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    Sunday, December 23, 2007

    How NOT to decorate your Christmas Ham

    It’s Christmas Eve and everything is almost done. All the presents wrapped

    Food organised.

    Wine organised.


    Our Friends the Heinzies from Napier have come to stay...
    Mr Heinz our clever gardener is trying to make sense of my wilderness

    This how those pots looked last year...I was very proud.

    Somehow this year it’s got away from me.
    But I’m sure it will look wonderful when he has finished.

    Had to do this blog as I couldn’t resist posting this picture of
    Our supermarket’s dressed ham
    It is so over the top what a wonderful Christmas Card, it would make.
    So I hope everyone has a wonderful feast.
    This is our menu











    I can't wait!!!

    Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    Tuna and Bean Salad: Prawn Pikelets, Prawn and Hot Sausage Risotto

    Back to cooking.
    Have just been on the boat and this classic Tuna and Bean Salad is so tasty and also can be made from the pantry.
    So simple

    So you need

    1 can of tuna I liked the ones in olive or safflower oil drained reserve oil
    1 can canellini beans drained, quick rinse
    1 red onion finely sliced
    1 Red pepper finely sliced
    2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Tuna oil
    Olive oil
    White balsamic vinegar
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    Make the dressing 2 pts oil 1 pt vinegar
    Shake well with the mustard

    Mix all salad ingredients together
    Dress with vinaigrette

    Best left for at least 1 hour for flavours to meld.
    Serve with pita bread

    How about these lovely little Prawn Pikelets to have with drinks
    Good news you can make them earlier in the day and reheat in the oven
    They don’t need to be piping hot.

    This makes about 14

    1 cup SR flour
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon paprika
    2 tablespoons chopped parsley
    2 tablespoons spring onions
    2 cups chopped green prawns
    1 egg

    Water to mix

    Little oil for frying
    Lemon wedges

    Just throw the first lot of ingredients into the bowl
    Add enough water to make a batter

    Let sit about an hour before cooking

    In medium hot pan add a little oil
    Drop spoonfuls into pan
    When bubbles form (about 2-3 minutes
    Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes
    Serve on a platter with lemon wedges
    With extra freshly ground black pepper
    Let people squeeze their own lemon to taste.

    I have been working through my notebooks to find lots of yummy things to cook and came across a risotto recipe featuring Broad Beans, scallops and Chorizo Fritters.

    I didn’t have scallops or broad beans but did have a hot Italian sausage.

    This Prawn and Hot Italian Sausage Risotto is a keeper…the spicy sausage brings a wonderful flavour to the dish

    For 2 people

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 Italian hot sausage
    1 onion finely chopped
    1 cup Arborio rice
    1 glass white wine

    About 3 cups hot stock (fish or chicken)
    10- 12 prawns chopped
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 tablespoons cream
    Parmesan Cheese
    Chopped chives

    Heat oil in a pan and gently fry the sausage
    Drain and chop into dice

    In this flavoured oil add the onion
    Then the rice
    Make sure they are all covered with oil

    Add white wine
    Start adding the hot stock ladle by ladle
    Letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding the next lot.
    Keep stirring and add the stock till the rice is cooked
    It needs to look like porridge
    Check seasoning and add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed

    Add prawns, sausage
    Cook a couple more minutes to cook the prawns
    Beat in the cream

    Grate in lots of parmesan

    Add chopped chives for garnish


    Venimus, Bibimus. Dormimus...We Came, We Drank, We Slept

    Bowentown and Bonny Doone

    For those that haven’t heard about Bonny Doone…it is the holiday house for the family in the movie “The Castle” read about the film here.
    One of the funniest Aussie films ever.
    But I digress
    It is also the holiday home for George and Marianne.

    So after our farewells to Val and Tony we headed off to Bowentown on Pio Shores

    This little eclectic holiday village is on the other end of Waihi Beach. About 8 kms along.
    Big beach houses right next to sections with caravan’s and cute little Wendy Houses to hold all the power, showers, toilets etc.
    Something for everyone

    Unlike Waihi…in Bowentown no-one has beachfront properties the council has declared a 300 metre building line. This enables everyone to have access to any part of the beach

    You can see the sand dune line in this shot

    Bonny Doone is a substantial holiday for all the family.
    Nice garage for the runabout…they are mad fisherpeople
    Of course after a catch up we had a walk to the beach, lunch, some wine and a rest.

    George is a bit of a dab hand at the Barbie

    And the meat was cooked perfectly
    Marianne about to serve

    Lamb, Salad, Potatoes and some asparagus tucked under there
    Sunday dawned on this our last day on holiday.

    We took a large walk along the beach and over the top of the sand dunes to view the
    lovely harbour and you can gaze at lovely Matakana Island. Divine white sand beaches.
    Just gorgeous.

    Marianne booked us into Ohinemuri Winery for lunch.

    We agree the food and the wine were excellent.

    Great courtyard…don’t you love the wine barrel chairs.

    It’s a lovely area nestled in the beautiful Karangahake Gorge

    There is accommodation available, Stunning grounds.

    My dessert.

    Back to Bonny Doone a quiet night of course we watched “The Castle”

    To bed and in the morning

    Time for thank yous

    We have been handing out to our hosts a lovely bottle of award winning Cuvee No 8
    An excellent Methode Champagnoise from the wonderful No 1 Family Estate
    Owned and operated by the Le Brun Family. We bought18 bottles to take with us.
    But George and Marianne had to receive an extra present
    For those who have seen “The Castle” you will understand this must go straight to the Pool Room
    So it was farewell Marianne and George we had a great time

    I would award this establishment
    Wonderful Beach, good bed, excellent lamb dinner, good wine,
    Best version of the Castle, we were those people!!!

    So home but first we stopped to buy fresh produce

    All those avocados and citrus for just $40.

    Got a final good coffee and an acceptable date scone from the Copper Kettle in Ngatea.
    Dale enjoyed his boysenberry and cream cheese muffin

    So 26 days, 4651 kilometres, 16 beds, 2 bottles of No 8 left
    Only 1 argument!!! (Navigation guess who was wrong!!! Moi of course)
    Don’t want to know how much wine we drank but it’s up there.
    A big thank you to the trusty Subaru

    Venimus, Bibimus. Dormimus
    We Came, We Drank, We Slept

    A Big Thank You from the Intrepid Travelers
    To all our Wonderful Friends for putting us up
    And putting up with us

    November – December 2007

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Out of East Cape into the Bay of Plenty

    Out of East Cape into the Bay of Plenty
    We are off to Bonny Doone.

    The views still amaze us
    This could be the Cook Islands Just a little shelter in the middle of nowhere
    Look at the colour of that water.
    Heard that little bird singing…had to find him
    The birdsong is wonderful, everywhere we went we were serenaded

    Look at this wonderful entrance to a local school.
    Next stop Opotoki
    Found good kai in Opotoki in the “recommended by the local garage” café and takeaway.
    Didn’t try the coffee... but managed to get tasty looking sandwiches to takeaway.
    This town is renowned for its magnificent carvings lining the street.
    Who needs a town clock in the roundabout when you have this.
    Historic ChurchThe Pub. We should have stayed to get the entertainment...

    The plan was to find a bed for our weary heads.
    Another one night stand before we met up with George and Marianne in Bonny Doone.
    We decided to drive all the way to Waihi. It was a bit of a haul but then we would be handy to Bowentown which is where Bonny Doone is situated.
    We drove there via Ohope beach.
    We spent a bit time there years ago, a wonderful beach
    What a superb view for sandwich munching.

    On to Waihi Beach
    As we approached Tauranga we hit the first set of traffic lights since Gisborne. Oh no heading for civilization. All the quirky countryside is turning into suburban countryside.
    The end is nigh. Still 3 more days to go though.
    We wanted beachfront. We found "Beachfront B & B" in our Lonely Planet.

    Our hosts Val & Tony Dillimore were out but left a little note for prospective guests.
    "If you want to stay at our B & B make yourselves comfortable we shall be back to settle you in soon".

    Or words to that effect.
    Very friendly
    We did as they asked. Right on the beach. Just what we wanted. And only 5 minutes from Bonny Doone.
    We went for a walk along the beach unfortunately I stupidly walked barefoot and have aggravated my bruised heel.

    On return we got out the Scrabble and Champagne.
    Val arrived with a lovely little plate of nibbles.
    Suggested we ate at the Flat White Café just down the road within limping distance.
    But we drove just a little hard for me.
    Dale had fish
    I had Lamb Shanks
    Well worth a visit.

    The highlight of Dales’ day
    A DVD of the Shadows “The Final Tour”

    Next morning Val arrived with this wonderful breakfast
    And I was very impressed. Their toaster really popped up the toast
    Silly me forgot to ask the brand.
    No more poking around trying to get the toast out.

    So it was farewell to Val and Tony and their little dog.
    I would award this establishment
    Wonderful position right on the beach, good bed, very nice breakfast, lovely flowers everywhere and Great DVD of the Shadows

    Friday, December 07, 2007

    East Cape The Homestead Homestay

    Just north of Anaura Bay is Tokamaru Bay another pretty little village with great views.
    We hit 4000 kms.

    So onto to Hicks Bay almost the most eastern part of New Zealand.
    We passed a sign maintenance man. He was in a specially signed truck and he was cleaning up road signs. He didn’t do a great job though there were lots of works and works end signs that were redundant but maybe we were too far ahead of him.

    Maybe that was to be his job the next day!!! Who knows.

    On through Ruatoria and our next stop Tikitiki. Another John Wallace recommendation
    This view is 3 kms south of Tikitiki... you can see all the way to the sea.

    Tikitiki is famous for it’s beautiful historic St Mary’s Church

    Established 1924 and wonderful combination of Maori and Traditional European Cultures.

    I love these colourful cushions...nice and soft for the bum

    We were only to happy to donate. The Church is in superb condition all due I guess to the locals.
    We have been taken with the old houses most of which are occupied en route
    Some images

    The post office at Waiapu

    Into Hicks Bay which was the scene of the cray and fish purchase 30 years ago.
    Just a little village we had a look then drove to the lookout.
    Time for lunch one successful buy from Gisborne’s Woolworths was Ciabatta pockets which we filled with cashew pesto and a good NZ Cheddar.
    Washed down with a cheeky little rose

    Pity the weather was closing in so back into the Subaru and off to Whanarua Bay.
    Loved these post boxes in Waihau Bay

    And how about this beautiful Church in Raukokere

    And just after the church

    No Hunting Up River”. Reminded me of “The Selfish Giant” the Oscar Wilde story. Beautifully read on the request programme almost every Sunday.
    That loud voice boomed out of the radio, frightened the life out of me.

    So we took that advice and carried on
    Thanks once again to John via his friend Tessa we were guided to the Homestead in Whanarua Bay. We were taking a chance that they had a vacancy
    They did.
    Another outstanding bay. Lonely Planet said it was the prettiest bay in East Cape
    They are not far wrong. There were a family of Orca here, not long ago...just playing in the Bay.
    Ann and Ross have renovated an old fish and chip shop into this lovely Homestay B & B

    Ross has done most of the work himself and it is going to be just fabulous when he completes the job. Looking pretty good already.

    I sat out here and with a coffee and some of Ann’s mini muffins and did an up-blog.
    What great dinner parties one could have here.

    Time for drinks on the veranda in the sun
    Ann brought us some nibbles.
    Lemon pepper sprinkled on Avocado with those nice sesame crackers.

    Now I have forgotten to mention not only are we into a whole new terrain in the East Cape but we are now in Avocado country.
    Also New Zealand’s Christmas Tree the Pohutakawa.
    It is just starting to flower when in bloom it is stunning. This beautiful bay is lined with these trees it's going to look amazing in a couple of weeks
    This will be a mass of red flowers in no time.

    It is really isolated round East Cape.
    You can’t just pop down to the shop.
    Ann has deliveries a couple of times a week and the nearest town is Whakatane, a couple of hours away.

    Ann serves dinner for guests and what a dinner it was.
    Baby lamb back straps with roast vegetables
    And an excellent pavlova roulade stuffed full of chocolate mousse and berries.
    We all ate together and had a wonderful evening.

    We fell into bed, we took the king single option. There is a queen room as well. Lovely big beds with beautiful linen

    As usual the driver hit the sack first

    A bit more challenging round the East Cape. The roads are good but only 2 lanes.
    You don’t want to get behind a logging truck or a white maggot.
    Mind you They are not so frequent here, I think they all head down to the South Island.
    We have certainly picked the right time of the year to go touring.

    So The Homestead Whanarua Bay click here

    $90 per person Bed and Breakfast
    Dinner extra.

    Breakfast part of the deal, Juice and coffee of course...fresh fruit, cereal, I had bacon and eggs.
    Homemade marmalade.
    ExcellentI would award this establishment
    Superb view, great home cooking, excellent beds and linen, oh and another great shower.
    The aforementioned Tessa was at her bach so we called in for coffee
    Cute little Monty greeted us
    You can a glimpse of the lovely view Tessa has from her home.
    Pretty stunning

    So bye East Cape onto the Bay of Plenty