kiwisaver bad; choc-zucchini cake good

The Christchurch kindy dressups project is moving along nicely. I haven't had a deluge of offers of help from other mums, but I have found some more cool things at the Sallies plus when I told my friend who works there about our project, she took me out the back and handed me a huge bag of dressups. When we get some good weather (not obviously on the horizon), I can get it all out and wash and mend and alter and then have heaps to send off. The fabric dye I ordered earlier in the week has arrived and I will use that to dye two capes for the dressups project and my buttery tan linen skirt which never gets worn in its current impractical form. What colour? Fire engine red, which I'm assuming will be slightly darker on my skirt. In addition to my kindy dressups finds, I'm also on a roll at the Sallies in terms of my own wardrobe. On Monday, a Thornton Hall tailored jacket which fits me well and is in great condition, for $5 and today a pair of hardly worn jeans which fit me well for $3.

I was thinking about kiwisaver again this morning. I have always been very suspicious of kiwisaver. I think it is a ruse to make ordinary people give money (oops invest) to prop up corporate speculation. This morning Kathryn Ryan interviewed Warren Britton, a man made redundant in recent times who applied to free up some of his kiwisaver funds to prevent him from losing his house. He was declined and the process of obfuscation and unhelpfulness is detailed on the podcast. So many people are now in need of this support, not just in Christchurch where clearly the need is greatest, but throughout New Zealand. I bet those kiwisaver funds, where the directors have benefited handsomely from government endorsement-encouragement-force, which are still struggling with the recession we must not name and intensified by the natural disasters in Christchurch and Japan, will fight tooth and nail to prevent people taking their own money out. The kiwisaver scheme is going to benefit (sigh, once again) the rich who pick up the tax breaks and any other benefits on it when they already have their own retirement packages, and those with very secure jobs. Here at the messiest house in Wetville, we are carrying on focusing on paying off our mortgage.

I've got my oven back. All the seals and the screws on the doors have been checked and tightened or replaced. Today I made chocolate cake and then a bacon and vegetable stew in it. I made hummous with my whizzy stick as well, just to round off my domestic achievements. The chocolate cake is from Annabel Langbein's book and I give below my slightly altered version to enhance my sense of domestic whizziness even further (blip day but good even great blip day).

I've been reflecting on where Sandra the greenie went. The one who used cloth nappies (on the babies that is), made her own washing powder, lived for five years in London with no car and no tumble drier, ran a small organic food buying co-op, blah blah.

Last week when I was stocking up for our trip to Christchurch, I chose pre-packaged-no-need-to-cook items and was pathetically grateful for their existence. Back home, and with my oven working again, I'm stepping back into the home made groove. There is still plenty of packaged stuff in circulation and Fionn's lunchbox came back with an unopened yoghurt yesterday. I thought it had been out of the fridge too long to re-use and giving it to the chooks seemed more extravagant than was totally necessary. But also, it had not been opened and in a cake would be cooked well above boiling point for a long time. So I replaced the unsweetened yoghurt in Annabel Langbein's recipe with a tub of 'real berries' yoghurt and knocked the quantity of sugar down to balance it. Langbein uses pumpkin. I used zucchini. My one plant of zucchini costata romanesco, which supposedly has a lower yield than modern hybrids but better flavour, is growing zucchini in three different directions. Not long ago I harvested ten at once. From one plant.

Sandra's version of Annabel Langbein's Surprise Chocolate Cake (from her The best of Annabel Langbein second edition):
3 eggs
1.25 cups raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g butter softened
125g tub of your child's abandoned yoghurt
250g grated zucchini (which I didn't peel first but this does result in tell-tale flecks of green of this is a vege hiding job)
250g choc chips or bits (I used what was left of a big bar of dark chocolate)
2.5 cups flour (I used white)
0.25 cups cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
0.5 tsp mixed spice

Preheat oven to 180 celsius. Mix eggs, sugar, and vanilla.Then mix in yoghurt and butter. Fold in zucchini and chocolate and combined dry ingredients. Then I spread it into a large, well greased rectangular dish which I can't measure because it is in the dishwasher right now and cooked it for 40 minutes. This way it deals with the facts that I don't have a large ring tin (she wanted a 26 cm one) or indeed a square baking tin and I don't like cooking in no-stick dishes anyway and that idf you have it spread out a bit on a big rectangular dish, you get better sized pieces for school lunches and after school scoffing than luxurious huge triangles more suited to a cafe.

It turned out really well. Fionn scoffed lots and lots of it after school. Most importantly, there is still lots left.


Cottage Tails said…
I think Kiwi saver is worth looking at. BUT only put in minimum - 2% of income or $20.00 per week which will give you the govt funds. PLUS I am pro of cash scheme not invested in shares.
Where else will you get 100% return of your money.
It is for retirement & the min put away if your budget can stretch for at least one of you - will result in a nice small amount.

The hardship clause - the man did admit he didn't put in the best application & I'm not sure if he changed his lifestyle for his new income as he said he had to keep borrowing - he said 20K.

Paying off your mortgage as soon as you can is another good thing!

Love Leanne
Sandra said…
Hi Leanne! Thanks for your comment and also because now I can read your new(ish) blog. I wondered where you'd gone.
Ange said…
Yay!! Now I know what to do with that vestigial youghurt that I can't possibly make either of us eat, but it's not walking out the fridge on its own yet, either ...
Johanna said…
Hear hear, regarding Kiwisaver! I personally completely agree! :o)
Sandra said…
Update: you don't have to use the expensive version of chocolate chips - just add half a cup of cocoa instead one quarter. I've now made it with partly zucchini and partly beetroot and it worked well. Got rid of a mysteriously unwanted pottle of feijoa-nectarine yoghurt too...

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