if its not yummy, then we better make it funny.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wow where do I begin?...

Hello from Karekare. The kids are designing a fort out of all the pillows and duvets they could find. They were fighting at first, then they switched into playing, aauugh... Now with the update... I would like to thank My Husband Jordan for his open mindedness and love. I also have reconnected with my sisters, hats off to them and a salute. I especially have enjoyed correspondence with Susan. Her letters are a delight and they reveal what a capable, generous, honest and earnest soul she is. Then there's the crazy improv acting Susan, acting like an insurance executive! Very well. I'm steeped in school and have 4 papers at Massey University. Novels, Poetry, Journalism and "Media Skills". Media skills is the only one that actually meets. I have a three hour class in Albany each Thursday, just under an hour away. Im hoping to dovetale in some novel writing through Evergreen. That and everything else! I can work now 192$ per week. , also- so I dropped off a loaf of bread at the Piha store. Im romancing a kitchen there. It would fit in in the early mornings nicely.
I'm on the breeze again. To be explicit here, Ill say that I have made our family into a two location group. We now have our Karekare home (we've been in for a few months)which is up a coastal ridge with lovely grounds. The family that bought this place over thirty years was the first buyer in sales of a thousand acres and they landscaped and even produced crops for sale, lavender. Then we have the Piha Bach. It's kind of Old worldy like from Finland or something. Ill post a photo of these places, perhaps...
I am incredibly lucky to get a chance to tune inward at that little black with white trim. It has a wonderful wooden floor. The invigoration of the sea is wonderful and I'm still getting used to it. I notice that I keep sneaking home, too. Lillian spent the night there once and is due for another. She finished with preschool on Friday and has her first day of school on her birthday- Monday. Is this Minutia? Anyway. The new house has two TV channels and we are going to watch a parenting video this evening. Jordan likes the bush, wide space and private. I am enjoying living in a more central place, for a change. There is Yoga class twice weekly and Writer's group every other week. It still is pretty pristine, for a modern village. I need to wrap this up for now. I have an errand and then back to austere land. It will be full if life tonight, though with all of us over there. We'll have some koala bowling to get things warmed up. Here are some photos.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Resurfacing from winter colds

Finally I am able to breathe! Jordan and I have both had sinus colds. We went into survival mode with the kids watching more videos than usual as we nap and drink tea and patch together meals. Our trip has been put on hold as we need to start out somewhat healthy. I'm launching into registration for school, having decided to pursue study in NZ. So much for the three months off! When we return from our trip I will be moving into a little batch in Piha to have a sabbatical. It is an experiment to see if I can get my writing back on track in a more uncomplicated environment. Hopefully it will bring on a new perspective and renewal.

Piha has a different feel than Karekare. The history of the two places are very different, even though they are just a few kilometers from the other. Karekare has a severity and epic essence. Nature is awesome and seems to be in charge in Karekare. There are no stores or amenities of any kind, except the volunteer operated fire station. Piha, on the other hand, is historically a surfing village and has a peppier social vibe. There is a store, a bowling club, a surf club- which seasonally serves food and drink, and the rugged RSA which is like a American Legion hall in the states. The man who owns the store, Pete, has offered me a job and it is tempting to do a couple of shifts a week. I know the wage will be lower than I get as a chef but Id be willing to take it if given creative latitude. The timing is right because there will soon be a new cafe just next to the store and the competition will be fertilizer for new ideas, I suspect. I need to get going on school business. Here is a recipe for Brownies with some decadent toppings.

Good Dark Cocoa Brownies

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process is fine)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. (150°C) Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heavy bottom saucepan, turn heat to low. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Let cool for a few minutes.
Stir in the vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the lined pan (the batter will be very thick).
Bake until a toothpick emerges with some moist crumbs sticking to it (but not wet with batter), 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.

One can make a peppermint topping out of ½ lb powdered (icing )sugar with ¼ cup melted butter, 3 TBS cream and 1/2- 1 tsp peppermint extract or oil. THEN (and this is crucial) spread 4 oz melted UNSWEETENED chocolate over the top. Let the thing go solid and cut with a sharp knife.

If you are not a mint fan you can do the same layering thing with Mascarpone orange filling instead of the sweet mint layer. Make sure the brownies are cool for the orange version and lightly sweeten the mascarpone with sugar and add some fresh orange zest and 2 TBS OJ concentrate (full un diluted strength) top with high cocoa solid dark chocolate that has been melted and cooled. Let me know how this works for you, why don't ya? K

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Here is a recipe that is very simple- Dutch Baby or German baked pancake

This is a recipe that my Grandma Cora saw on the Galloping Gourmet cooking show. It was named Swedish pancake by Graham Kerr (the Galloping gourmet, himself) It is not a flat crepe ish pancake but a grandiose event that you bake in a nice hot oven in a heavy skillet. I have also seen them called Dutch babies and german pancakes. They are incredibly simple to make and takes only the most basic of ingredients. To serve it traditionally squeeze lemon wedges and sprinkle with Icing sugar. One can also serve with syrups, fresh berries and cream, cooked apple slices and even fill with savory filling like sauteed shellfish or herbs and mushrooms or whatever you got kicking around. My kids love them with the lemon and sugar the best, though.

Heat oven to 180 degrees(C) or 400 degrees (F)
Place a 9 inch cast iron or enameled iron skillet in the oven to preheat. A nice hot pan is essential to success.

In a medium bowl place 1/2 cup white or zentrofan (a finely ground whole grain wheat flour) flour add 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of milk. Whip with whisk until combined, (a few small lumps are fine) Once the skillet is good and hot add a knob of butter (about 2-3 tablespoons) place back in hot oven and wait 5 or so minutes until butter is melted and bubbling. Pour batter into hot buttered pan and put back in oven for about 15 minutes. The batter will crawl up the sides of the pan and form a big golden crown around the sides (something like a Yorkshire pudding) Remove from oven, being careful of hot skillet. squeeze lemon around and over and sprinkle with icing (powdered)sugar- or try your own topping. Kids like to make these as they are very impressive. Bon Appetite.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ritual at Mercer Bay

One Astonishingly sunny winter day last month Jordan and I went on a mission to execute a ritual. For school at The Evergreen State College I was winding up the quarter and wanted to add a final grand finale of a ritual to my collection of them that were part of my study.

Here is a quote from my evaluation.

"I have cultivated a practice of Earth or nature based rituals. I invented rituals which had validity for me and kept them in a journal, studying their effectiveness as therapy. Assessment of today's mental health statistics and my own transitions compelled me to focus specifically on depression. I confirmed my notion that the study/enjoyment of nature and movement (or exercise) are two essential components for health that almost everyone has access to without cost. I gained knowledge of Maori and Wiccan philosophy that employ rituals. I wove flax ropes to use to secure flotation gourds in an ocean swimming ritual as well as making a hanging installation 'room' in which rituals can be performed. Daily walks on coastal tracks gave me inspiration."
Here is an exert from my log book

"Rituals were performed an average of twice a week. Keeping a journal of rituals cultivates intentional living as well as helps the author recognize the progress rituals provide.
Some rituals were simply mundane tasks taken on with special intent and mindfulness. Others were more orchestrated events. The general purpose of these rituals is to progress past obstacles and alleviate stress and byproducts of stress like depression and struggling with unpleasant emotions. It is also to remember and celebrate what is right with life, whats working and feels good. It is my hope to continue this log and to document a wide variety of rituals that others can utilize. I will pursue refinement of the process and look for a realm for publication in the future.
The statistics for depression in Western countries are staggeringly high at around fifteen to twenty five percent. Developing strategies to handle stress and overcome depression brought on by situational triggers ourselves, internally, without the use of chemical or electroshock treatment is essential and possible. Rituals have been tools for people as long as there have been people. It is empowerment.
Within my study of ritual, Nature is viewed as a teacher and often plants, seasons, celestial observations and even dreams and body sensations are 'listened to'. When logging a ritual, I usually state intended lessons or benefits, describe the ritual itself and state the apparent actual benefits."

The whole idea was a revisitation of some dance training I did in my twenties with Anna Halprin, who designs rituals for herself and for communities (she claims to have arrested her own cancer through a 48 hour ritual she orchestrated at her Sea Ranch retreat in Mendocino.) If such tangible results have be achieved then maybe I could address my 'middle aged with young children and self absorbed physicist husband in remote New Zealand blues'.

I took Jordan, a 'Mercer bay virgin', to the gripping (we were- to ropes with knots, over rock faces) trail down to the pristine isolated bay. I showed him the little rock cavern cafe where the sea ogre likes to eat and the eerie cave with the light creeping in from above and we were spooked by the roaring waves occasional deep rumbling. We saw the soft sparkling sand bosom and we took a couple sips of the grandeur before heading over to the actual mission. The reason for our excursion: the rock that looks like a head. I was to swim to and climb out onto to hold a ritual as the tide shifted and I would(??) whatever came into my mind to do. Maybe I would sing loudly and then softly, maybe I would weave the gorgeous kelp that was strewn all over, maybe meditate or do yoga postures or laugh or cry. I knew I wanted to be aware of tides, metaphor for life's cycles and reassuring and predictable changes. If I am in a funk, not to worry- the tide comes and goes and things are guaranteed to change, it's only natural.
I had previewed Mercer Bay as a ritual site on my own a month or so before, finding the vertical path pretty much by accident. I had hounded my friend Mike to tell me where the trail started but he wouldn't tell me. One needed to be shown, he said. He was right; I had a very nervy climb out from a wrong turn with a sheer drop. I lived to tell, though. It was interesting, my body seemed to know I was going in the wrong direction and it gave me some chances to think it through via ankle writhing and kneecap agony sessions that slowed me down enough to think of consequences and dependents who still haven't grown up and need a mother.

Anyway, I didn't go out to the rock in the end because there was a big slumbering seal right on the rock I needed to cross. It was so large, I thought it a sea lion at first. It stirred a couple of times and didn't seem to mind me. I didn't feel like climbing over it, though, really. So I went out into the surf in my birthday suit and Jordan took photos from a cozy rock he found. He made some funny narrated videos with a breathy story of my merging with the sea, but I have spared you that, but here are a couple of photos. By the way, I think it was still a ritual,and A fine one, anyway. Sometimes the plans are changed but there's enough to satisfy you just the same.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

That's our Lillian. Such a character!