Thursday, April 24, 2014

I miss the stars

When I moved from the city to my isolated rural hillside all those years ago, I was overwhelmed by the clarity of the night sky. It was so dark! So vast! And so many stars! I moved from a 9 in the chart above, to a 1. On really clear nights I used to drag a rug and cushion outside and simply gaze at the night sky, just for the pleasure of it. And now I am back in an urban environment, not the inner  city but near enough...a 7 in the chart. It never gets really dark. I don't regret moving back to town, I love living here, but... I miss the stars.

In 1994 an earthquake knocked out the power in Los Angeles. Many residents called emergency centres to report a strange "giant silvery cloud" in the dark sky. That giant silvery cloud was the Milky Way, which many residents were seeing for the first time. Light pollution is stealing the night sky. Something to think about, especially this week (April 20 - 26) which is International Dark Sky Week. 
Astrophotographer Mark Gee has made this video, mostly shot in Wellington and the Wairarapa. Watch it on full screen - it's beautiful.

City Lights To Dark Skies - International Dark Sky Week 2014 from Mark Gee on Vimeo. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Love story

A wedge of Kikorangi blue and a glass of Hawkes Bay Merlot/Malbec. The perfect nightcap.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bad font

In a garden centre near you. This is the same font that baffled me a little while ago. ( See here.) It must be the preferred font for sign writers. I bet they do it on purpose.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Soup for lunch

I went to our little local market in the weekend and got all these lovely veg for $6.00. Not bad, I reckon. Then I had a bit of a browse around the stalls and found these soup dishes - not old or special, I just like the shape and the lemons on the rim. They were only a dollar each so I bought them too.
Naturally with soup plates and soup vegs I had to make soup, so I transformed most of the above assortment plus leeks and silverbeet from the garden into a huge pot of soup. That's lunch sorted for the week.
I know it looks awful - that's the beetroot giving it that sinister colour - but it tasted GREAT.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Not now, not ever

I am no admirer of politicians of any colour or stamp, in fact I despise them all. (Well, mostly. I quite like Jeanette Fitzsimons, but she's retired.) However I cheered when Julia Gillard was elected as Australia's first female PM a few years ago, not because of her politics but simply because she is female. Australian culture, and especially Australian politics, is deeply sexist and misogynistic. I cheered when she tore into that smirking sleazy Neanderthal throwback Tony Abbott, then Leader of the Opposition, now, unfortunately, Prime Minister:
"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not. And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.” - Julia Gillard, October 2012.
You can see and listen to the speech here on Youtube, if you're interested. Take note of Abbott - smirking and smug at the beginning, becoming increasingly uncomfortable as the speech goes on. True to form, the Australian media criticised her speech unmercifully, but overseas media was overwhelmingly positive and supportive and the video went viral.

All this is a preamble to what I found on this morning - this wonderful musical version of her famous speech. Composer Rob Davidson has made a choral piece of her words. It is wonderful, wonderful!

Read more about "Julia Gillard's misogyny speech: the musical" here on The Vine.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Roast fillet of lard

Sad news to wake to this morning.  RIP Clarissa. Now at last you can have that reunion with Jennifer. Both gone far too early.
I adored the Two Fat Ladies, along with Keith Floyd they were TV cooks who really loved food and eating. What is the joy of life without a little excess?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Horrible food, delicious food

I came across this amazingly awful recipe for a so-called kitty-litter cake - doesn't it look disgusting? The recipe is here on a website called Fab Food, a misnomer if ever there was one. The list of ingredients includes a litter tray and scoop.  All I can think is...why? Just...why?
This is supposed to be edible, it's a CAKE! You'd never catch me eating it. 
On the other hand, when it comes to delicious food, our local supermarket is now stocking Mapua Smokehouse mackerel pate. This is a real treat, especially with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Maybe I need new specs

I drove home yesterday after catching up with friends in Tararua, and at one stage I was stuck behind a Linfox truck, with a few cars in between. I could just make out the slogan on the back of the truck, badly written in an execrable font with the letters running into each other and it appeared to say: "you are missing mother". You are missing mother? What? Not what you'd expect from a moving company.  What could have prompted this uncharacteristic whimsy? Not missing your mother, which might just barely have made some sense... Hmm.  For many kilometres I pondered this slogan, and it occupied the time wonderfully.

Then the traffic thinned and I was directly behind the truck, and I found the slogan is in fact:
Disappointing. Oh well. It passed the time.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Paper is not dead

I love my Kindle, but I love paper books too. I think paper is going to be around for a while yet. This made me laugh:

Friday, January 3, 2014

A giant zucchini, and not a lettuce

Courgette, zucchini, whatever you prefer to call this bland and innocuous vegetable...this monster sneaked by me. (I call them zucchini, because then I can shorten it to zuc. You can't say "courg", it sounds silly.) Anyway, usually I spot them in time to pick them before they become monsters, but the occasional rebel hides in the foliage, growing unseen. You can't tell the size from the photo, but it's as big as my forearm.

I briefly considered putting it in the compost, but I couldn't bear to waste it so I decided to make zucchini noodles. I Googled "zucchini ribbons", just out of interest, and came across this brilliant tip: using a box grater as a mandoline!
This isn't me. I don't have blue nail polish.

I tried it, and it works well. Fast and efficient, and better than a mandoline or a julienne vegetable peeler. I found this tip on a gorgeous cooking blog called Top With Cinnamon, and spent quite some time reading the recipes and admiring the photographs. Here's the link to her recipe for zucchini spaghetti.

So I crushed some garlic and warmed it in some olive oil, added the noodles and a little lemon juice and a tablespoon of pesto and cooked them for a few minutes until the noodles were soft. I served the "pasta" with chopped cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and a grating of parmesan on top. Given how bland zucchini are, it wasn't half bad and cost next to nothing.

Definitely not a lettuce
This strange vegetable is growing in my veg patch, and I don't know what it is. It came in a bundle of so-called mixed lettuce seedlings, but it is definitely no lettuce! At first I thought it was a variety of kale, given the purple-tinged leaves, but recently it developed that bulbous swelling. I would quite like to pick it and cook it, just to see what it tastes like, but I don't think I will. I'll leave it to see how big it gets. It's about the size of a large lemon at the moment.