28 February 2011

braised pork belly in soya sauce (tau yew bak)

My blogposts so far has been on sweets, so I've been wanting to post this recipe up for ages.  One of my all time favourite dishes to cook and eat at home is 'Tau Yew Bak'.  'Tau Yew Bak' in Hokkien (a chinese dialect) basically translates directly into Soya Sauce Pork.

I don't think that this dish originated from China.  With the use of spices such as cinnamon, star anise and cloves, I think its more likely that the dish was invented by Chinese people who had settled in South East Asia (namely Malaysia and Singapore) and influenced by the spices that the Malay people used in their cooking.  And I've also noticed that only Hokkien households and the odd Hainanese one ever make this dish.

What's this Hokkien and Hainanese? Quick lesson - they're Chinese dialect groups, depending on which region in China you (or your ancestors) come from.  And each region has its own dialect (this is in addition to Mandarin). So those who immigrated to South East Asia came from all over China, which is why there is a whole range of dialect groups amongst the Chinese in countries like Malaysia and Singapore.

Tau Yew Bak is not a dish you'd find in any Asian restaurant or cafe - at least not any that I've ever seen.  It doesn't follow a strict recipe or cooking method either. There are base ingredients that most households would use, like soya sauces, garlic and pork.  And its always and only a pork dish.  But the spices, liquidity of the sauce (some gravy-ish, some more soupy) and cooking method can defer from household to household.  Some like me, include eggs in the dish as well.

Most, if not all of us, would learn this dish from our mothers or grandmothers.  Some grow up only ever liking Tau Yew Bak cooked the way their mothers made it.  Some of us (like moi) tinkle with the recipe so that it fits our personal taste.

Oh.  One more thing.  This is best made with a cut of pork called pork belly.  Its the same cut that bacon is often made from.  The dish needs the fat from the pork belly.  Making it from lean pork will not give you the same result, or even taste really.  If you must, you could go half - half pork belly, half lean pork.  But really.  If you're the type that watches your weight, count calories and only eat anything that's labeled 'trim' or 'light', move on.  This dish is not for you.  Alternatively, make this dish and then you can diet for the rest of the week, if that makes you feel better!

If you like trying out Asian dishes, you should try this one.  Its hard to get wrong because there really are not strict set rules as long as you follow some basic ingredients (kinda like muffins).  Once you've cooked it once, you'll find yourself tinkering with the ingredients and cooking methods the next time to suit your taste better!

Here's how I like mine...

Tau Yew Bak (Braised Pork Belly in Soya Sauce)

Pork Belly, 500g-700g is enough for 3-4 people
Cooking oil (Use canola, vegetable or soy, not olive oil or peanut oil)
1 onion, roughly chopped chunks
Ginger, finely chopped (I use appx 5cm of ginger but its up to you how much you like to use)
Garlic cloves, skinned and left whole (I use 5-6 garlic cloves but you can use as much or as little as you want)
1 long stick of cinnamon (don't use powdered cinnamon)
2 star anise
6 cloves
4-5 tablespoons sweet thick soya sauce (kecap manis) (The texture of this sauce is almost as thick as molasses)
4-5 tablespoons dark salty soya sauce (This is watery like regular soya sauce but much darker - be careful to get the right type as there is also a dark sweet soya sauce)
Sesame oil, a few drops
Ground white pepper
4 eggs, hard boiled, shelled and left whole

  1. Put some water to boil whilst you cut up the pork belly.
  2. If the pork belly you have still has its skin on, slice it off, but leave some of that top layer of fat on the pork.  Cut the pork belly up into bite sizes - as small or large as you prefer.
  3. Place pork into boiling water, cook (medium heat) for 5 minutes and drain.  Be careful not to fully cook the pork pieces.  Whilst the pork is cooking the the boiling water, you'll notice some grey scum at the surface of the water.  Skim the scum off.
  4. In a large pan or work, fry the onions in a bit of oil on medium heat until soft (but not brown).
  5. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another 2 minutes.
  6. Add pork pieces, spices and sauces to the pan, and mix.
  7. Then add enough water to the pan so that it covers the pork pieces.  Let it come to a boil.
  8. Transfer everything from the pan/wok into a heavy bottom pot and make sure that there's enough liquid to just cover the meat. Add a bit more water if required.  Bring the braising liquid up to boil again.
  9. Then lower the heat down to a medium-low.  Cover the pot and simmer for  2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remember to stir occasionally.
  10. The whole idea is to cook the pork until the meat is super tender and fat is so soft that it melts in your mouth.
  11. Add the shelled whole hard boiled eggs to the pot during the last 1/2 hour of cooking and try to cover the eggs entirely with the braising liquid. Be gentle so that you don't break the eggs up.
  12. Once the pork is super tender, turn the heat up to medium high and reduce the braising liquid (with lid off) by about 2/3s, or until the braising liquid is thickened and slightly syrupy.
  13. Serve with steamed white rice (Jasmine is best) and some stir fried vegetables on the side.

Spices - you can increase or decrease the spices and sauces based on your taste.  If you don't want the dish too heavily spiced, you could decrease the star anise to one and half the number of cloves.

Sauces - You can adjust the sweet thick soya sauce and dark salty soya sauce to your taste.  But keep in mind that this dish is meant to be both sweet and salty, and that the flavour will deepen quite a bit once the braising liquid is reduced.

Other cooking methods - You can use other cooking methods from step 8 onwards, either in a slow cooker or in the oven in an oven proof casserole pot with a lid.  A slow cooker may take up to 5 hours (or more).  For the oven method, cook at 180-200 degrees celsius with the casserole lid on, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Reduction of braising liquid - If you use the oven method, once the pork is cooked and super tender, take it out from the oven, and drain the liquid into a pot.  Reduce the braising liquid over a medium-high heat.  Once reduced, put the pork pieces back into the thickened braising liquid and heat the meat until hot.

26 February 2011

apple & pear muffins

I love muffins.  Not store-bought ones or even the ones in the fancy cafes around town, but the homemade ones.  There must be tens and hundreds of different muffin flavour combinations, and I never seem to be able to find just the right one at the right time.  I'd be hankering for an orange and date muffin, but the cafe I'm in only has chocolate or cheese.  Know what I mean?  With homemade muffins, I bake exactly what I feel like eating.

And then, there's the baking itself.  Muffins are, only, the, most easiest and fun-est thing to bake!  Pretty fail proof even for a novice homebaker like me.

So tonight I felt like some sweet muffins.  The last lot of muffins I made had blueberries, wholemeal and oats in them.  I made them for 'S' because he doesn't like sweet muffins.  They were yummy, but they were also FAR too healthy.  My body's craving the sugar!  So I rustled up a batch of pear and apple muffins and topped some of them with bits of chocolate.  The recipe called for apples only, but I didn't have enough so I made the rest up with some pears I had.  And I tweaked the spices as well.

Apple & Pear Muffins
Adapted from: Allyson Gofton's Apple Muffins recipe

Dry mix:
3 cups flour
2 tablespoon baking power
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup caster sugar (can substitute with raw sugar)

Wet mix:
100g butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup milk (I used light soy milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (if you have vanilla essence, use 1 teaspoon)
3/4 cup canned diced apple
3/4 cup canned diced pear
(Or you can use 1 1/2 cup of just one type of fruit.  You can also use a mix of fresh and canned fruit, which is what I did and it turned out fine).

Topping (optional):
Walnut halves or chocolate sprinkles

  1. Preheat oven at 220 degrees celsius (about 425 degrees F).
  2. Prep your muffin tray. I always use muffin or cupcake paper cases and line my muffin tray with them.  That way, it makes for easy removal of the muffins and easy cleaning of your tray.  If you use these paper cases to line your muffin tray, there's no need for oiling your try or cases.
  3. Melt the butter and put aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, sift all the Dry Mix ingredients together: flour, baking powder, sugar and spices.
  5. In a smaller bowl, mix the Wet Mix ingredients together - except the butter.
  6. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour the wet mix and butter into the centre.
  7. Gently fold in the dry mix with the wet mix. Don't over mix. If the mixture looks lumpy, that's okay.
  8. Fill the paper cases up to 3/4 full.
  9. Decorate each muffin top with a walnut half, or top with chocolate sprinkles.
  10. Bake for 15-20 mins, until risen, a little golden and cooked.
  11. Remove and stand for 5 mins before transferring the muffins onto a rack to cool completely.


25 February 2011

pickin blueberries

We went blueberry picking last Sunday and I've had these photos ready and waiting to blog.

Then the quake hit Christchurch on Tuesday afternoon at 12.51pm.

Initially I was just glued onto my tv, twitter and facebook for news of the quake all day that day.  Then for the next couple of days I thought about writing this blog but could not.  I wasn't sure that blogging about the awesome day we had picking blueberries was the right thing to do whilst horrific events were unfolding in Christchurch.  Cities everywhere in the world have been hit by earthquakes and other natural disasters one time or the other, and reading about them in the media makes you feel so very sorry for the people effected.  But when it happens in your own country, it kinda hits you in the guts.  Its now Friday and day 4 since the quake.  The stage where its more 'recovery' than rescue.  It sucks, sucks, sucks (to say the least).

Just about everyone I know has done something for the relief effort.  And since no one I personally know is trained in search and rescue or volunteers with the civil defence, we do whatever else we can - donate money, food, water, blankets, clothes, etc.  'S' has donated some money through his work place and I'll be baking this weekend for The Great Sunday Bake Off.

Today I feel that I can blog about picking blueberries.  Not because things are going better down in Christchurch, or that I'm no longer glued to social media portals for news, or that I'm over the quake.  But just that mentally, I now am able to blog about it.  If you're a fellow Kiwi who has been reading my blogs (whether you're in NZ or living elsewhere now), I hope that this blog brings a small smile to your face, even if its for a few seconds.

A Blueberry Day

We were initially making our way to the Akatarawa Valley (about 30mins outside of Wellington) to find a fishing spot along the Akatarawa River.  'S' was keen to do a spot of fly fishing - apparently its perfect time for it as the cicadas are out in their hundreds and thousands.  I'm told that trouts eat cicadas.  So anyway, on our way to the fishing spot, we stumbled across The Blueberry Farm and Bakehouse, a 26 acre certified organic blueberry farm.  Yours truly got very excited and we just had to stop and check it out.  And we're so glad we did!  Check the photos out...

The blueberry farm was situated off the main road down the long-ish path.  As we drove down the path, there were these wooden round signs nailed up on fences all along the path.  I didn't count how many there were but there may have been at least 10.  Each sign was an idea on what you could do with blueberries.  Great way as well to know that as you're travelling along this long and windy path, you were in the right place and heading in the the right way.  Genius!

The path led to a visitors carpark, a picnic area and also a small cafe.  We were given a couple of pails by David, one of the owners of the farm and off we went to gather our blueberries.

This truck was park up along the way to the blueberries. It did look like it was being used and not just for 'decoration'.  But I was intrigued by the sign on the door which said - Milroys Poultry Farm, Paeroa.  I googled this when I got home and found out that there used to be a Milroys Poultry Farm in that region which was owned by a John Alexander Milroy.  My google search gave up Mr Milroy's obituary (d Sept 1987).  So perhaps since the poultry farm did not exist anymore, the truck was sold as part of an estate sale.


And look at what awaited us...

There were rows and rows of blueberry bushes.  We found some 'hidden' bushes - basically some of the bushes were so overgrown that they grew into each other, blocking the path.  We realised that most people were just walking up and down clear pathways.  We decided to push our way through a couple of the overgrown bushes and were rewarded with bunches and clusters of fruit that were hidden from view!  We "fought hard" against some random blackberry plants that I swear were there to guard these particular patch of blueberries...and we have the scars (long ugly scratches!!) on our arms and legs to proof it. ;-))

Look! Reward for our hard work under the blazing sun...

Even David the farm owner, commented on how plump and dark coloured the berries were.  We did notice other people with pails of reddish-purple fruit that weren't really quite ripe for picking and would have been tart to the taste.  That's what you got if you stayed on the easy clear paths!

If you look carefully at the pail on the right, you'll see some blackberries.  I chucked in some blackberries for good measure (I love them).  Take that blackberries.  That'll teach you for being 'guardberries' and scratching me!!

Hi ho, hi ho, a berry-picking we go...

On the way back from the blackberries, we stopped by the farm's watering hole.  Yep.  This farm has got it all.  The river runs along one side of their blueberry farm.  It was lovely.  And packed with families.  So we decided not to hang around.  I only took a photo of the watering hole sign but not any of the watering hole itself.  Wished I did though.

This is further up the watering hole. This part of the river runs right along the path that took us to the blueberries.

When we got back to the cafe, we decided cool down at the picnic area with some ice cream.  Check this out - vanilla ice cream smothered with homemade (by David's wife) blueberry sauce.

And more smothering of oozy blueberry goodness.

And if that wasn't enough, David walks out with a complimentary plate of chocolate fudge cake covered with blueberry sauce for us!  Oh MY.

We were obviously NOT going to be able to eat our meagre packed lunch of ham sandwhiches, carrot sticks and cheese.

We also had a nice chat with David and about his blueberry.  Check out their website to find out more.

Before we left, I had to take a photo of the resident chook.  Very healthy looking chook she was as well.  I suppose you would be too if your feed was supplemented daily by blueberries fed to you by visitors!

Since berry picking season will now run through till June, we are definitely going to be back.  We have family visiting us in April.  Me thinks that The Blueberry Farm and Bakehouse is going into their itinerary.


24 February 2011

baking for Christchurch earthquake relief

Hi there. If you happen to be reading my blog and happen to live in Wellington, it may mean that you're just as keen on baking and cooking as I am.

So if you've got the time and have the means to, it'll be great if you could consider helping out with the Christchurch earthquake relief by participating in The Great Sunday Bake Off this weekend.

Its really simple! Bake to your hearts content on Sunday and drop off your baking down Civic Square on Monday, to be driven down to Christchurch by volunteers.

Check out the Great Sunday Bake Off website here.

Or visit their FB page here.

Happy baking!!


22 February 2011

petone fair - video update

Managed to get the video I took at the Petone fair uploaded right this time. The band playing is an Irish band called the Shenanigans. Check out the impromptu dancing, comedy and the wee little fella with front row seat bopping away!


20 February 2011

petone fair

Another weekend another fair.  This time it's the Petone Fair.

The day started out kinda grey in the city due to extraordinarily low clouds.  But once we got to Petone, the sun was out in all its glory.  Its always sunny and hot in Petone and its only a 10min drive out of the city centre!

Petone. Photo courtesy of Wellington City Council.

The Petone Fair is definitely more of a family fair compared to say, the Martinborough Fair I went to a couple of weeks ago.  Families with babies, families with nanas and grandads, families with doggies, and families with patches (as in gang patches).  Martinborough Fair doggies - bichon frises and miniature schnauzers.  Petone Fair doggies - friendly rottweilers and not so friendly looking rottweilers, and greyhounds.

Greyhounds??  Yep.  Gorgeous, laid back, sooky greyhounds.

Greyhounds As Pets, an organisation that takes in, fosters and adopts out retired racing greyhounds had a stall at the fair.  And I stayed at this stall the longest and had a long interesting conversation with one of the hound's adoptive mother.  If I had the space and was allowed a dog by my landlords, I think I would have walked away with one today.  Protestations from 'S' aside.

I shared a ton of photos from the last fair I went to (Martinborough Fair).  But this time I've got a video of an outdoor performance instead.  And my small loot from the fair. :-)

Buuuuutt, unfortunately I can't get the video to upload properly and I think I'm just going to have to let it go tonight.  Its not happenin.  Maybe tomorrow I'll try again to upload it to the blog.  Damn you technology!!

Anyway, here are my favourite cordials from Kapiti Kitchen - Lemon Lime & Bitters and Lemon, Manuka Honey & Ginger.

So so yummy.  The lemon honey ginger cordial works both cold and hot.  Awesome for cold nights.  Love the packaging too.

And I saw this on sale at the Martinborough Fair and walked away from it.  This time I really really wanted it!  So my darling 'S' got it for me.  I'm so spoilt...

Well.  Until the next fair.

Nighs nighs...

18 February 2011

tea & biccies

Thought I'd break out my other new purchase for afternoon tea today.  Got this gorgeous cup and saucer set for only $5 from one of those wee second hand shops in Petone.

The lady in the shop told me that it was part of a estate sale and all but one set had been broken - therefore the $5 price tag.  Lucky me!

Apparently it's Japanese (you can just make the word 'Japan' out under the saucer).  I love the shades of green and how the gold accents just ping out against the iridescent shimmer, which I think is due to the glaze.

I've heard people say that tea just doesn't taste the same if drunk out of a mug.  I personally don't get that (I think sometimes its all just a bit of hoity toity-ness on their part).  I just love pretty china and drinking tea out of pretty china makes me feel girly...and well, happy.

Today's choice of tea was Tleaft's Christmas Tea.  Yes I know its February and Christmas is now but a memory.  But I just felt like some.  I love the fragrance and flavour of this particular tea.  Its a black tea with yummy additions like vanilla, cloves and cardamom.  Its even got these pretty mini rose petals!  All in all, a gently spiced tea with a slight flowery fragrance.  It went really well with a small stack of some plain wine biscuits.


changes to the blog

After 3 months of blogging, I've decided that I'm not too bad at this whole blogging business, that I like this blogging business and I'm going to carry on this blogging business.

As such I feel that that my blog site needs some zushing up.  Currently I'm just using one of the free Blogger templates and played around a bit with the colours and font.  I also needed a new name that better reflects me and what this blog is about.

So if you've been following my blog, please note that its now no longer 'Mish Mash', but 'Sugar & Spice and All Things Nice'.

I've also updated my about page with why the changes and how it came to be. :-)))

I don't know when the more visual aspects of my blog renovations will take place and complete.  But it'll be soon!


17 February 2011

cheesecake smeeshcake

Had a couple of hours to kill between two appointments, so headed to the nearest cafe with free wifi.  Turns out to be Esquires.  Chain cafe.  Like Starbucks.

Should I even continue?  Like I said.  It was like Starbucks.

But they were doing cheap coffee + cheesecake deal AND they had free internet.  And it was cookies and cream cheesecake.  And I am a sucker for anything cookies and cream.

Holy hell.  So the coffee was as I expected.  Palatable if I don't think too much about it.  But the cheesecake!  Oh my.  The cheesecake.  It did look good, all studded with chunks of cookies.  But that's where it stopped.  Looks. (Yes, yes, I know.  Never judge the book by its cover, food included).

Isn't cheesecake suppose to be...well, cheesy??  Not necessarily savoury cheesy in taste.  But at the very least have a cream cheese texture of some sort?  I wasn't expecting much.  But still.  I wasn't expecting gourmet.  Cheesecake that tasted like its been frozen with dry ice and a mouth feel like flavoured gelatinous...hmmm.  Yeah.  You get the mental picture and phantom taste.

Chain cafe.  Like I said.  Like Starbucks.

I should have know better **mutter, mutter, mutter**

16 February 2011

sarnie, sammie, butty...

Call it what you will - sarnie, sammie, butty, sandwich.  I absolutely love 'em.  My earliest favourite food memory is of sandwiches.  Savoury or sweet works all the same for me.  Its the 'go to' food if I'm too bored to cook, too lazy to cook, too broke to buy a lot of groceries, wanting a late night or mid afternoon snack, etc, etc.

By the way, I'm posting this blog al fresco, writing it whilst sat by the Wellington Harbour.  So no photos of any sandwiches just yet till I get home and upload a couple.  In the meantime, you'll just have to make do with this gorgeous photo.  View I have whilst I'm tapping away on my wee netbook.

Just got home and uploaded couple extra photos to this blog...

Growing up I had special sandwhich containers for my packed school lunches.  As an adult, I have special sandwich containers, albeit fancier and dearer containers!

Now depending which of my friends I speak to, there seems to be a fight between the Brits and the Americans on who invented the sandwich as we know it today. Alas neither did I'm afraid - not at least from what I've read anyway.  And no.  The Chinese did not invent the sandwich either.  Apparently, the earliest description on the most sandwich-like sandwich hailed from the Netherlands.  Sorry super powers!

So.  I'm not an expert in the historically accurate facts on the humble sandwich.  But loving it and having it high on my list of fav foods, gives me the right to blog about it I reckon!  If you want to find out more, just google it.  Or go straight to wikipedia.  Like I did. :-))

I don't have a favourite type of sandwich filling.  Its all about the mood or what's on hand really.  Through the years, the sandwiches I've made or eaten have run the gamut from socially accepted 'normal' fillings like ham, tomatoes and cheese, to milo (yep milo. you should try it), pork floss and spicy sambal.  Sambal is a Malaysian hot chilli paste,a pork floss is shreds of dried pork.

Oh stop 'eewwwing' already.  I once knew this guy who put mashed bananas topped with sliced raw garlic in his sandwiches.  Now THAT must be worse than a chilli paste or milo sandwich.  No?

Back to my milo sandwich.  Tip:
  • Best way to eat this is to spread some butter/margarine on soft fresh bread. You need it so that the milo has something to stick onto.
  • Don't use toasted bread either.  Milo on toasted bread is yucks.  Seriously.
  • Don't be a miser with the milo.  Spread (or sprinkle) it on thick.
  • Quick dunk your sandwich into a glass milk with each bite.
  • Then tell everyone you know about my milo sandwich.

This afternoon's lunch was a combination of 'how quickly can I make a yummy lunch due to excrutiating hunger' and what secret ingredients I would find in my magic box (the fridge).

Wholemeal bun split in half, topped with champagne ham, cucumber sand tomato slices, a fried egg and melted cheese on the top.  Strictly speaking it wasn't a sandwich, but an open sandwich.  But heck.  It was simple, quick, filling and most importantly, it was scrummy.

What's your favourite sandwich filling(s)?  Come on.  Leave me a comment and tell me ALL about it.  I'm starting to think that NO ONE reads my blogs c'os all except one comment so far has been from my darling and my niece.  **Pouts**


14 February 2011

iron and wine

I've got all these things in my head that I want to blog about.  Everytime I see something I like, hear something I like and have a conversation that gives me an idea - its all logged in my head.  I was all prepared for a Valentine's Day update but as usual got completely side tracked on the net for the last 3 hours!

So while I go finish up some chores and gather my thoughts in some order, here's a bit about what I've been listening to all day.  Iron and Wine.

I first heard of them via the Twilight movie.  Towards the end of the movie, Bella and Edward dance to 'Flightless Bird, American Mouth' at their prom.  Oh, who's Bella and Edward?  If you don't already know, then you won't be interested, so don't worry...

The following music vids are of my top four favourite songs from Iron and Wine.  So if you happen to be traipsing through my blog on a quiet afternoon (best time to listen to these songs I reckon), I hope you enjoy these!

Flightless Bird, American Mouth

Fever Dream

Boy With A Coin

Naked As We Came

13 February 2011

afternoon tea

What I'm having for afternoon tea on a gorgeous late Sunday afternoon, whilst sorting the photos I took today for the blog later.

Carrot Cake with copious amounts of Turkish Delight tea from Tleaft on new pretty china I bought from a 'antique' shop in Petone yesterday.

12 February 2011

more nighttime baking!

Yep. The nighttime-bake crusader strikes again. Its 23:32 and cake's in the oven. I did mean to start earlier but American Idol was on tv, and then it was something else. You know how it gets...

This time it's a carrot cake. Lots of spices and walnuts. Got the recipe from Moon over Martinborough. One of my favourite blogs. You should check it out!

Meantime, think I have just enough time for a shower and cuppa tea before the cake's done.

Watch this space!

... ...

Oooo...I cheated.  Cake's cooling on a rack right now.  But I couldn't resist a taste - pinched a small bit from underneath the cake.  I had to know!!

Must say, I'm rather pleased.  Veeeeery moreish.  Its gonna be better tomorrow morning once a layer of cream cheese icing is slathered on top of it.

Until the morning then!  Its nigh-nighs time.

Oh.  And pssst - I have an interesting/different subject (yes, other than food!) which will be making its way onto this blog in a day, or so.  Come back soon to find out. :-)

10 February 2011


Some friends think I can sometimes be 'twee'. In modern times, I don't think being called 'twee' is such a compliment. It often means you're old-fashioned (in a bad way), or too girly (borderline Laura Ashley), or even stepford wife-ish.

The online dictionary explains 'twee' as being 'quaint' or 'affectedly dainty'.

Now dainty I'm not. I'm so heavy-footed that you'd be forgiven to think that a baby Snuffleupagus is stomping around the house, along the corridor, up and down the stairs...you get it. Once at the office, my boss came out of the meeting room to tell me that I was making too much noise with my walking, and that it was disturbing their conference call. In my defence, the office was open-planned ('cept for the meeting room), had polished hard wood floors and high ceilings. Give the girl a break already!

Oh. I don't work there any more. :-)))

Back to being twee. So I'm not dainty. But I like to think that if I am sometimes 'quaint', that's not such a bad thing. No?

Here's a shot of some hydrangeas cut from my garden. Yes, they're a bit twee. But aren't they lovely? They make me happy whilst I tap away on my laptop at the dining table.

09 February 2011


This piece was meant to be a review on a new Japanese eatery in town.  But catching up with a friend over lunch meant that it was all yackity yack.  Before I knew it, we had demolised the starters and halfway through our mains before I remembered to snap a couple of photos.  The hastily snapped pics were rubbish - no amount of manipulation on Picasa could save any.  And seeing that I can't even remember the name of where I ate...

Here's a bit about another pie.  Yep.  Another pie.  One I made for dinner a couple of nights ago.

07 February 2011

day at the fair

One set his basket down
One rear'd his plate
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town)
One headv'd the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her
"Come buy, come buy" was still their cry
                                  Goblin Market, Christina Rossetti

Saturday was a glorious day in Martinborough. I was excited and getting butterflies in my tummy knowing that we were heading out to a fair that day. It was a perfect day for a fair, and I LOVE fairs.  Sometimes I think I look forward to the fairs in summer more than than I do seeing the end of winter and the start of warmer days!

There are many things about fairs that I love...

There's the simple act of leisurely strolling from one stall to another, buying, conversing or just simply looking.  We allow ourselves ice-cream, cupcakes and hotdogs for lunch instead of a healthy meal without a second's thought.  Enjoying and marvelling over the artistic creations of people who are passionate about their wares, and who are generally down to earth - nothing like the snorty 'professional arty' types.  A diferrent sort of hustle and bustle.  I also personally feel that at a fair, there's seems to be a sort of blurring of lines, a neutralising effect on race, religion, your social economic status, believes etc.  There's an air of 'all is right in the world', even if its only for a short period of time (maybe its just me that feels this way!) :-)
I even like the coming home bit.  Grin on the face, buys on the backseat of the car, contented and happy that I got to spend a day at a fair.

So, Saturday was grey, overcast and misty in Wellington. I had checked the weather report the night before and it had promised lots of sunshine for Martinborough (just over an hour from Wellington).  And Martinborough did not disappoint - 30deg! (as opposed to the 21deg in Wellington).  Thank god I had a tube of sunscreen.

Below are some photos I took at the fair.  I decided on the last minute that I didn't want to be bothered with a clunky camera, so took these photos with my camera.  Photos could look better, but I did do some 'tidying up' before posting these.  Hope you enjoy them!

Beginning of the fair outside The Martinborough Hotel

"Car-B-Que" - a car pimped out to sizzle sausages, kebabs and paua fritters

 Nuts About...
The nut man and his cart will be at the next Food Show in Wellington

  World's Smallest Kite lady

Rows and rows of colourful hand-knitted baby booties.  Cute huh?

Gorgeous nest of bowls - Aimee McLeod Pottery
Loving the green colours!
 (Err...evidence of a very amateur photographer - left price sticker on the bowl!  Note if you're wondering, its $12 just for the medium sized bowl).

Table of succulents for sale.  Once again loving the green colours.
The funny spiky one 'looked' like it had soft puffy cotton...
until you touched it.  Ouch!!

 Waimarama Olives
We spent a good few minutes tasting all the award winning olive oils on display, eventually settling on one that has a slight peppery taste - great as a dipping oil with some balsamic vinegar and nice crusty artisan bread.  Mmm...

Abstract Design
Check out these wall hangings!  They come in a selection of different 'recipes'.  I was soooo tempted...

Pickled onions anyone???!
S loves 'em, but me.  Meh.  I can do without them.

Now for some very pr-weee-dy things...

Aren't they the most gorgeous little girl dresses you've seen?  Such happy, pretty dresses!  Some even have co-ordinating hair bands.  If I had a little girl, I'd buy one for each day of the week.  But seeing that I'm not one of those that parade my pet in clothes, I had to make do with just taking photos.

And check these fridge magnets out!

Yep.  Fridge magnets.  Amazing huh?  These 'cupcakes' look so good you want to eat them!  These are handmade by Fuko Carron of Bunny Party - how clever is she?!  My favourites are the marshmallow and chocolate top, and the one with the shrewsberry biscuit.
These colourful pillows with gorgeous prints below were also at her stall.

I couldn't pass this stall without stopping.  James here was wearing a straw hat with little colourful knitted wool socks hanging all around the brim!  And my eyes kept sweeping up and down across his table that had piles of beautifully hand-dyed wool.  James tells me he hand dyes these himself.  Wow.

I spied this trio of curtain ties whilst S was browsing at another stall.  Pr-weee-dy colours...

And check out these lovely neckpieces by Stephanie Cahorel!

I really like the teapot ones and how she's used an old briefcase to display some of her wares.

I liked this painting on sight.  

I'm not usually a fan of brightly coloured paintings, but this one pinged out at me.  Alas I couldn't afford this painting, so Tina (the artist), with babe in arms and all (her baby daughter was adorable!), helped me sift through a pile of prints that she had made from her originals.  So now, I have two of her prints at home.
Just need to find suitable frames for them now...

We found 'John' selling bunches of gorgeous fresh flowers.
I LOVE fresh flowers...

On our way out, we came by this game stall.
What's a fair without at least one of these game stalls??

These kinda freak me out a little though...you can just hear that creepy circus music (Entry of the Gladiators)...

We were both starting to really wilt under the hot sun by the time we decided to head home.  S suggested fresh fruit ice-creams and the decision was made in a nano second.

His was blueberries and mine, blackberries.
They were gone in minutes!  Both because it was so good and refreshing, but also because it was a race to eat it all before it melted in the hot sun.

And finally...

 The long and windy drive home to Wellington
(note the mist and greyness in the horizon!)

But like I said before - grin on face, buys on the backseat of the car, contented and happy that I got to spend a day at a fair.

Can't wait to do it again!