Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Longest Summer

It's been a while since I last wrote anything, this is most likely due to the fact that summer is just going on and on and on and Lloyd and I are making the most of it.

Since I last posted, we've been to Waiheke Island for a wee holiday, I've been diving at the Poor Knights marine reserve, we've sauced and passata-d and gardened, done more pottery and yesterday we went over to the Hokianga for HokiFest. I've done all of this while dosed up to the eyeballs on painkillers. I've done something to my shoulder and am presently seeing a chiropractor and a voodoo lady! ok she's not a voodoo lady - she does cranial something or other and is a genius. After 2 weeks I think it might be on the mend. Which is great, because making do with only a few meagre hours of sleep, before being woken up with the pain is really beginning to get me down!

Anyway first things first - Waiheke Island.
In all the time we've lived in NZ we've never been, so a few months back we booked a 4 day trip. It was wonderful. It felt like we'd been abroad!  The sun shone the whole time we were there and basically we just explored. Highlights were a picnic on Palm Beach, watching the sun set from Cable Bay Winery,  exploring Stony Batter, Man O War Winery, Oyster Inn Restaurant, eating lovely meals and lying in bed looking at the view.

This is the view from our bedroom window - sunset on the first evening

Couldn't resist! Macarons by the sea - yum!

Picnic on Palm Beach

A fairly standard view around Waiheke! It's all pretty stunning.

Some washed out rocks

There are loads of vineyards on Waiheke - it's pretty famous for its wine.

Our last evening - at one of said vineyards - Cable Bay. Sunset.

We loved it. We'd love to make it a regular, maybe once a year thing.

The very next morning after we got home I had to get up at 5.30am to meet Simon and Alison and drive down to Tutakaka, where we were meeting a boat to take us out to the Poor Knights Islands. I've done a fair bit of diving here before so I knew how good it was going to be. And it was!
It's positively teeming with fish life there. Lots of sting rays, unfortunately no mantas, we'd been told they were around and had really hoped to see some.
I've said before how much I love diving. It's another world down there.

Two snapper following us around the place - they are incredibly tame.

I can't remember what this is called - but it's super cute!

A moray eel - this was a rather large one!

Simon and Pete having an underwater confab

I'm pretty sure  this is a large scorpion fish - its eye looks odd!

A long tailed sting ray

Alison rolling off the boat - I love this!! For non divers, the way you get off smaller dive boats is to sit on the edge with your legs in the boat and your back facing the water, and simply roll off backwards - it's great fun,

Now we've got pottery - I took some of my bowls and stuff home to glaze so that I can take it back on Tuesday to be fired - it saves time, and means that when I'm there on Tuesday I can make more stuff rather than paint glaze on.
 I also took home my wee buttons! They were just a time filler one evening, but I think they're very sweet so I sewed some onto the back of a white linen tunic I made to take on the Waiheke holiday.

 One of my bowls made on the wheel - ok not totally symmetrical! This has been fired once and has had the glaze painted on - once it's been fired again the glaze should be a glossy cream colour - we shall see!

These are just little hand made bowls - from white clay - again these will be cream with pale blue spots on them - I hope!

finally, my wee buttons

Today Lloyd and I picked the remaining tomatoes - there were actually still a fair amount left after we picked about 8kg - but by this time I am over them totally - we have about 20 litres of passata in the freezer! This'll last us quite some time. Anyway, because of this we took out the tomato plants that were left and fed the nice red tomatoes to the chickens. They were delighted! Then we chopped the basil down that's been in the greenhouse - I left the stalks as I'm fairly certain it will sprout from them. Then we set to work making another HUGE batch of passata - but this time it had a tonne of basil in it - I honestly think it may be the nicest one we've ever made.

You can really tell the difference between the outside tomatoes and the greenhouse ones. The outside ones are less sweet and also a lot more dirty! Greenhouse ones are super sweet and lovely and clean!

 This is the pile of basil - the pic really doesn't show how huge it is. These stems are about 1m long!

Lloyd also managed to make the first batch of chilli sauce. The greenhouse has been amazing for the chillies. They're like flipping trees in there!  This sauce has a mixture of about 30 habaneros, 50  chilli fire, 50 anaheim, 50 hungarian peppers and 100 ceyenne oh and about  4 bhut jalokias.

Here's what was in the sauce as well as the chillies
200ml dark soy
100ml light soy
200ml cider vinegar
500ml dry sherry
and about 5 teaspoons sugar

brought to the boil and simmered for around half an hour -  turn off and let it stew for about another three hours.
Then blend it with a stick blender, mouli it and bottle it.

The trug with most of the chillies he picked

Lots of lovely greenhouse chillies! There's still about a gazillion more to come

Preparation, preparation, preparation. We also have a wee gas burner outside now. The catch in your throatness of cooking a million chillies really didn't do it for me.

Ready for bottling

Finished and labelled
( not great quality  - but the labels say Rather Hot Chilli Sauce)

This is the tomato sauce I made a couple of weeks ago.

on the left is one large bottle of basil passata to have in the fridge the remaining 100 litres is in the freezer!

So, all in all we've been rather busy. Sometimes I feel totally exhausted and others I feel like I'd could go for ever!!


  1. Fabulous post Laura, you two have been verrrrry busy!! The evidence of your hard work in the kitchen all labelled up is grand. I have red capsicums to make into Red PeppervJelly. It is delish with cheese and cold meat.

    1. Oddly I didn't plant any capsicums - I think I'll do some next summer - Lloys wasnt hugely impressed with the chilli fire or the cayenne ( said not hot enough) so they're going to be coming out of the greenhouse. I got some more seeds so we'll see what comes up! Still looking for a jalpeneo for him!!

  2. We have been making chilli sauce at the Little Black Cow farm - I think ours are hot enough as even cutting them up stings and makes my eyes water! Loved your pots - where do you get them fired?

    1. Hi there, I actually go to a studio for pottery and there's a wheel there and a kiln - so it all gets fired at the studio. I only took some home this time because I just wanted to get it finished!!

  3. I'm loving all these photos! You guys really have been making the most of summer. Spring is just now starting here and I can't wait for it to warm up. My mouth is watering at the tomatoes, basil, and chili sauce. Yum!

    1. We really have, it's been spectacular this year. Supposedly it's going to continue to feel summery through April!!
      Enjoy spring :)

  4. It is hard work all that preparing and bottling but knowing that you will be eating home grown sauces all through the Winter makes it such a worthwhile job :-)

    I'm itching to get going and growing again and luckily it would appear, (fingers crossed) that our weather is finally on the turn, although temperatures in the greenhouse have dipped below freezing every night this week, so I'm holding on until they remain above before I put in ANY seeds.

    1. isnt it, though! But I love the idea that we've got enough passata to last for ever! And Lloyd loves giving the sauce away as we pressies too.
      I've just ordered some winter tomato seeds and other bits and bobs to grow in the greenhouse over winter. My plan is not to have to buy tomatoes at all! In winter here ( cos we pay a fortune for things out of season) we paid $3 for ONE ordinary sized tomato last year!

  5. I'd say you've been busy!!!

    I love to make hot sauce, but agree that the catch-in-your-throaty-ness is less that desirable. I also now have pepper envy!!! But, we're just entering our garden season so I will be there soon enough. Oh how I love peppers though!

    As always, beautiful country there.

    1. we have been SO busy. No wonder I'm delighted it's raining today and I don't have to do any gardening! I think that we might get peppers way into autumn and probably even winter with the greenhouse. It is sub tropical so you never know!!


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Laura x