Showing posts from August, 2011


Sometimes, when I have neither time nor patience to sew and the Sallies have good dinner plates but nothing I want to wear, Postie Plus is a good place to go. Every spring I feel the urge to buy something new, really new. Today I bought this:
It's called a scapino chiffon overlay dress. If anyone knows what scapino means, then I'd love to learn. There are worse ways to spend $49.90

I also made fish chowder with my home made fish stock. I cooked the first part in the slow cooker throughout the day and then put the mix into a saucepan to boil with the fish pieces and kale when I got home from work. The fish stock is wobbly when straight from the fridge, indicating reasonable amounts of gelatine and probably other brothy goodness. It tasted quite good. Next time I shall attempt a Chinese style fish soup with ginger and garlic and noodles instead of today's sort of British mish mash of turmeric, carrots, onions and potatoes. And kale and fish pieces too of course. Kal…


I apologise in advance for linking to the Daily Mail. I never thought I would see the day... But whilst googling in the weekend, I found this article on why female breasts are getting larger, essentially suggesting a correlation between oestrogen overload and breast size. Plastics, synthetic hormones, chemical disruptions all over again. There is a large literature on how to avoid these 'evils', but it is expensive to make all the changes which are generally recommended. For now, I have a renewed commitment to avoid non-organic chicken. A timely reminder given that I've been cooking it rather often in the last year.

So today I made fish stock. It smells good and I've made almost three litres of it. It looks terrible though - nothing like the beautiful translucent golden colour of chicken stock. The suggested uses for fish stock are not as wide as for chicken stock. I can see some fish chowder and fish risotto on the menu. I'm also on a magnesium mission …

fashionably blighted

Illness is hugely fashionable here in Wetville this week. Numbers at work were decimated. Almost everyone actually present at work was hoarse or flushed or very pale or otherwisely looking like they were about to go down or should be at home. I croaked a little and took a lot of vitamins.

In the middle of yesterday, the vitamins lost the fight. I sat at my desk at my work as a wave of heavy heat descended over one eye. Not so very good. The first casualty was my patience. After an afternoon of weird one sided increasing croakiness in which I was quite a good mother, I could not be bothered with the sensible option of drinking nettle tea and juicing broccoli leaves and opened the wine bottle instead. Given that I actually cooked dinner on Friday night instead of paying for takeaways and regretting the expenditure very soon afterwards, two glasses of wine were entirely warranted.

Now I am at home instead of on the league sideline, the four year old is so very quiet …

spiral filo pie

They had a much flasher name for it in Cuisine. But essentially it involved making up a onion-spice-mince-tomato filling, letting it cool and then rolling it in filo (two layers with olive oil in between, spread the mixture out along the long side of the rectangle and roll up) and arranging it in a pie dish in a spiral starting from the centre.

It tasted good, felt like a change from the same old meals we've been having forever and it would adapt to any kind of filo filling. The magazine said to top with sesame seeds which I think would be great, only we didn't have any.

A step up on the effort front from cheap Tuesdays at Dominoes Pizza indeed.

Ten top dress making blogs. For those who feel that this is the wrong time of night for efficiency, and is better suited to looking at blogs of clever crafty people before falling asleep without a single care for the unfolded washing.

Gary Younge & Luddite Journo

Gary Younge has been my favourite Guardian journalist since I first moved to London and discovered the beauty of a liberal newspaper (it's pretty exciting when the Press, then the ODT, then most dismally, the Herald, were what passed for decent newspapers before then) which actually offered analysis of events. Today's Guardian Weekly contained this excellent piece by Younge. As a sample:
But beyond Tottenham, those who took to the streets last week failed to advance any cause, embrace any ideal or articulate any agenda. This places them firmly in the context of a weak and ineffectual left that has failed to reinvent and reinvigorate itself in the face of a deep economic crisis.
Younge has the analysis and I always love to read it. Those games of who you would like to invite for dinner? I used to fancy having Younge and Nigella Lawson for dinner. Not that I expect they'd have a lot in common with me or each other. I do wish though, that we had some better news for the…

beetroot, beach & roses

I made beetroot cake from Pam Blowers' recipe in the July/August 2011 issue of Organic NZ. The original recipe has various sweetener and flour options; I've listed what I used.

300g grated beetroot
1 C brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla essence
3/4 C olive oil
2 eggs
1 C wholemeal flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 C cocoa
1/4 C chia gel (whisk the 1/4 C of water with a heaped teaspoon of chia seeds to form a suspension of the seeds - I did this by putting it all in a small jar and shaking it)
1/3 C ground almonds - I used almond flour
1/3 C ground sunflower seeds

1. Beat sugar, oil, eggs. Add vanilla essence and beetroot. Mix.
2. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa.
3. Add ground almonds and sunflower seeds and chia gel.
4. Mix to just combined - do not overmix.
Pour into greased 20cm square pan. Bake at 180 celsius for 35-40 minutes until firm to touch.

It tasted good. My pan was 20cm x 28cm so it was more like beetroot brownie than classically shaped cake. The texture s…

Garden Day

Gardening day! I've waited a long time and it was worth the wait.
My beer traps a few months ago seemed to stave off the slugs from my broccoli seedlings and now they are middled sized - hopefully ready to feed us in a month or two. I've left some of the borage seedlings to grow for the bees and today I planted soldier (flanders/ANZAC) poppies amongst the broccoli. I thought the red and black would contrast well with the blue-green of the broccoli leaves. At the very foreground of the photo is my ever present companion, creeping buttercup. I left a green wall of creeping buttercup to the left of the photo (not visible) when I planted the broccoli, with the idea of it being a windbreak for my salad greens which I sowed at the same time.
This is my salad greens plot, and the windbreak does seem to have helped. Tomorrow I plan to dig out the windbreak before it breaks out as the ground warms and takes over.
Globe artichokes doing okay. Perhaps this year will be the one wh…

Changing conceptions of need

Vomit over. I spent much of the day on the couch while the convalescing children seemed increasingly to have more energy than me. I re-read gardening magazines and decided I want to paint our outside table yellow and did some garden re-arranging in my head.

Then Past Judgement: Social Policy in New Zealand History arrived and now I am considering ideas like 'changing conceptions of need' across a range of contexts. It is a pleasure to read such thoughtful, intelligent prose as in this book. I guess I spend so much of my non-fiction reading time on op-ed style short texts which pale by comparison with this product of months and years and sometimes decades of research, thinking and writing. Our Blackball exhibition on care workers will be squarely focused on the workers themselves, but I want a sense of the wider issues in which their real, individual lives play out. There are another half dozen or more books in the footnotes which look very interesting but I will be ruth…

vomit zone

It was lovely while it lasted. Absolutely, utterly lovely. A healthy household that is.

Yesterday, just as I was running around in a state of medium level torment over how many things I had to do and how mu multi-life was spirally out of control, firstly I came in from the washing line to find a message to say I had no childcare that afternoon due to a tragedy involving the family cat. That's not an insurmountable problem, just another task. So I can't get my friend on the phone, so next choice is I make Brighid's lunch really quickly and head to kindy ready to ask the favour at kindy pick up and at the same time I'm running through the steps needed if Brighid needs to stay with one of us at work.

But none of that turns out to matter. I walk into kindy and am immediately called over to a corner by one of the teachers. Brighid is on a makeshift bed and looking dreadful. We leave with an ice cream container just in case. Fifty metres down the road I stop the car …


I've just finished Room by Emma Donoghue. It was ghoulish. I don't like the genre of really nasty stuff in lots of detail at all. Once I read one of Martina Cole's novels when I was pregnant and we were travelling through Spain which seemed to accentuate my reaction. It was all about a pimp and drug dealer and the women he seduced and then exploited. I had nightmares. For the record, at the time of these nightmares stemming from reading a novel, I was 30 years old. Last night I started Room and couldn't stop until Jack and Ma were out of the room (prison) and I even cheated and read bits at the back to make sure they would get out sometime in this novel, preferably early.

I'm not even attempting to write more about capitalism and socialism and alienation and social isolation and racism and the UK riot court verdicts having echoes of Victorian England only this time there are no colonies to send people to only ooops lots of the people who were arrested for l…

Pollyanna's socialist crisis

A few weeks ago, doing kitchen stuff at the kitchen sink with National Radio on beside me, I started to question my Pollyanna approach to rejecting capitalism. No doubt it had been brewing for a while, in a similar way to when I started to question precepts of the Catholic Church as a teenager. Tonight's post is an attempt to put into words the conversations I have with myself in my head during the day.

I had hippy tendencies long before I became a mother, but when I did give birth, the green movement filled an almost emotional gap. My vision of being an earth mother was challenged from the very beginning, as feeding turned out to be very problematic. Putting my baby into cloth nappies and sourcing organic baby salves and eschewing much that was plastic was something I could control, and it meant I got to hang out with the other earth mothers.

An interest in peak oil scenarios was a logical development from this. Once we had our own garden, first in London and later on the …

Stopped and searched

Still thinking a lot about the riots throughout the UK. This Guardian article: 'Being liberal is fine, but we need to be given the right to parent' deals with some of the challenges which the left need to consider as clearly empathy for the sense of hopelessness of estate life in a recession is not to be conflated with carte blanche for people to loot and riot. The stop and search law came in after we left the UK and I had not considered how it impacted on the lives of quite young men until this week. To think of my own son being stopped and searched by the police at the age of 14, on the way home from school, makes me shudder.

Yesterday I planted flanders poppies, polyanthus, pansies and snowdrops along the front of the house. Today I did housework. Tonight I aim to learn why my chooks (not laying yet) have red in their poo.

Update: this very useful page has photographs of all kinds of chook poo, explaining what is normal and what is problematic. So now I know that at l…


Please read this excellent post on the London riots from Penny Red.

I have thought a lot about the riots, about social exclusion, about the structural deficiencies and amorality of capitalism, but I lost lucidity sometime around the moment when I burnt the stock pot and, had we not had a smoke alarm, would have caught the house on fire.

The rioters, burning and looting and attacking police, did the wrong thing. They all did very wrong things. There is not a time to be listened to if you are dispossessed. You are always required to go back to the queue and wait quietly. Not everyone is prepared to wait forever.


Tonight I am grateful for my own safety and that of my family. I think of the police and their families and the horrible fear which must accompany every shift in the UK at the moment. I think of the people living in the midst of the riot areas, their loss and devastation. I think of the families of the rioters, some of them unable to account for their children, wondering what they could have done differently. I think of the rioters, people who made bad choices, who allowed greed and the heady effects of mob mentality to override their better instincts.

I think of the consequences of a deeply unequal society.

Dances with Fat

My favourite blog find this weekend is Dances with Fat. Go read it. She writes well, thinks intelligently, is all about genuine respect and the vids look like she moves pretty fantastically as well. Thank you to the Wellington Young Feminists' Collective for sending me the way of the Articulate dancer.

Another link worth following is my mate Peter Clayworth's piece on the 1981 Spring Bok tour (scroll down past Jock Phillips' piece to find Peter's). There are more pieces on the tour memoirs which I intend to follow up, courtesy of John Minto's guest post on Liberation.

The gala was great. Crap weather, despite my determination that if I willed it to be sunny, then the heavens would obey. We had more people painting faces this year so the kids didn't have to wait for long to be painted. My guess is they made plenty of money despite the bad weather.

Look at the blank floor space. Massive project this afternoon. Massive achievement. What you can't see is …

Food day

Three fruit loaves, two fruit cakes and one banana cake. Plus roast chicken for dinner. Not a single moment in the garden :( But I did buy a beer kit for FH's birthday though. Recipes below.
Moist Fruit Cake
Put in saucepan:1 small cup water, 6ozs sugar, 1-lb mixed fruit, 1 tspn mixed spice, 4ozs butterBring to boil and simmer 10 minutes.Remove from heat and cool (not cold)When cool add ½ teaspoon baking soda.Beat 2 eggs well and add to mixture, then add 8-oz flour and 1 teaspoon baking power sifted together.Bake in moderate oven. Great Grandma's instructions are for 60 minutes but mine was cooked in 40.

Fruit LoafPut in bowl: 4-oz sugar 1 cup sultanas ½ oz butter 1 tablespoon golden syrup 1 teaspoon baking soda Pour over 1 cup boiling water and stir well.Cool mixture When cool add 8 oz flour and 1½ teaspoons baking power.Pour into lined loaf tin. Bake approximately 45 min at 350F
The banana cake is from the Edmonds recipe book. I made that for the children…

Tips from a cake stall queen

Today is the southern hemisphere Imbolc. I remembered as I drove away from Dominos pizza (cheap Tuesday) and FH commented on the beautiful weather and how it was a sign of his favourite season about to come.

So the very special meal we had celebrating Imbolc was pizza from a cardboard box. Very nice it was too. I wandered round the garden and gazed out at the sea and it does feel like positive change is in the air. The first iris is out.

Tonight was the last PTA meeting before the gala. It all looks like it is going to be fabulous. If I can remember the various things I have committed to, then I too will be a good brownie and community member. This morning my Mum sent through her best fundraising baking recipes. Tomorrow I'll buy the ingredients and borrow the tins and on Thursday Brighid and I can have a bakeathon. My Mum is a cake stall queen. Even when I was a teenager and she was working almost full time, I remember getting up at 7am and finding she had been up since …

spirulina & hummous don't mix

I've got a pagan wheel of the year on the wall in front of my computer. I'm interested in the southern hemisphere versions of the rituals surrounding the solstices, equinoxes and the mid points between. When we were looking at names for our daughter, I thought she would be born on February 1st, St Brighid's Day. She came a bit earlier, but we stuck with the name we had chosen (no scans, just weirdo hippy confidence that she would be a girl). Imbolc is one of the other names for the festivals surrounding St Brighid's Day, and the southern hemisphere equivalent is tomorrow.

Much as I'm drawn to the ideas in a pagan calendar, the reality for our family is that we are governed by the seasons of school terms and school holidays. Seeing the second day back at school as a significant turning point does feel artificial to the rhythms of our lives. But still. I'm certainly ready for a sense of spring and of hope. The new chooks, the snowdrop, the onion weed flow…