Tuesday 29 January 2008


I cleaned out my 2007 calender last week after returning from leave.

I rescued one quote from the bottom of the 24th December which I shall record so I don't lose it. :)
There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys; they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves.
-Soren Kierkegaard.

And this sort of sums up my view of philosophy, worldview, religion, however you choose to see it. Personally, I'm the sort of person who needs to work the sum out for myself. And it's not a simple sum, it is my life's work to explore and better understand it (note I don't say solve!)

Thursday 24 January 2008

Mum's Bean Salad recipe (so I don't lose it!)

Best Bean Salad
WARNING: this is Mum's catering menu and feeds an army. Seriously! We're going to be eating bean salad for weeks!


2Kg Cooked Beans (Approx 1kg dry mix)
2 Onions
1 Cup diced celery
1 Green or red pepper
Plenty of finely Chopped parsley


1½ Cups Vinegar
2 Cups Sugar
½Cup Water
2 tsp Salt


Soak beans overnight & cook 1– 1½ hrs until soft
When cool add everything bar sauce ingredients.
Boil together Vinegar, Sugar, Water & Salt.
When cool pour over beans, mix well & chill 24hrs before serving.
Add Black Pepper

Friday 18 January 2008

Guess what I ordered... (otherwise known as 'What the...?')

If you can guess what I ordered that saw the above being delivered to me (and Simon, yes, there were 2 of these) in the South of France, I'll buy you a kiwi-version of one if you live near me! First correct entry only! (and not for my workmates who I've already had this conversation with!) And by the way, I also have the receipt to prove that what I ordered is indeed what I got, and not something else due to my appalling French skills!

Summer! How did that happen?

Well, yes, we're back home again. We arrived to a deliciously hot, summers day. As we walked out of the airport towards our waiting taxi I couldn't help but notice that it even smelt like home! The smell of sun-dried cut grass is so wonderful and reminds me so much of holidays spent at Whangamata as a kid. Bliss!

The one thing I have really really missed food-wise while we've been away has been coriander. And on catching up with all of the blogs I try to read, I stumbled on Wino Sapien's Mango Salsa. Before we left I'd been making a huge variety of salsas, with a different one every couple of nights, but mangos had not quite been of a palatable price at that stage! However they're now not too bad - so I picked up a couple of mangos, some coriander (yay!) and chillis - they didn't have any that looked hot enough, so I upgraded to one of these (and no I didn't use a whole one! in fact I only used about 10% of it, and yes, it certainly threw quite a punch!).

I also bought an avocado and 2 nights later this was delectably ready, so I concocted a huge bowl of mango and avocado salsa (a slight variation on the one above - I ran out of lemons so used white wine vinegar, oh, and of course I added a chopped avocado) which I planned to serve with a bbq-ed rack of lamb. Sadly however our fridge seems to have been underperforming and just as we were ready to slap the lamb on the barbie, we both took a whiff of it, noted it's slightly green-hue and promptly trashed it and desperately tried to find something else to throw on the hot bbq! No luck there sadly.

Plan C - 2 nights worth of mango and avocado salsa became the mainstay of the meal, accompanied by a can of rather bland salmon - but the chilli needed something bland. :) And potatoes which of course had been prepared in readiness for the lamb! A slightly odd meal perhaps, but the salsa was devine. Albeit a rather firey kind of devine. :)

(once again - apologies for Cell Phone photographs).

Monday 7 January 2008

Carcassonne and Cassoulet

Yesterday we jumped on a train and meandered (hmm, not quite an appropriate term given how fast the trains are here) towards the coast, through Sete, Narbonne and another place I can't remmber and then inland to Carcassone. The weather was truely vile, completely misty and catching a glimpse of La Cite from the train as we approached was not to be. In fact, even walking through town, it was some distance before we caught our first ghostly glance of the city on the hill.

Wandering through the village itself was lovely - coming up on the market was something else again. The array of produce, even lettuces alone, in such variety, and all so inticingly lush. Mmm. I marvelled at the quantity and quality and longed for similarly jam-packed markets at home. Perhaps I need to start growing some things myself. We certainly have the space for it.

We tasted and purchased some quite devine sheeps milk cheese - not to be kept in the fridge, but on a shelf, wrapped in a damp cloth! Very very very tasty. :) We polished off most the $28 (yes, 14 euro) last night with a delciously fresh baguette - ooh incidently, when asked if you want the baguette cut or not, this apparently does not mean sliced, just cut in half. :-) So much to learn.

The pears also charmed us with their delciousness and we wandered out of the market towards the old city munching crunchy fresh pears. Fabulous.

With the walk as always punctuated by the urgent exclamation 'shit' in warning of piles of steaming dog-do on the footpath, we continued the hike (and yes I do mean hike) up to La Cite. The river was very pretty, although once again, very much shrouded in mist.

Eventually we got a view of the city, and continued to climb. I can see why the chose the spot they did to build it - very much a commanding spot. The Lonely Planet had made comment that the city loses it's mystery and charm once you enter the gates, but I have to disagree. The cobbled streets and ancient buildings were fantastic, with the roadways meandering with no apparent purpose or direction leaving you to discover new and unexpected sights around each corner. Ok, admittedly the vast majority of shops were either tacky souvenir places (but only on the main road on they way up to the castle) or eateries - which we were later suprised to be turned away from 2 of due to being fully booked! I suspect however that it would be a far less pleasant place to be in summer when crowded with visitors. Even yesterday there were a fair few people up there, however we arrived early enough in the day for it to be reasonably peaceful. Simon explored through the castle while I kept the pidgeons company in a little park, so I'll leave it to him to extrapolate on that if he sees fit.

We probably took a good 45 minutes to find somewhere to have lunch that actually had a free table. Finding somewhere that had cassoulet on the menu proved to not be a problem at all - every restaurant in Carcassone seems to do cassoulet.

So yes, we had cassoulet for lunch. Delicious! Although I'm sure we had a weeks worth of fat in that one meal! I thought I'd heard a rumour that duck fat wasn't too bad for you, but I seriously doubt that. But yes, we are pleased to have finally found and eaten a cassoulet. Creamy and rich, smooth and delicious to the last bite. Yum!

Saturday 5 January 2008

Christmas in Bavaria

We enjoyed a lovely christmas dinner on Chistmas Eve with some family friends we had never met previously just north of Munich out in the country. It was absolutely magnificent and they made us very welcome.

For dinner we had a sit down 3 course meal with the family and their partners that was very formal compared to how it normally is in New Zealand. We had some magnificent french wines and Proscecco for a sparkling. In addition we had some great homemade eggnog, apple juice and punsch. Later in the evening (actually very early the next morning), some glorious sounds floated from the grand piano which had pride of place in the lounge instead of a tv.

It was quite nice to look out the window and see the trees covered in white (it hadn't snowed recently, it was just very cold), wild deer in the fields, and a serenity all round.

The following day we were taken around Landshut, a beautiful medieval village, and it was great to be shown it by locals who could tell you so much about what you were seeing. Also, whenever they came across anybody they knew in the street, the greeting was always very formal with the friendly hug as also seen in other parts of Europe and we were introduced. Yet another great experience!