‘Cado, pineapple and ‘mato salad

Last night, I mentioned that, I was still searching for a suitable side to go with my Kumara curry and salmon hash browns…after five years, can you believe it? I’ve been getting by with rocket salads but I kinda hate rocket…if I’m absolutely honest about it…


So, on Wednesday afternoon, I sat down with a lot of coffee and considered the problem. What textures and flavours would complement but not compete with the textures and flavours of the hash browns and salmon. There is just a hint of curry in the hashes, mixed with the salt of the salmon and smooth cheesiness of the sour cream that holds the stack together. Overall it’s quite sweet and smooth.

It all came together quickly after I thought of an avocado base….smooth and sweet…with pineapple, sweet with a fibrous texture…with diced tomato…more tart and something else to bite into. Originally I was going to warm this mix in the microwave – it is winter after all – but opted for a natural heat from a sauce derived from the fried avocado tacos at The Guardian by blending all these together:

1 cup of sour cream

2 small chillies

2 gloves of garlic

1 tablespoon of lime juice

1 bunch of coriander

a smidgen of salt and pepper

The black rice was an afterthought left over from the previous night’s beets, feta and rice…I wasn’t really sure what to do with it otherwise but it worked well in our salad.

The first night I only used a teaspoon-sized dollop of the sauce on the salad – wasn’t enough to appreciate all the flavours. I had one hash stack left over plus about a cup and a half of the salad and other stuff in the fridge from a  week of cooking that I needed to consume to free up fridge space.


So this is Take Two: one curry kumara salmon stack reheated in the microwave (it was already cooked: normally, I would keep the hash mix uncooked), with a goodly amount of greek yogurt on top, with the salad accompanied by a decent-sized dollop of the coriander and chili sauce, topped with feta from the beets and rice dinner…

Mmmm…primo!!!! A great blend of flavours and textures, with bonus points for good use of left-overs…less points for unused salmon which I just remembered is still sitting in the fridge…

…so tomorrow’s challenge may involve smoked salmon, streaky bacon, feta, sour cream, greek yoghurt, a tomato and an avocado. The rest of the pineapple – all fresh here no canned stuff – is destined for smoothies with banana, chia seed, coconut milk and tumeric…




Kumara Cake

DSCF0290.JPGKumara this winter has been on special – $1.99/kg – so I naturally stocked up and then had to find ways of consuming it all: you can only soup so much…this kumara cake had a certain appeal…It’s quite simple (I found the recipe on http://www.foodbox.co.nz)

What you need:

  • 150 grams of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar (I used raw sugar but next time will use a banana or two)
  • 2 cups of flour ( I used high-grade but next time will use my own home-ground flour)
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt (I used black sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups of peeled and grated kumara
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts

What you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • Melt the butter and blend in the sugar
  • Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
  • Mix in the wet ingredients.
  • Mix through the kumara and walnuts into a thick wet mix and pour it into a lined cake tin.
  • Bake it for around an hour til a skewer comes out clean.
  • Once it’s cool, remove it from the cake tin and peel away the baking paper.

Now the good bit…the icing…

Take 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 60 grams of cream cheese, a cup of icing sugar and teaspoon of lemon rind and blend them with a hand blender until the mix is really smooth.

Spread this evenly over the cooled kumara cake…

Don’t forget to lick the spoon…


Tasty great, with a nice twist between the spice in the cake and lemon of the icing…still a bit dry but I hope that subbing a couple of bananas for the sugar will fix that plus paying more attention to baking times i.e. checking to see if it passes the test before the recommended hour of baking is up…



Faster than…

Just for perspective, the upload and download speeds here are twice those we were getting with satellite broadband; the ping is almost 20 times faster!!

It doesn’t seem so long that we used to get excited at home when the dial-up download speed got anything over a mighty 6kbps…it’s been our curse to never live (for any period of time anyway) anywhere with fixed line broadband…then, one day early in 2010, the nice folk at Telecom rang up and said we were just inside the coverage for the XT network (after they got ALL the bugs out of it, of course).

Contrary to all the bad press that Telecom gets, they were very nice about it and offered to send out an XT modem for a month’s free trial. Couldn’t say no to that and all of a sudden we were in the world of broadband…not without its issues though: we only had 2Gb a month to play with and the only reception was in one room of the house (fortunately the study: working from home could have become interesting if it had been the bogger!!). XT worked really well for us for almost two years but as I reverted to working more and more from home (the great thing about policy analysis and doctrine review is that you can pretty much do it anywhere), we more and more started to exceed our 2G monthly allowance and the cost started to spiral upwards…

We had been aware of Farmside and its satellite broadband options for a while but hadn’t considered them as cost-effective as the XT option – plus they had (and still do) this annoying habit of answering emails with phone calls which is nice if one is at home but of limited use if one is spending a lot of time away from home and thus not able to answer the phone when it rings…By the end of 2011, though, their satellite and home line bundles were starting to look pretty attractive – the all-up costs were about the same as what we were already paying but the big bonus was a much larger monthly cap albeit with 25 of the 30Gb only being available offpeak between midnight and 2PM – that actually wasn’t too bad as I normally start work at 6AM to catch the back end of the US working day.

Once we established comms – after more email/phone tag – the Farmside sign-up process was swift and efficient and the installer turned up the day after Boxing Day. We would have preferred to have the dish placed further up the wall of the house so that the modem and cables would be out of sight/mind in the loft but still able to wifi through the house…but the installer didn’t come with a long enough ladder (even though we had advised that the wall was pretty high) and we think he may have been a little scared of heights…but the job was soon done and, apart from more lights than the flight deck of Concorde where the modem and router had been placed in the spare room, we achieved another plateau in the quest for decent broadband. The only downer with satellite broadband is that it is high latency – about 800 milliseconds, or the better part of a second – which only meant that pages took a little longer to access and load unless one uses a VPN for work as I do in which case it can be quite frustrating and tiring using a real time mouse and keyboard on pages lagging about a second behind.

Just before I went overseas in September, our phone went off for the day – late in the afternoon, someone claiming to be from Telecom rang and apologised for the disruption of service, attributing it to some errors when our local cabinet was cut into the new fibre network. Fibre? Did someone say fibre? You would think that finding out if we could now access fixed line broadband would be a simple thing mais non…both Farmside and Telecom fobbed us off with “We will tell you when these services are available” responses. To their credit, when we nudged Farmside again after a month or so, they came to the party and advised (after more email/phone tag) that it looked like we could now access proper broadband.

Those living in urban areas will be all “hohum” but these are the things that are important in rural areas where connectivity = communication and the ability to do business from home…the ADSL modem arrived this morning – and didn’t work. Five calls with the really helpful customer service staff (thanks, Chris and Jess) later, we had narrowed the problem down to a modem that had not been configured before it had left the store. All that was easily fixed and by lunch time, it was all up and running, and we were able to kill the Concorde lights in the spare room for the last time. By close of play today, I had been enjoying the rapid response of web pages and had indulged in a long ‘test’ Skype with Rowland from Hawkeye UAV. Now that we have decent 24/7 broadband, we plan on using Skype a lot more and possibly reducing our homeline calling plans – more

So all that thinking and fault locating made me a might peckish….I didn’t quite get the angle right in this picture – I should have reduced the angle so that the whole is silhouetted against the white of the plate – so it doesn’t look as nice as it actually did and certainly not as well as it tasted. All it is is some  kumara hash brown mix left over from my kumara and salmon stack the other night, and a chunk of fresh-fried lamb I found in the fridge with a squirt of Carmen’s homemade chili sauce…the curry in the hash brown and the chili sauce blended deliciously…so I made another and it was just as good…

Sitting back now, watching Lost in Space (the original, not the sad-as movie with Joey from Friends) after a great dinner of pork sausages with a cheese omelette….