Reunited with my cosmos

Back. Auckland was fabulous. Highlights include a trip to Howick Historical Village to see, amongst other exhibits, the cottage which Fionn and Brighid's great great great grandparents lived in when they came out to New Zealand in the 1840s as a fencible family. Also three nights in Ponsonby where Brighid and I went for a walk one night and ended up sitting on a verandah watching a talented Samoan band perform on the front lawn. Another night of course was a walk down Franklin Road the see the Christmas lights. We interred my Mother in Law's ashes and that was a beautiful ceremony and has helped me appreciate another side to cremation. I found it way too brutal when she was simply driven away from the church, but now I feel quite a lot of peace about her. We spent Fionn's ninth birthday at the Auckland museum with some short cousins. Favourite Handyman and I spent some time in his father's garden weeding, chopping and mulching.

It is wonderful to be back home. I spent part of today fixing up my languid drunken tomatoes which should have been tied up before we left. The garden is crying out for help and I'm balancing it with reading, my other holiday love.

I bought Margaret Forster's Hidden Lives: A Family Memoir (published 1995) in a little secondhand bookshop in St Kevin's Arcade on K Road. We were in secondhand bookshop heaven a few times on holiday. Last night I started to read it about 10pm and, with a few hours of sleep in between, did not get up until I had finished it this morning. Forster tells the story of her grandmother, her mother and her life up until her mother's death. She explores the changing opportunities for working class women in England over that period (c. 1873-1981) in terms of combining marriage and family life with intellectual fulfillment and reflects on the potent mix of love, frustration and envy which characterised her relationship with her own mother. I found it absorbing and interesting. Hers is a world in which multiculturalism does not feature, possibly the defining preoccupation of my favourite authors who are of my own generation. There was however much in her writing that I felt walked familiar territory to my own journey and that which didn't was the most interesting. I'm now on the lookout for more of her books, especially her second memoir, Precious Lives.

I took some early Christmas money, a discount voucher and some patterns to Global Fabrics. I came back with three lots of fabric and then my father in law asked me to go through several boxes of sewing related items. I now have some doilies to repurpose, about ten metres of fabric, some beautiful honiton lace and plenty of ribbons and thread to flounce up many a little girl's dress. I am indeed a lucky woman. I also brought back some 100% cotton yarn, making it slightly possible that one day I will make some knitted facecloths and dish cloths.

I have one New Year's resolution. All those jars of legumes and polenta which I feel virtuous when I buy them and almost never cook with? I'm going to cook them up and feed them to our chooks. When I'm done with that, I'm going to order lots of the only dried legume I use regularly - chickpeas - from Ko Minaya Wholefoods, a real live organics shop on the West Coast, and cook it up and then make lots of hummous and freeze it. I may even make zillions of ham sandwiches (huge hams on the bone in the post Christmas specials bin) and freeze them in preparation for when our next and busier life begins in February. That will be quite enough resolutions thank you. I certainly won't be giving up wine or turning into a housecleaning wizard.
Takapuna Beach, looking out at Rangitoto, after a morning at the pantomine.

With Santa up high at Sky City.

Christmas lights on Franklin Road.

My windswept garden on arriving home. Cosmos in the front and leeks gone to seed in the back.

A crochet side board cloth before I started the soak and transform process. Not all of the coffee stains have come out, but a lot has. There are some holes and tears in this cloth, making it perfect for experimenting with cutting it up and dyeing it. This comes from my children's great grandmother and possibly her mother before that.


Christopher said…
Glad you had a fabulous time in Tamaki Makaurau!

Also glad that you discovered our small but perfectly formed set of second-hand book shops. Jason's on O'Connell St in the City is excellent so I hope you managed to find it! It moved from its previous magnificant (but got too pricey) attic loft on Lorne St some months ago.

The other wonderful store is the Yellow second-hand book store on Ponsonby Rd - it's about 500m before Franklin Rd, heading towards the city. It's roughly opposite the KFC. That store has a very good selection of books and a lovely owner. I have picked up a few good books from there.

Anonymous said…
What a fab holiday so far!
Now tell, which cottage at Howick's is "yours"? We volunteer there once a month (Ford's is "my" cottage - Jaala works in White's, Kyle usually ends up in the pub next door).
Polenta. Too good for the chooks! Use in place of rice - to every three or four cups of boiling water add one cup of the good stuff, stir vigorously for ten minutes. That's it. If you wanna get fancy, spread it into a dish, leave to cool, then cut into triangles. For really fancy, fry them up. We usually just eat after step one. Actually the little kids love making the cooled stuff into balls and then we bake them in the oven. Serious crunchy goodness with soft inside. Convinced? Loads of garlic stirred through yoghurt makes anything cornmealish perfect.
Sandra said…
Hi Christopher. We did indeed find the yellow second hand bookshop on Ponsonby Road and also Evergreen in Devonport. We will make sure to visit Jason's next time we are in Auckland.

Rachael - I know that polenta can taste good, but I never seem to get in the habit of cooking it, only, most ridiculously, buying it. I will try again this week in honour of you. About to email you on the Howick cottage.
Christopher said…
If you grate some cheese into your polenta , or stir any kind into it really, you wind up with lovely cheesy (use as little or as much as you like) polenta. Yum.
Sandra said…
Rachael and Christopher win on the polenta front. I made some today and indeed it tasted good. I'm less keen on how the mixture splashes while cooking. I added some cheese but alas we are out of garlic until I harvest the next lot later this month (or of course I buy some at the supermarket). I think it would be perfect with garlic. Has anyone frozen it?
Anonymous said…
ANother lost comment....grrrr

I think I said something about freezing garlic, yes. Polenta not tried, but it should work well.
About to go and bake some cheesey polenta balls coz you reminded me of them and they Are. So. Good.

PS Freeze garlic in airtight contaner coz hokey pokey icecream out of a box does not taste so good infused with garlic!
Christopher said…
Hi - I have frozen polenta. It worked a treat.

You'll need to make the polenta to a consistency so that you can spread it in a flan tin or similar. Leave it to dry enough just so you can cut out shapes (I did triangles), then freeze the pieces on a baking tray and then transfer to a storage container for long-term freezing.

Basically I pulled portions out, defrosted it (depending on how thick you make the slice) - it the portions were thin then I didn't bother defrosting and simply panfried or grilled them.

So yeah, the frozen polenta was good for quick carbs in a meal.


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