Sunday, 29 August 2010

How to stay alive

Time, unfortunately, though it makes animals and vegetables bloom and fade with amazing punctuality, has no such simple effect upon the mind of man. The mind of man, moreover, works with equal strangeness upon the body of time. An hour, once it lodges in the queer element of the human spirit, may be stretched to fifty or a hundred times its clock length; on the other hand, an hour may be accurately represented on the timepiece of the mind by one second.
Orlando by Virginia Woolf

It was D's birthday recently and birthdays are important and need to be celebrated. Don't think about it as getting older (we're only as old as we feel anyway). Think about it as celebrating another year of being alive. Being alive is really quite underrated and trust me, it is definitely something worth celebrating.

We were going to have a little party a couple of days later but on the actual day I took her out for dinner at
Revive. No one should spend their birthday alone.

This is their hotpot of the day, the Tangy Tandoori Chickpeas which was served on brown rice and I chose the Juicy Bangkok Slaw for my salad. I love their slaws and this was a pretty good hotpot. I was starving so it really hit the spot.

Then a couple of days later we had a little party at D's parents. Aunty L loves creating platters...

The dip was a spicy red bean dip from one of Alison and Simon Holst's Meals Without Meat books. I could have probably eaten the entire contents (this may have partly been because I was really rather hungry by then). I restrained myself but it was very good.

Everyone else was eating my Aunty's seafood chowder but she had whipped me up some kind of veggie and lentil casserole and it was pretty good. I ate it with more corn chips and the remaining veggies from the platter.

And then we had cake...which is really the main event when it comes to birthday food. I seem to have found my place within our family as the birthday cake maker. I'm not complaining (for a start, if I make it then I know I can eat it and I like cake so getting to eat it is a real bonus!).

We are quite good at polishing off a cake in our family. Life is far too short for tiny slivers.

I do think this photo might be a tad deceptive. I swear the icing wasn't
that thick!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Chips chips chips chips, we like chips

He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted, and rather selfish, is to be ill-disposed.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sing the title as a's great fun (then try singing happy birthday followed by 'For she's a jolly good fellow' also as a round...that's even more fun although we may have drunk a fair amount of wine by then)!

A little celebration was called for, despite the fact it was a couple of weeks late so my kiwi brother (as opposed to my American brother), my lovely cousin D and I trouped off to my parents place for delicious food and good times.

Dinner was tofu stir-fry and oven chips (kumara chips for me but there were potato chips too). Mum seasoned them with kelp salt which was super delicious, and I convinced her to leave the skins on...I've now made my parents converts. Awesome.

I've been dying to try a raw dessert for ages so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I ended up deciding on The Real Cheezecake from Ani Phyo's book
Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. Very costly to make so I'd been saving it for a special occasion but it is super easy.

It was sensational (better than I expected to be honest)...very filling but not too rich and everyone loved it which was cool. I thought they might think it was a little too weird or something but no, it was welcomed into everyone's stomaches with open mouths.

Wine and apple cider...they do say don't mix your drinks and they may be right! Also not so good when you have a race the next day but I couldn't stop laughing most of the night so that can't be a bad thing right?

Oh, and just in case anyone else was interested...Beauty and the Beast in 3D was awesome. I may or may not have needed tissues.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Yet another goodbye...

Quinn's appetite was as outstanding as his equipment. He enjoyed dessert so much, he came back for seconds.
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

...which can also be known as Monday in Christchurch.

Leaving Christchurch is always hard. When I come home I find that I end up feeling quite lonely and sad.

But before I had to leave I met up with my friend M and we went for a little run in the mud and the drizzle around
Halswell Quarry with the aid of an orienteering map (and perhaps we may have ventured on to some private land but what no one saw, no one knows about right?).

Running, of course, makes you feel a bit hungry so we ventured into town for a spot of lunch at my favourite cafe,
Soul Food. M is quite indecisive and I want everything so we decided to get the vegan BLT (which is extremely yummy...probably the vegan aioli that really does it for me)...

...and the vegan lentil and brown rice burger (which is very filling and healthy-tasting although not in a bad way in case you were of the opinion that healthy-tasting and delicious couldn't go hand in hand)...

...and split them. It was a good decision.

They also have 2 sweet vegan options. The first one is the fruit muffin which is really soft and delicious and the creamy stuff on the top is very nice.

The second is the ginger crunch which I had on Thursday night as well at
Govinda's. Soul Food and Govinda's are actually run by the same people which is fortunate because that means you have 2 separate places you can get this most awesome ginger crunch. But as I said on a previous post, I am doing my best to replicate it!

Again, so that neither of us got jealous, we split both choices but the ginger crunch bet the muffin hands down. There really was no contest.

And then it was time to go home which was very sad. But it's okay because I will be back down that way very soon (and thank god for skype, email and all that jazz)!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Doing a 180...

Ross was unsure about leaving Joe in Danny's house. He could imagine what she'd do if she arrived home unexpectedly and discovered a stranger ripping out her toilet.
Knotted by Michelle Holman

...also known as Sunday in Christchurch.

We ate porridge, went orienteering (otherwise known as running round in circles and standing round in the freezing cold afterwards), sat in front of the fire and ate peanut butter sandwiches. Oh, and I got asked to do the
World Rogaine Champs. ARGH!!!! Exciting!!!!!! (in case you hadn't worked it out, that was exciting news number 2).

Moving on. In the afternoon B and I popped into his local mall to, well, do mall stuff (well, actually to go to the supermarket but we got distracted). On our way through I saw this...

Personally this could almost be exciting news number 3 but you might laugh at me. Beauty and the Beast is, like, my favourite movie of all time (okay, maybe a close second after The Princess Bride). And now it's in 3D!

Anyway, once I'd calmed down from that excitement, we popped over to visit D at her motel to eat cake...certain celebrations always need cake right?

I like cake (although making them in B's kitchen is not quite so good since it is lacking in some vital equipment so it's lucky I brought my cake pan down with me)!

Then for dinner we went to the
Dux de Lux which is a vegetarian and seafood pub (I think they used to be solely vegetarian but they now serve seafood as well). With heaps of the meals you get a salad on the side (which you get to pick). There were 2 vegan options this time so I went with both...a tofu and vege one and a green salad. The tofu salad was divine.

I also really like their (alcoholic) ginger beer. You may have noticed I like ginger and since discovering that alcohol, in moderation, is really not that scary, this is a very nice drink.

We wanted kumara chips but it was not to be (they were sold out) so we settled with buffalo wedges. This plate destroyed us and we left way too many on the plate for my liking but my stomach was just not gonna take any more.

For my main I ordered the corn and vegetable fritters which are served with a beetroot chutney. I had these last time I was here but I didn't feel like the Indian dish and I can get a red tofu curry up in Auckland any day. Plus I like corn fritters. They were better than I remembered too.

So all in all another pretty much perfect day...

Thursday, 12 August 2010

It's all very exciting...

But he could not move. He could not make the effort. He lay there with his face turned into the gentle stream of falling water and did not stir again.
Angel - Seeker by Sharon Shinn

...otherwise known as Saturday in Christchurch.

It started with coffee...or, more specifically, since I've never drunk a cup of coffee in my life, a ginger chai latte with rice milk from
The Orange Tree.

I then wanted vegan pancakes and nobody was going to stop me...I doused them in maple syrup and they really didn't last long at all. I love pancakes (oh, and they can make them gluten free too if you so desire)!

I've only just recently started climbing again after various injuries and events got in the way. Unfortunately winter is not really the best time for climbing outside so we just hit up The Roxx. Just so you know, I don't normally climb in socks (or polypro pants for that matter) but my feet were too cold.

There was an emergency peanut butter sandwich consumed partway through (well, not partway through a climb because that might be a little crazy).

Yes, I have chalk all over my hands...they don't normally look that weird.

Climbing makes me hungry so we went exploring for a stop of lunch/afternoon tea. And what did we find?

Yep, it's
Eternal Delight - a raw vegan cafe. I didn't even know they existed (well, in New Zealand anyway). It was all terribly exciting but I had to remember we were going out for a fancy dinner so we couldn't eat too much so we decided to split a main and a dessert. B chose the Italian pizza and salad.

Seriously this was amazing. I don't know how they did it but just looking at the photo right now makes me want it again real bad. The salad especially was very impressive (yes, the pizza was great but there was something about that salad...).

As a sweet treat I picked the Superfood Black Forest Cake which uses goji berries instead of cherries. The guy gave us a discount because it had fallen over. He said that normally it stands tall and proud. Again it was pretty awesome. We decided we'd have to come back here for their Friday night fine dining next time I'm down.

And then we raced home to check trademe (like eBay I guess but specifically for us here in New Zealand). You see, I had placed an auto bid on a road bike as the auction was going to close while we were out so I had no idea if I'd won or not. But guess what?! I won!!! This is exciting news number 1 (more to follow in the next post). I will probably post photos of it everywhere at some point. It's awesome!

Anyway, moving on! Dinner was a special occasion made even more special because B and I were joined by my beautiful cousin D and her boyfriend. So basically, it was dinner with my bestest friends in the whole world and it really can't get much better than that. We decided to go to
The Lotus Heart because it's fancy and they do awesome food.

Fries can't really go wrong with that (plus their homemade tomato sauce is real good...they should bottle and sell it 'cause I'd definitely buy it). B ordered tea and I had to take a photo...I
want this tea set.

D and I went with their homemade ginger also can't go wrong with that. I order it every single time.

For our mains B and I decided to order a couple of different things and share (D and her boyfriend did the same). We got the vegan pizza which had their special cashew vegan aioli on it...I have to try this 'cause it tasted super cheesy (well, at least my memory of cheesy).

We also ordered the curry of the day. Somehow I have managed to delete the photo I took of this...oops! Anyway, I can't remember now what it was but it was tasty which is really all that counts. I think the waiter was quite impressed that we polished off all this food with such ease (and then casually asked for the dessert menu too).

Dessert...raw pumpkin pie with raw ice cream. Oh my god! This was really REALLY good. So good that I was very surprised. It was also a ridiculously large portion and I couldn't even finish it which is quite a rare thing for me. I had to take the leftovers home (there was no way I was letting it go to waste!).

And to finish off an awesome night? We went to live comedy...a perfect night (especially because B and I tried to book too late so they'd sold out but somehow 2 people cancelled right before the show was about to start so we got their tickets).

Monday, 9 August 2010

Back before dark...

We did see a lot of machine guns, but at least we didn't see any severed heads.
I'm not eating any of that foreign muck by Brian Thacker

...otherwise known as Friday in Christchurch.

If you're going to be out traipsing across the hills all day then you're going to need a big, hearty breakfast. This is where my epic porridge comes in...for the 2 of us I used 1 cup of wholegrain oats, 1 cup rice milk and 1 cup water. About halfway through cooking I added 2 heaped tablespoons of peanut butter, 2 sliced bananas and some frozen berries. Topped with golden syrup this was absolutely perfect (as we huddled next to the fire)!

So after breakfast and much debate over where we were going to go, we headed off to tackle as much of the
Crater Rim Walkway that we could before it got dark (we should have got up earlier in hindsight but holidays are for sleeping in right?). The below photo is looking down into Lyttleton Harbour from the Port Hills.

Along the way you encounter various gun emplacements and what we could only assume were once bomb shelters or something similar. The artwork on some of these was really quite fascinating...

Are you worthy of notice, observation or consideration?

We live in a free country where you are free to do nothing

B thought he'd bring his gas cooker along so lunch was really quite civilised. That morning I'd fried up some cubes of tofu and we just added that to a packet soup (
Naked Organics Thai Coconut Curry).

Ah, a hot lunch...just perfect for a beautiful, but freezing day on the hills.

This was our turnaround point since we didn't really feel like wandering in the dark. As it was, we got back with enough time but the sky was definitely well on its way to darkening.

I'm not much of a walker so I was feeling rather stiff by the end and was quite glad to curl up in the car on the way home again (it's ironic really...I could run that track and probably feel fine but when it comes to walking I just get tired!).

We were pretty hungry by then so dinner was definitely in order. We were joined by B's friend M and thought we'd check out somewhere we hadn't been before, the
Welcome Chinese Vegetarian Cafe.

As a starter for everyone we ordered the Crispy Savoury Cheeky Nuggets simply because it is such an awesome name!

We each got to pick a main dish that we would all share and I ended up choosing the Hotplate Sambal Lemon Eggplant Tofu.

M ordered this dish but I actually can't remember what it was. My main memory was that it was quite spicy but delicious.

B ordered us the Crispy Sesame BBQ Fried Rice on Hotplate which is described as BBQ Sesame sauce over Crispy protein with Nori and fried rice. Let's just say that to me that description sounds highly unappetising but it turned out to be my favourite of all the dishes. The 'crispy protein with nori' was absolutely delicious and I should have taken a cutaway photo of it 'cause it looked so cool.

Dessert is, of course, very important and I got some vegan ice cream because, well, it was on the menu and that in itself is pretty exciting.

We also got some red bean pastries to share because I love red bean. I was kind of hoping for something like the red bean pancakes I get in Auckland but it was not to be. These were still pretty good though.

Dinner (we'll definitely be coming back to this restaurant) and company was nice and all but I was quite happy to get back to B's flat and sit in front of the fire with a nice cup of tea. I'm such a nana!