Showing posts from August, 2010

Top-down depression

I feel completely disillusioned about community decision making at the moment. Today I met with two friends, kindy mums, about the changes which are happening in six weeks' time at our local kindy. We arranged to talk to the head teacher at kindy (who we all like and respect) at pickup time and she listened and responded to our concerns.

The thing that annoys me the most is the acceptance of top down decision making. When I raised the point (the main one for me) that this kindy is a community resource, one which I stumped up raffle money for and committed to sell more tickets at the supermarket later this week on the spot, because after all it is our local kindy, our headteacher said that that is how everything is done nowadays.

Do we have to accept that? I felt a brief moment of disappointment that Playcentre hadn't worked out for us (I see what wonderful things it does for people in other centres, but ours seemed to have, to phrase it gently, a poor fit between stated Pla…

food morality & artichokes

There has been a debate recently on the Hand Mirror (and in further response here) criticising Anne Else's concern about corner shops marketing a 'school lunch' containing entirely packaged food of very little nutritional value.

I was going to post online about my jerusalem artichoke adventure tonight. Having never eaten (nor seen) jerusalem artichokes last year, I read about them and hankered for some in my garden. Corrine very generously sent me some tubers and tonight we had a new culinary experience. FH, Fionn and I liked them. Brighid doesn't get a vote anyway, due to the enormous proportion of evening meals she doesn't bother to eat. I cooked them something like this:

250g packet of bacon, chopped into smallish pieces
8 big cloves of garlic, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
about ten medium sized jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into even sized pieces
lots of butter (perhaps 50g)
fresh sage, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped

Fry half of the bacon and the onion in …

Lymphatic drainage

The new project. Brighid and I went to see Laksmi (our fantastic multi-skilled complementary therapist) and she showed me how to do my own lymphatic drainage. I've been having a look at this chart, which I shall print out and stick on the wall. Laksmi was just back from a two week intensive course on visceral manipulation and she did some on me. I will need to listen to her talk as she works for a few more sessions before I start to understand how it works. She did amazing things with my daughter, who loves her. Like so many little girls, Brighid is vulnerable to urinary tract infections with the possibility of kidney problems. I am (at this stage and most likely for the duration) much happier with this holistic way of working with her innards (missing a fancy word here) instead of invasive testing and action via conventional medicine.

Still cleaning. Yesterday I even got the ladder out and cleaned the top of the kitchen on one wall and I cleaned the light shade which is no…

earth germs

We tried some new vegetables today. Earth gems, boiled like spuds only not for quite as long, then some butter over the top and served with roast chicken and broccoli. Let's not dwell on the chicken, possibly the most ethically loaded food around. Everybody ate them! The children called them earth germs and asked to have them again.
Sharon Astyk, who is forever writing thoughtful intelligent posts, wrote here about cooking skills and the need to adapt to preparing foods currently unusual to us. While I have some reservations about the extent of the crisis which she predicts (I don't think we are all of a sudden going to lose all role specialisation, not even in 100 years, and the role of food access in social stratification and role specialisation is central), I decided that she makes a valid point.

Hence my next project(s): to learn to make and like meals with jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes and kohlrabi. All of these things are growing in my garden now, so clearly …

Change is around the corner

I can tell by the way I've been binge cleaning. It is always always a portent. Brighid and I scrubbed the corners of the kitchen floor, with a steelo pad and some baking soda no less. Then we swept and swept and swept the entire kitchen floor and then I washed and then I got cloths out and dried it by hand (it is a small kitchen) so I could get back in there and carry on transforming. I cleaned the shelf of supposedly just tea bags and eggs and the old fashioned scales which hold the eggs (but actually the groaning holder of many recipe books, too old lemons and bananas, school notices, empty bread bags and Inland Revenue mail). I cleaned the top and surrounds of the old chippie fire which hosts the jug, the Kenwood mixer and the sugar jar. I cleaned the top of the stove and the wall around it and even the door of the oven. I cleaned the top of the dishwasher and the surrounds of the slow cooker and the wall around that as well.

Then I made sushi. Welcome, spring.

When I first learn…


Last weekend we protested against the National government's draconian labour law changes which allow for ninety day fire at will and union representatives only allowed on workplaces with boss permission. In fact, I did not protest as Favourite Handyman did instead this time, while the children and I went to the library. We're not wild about the kids being on the picket line. I have some photos but it turns out that I've not used our lives of working people blog for so long that I cannot remember the password to post again. Serves me right for setting up a seperate blogger account. I need to join with the other fabulous people on the Blackball working class history project group and create an entirely new blog with links to facebook (I think we are supposed twit as well but that can be someone else) and keep it updated regularly. Tomorrow I am on duty at the museum so progress then hopefully.

In the meantime, it's all more domestic and even exciting. Fionn plays i…

On fat.

Slow reading instead of blogging...

But I have finished these books: Paul Campos, The Obesity Myth; Fran McCullough, Good Fat with 100 Recipes and Malcolm Kendrick, The Great Cholesterol Con.

I recommend them all. I read Good Fat first and got some more information to support my current leanings towards traditional fats which are solid at room temperature. This was interesting, but an elaboration of what I already knew.

The Obesity Myth is, in my opinion, an important book. You should read all of it. Two key points in it concern firstly the fake allegations that weight and health are linked (except in quite extreme cases) and secondly, the role of fat in the social hierarchy of American life. I had not heard of 'anorexic ideation' before, but I see clearly how it works in terms of the norming of very skinny persons as the only people who are not 'fat'.

Page 225:In America today, bodies have replaced clothes as the most visible
markers of social class. In a culture th…

Food diary: the kombu family meal

Today's library haul:
Paul Campos, The Obesity Myth
Fran McCullough, Good Fat with 100 Recipes
Malcolm Kendrick, The Great Cholesterol Con
A S Byatt, The Children's Book

I had a bit of a read of the first three at the library and have settled into Fran McCullough's book now. Fascinating. After reading this article on slow reading last night, reading some non-fiction books in their entirety instead of net-surfing for nutritional information (which I suspect myself of being addicted to) seems timely.

Tonight's dinner. Rice thingie with green salad.
Green salad: lettuces and rocket from the garden, with acv and olive oil drizzled over it. I didn't realise it had a sign over it which said 'adults only', but there you go.

Rice thingy: I cooked the brown basmati rice with a piece of kombu then let it cool a bit. I grilled aubergine and scooped out the flesh (originally intended for making baba ghanoush but corralled into dinner at the eleventh minute), grated carrot, cho…

Religion in the kitchen

Once upon a time there was a little girl, swaying around the room in time (or possibly out of time) to Ready to Roll. Ready to Roll was a television programme which aired every Saturday night at 6pm and through it we learnt what songs were 'top of the charts'. My strongest visual memory was of the makeup worn by the band "Kiss".

The little girl (me of course) sometimes, egotistically, liked to imagine herself on television, swaying around to music and being the centre of a visual universe.

Which is what we can all do now, through Youtube. Similarly, through blogging and other internet tools, we can create our own narratives, present ourselves to the world through a lens of our own choosing.

I've been thinking about this a bit lately. I like words, and for the most part cannot be bothered with pictures. Other people have totally fabulous photos on their blogs and relatively few words. Even though I write about fairly mundane activities, I still select only the bits w…

another food diary

I'm doing another week of keeping a food diary here. Now that we (I) have made the commitment to no dairy except butter and low wheat, I need to build a new store of fast meals. Fast meals in my world doesn't necessarily mean cooked just before dinner - that is often a nightmare - but prepared quickly.

Tonight: pumpkin and cabana pasta.
Roast six pieces of pumpkin. Leave to cool. Then chop into chunks.
Slice cabana (lovely cold already cooked chorizo from the Blackball Salami Co).
Cook a small amount of pasta, add some chopped broccoli to the boiling water a few minutes before the pasta is cooked.
Put all this in a bowl. Sprinkle some dukkah over top. Drizzle some olive oil over top of that and stir gently to combine. Eat.

Dukkah has turned out a very useful purchase - for a $10 extravagance a few months ago, I have topped lots of meals with this yummy flavour and am only half way through the jar. Of course I could make it myself, and maybe I will sometime, but as of tomorro…

pumpkin spread

I would like an elegant name for my pumpkin spread, but until then, pumpkin spread it is.

Last night we ran out of hummous and the cupboard was bare of chickpea tins. Not quite as bad as running out of toilet paper, but getting up there. So this is my dairy free, hopefully nutritious, alternative to our major lunch staple of hummous.

Roast pumpkin, skin removed after it is roasted.
garlic, peeled and chopped.
anchovies, about half of those little 50g(ish) jars.
pinch of ground coriander seeds.
tahini, about a dessertspoonful.
a few pieces of steamed broccoli left over from dinner.

Whizz it all up in whatever whizzy contraption you have. If you have to mash it by hand, then you would need to cut up the garlic and anchovies finely before you start. Add a little olive oil, whizz some more and eat.


I made ginger and carrot loaf. I put some beetroot in as well. The effect of this was that the wet mixture looked like a child's vomit at a birthday party. The effect of this was also that the finished loaf, when sliced, looked like it had the measles. Tastes nice though. I have decided that we are cutting out cheese, milk and sour cream, but continuing to use butter. I'm limiting my flour intake, but I deemed a taste of the loaf appropriate - protective mother checking her children's lunch treats y'know.

Beach. We drove to Hokitika to collect the barbeque which we won and spent time in the sun, converting rays into vitamin D and building sculptures out of driftwood. Then we had fish and chips for lunch in the sunshine.

Gala. Yesterday. The big hoopla fundraiser for Fionn's school. My Dad's cousin Mary, now 83, has been baking for the gala since it began 50 years ago. This year she was unwell and missed baking and attending for the first time ever. …

Presentation of self: blogging and the beautiful

Once upon a time, when I was young and had a pen in my hand during the week and a beer in my hand on Friday night and no one ever said to me "Where is my shoe" and "Why can't I have bought lunch/Mcdonalds/a tv/playstation like everyone else in my class?", I took a university course on the novels of Henry James and Edith Wharton and we had to use the lens of an apparently famous book by Erving Hoffman called The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Hoffmann wrote about the minute constructions of self that we present to the world. To him, we are all actors all of the time.

Last night, after checking my email and finding some wonderfully thoughtful and interesting comments on my last post, I went for a walk on the beach without asking if it suited anyone else, and at the same time refusing to take any children.

Johanna wrote:
You feel like you have to be a bit of a poster child for the values you
support, and that includes always talking positively about the gre…

world of exhausted privilege

Thanks to Johanna, I have been thinking about this post from a blog called Nourishing Revolution. I will confess I haven't thought about it day and night because there were the hours when I got paid for my time and wondered where I could go for tact school. There are no bottles called
Take 3 per day with meals.
I would pay the money if there were. If you think I display tact on this blog, then that is because I get time to reflect, whereas sometimes elsewhere I am called to furnish a response, an explanation and five miracles with as much warning as a drunkard before he is mugged.

When else did I not think about Nourishing Revolution? I didn't think about it when I dashed from work to Robyn's, collected Brighid and made a note of childcare changes for next week as Robyn also negotiates supporting her own children's special activities and training days for her other paid work job. I didn't think about it when we went straight to kindy a…

crazy purple woman supports...

Our household is going to go dairy free. Whether this is a thoughtful and wise decision or that of an increasingly mad woman already wearing purple, I cannot objectively say. There are symptoms for all four of us which make the project worth trying. Another part of me says "Just buy some bloody tim tams and stop thinking all the time." The latter part is not currently in the ascendancy, though I can feel her getting ready for a slot.

In news beyond my immediate selfish concerns, Child Poverty Action Group now have a Facebook page and are aiming for 500 'likes' as part of a ymedia project. I don't recognise the term 'ymedia' but I do recognise the value of more New Zealanders becoming aware and supportive of CPAG's work. I love the signautre on their email newsletters:

Ka Whangaia ka tupu, ka puawai
That which is nurtured, blossoms and grows.

Another promotion: this time for a group working to give agency to women over their bodies, one which does no…

pumpkin or marshmallow?

At the health food shop today, I mentioned with a sigh that we'd had to go to the doctor. For all the focus we have in our house on good nutrition and 'natural' remedies, when Fionn gets an asthma attack he needs his inhaler. The lovely Suzy empathised and noted that when he is an adult, there is something which might help: Puffplus by Silberhorn. Curious, I took away their brochure. Ingredients: elecampane, fenugreek, marshmallow, garlic and horsetail. I've tried without success to germinate elecampane before, and I'm going to have another go this year. Garlic, I always grow. I've been hovering over marshmallow in the Kings seed catalogue; it says that marshmallow likes damp conditions which should mean that I'll plant three seeds and they will take over the entire garden. Fenugreek and horsetail I will have to research further, but the signs are that I can grow my own lung strengthener.

In a garden of finite space (there is more lawn to be converted…