the butcher turned up with 14 banana boxes of meat, only a portion of which would fit in her freezer. So she had a problem and never has it been easier to help her solve it. Another coffee group friend (you know, the kind you set up when you have small babies and then you help each other through very little sleep and lots of parenting challenges for years afterwards -very wonderful) acted as a distribution point and we all got some wonderful meat. Apparently the meat was a bit tough, according to the butcher, so tonight I turned the sirloin steak into a casserole.

Some steak
some portabello mushrooms
one onion, chopped.
some garlic, chopped.
bay leaves and thyme
big squirt of tomato paste
slosh of red wine
slosh of say sauce
some water

cook 160 censius for 90 minutes. Run round town doing errands…

In the soup

Two bacon hocks, a few handfuls of green lentils, garlic, leeks, carrots, bay leaves, thyme and sage. Fill the crock pot with all this and then add water to the top and cook on low all day. Serve with toast.

Kid test: Fionn ate it all and said "Thank you Mum, I like this soup." I love him. Brighid ate the toast and a bowl of tayberries from the freezer and resolutely refused to even look at the soup. I love her too, but not really her eating habits tonight.

Price/Fallon test: soups are good. Long soups with bones in them very good. All the veges and herbs good too. Toast not good but I'm unrepentant. I'm unsure of late about bacon hocks because of nitrates (or nitrites?). They do give great flavour to a soup though.

I bought punnets of kohlrabi and purple sprouting broccoli from the garden shop today. Oh the promise of a garden shop purchase...

My daughter is galloping through a million outfits per day at the moment. I might have to get the sewing machine ou…


Fish rolled in flour, paprika and lemon & pepper (that dried mix you buy from the herb shelves in the supermarket). Then cooked in olive oil. Mashed potato. sliced raw carrot and cucumber.

kid test: they ate the carrot and cucumber. Fionn ate everything, but slower than usual. The terakihi wasn't as suited to the coat-and-fry method as the turbot we had been getting but which was out of stock today. Could I muck around with a bearnaise sauce like they do in restaurants for terakihi? Likely not.

Fallon/Price test: I don't much care today but I'm sticking to the food blogging commitment. Fish good but white flour and lemon pepper mix probably not. Mashed potato surely okay and raw veges. Fallon likes cooking veges for ages and then meat raw which feels not only weird and possibly dodgy, but also takes too damn long.

I haven't worked on my writing at all. Bad. I did take Brighid to Laksmi the wonder worker today and learnt things about pituitary glands and va…

burnt potatoes and Monteiths Black

Tried my own version of the classic dish with sliced spuds baked with cream. It would have been a good idea to follow a printed recipe. I sliced up potatoes and parsnips and layered them with chopped onion, garlic and anchovies in the middle, poured over the last 50ml of cream left in the fridge and topped it with cheese.

I put it in the oven at 150 celsius, intending it to cook for two hours. Only it was looking a shade overdone after only one, so I left it in there for another hour on 100 until we were home again and ready to eat dinner. I didn't put enough cream in and should have used a smaller dish and put the lid on. Then it would have been really good - I've had success with this kind of thing before, perhaps crucially when I have followed a specific recipe.

Fallon/Price test: cream good, as it provides fat for the fat soluble vitamins to be absorbed into our bodies. Anchovies good for omega 3. Garlic and onions good for quercetin. I think parsnips and spuds good …

let them eat sausage

Dinner: sausage casserole.
As you do, when it is cold and wet and yucky outside and the children are known as keen sausage eaters.
Oven to 180 celsius.
Grease a large casserole with butter.
8 sausages, pricked, in the bottom.
Peel and chop 2 kumara and add.
wash and slice 1 leek, add.
add some wakame (dried japanese sea vegetable which is very healthy last time I counted)
wash and chop 4 stalks of kale and add. (leave the snails in the rinsing water)
tip a tin of crushed pineapple on top, as well as some balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and tomato sauce.

Stir it and put in oven, lid on, for about an hour. It's ready when the sausages are cooked through.

the price/fallon lens: I don't know that they like sausages but I also don't know when they last fed young children on a budget. Frankly, sausages rock this world. 'Tis meat though and they seem to like that. Vegetables all good, especially the kale and wakame. Not sure about the pineapple, but it was in its own juice and maybe i…

May Day, Anzac Day, garden day

It's been an eventful, crammed two weeks. I shut the car door on my son's finger last Wednesday evening. It hurt him like hell and cut me to the core. I've been rather cavalier about minor injuries for the most part, but to cause pain like this made me realise how utterly central my children's safety is to my own job description - the one I wrote unconsciously a long while back. So that was Wednesday evening, the entirety of it, at Accident & Emergency. Thank goodness we still have a local hospital.

The next day, trying to find a park at the hospital in order to take Fionn for an x-ray, I crashed into another car. Entirely my fault. No one hurt in the slightest, though my bank balance is going to hurt a lot by the time I've paid the insurance excess for the other car and sorted out our own (we only have third party on our car).

The weekend before, we spent some time getting the 08 memorial ready at Blackball, the museum of working class history which has b…