Wint’ring Up: Parsnip Pumpkin Soup

Raurimu weather Aug 12 15

It’s really winter up here on the Plateau and that means a couple of things: first up, for here, it’s really bloody cold; and there’s lots of cheap-as vegetables from the Chocolate Eclair shop in Ohakune (+ dangerously nice eclairs, donuts, sponges etc!!). Between juicing for breakfast and souping for later, I go through a big bag each of parsnips and carrots about every fortnight.

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The roasted veges about to go into the stock.

This is a nice and fast recipe from Weight Watchers that makes 4-5 double servings with a minimum of fuss or mess. I pretty much make it as directed except that I, as I do, added a three bubs of garlic to my second batch ( still needs more!!). The total cost – so long as I get the cheap veges from the eclair shop is only about $5 max including the garlic and pumpkin (only uses about 1/4 of a medium pumpkin!)

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Brought to the boil over a slow heat and simmering away.

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Good to go…

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Using the power-wand to mulch out the lumps – a neat piece of kit: only $17 at Harvey Normal but don’t put your finger in it to clean the blades when your other hand is still clutching the fast button…

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All set for consumption and freezing…

We’re on our third batch of this now with plenty stashed in the fridge for the long drought when there’s no cheap ‘Kune carrots and parsnips. It goes great with toast or scones (even better again with cheese toasties or cheesed scones) and, thick as it is, is uber-filling…Although it has a deep sweet texture and flavour, I think we’ll drop a little spice in the next batch just to add a little zip to the mix…just tossing up between upping the garlic ante or dropping in a tablespoon or two of curry…

Wear sunscreen…

 

…and other handy things to know…

Yes, winter has finally hit the Central Plateau…and with it, the usual outbreak of idiots…

Handy tip #1. Snow is wet, hard and cold. Just because it is sunny, does not mean it is warm. Dress appropriately and, yes, that does include wearing sunscreen…

Handy tip #2. Your big 4WD does not make you immune from the laws of physics, or the road.

Sub-tip 1 to #2: when you crest a hill on the ice-covered road and you see the flashers on the Highway Patrol car at a breakdown, don’t hit your brakes. Score SH47 3, 4WD idiots 0.

Sub-tip 2 to #2: Chains are not equal to 4WD, nor do they make you a world-class rally driver. If you are not used to driving on ice, get the bus. If you miss the bus, get out of bed earlier.

Sub-tip 3 to #2: The absence of signs saying ‘slow down’ does not equal a defence when you are in the ditch. Use of the defence may justifiably be taken as provocation by the guy you hit on your way into the ditch.

Handy tip #3. Your quad headlights that can blind a possum at five kilometres will not melt ice on the road. Bridges and shaded corners may be treacherously slippery all day – drive appropriately.

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DSCF8580 DSCF8579 Cautionary tales and idiots aside, heavy snow fall often sucks all the moisture out of the air and makes for beautiful days…The lower level tracks in the Park are all accessible and walkable but the higher levels of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing remain restricted to those with equipment AND experience above the snow line – those without should seriously consider signing up with one of the guided tours because a. it is safer, b. the Crossing in winter is a totally different experience to the Crossing in summer, and c. it is an experience not to be missed.DSCF8583DSCF8584DSCF8585 DSCF8586

Chilly…

…and I don’t mean the magic spice that overcomes all food preparation shortcomings…

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I was driving back from town yesterday and could not help but notice that both Ngauruhoe and Tongariro had had some decent dumps of snow over the last two days…couldn’t tell you about Ruapehu because that is under that big mass of cloud where the fence line meets the skyline…DSCF8391

Compare Ngauruhoe with the shot I took of it at sunset a couple of posts ago...

The temperature dumped as soon as the sun disappeared…it was a beautifully clear and starry night…so still and so bloody cold…down to 0 at midnight and -2 at first light with a good frost…

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The sun is dealing to the frost already and it will be a ripper day til the sun goes down…I think we will get snow here as soon as we have a cloudy night…it’s been trying the last couple of days…

It’s safe to say that winter is here so if you are visiting up this way, think about putting some warm clothes, maybe even a sleeping back in the car, with some sensible footwear, gloves and a warm hat…just on case…it’s this time of year when drivers are still in summer daze and don’t think of shady corners and the risks therein. No matter how good a driver you may be, it might be the other guy that makes the mistake that gets YOU…take care out there…

So who didn’t pay the subscription for summer??

So here we are….only the fourth of March, with only two really summery days all year (a really summery day being one where it feels too hot to do anything), and already we have had our first snow for 2014…I guess the ‘crust’ on the water in the wheelbarrow from yesterday’s rain and the brittle white grass on the lawn should have been a clue at home this morning….

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Well, that wasn’t there when I went home last night…

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Not as low as the office yet but it was hailing when I left this evening which doesn’t bode well for this summer thing…

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…and a good dusting on Ngauruhoe and its offsider, Tongariro…

OK, so, yes, perhaps we were a little spoilt last year with a three month summer aka drought but SNOW IN MARCH! REALLY?

At a guess, this dusting won’t last long – although more is forecast for tonight – and normal summer services may be resumed but if you’re planning on visiting the Park, pack an extra layer of woollies, some really warm sox, good gloves and a decent beanie and take a few deep breathes before opening the door to step outside…

Brisk

If ‘Brisk’ was a photo challenge theme, my entry would be this morning because brisk begins with brrrrrrr….

We have uber-excellent thermal curtains over all the windows and multiple layers of insulation in all the external surfaces of the Lodge + double glazing on some of the windows (we’re running a rolling replacement programme). The curtains have a secondary effect of blocking out the light which is great for clear full moony nights and daylight saving when the sun comes up at uncivilised times. In winter, however, there is a risk that the lack of light will induce professionally unrewarding sleep-ins so we have a double-glazed skylight in the hallway by the rear bedrooms.

I thought that it seemed a bit dark this morning and here’s why…

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…a good 20cm of snow on the skylight, seen here as it started to thunk off the roof – no one questions this morning about the ‘why’ of a steep pitched roof…