Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays

I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I will take a small break from this blog and be back in the new year with more stories and recipes to share.

If you are going away for holidays, travel safely. Talk to you again next year

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cat’s Food Hog

Spikey enjoys his dinner al fresco so we normally feed him on the front porch. The last few nights we have had an uninvited guest hogging on his food bowl. Bob said hello and it did not budge, just kept on crunching food. Spikey did not care either because he had enough food to share – or he would not want to get messy with the real spiky one.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Rotary Club 2014 Calendar

Our dentist belongs to the Rotary Club in our district and he knows that one of Bob’s hobbies is photography (a lot of his photos adorn the ceiling of our dentist’s practice). So when branch wanted to do 2014 calendars for fund raising, they asked if they could use some of Bob’s photos – of course, Bob said yes without hesitation.  He joked that the first time his photo was in the calendar he had to pay for it (SPCA’s 2012 calendar as part of their fund raising by way of entry fee for every photo submitted) and this second time round he did not have to pay and was even invited to the Club’s end of the year’s dinner so he’s quite pleased. And Bonnie also gets to be Miss January.

Out of 13 photos used in the calendar, 10 are his. These pictures are some of my favourites. From what I gather, the photograph of the lighthouse seems to be the most popular amongst the club members.

Thank you Rotary Club, for the opportunity to be part of this charity course.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chicken Salad – Thai Style with Coconut Cream (One more way to deal with your leftover roast)

I remember when I was young, my grand aunt cooked several salad dishes using coconut milk in the dressing - something like wing bean salad and banana flower salad and sometimes grilled beef. So I think I should try that approach with left over roast.


2 cups of chicken/turkey shredded
1 tablespoon thinly sliced shallot or red onion
4-5 mint leaves, hand torn
1 teaspoon deep fried shallot (available at any good Asian groceries)
2 fried dry chilli, chopped in halves and deseeded  (optional)
2 teaspoons coriander leaves to garnish

Mix the first 3 ingredients together in a bowl. Pour the dressing over it and garnish with fried shallot, dried chilli and coriander leaves.


1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon shaved palm sugar
1 teaspoon fried chilli in oil (see here )*
3 tablespoons coconut cream

Mix the first 4 ingredients together in a jar. Shake well to combine. Before serving, warm coconut milk in microwave for 15-20 seconds and mix into the mixture in a jar. You can also add another tablespoon of coconut cream on top of the salad to garnish.

Bob says I can do this again anytime so it must be quite OK.

*Note: You can also reduce the amount of fried chilli - if you prefer it milder or use fried capisicum flakes just for colour and almost no heat.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Critter Crashes

It’s a puppy crash after a long walk on a hot Summer day. Bonnie loves her walkies more than anything (umm..maybe apart from food) but she is not tropicalised so when it's hot and sunny in the park, she dashes from shade to shade. When she comes back home she has to go off line for a wee while.

And it's a kitty crash after stalking and hassling me for attention for 2 minutes – must be quite a hard work for our old kitty!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prawn and Chicken Bisque (More way to deal with your leftover roast)

It’s basically a soup thickened by potatoes and cauliflower with prawn meat blended into it to fit the definition of bisque (or sort of, as the original "Bisque" should be thickened with rice) – I like this soup warm with crusty French bread.

To serve 4 as a starter, you will need:

150 grams prawns, chopped
150 grams roast chicken/turkey meat (no skin), chopped or shredded
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
¼ head of cauliflower, chopped
1 litre of fish or chicken stock
50 grams bacon, chopped
½ onion, chopped
½ cup cream
A few drops of Chilli sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
Parsley or coriander, chopped to garnish

In a casserole, add a little bit of oil and fry prawns on medium high heat until cooked through and set aside in a bowl. In the same casserole, add bacon and onion and fry until the onion is soft then add potato and cauliflower. Fry briefly then add stock. Bring to the boil, add a little bit of chicken and prawns (1/4 portion of each), cover and reduce the heat – simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes.

When potato and cauliflower are well cooked and soft – remove the casserole from heat and let it cool down for a bit. Blend in blender and pour back into the casserole – bring the content back to simmer. Add the rest of the chicken, salt, pepper and chilli sauce. Add prawn meat (reserve a little bit for garnish) and cream at the end and stir to heat through, remove from heat. Divide the soup into bowls, sprinkle with prawn meat and chopped parsley. Serve warm.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chaddelz in Newsham - New Kid in Town

My friend and neighbour, Barbara, has always wanted to run her own tearoom. In the last two months her dream has taken shape and the picture above was taken during the fitting out early last month. 


And this is when it’s done – with lovely red coffee machine and beautiful water dispenser.

The cabinet is lined with mouth watering selection of food and sweets. Sandwiches, pies, quiches are freshly made on the premises. She also stocks macarons, cheese and other French food products. Chaddelz in Newsham is at 47 Twomey Drive, Pukekohe. You can also see detail of this upmarket tearoom from its facebook

Friday, December 6, 2013

I can Kill with a flick of my Tail

This cat is a cutie. It has befriended Bob and Bonnie over their evening walks. Bob says it’s very soft and friendly – no claws or hisses when being picked up and cuddled.

With a gigantic tail like that, it does not need claws – it can kill with a flick of the tail, I think.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Vietnamese Style Chicken Salad (Another way to deal with your leftover roast)

It’s that kind of season again that we tend to buy more than we can eat. If you have leftover chicken or turkey and you don’t want to do pot pies because it is too hot, then you can do this Vietnamese salad. You can have it as a light meal or a side – if it’s for a side, you can omit rice noodles.

For 2, you will need:

For the salad
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 carrot, grated
1 cup cooked rice noodles
1 cup roast chicken or turkey, sliced or shredded
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

For the dressing
2 tablespoons fish sauce
A bit of salt
1 tablespoon lime/lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ red chilli, chopped (remove seeds if you cannot handle the heat)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 teaspoon chopped coriander leaves
A dash of oil (I use canola but you can also use peanut oil)

Soak noodles in water until soft then drain. Pour boiling water over the noodles, cover and stand for 5 to 10 minutes before draining. Cover with cold water so they stop cooking – this also prevents them sticking. Drain and cut into manageable length. Layer the ingredients except pine nuts into the bowl. Add salad dressing and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts

Mix all the ingredients except coriander leaves in a jar and shake to combine. Taste and add more seasoning id needed. Refrigerate until use. Add coriander leaves before pouring on to salad.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Midnight in the Garden

Our front garden after dark looks lively and enchanting with Bob’s light painting technique.

I borrow the heading of this post from the first half of the name of the 1997 film based on non-fiction novel – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil starring Kevin Spacey, John Cusack and Jude Law (when he was not yet famous). We are Kevin Spacey’s fans so naturally think this film is good.

We have also watched the last episode of Spacey’s House of Card (remember FU or Francis Urquhart from the BBC’s series of the same name – FU was played by the late Ian Richardson ) not long ago. The American series is quite different but in the same flavour more or less and IMHO, Spacy is much more wicked than Richardson. Of course, Spacy is still FU but U is for Underwood as Urquhart might be too much of a British name. House of Cards makes The West Wing quite pale in comparison. But if you are The West Wing’s fan – you will also like House of Cards, if not more.

Sorry, I've got a bit carried away. Back to my garden - the plant on the right is Vireya Rhododendron - I have several of them and I think this one is called Captain Scarlet. On the left is a colony of Variegated Agapanthus "Tinkerbell". The palms are Nikau and the one with full bloom at the back is Australian Frangipani. In a warm night like this, frangipani smells gorgeous. We also have Star Jasmines in full bloom and they also smell wonderful at night so mine is a garden of good fragrance.