Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Only in Northland...

Kumara and Orange Cake with toffee-ed orange on top for morning tea at Russell.

Kumara Companies - 'Kaipara Kumara' at Ruawai.

Funny fences - some covered in hubcaps, others embedded with old bicycles, or draped with goatskins, many weathered, mossy and windswept. A few fallen over allowing traffic-wise stock to graze the roadside. AND heavenly hibiscus hedges!

Lots of wee churches - evidence of the early mission efforts in NZ.

The biggest and oldest Kauri tree - Tane Mahuta - in a very misty Waipoua Forest. It's said to have been around since the time Jesus walked the earth!

Breath-taking-ly beautiful Hokianga Harbour... drive up over the hill and woh what a view!!!!

Massive Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes....

Watching the sun set at Cape Reinga - the Top of New Zealand!

Meeting some real characters - this beautiful, old, solid Kauri boat was home to an old sea dog and his wife who hand-knits jerseys to sell to save money so she can visit her sisters in England!

A good trade at Houhora - the use of our fishing line for a tray of free-range eggs - great for our cook-in-one-pan-big-breakfasts!

Fancy Toilets - in Kawakawa - the amazing work of the late Frederick Hundertwasser. And immaculately CLEAN to boot!

The winter-less North - one of the few places in NZ where knitting a chunky woolen cardy seemed ridiculous! However now that we are home again from our lovely Northland camping holiday I'm glad I kept at it because I don't think it will be too long before I will need it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Monkey Nuts

The first time I tasted these biscuits was when we visited Mr & Mrs Coe. Ina is a great home baker from w a y back. Biting into the biscuit, to my delight I discovered it had a surprise inside it - a nice chewy date made an everyday, ordinary looking biccy into something quite delicious! The combination of the crunch, the gingery taste and the chewy date is really yum! I asked for the recipe so I could give it a go myself!

This recipe has been around for a while... Mrs Coe told me she got it off the radio, back in the days of Aunt Daisy. Aunt Daisy was'... Queen of the airwaves, with a career that spanned more than forty years.' She was a '...presence on the airwaves... for all those isolated housewives and mothers especially in the rural areas.' Frank and Ina Coe began their married life on a sheep and beef farm in remote, rural Southland. Just out of Milton on Lovell's Flat. Check out 'The Aunt Daisy Cookbook' HERE

Apparently, the biscuits are also known as Date Surprises. I think Monkey Nuts is way more interesting for a name - especially given that the biscuits date so far back to a time when people were much more prim and proper! Whatever the origin of the recipe - they are worth re-instating as a goodie to fill the home baking tins.

Mr Frank Coe passed away late in 2008 at the ripe old age of 92. A lovely couple who have encouraged us and warmed our hearts many a time over a cuppa and tasty home baking!

Monkey Nuts

125 gms butter
Small 1/2 cup sugar
1 dessert spn Golden Syrup
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
Dates cut in half longways

Cream butter and sugar, add syrup then dry ingredients. Roll into balls and press a date piece into the centre. press a smaller ball onto the top of each biscuit. Bake at 180 deg C for about 10 - 12 minutes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Orange House

Whenever our kids described to their friends where we lived they would say - 'Our house is next to the orange house with the huge-as cactus.' That is quite true and every once in a while the 'huge-as cactus' flowers! Just like it did recently. I popped my head out the window one morning and there they were. Wow! They never stay long but they make quite a show despite the brevity of their appearance!

In that orange house live our lovely neighbors - ordinary, rural townsfolk but thoroughly lovely! He passed away at the end of last year, in his eighties. When he was 19 years old he was a bomber pilot in the 2nd World War. Later he and his wife had a shop that sold curtain's and blinds. His van had a sign that read - 'Blind Man Driving.' He had a great sense of humour and he would often give us cheek over the hedge! He'd say, 'Press on reward-less.' or 'I love hard work - I could watch it all day.' We are so glad to have such nice neighbors!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I knew there would eventually be a near-perfect specimen to bring into our house to float in a bowl! I have watched and waited, checked and inspected these top-heavy, bobbing flower heads over quite some long time... I even rescued the scraggy bush from a certain close shave with the lawn-mower! They have faithfully sprung up, year after year outside My Darling Man's 'Blokes Shed' bringing late summer cheer to my daily visits to the clothesline. They are 'old school' and in our garden relegated to the 'workman's' area in the back-blocks where no-one really sees them!

On my little rescue mission to 'stake' the bug-ridden beauties I discovered that My Darling Man had left the perfect piece of equipment for that exact job. C U T E!
A length of fishing line with a loop and a wee lead sinker that once connected up provided the perfectly balanced, invisible 'tie' to suspend the flowers up and away from the ground!
So there you have it - a stunning, old fashioned beauty brightening up our breakfasts in the stunning, Autumn morning light!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Light Up My Life

I love the early morning light that bursts into our home when I perform the daily ritual of opening the curtains. It's especially lovely at this time of year.

I love the pattern that my retro, cane lampshade makes on the ceiling.

I love the swirly shadows the afternoon sunlight filtering through the net curtains makes on the wooden floor in my 'special room'.

I love the dreamy light that's cast about by these old '70's glass light shades installed with candles.
I picked them up from the local 'transfer station' slash rubbish dump retail store!!!!

In fact I LOVE LIGHT - it's so fantastic - it gives LIFE to so many things!

"No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It's put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they are going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don't get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room."
JESUS' brilliant, true words recorded in Luke 11:33-36
The Message Bible.

Self - explanatory!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Winter Stores

We have happily allowed the pumpkins to completely take over our garden in recent weeks - even at the expense of some of the other plants. We didn't mind at all - partly because it gave a us a little reprieve from the constant-ness of gardening AND we know these big, blue babies are gonna keep us in soup and roast veges well into the winter months.

Easter Weekend Saturday saw us all busy in the garden again. Firstly harvesting the pumpkins.... then we decided to clean out the garden shed so that we had a high, dry shelf to store them. It's amazing how one job leads to another. My Darling Man is quite delighted with his now, nice tidy shed and clear work-bench! The garden now cleared of pumpkins we were able to sort out the rambling tomatoes - staking them for their 'final hurrah' before the frost hits AND lots of weeding and digging to make space to plant some perky new winter veges!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Traffic Light

Who can remember 'Traffic Light' ice-blocks? Watching our son-in-law's capsicum change colour day by day as it sunned itself on our bench reminds me of exactly that! Honestly, for those who don't know WHAT I'm on about, it's an ice-block identical to this capsicum! Our Darling Girl gave it to us green and told us it would change to red and so it has! That's the great thing about having grown up children who do gardening... we get to enjoy some of the fruit of their labour's as well as our own.

Another of our Darling Girls gave us some of their mild chili peppers AND her man's delicious relish. He caramelizes it away until it is a sticky, gorgeous, rich, saucy delight! 'Better than mine'! - I told my Darling Man.

And then when we get together for family dinner on a Sunday night we get to sample their delicious cooking too!

Share the produce, share the culinary exploits and share the family LOVE!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


'Note to self' to plant a passion-fruit vine so that we have our own passion-fruit to eat fresh, put in icings and extra to squirrel away into ice-block trays in the freezer! It is just the tastiest thing - there is nothing else quite like it. It reminds me of pavlova and cheesecake toppings of '70's desserts and this amazing jam that my friend's Mum used to make when I was at High School. Recently I used it in icing on a custard square I made for a Sunday family dinner... we all enjoyed it along with each others company and cooking! My Darling Man has a 'passion' for our family to get together so he has instigated a family gathering around early tea on a Sunday evening at our place.

The Passion is also what they call the Easter Story of Jesus' death and resurrection. This is the time of year we can be reminded of His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. It was an awful thing that He went through but I sure am glad He did it - it gives us the opportunity to set things to rights between us and God and I am grateful for that. This Sunday we will have some chocolate goodies at our family picnic gathering thanks to my Dad & Mum who still like to buy us all Easter Eggs! Nice!
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