Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Memories of cupcakes and pizza

Though Eric's tone was light as a marshmallow, his meaning was a sharp blade hidden inside.
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

I'm having one of those weeks where my head is whirling all over the place and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the number of photos I have sitting around to be blogged about but we'll deal with that another time. Instead we'll just take a little time-travel back to Sunday because I can actually remember that far (anything earlier has merged together!). On this particular Sunday my best friend B was up visiting me. It was also daylight savings (the one I always dread 'cause you have to turn the clocks forward an hour) which may account for the fuzziness of my brain.

Anyway, after getting up super early (and of course it felt even earlier with the whole daylight savings thing) for a training ride out to Kumeu and back, B turned up at my place and we cruised over to
Kokako for breakfast. I was starving by this stage which wasn't surprising.

I love their vege booster juice which is, apparently, a combination of carrot, celery, beetroot and ginger. Seriously, it is quite possibly the most delicious juice ever although I did adore the
green juice I had at The Lotus Heart.

There really isn't that much vegan food on offer at Kokako despite it being a vegetarian cafe but the tofu scramble is good and is generally my usual order when I come here. It will fill you up.

On our drive home B spotted the
Kraftbomb sign and I realised I'd always wanted to go (I also realised that it's just down the road from my house) so we swung the car around and went inside. Ooo, vegan cupcakes from the NZ Cupcake Queen!!!

I was very unoriginal and got the peanut butter chocolate chip one...typical. Maybe next time I might branch out to one of her more exciting flavours?

It is a bit tragic but we ended up eating a sort of lunch in the car from food we picked up at Huckleberry Farms (there was an apple here as well...not just pie!).

Then it was time to make the drive over to the shore to catch up with our friend E. I made the boys epic pizza...

Well, I did eat more than one slice, 2 slices in fact, but E's place was lacking in decent-sized plates so I drew the short straw and ended up with this tiny plate! This pizza was piled a mile high with vegetables and was of the knife and fork variety. We spent the rest of the night watching movies, eating cookies (good old Oreos!) and drinking tea. Awesome.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

It was epic

She'd thrown him. Not just off-balance but into some dis-ordered reality where he wasn't entirely sure which way was normal, which was safe.
A Fine Passion by Stephanie Laurens

I could say that eating a late breakfast and checking out earthquake damage was the reason for my trip to Christchurch a couple of weeks back and although that sounds quite wonderful (well, the late breakfast bit does) it's not true. I really went to down south for a race which probably doesn't surprise anyone. We had a long drive ahead of us but that was going to pale in comparison to what we were going to face the following day.

Continuing along a theme of eating late, since breakfast wasn't eaten until after 11am that meant lunch was late too...4:30 in the afternoon kind of late in fact and consisted of homemade bread slathered in peanut butter and eaten in the supermarket carpark at

You're getting a photo of this because M thought it was really quite funny. We couldn't go into the supermarket until I'd eaten because I was so hungry and we were too lazy to go sit in the park to eat (okay let's be honest, I was too desperate for us to stop so I could eat).

Finally we arrived in
Naseby which is one of my favourite places ever. Even better was the fact we were staying in the awesome Naseby holiday park...awesome because it is right next to the forest and I love the forest here.

We were tired and a bit hungry by the time we finally arrived so dinner was quick. I fried up a packet of tofu with some mushrooms then added a packet of soup/curry (seriously, it can't decide which one it is supposed to be) and some broccoli. Delicious.

It really wasn't all that long before we were crawling out of bed again in the morning to get ready for the race...a 12 hour rogaine. If anyone is interested, you can read my writeup of the event

It's very unexciting but here is my breakfast before the race - weetbix, tinned fruit salad, soy yogurt and oat milk.

And here is the event centre in awesome! We were based out of their town hall which is the building on the right.

One thing I love about the sports that I do is the amazing countryside that I get to see and explore. I think Central Otago is one of my favourite places and the scenery is just spectacular. I hope to be doing this for as long as I possibly can. My Mum tells the story of a lady in her 90s competing at the World Masters Orienteering Champs one year and I guess that is something that I strive for.

So yeah, the scenery was awesome, M and I worked very well as a team (although I wish his legs weren't so long 'cause it is tough work keeping up) and we made it back with 5 minutes to spare which is always good. My feet were absolutely killing me but it was all worth it as we won the mixed grade...oh yeah!

Although I'm sure you're all sick of scenery by now, but I have to finish with a photo looking down over Naseby forest from our walk the following morning...this place is extremely close to my heart.

Returning home gets harder every time...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Rumbling down south

He could not accurately have told anyone how he passed the next several hours. He was lost in his own creative reverie. In a rapid hand that skated across the white paper like a bird landing on water, he mapped out his scenery
The Final Act of Mr Shakespeare by Robert Winder

About this time last week I fell asleep at my desk but luckily today I am much more awake! 5:40am flights are not fun.

Anyway, it feels like a lifetime ago now but about a week and a half ago now (?) I flew down to Christchurch for a race in central Otago. 10:30pm is quite possibly the latest I've ever had dinner but my plane didn't land until after 9:30pm and then we had to go pick up some gear from B's house. I think I was getting to the point of wanting to eat my hand by the time we finally got to M's house but it was okay because he had cooked me dinner!

Homemade bread fresh out of the breadmaker (it was still warm!!) and pumpkin soup!

I'd made a double-batch of the Fudgy Wudgy Blueberry Brownies from of the batches went to my brother (because I am an awesome sister!) and the other was technically for M's sister to bribe her into picking him up from the airport the week before but of course we needed to do a taste test first!

They were so ridiculously sweet and rich that I actually only managed half a piece which is saying something since I can normally finish anything sweet! But then again, it was, like, 11:30pm by then and such a late dinner really screws with my appetite. But in saying that, they were certainly delicious and I hear via the grapevine that M's sister has polished them all off.

Naturally we ended up sleeping in for ages the following morning so I was practically ravenous by the time I awoke. We had planned to go to
The Orange Tree for breakfast but it was shut due to minor earthquake damage so we trooped off to Cathedral Square and made it to The Lotus Heart just in time to make their cutoff for the breakfast menu.

First up...drinks. I wish I could remember what my juice was because despite being bright green it was seriously delicious. M ordered some berry smoothie...I just love the bright colours.

I really wanted the Flax-oat French Toast which was really delicious and super filling.

M's choice was the Raw Cacoa Crepes (at least I think that's what they were). The crepes were made with cacoa and zucchini apparently and filled with all sorts of fresh fruit.

On first glance I swear the crepes look like they're filled with lollies! But I'll be honest here, we both found the crepes to be far to rich and chocolatey for breakfast (I can't believe I'm saying this!). A single one of these for dessert would be amazing but it was all a bit much for breakfast.

After breakfast (we'd reached midday by then!) we went for a wander around town (or the parts of it we could access) to see some of the earthquake damage. To be honest you couldn't see all that much in town because many of the roads looked like this...

There were army trucks and police cars everywhere (this was nearly a week after the first earthquake but Christchurch is still being hit by aftershocks).

When we parked our car to go to breakfast we passed this building below. Its whole roof had collapsed and tried to escape out the window. There are buckled buildings all over the show.

Each building you pass in town has a piece of paper taped to it describing it's current state. You don't want to find one of these red ones on your building.

We didn't head out to the south where a lot of the damage is as we were running a bit late and needing to head off on our journey into central Otago for the weekend. Thankfully I only felt a couple of aftershocks while I was in Christchurch but the low rumbling sound before the house started shaking is really quite scary.

Anyway, this post is already quite long enough so the rest of the adventure will have to wait...

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Packing a pot of pies

...and it wasn't low cut enough to look slutty. With my boobs, the slut factor kicks in if I'm not careful.
From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

I am off on an plane tonight but before I go...

I made pot pie (or whatever it is you might call it)! Well, actually I've made it several times in various different ways and it has even passed the flatmate test (as in they were still alive the following morning).

This is my first version and the only one I got around to photographing which is rather unfortunate because once it was in the oven I realised I'd forgotten to put the baking powder in the scone top despite putting it out on the table with all the other ingredients! So the following versions looked much cooler. This particular version is filled with leeks, carrot, mushrooms, onion, creamed corn and tofu and topped with a wholemeal scone mixture adapted from
The Vegan Table.

Other versions have involved chickpeas, cannellini beans, courgette, broccoli, cauliflower and any other vegetable in my fridge! Basically you stirfry up the veggies and I add a tin of creamed corn to give it some liquid. Then once they are pretty much cooked I pour the mixture into a casserole dish then whip up a scone topping and drop that on top. Bake in the oven for roughly 20 minutes and there you have it (but be'll be super hot inside). Perfect food for winter and the cold, wet nights we seem to have right through spring.

Anyway, I'm usual my packing is quite behind schedule! Think of me this weekend as I fly into the earthquake zone and then head off deep into the wilderness!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Keeping out the predators

"You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have four legs, instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart instead."
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

As I said in my last post, I had a friend come visit me for the weekend...after picking M up from the airport we thought we'd go roam the supermarket because that's what people
do on a Thursday night right? Amongst other random buys (chocolate was the essential reason for the supermarket trip) I discovered this packet of chips in the International isle. I mean, how could you possibly pass up a flavour of chips called Mrs H.S. Ball's Chutney? What could possibly be more appealing?!

We ate them all on the car ride home. Of course, this might indicate that they were delicious or something. Rather they were weirdly sweet (well, they were chutney flavoured after all) but awfully addictive...if that makes any sense.

We went out for breakfast but I didn't take my camera which was pretty slack but in my defense we actually weren't planning on breakfast (well, we were...just not right then). Because neither of us checked out the address of our morning destination carefully enough we had to postpone morning plans till later and go eat before I turned into a monster. So we went to Raw Power since we were in town and I had their tofu scramble. It's really good...but clearly camera-shy because every time I've had it my camera has, well, not been there. Oh, and we may have had a giant melting moment cookie as well but that might just be a rumour.

I do, however, have a photo of lunch...which isn't exactly pretty but still tasted good. I suspect that after biking out to Kumeu most things would have tasted quite good though.

We had to retreat to a bus stop to hide from the wind and rain. Typical Auckland (there was blue sky in the morning, then it rained, then it was blue sky again...repeat until you get exhausted...but the weather never does).

And then we biked home again...

We were up at my beach house the next day (after arriving late at night from basking in the Waiwera Hot Pools until we turned all wrinkly) and for breakfast I made us both the Banana Flapjacks from Vegan Brunch. They turned out really delicious (between the 2 of us we easily polished off the whole batch) but I really need a non-stick frypan because I was wrestling with the old cast iron one which was determined to destroy all remnants of a good mood. Luckily I'd given M prior warning that I was likely to turn into a monster when it came time to try and turn them over so he didn't panic when I started cursing.

Served with peanut butter (well, mine was anyway), blueberries, soy yogurt and golden syrup. Quite awesome.

Fuel before heading up over the hill to the reserve for running drills...

This is a muesli bar from my local bakery. They are awesome (the bakery specifically but also this muesli bar)...heaps of vegan options and if you are avoiding wheat or gluten, well you have quite a few choices too.

I attempted to climb the predator fence in an attempt to get out of doing the drills but M was having none of it...

...okay, who am I kidding?! You don't have to drag me out for
any adventures (as for the predator fence, Tawharanui Reserve is a penninsula protected by what they call the predator fence to keep, well, predators out...turns out it keeps humans out too if you don't cross at the proper gates so I guess that makes us predators as well)!

By the time we got back it was after 4pm and we hadn't even had lunch! Emergency refueling was called for before I either passed out or turned into the monster from hell (is this a recurring theme for this post?)...

A big bowl of stir-fried veggies and tofu sausages mixed in with a packet of curry/soup (it tried to claim it was both which was a bit confusing) and served with spelt toast smeared with my Mum's kumara and sundried tomato hummus. Oh, and a bottle of Phoenix Cola. Can't go wrong.

And then it was time (well, after lazing on the couch and watching the news about the
earthquake in M's hometown which was a bit scary) to head back home which is always a bit sad. I'd like to stay up at my beach house forever.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Oh goodness me!

"The chances of finding out what's really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied. Look at me, I design fjords. I'd far rather be happy than right any day."
"And are you?"
"No, that's where it all falls apart I'm afraid."
"Pity, it sounded like quite a nice lifestyle otherwise."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Life is amazing. Hell, even when it's tough it's still pretty amazing. Here are some cool things and great food in my life recently...

Ginger crunch.

Even better is getting home from a long day at work to find a parcel sitting outside my bedroom door...a parcel containing my favourite ginger crunch all the way from Soul Food in Christchurch. Awesome!

Riding my bikes.

This is my new road bike (I've called her Ellie...interesting to note that my mountain bike is definitely male in my eyes but my road bike is a female)!!! She's shiny and fast!

And here's my mountain bike. He's strong and dependable...and is about to go on his first overseas adventure! I will admit there were times in the past when I was quite ready to throw him off the top of a cliff but these days we are quite good mates!

Hot soup on a cold day.

This is one of the many vegan soups (Tuscan bean and vegetable to be exact) from the coffee shop across the road,
Agnes Curran. They make all their soups and are now consciously thinking about the ingredients they use and let me know when they're vegan. Plus the staff there always make me laugh (I don't drink coffee but my boss does and I'm the one to go get it...they know me very well!).

Running at Tawharanui.

Waikauri Bay is my favourite place and over the hill is
Tawharanui Regional Park which I've been exploring all my life. Running over there never gets old. Even better is sharing the experience with a friend and we even had beautiful the middle of winter!

Chocolate (I mean, how could it not be part of an awesome life)!!!

That (above) is a Decadent Date from
She Chocolat in Christchurch (D bought me a whole bag as a present). It's described as a fresh organic medjool date hand stuffed with a gianduja filling and coated in the finest Belgian chocolate. Delicious!

New running shoes (I don't know how fond I am of the bright pink colour of my new
Mizunos though but I love Wiggle!). Even better is getting new off road shoes and wearing them in (because I can't handle them being clean for long)! Below are my new Inov-8 Roclite 285s 'cause my old ones are starting the slow trip to falling apart.

The only thing that makes that experience even cooler is testing them out in the
Waitakere Ranges.

It is like paradise (but the weather is very temperamental out there so I'm always weary of taking my camera out with me...maybe next time).

Eating lunch with A at
Kokako and catching up on all the gossip and drama of his life...makes for a truly entertaining experience! It's just along from my gym so A is a bit of a celebrity whenever we go too!

Plus the food there is good. Above we have the tofu scramble with their awesome veggie booster juice and below is the beans on toast (which isn't really beans on toast at all since they put the beans
next to the toast but I can forgive them!).

As I was writing this I realised it could actually go on and on which is incredibly heartening!

But one of the best things? Awesome friends coming to visit...I'm counting down the hours till I head out to the airport tonight!