Sunday, 30 December 2007

Using up maple syrup

So, we are very pleased to hear that Kiwi Family have arrived safely in NZ, and that they are enjoying the weather. We probably don't want to hear too much more about the latter topic, given the current state of England's grey and rainy season, so I'll leave that there. Munchkin was apparently a very good traveller all the way to LA, and I think there may be a veil drawn over what happened after that too (though who can blame the poor little mite on his first (four) flights?)

That milestone reached, I feel I can start to focus on pootling about with what we've been up to since they left, and one tale seemed particularly apt. One of the things we inherited from Kiwi Family when they departed Down Under was a large bottle of maple syrup. It was already opened and so had to be refrigerated, but I wanted to give it one last swansong before it got jettisoned to make room for the unreasonably large turkey The Scientist (lovely cohabiting life partner in a decidedly non-marital way) wanted to store in our fridge for some reason or other.

We don't really eat maple syrup, The Scientist being a fan of straight-up English comfort puddings involving golden syrup rather than its North American relation, so I turned to my favourite (and American) recipe book of all time: Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites. It's a great book, full of low fat but almost uniformly tasty recipes, and I knew that it had one for maple and walnut biscotti. This seemed doubly providential since I had also inherited a lot of different types of nuts from Kiwi Sis's baking supplies, and nestling among them was an almost full bag of walnuts. Furthermore, we had some guests coming for lunch in the lull after Christmas (which I had packed full of entertaining in order to keep from fretting about the departure of Kiwi Family), who are not big dessert eaters. All of these facts seemed to come together beautifully to provide a vehicle for the maple syrup.

The biscotti are pretty easy, and don't contain any weird low fat substitutes. My inclination is not to copy out recipes from books here, although I might otherwise make an exception but for the fact that the book is downstairs and I have limited time to write this before we go out on a pre-New Year's Eve excursion down the magical Fosse Way. Perhaps later. They tasted pretty good, though to be honest I felt that they could have had a bit more zing from somewhere. Perhaps a little cardamom? Anyway, here is a picture of the finished biscotti with their maple syrup, and thank you Kiwi Family for providing the main ingredients:

I've tried to keep from baking too much around Christmas, since, like every other family in the land no doubt, our cupboards are choc (ho ho) full of chocolates, biscuits and cakes already. Other than the biscotti I tried out Delia's recipe for white bread for the same guests who got the biscotti (from How To Cook, Book 1), which turned out pretty well:

And finally, I made a gingered-up version of Nigella's easy chocolate mousse (I think it's from How to Eat), for a dinner to celebrate Eco Bro (husband of sister number 2, hereafter Eco Sis)'s birthday. The dinner turned out to be somewhat eccentric, being built around the opportunity to make the mousse, and as a vehicle for my homemade banana chutney (made from a recipe from the rather lovely Cottage Smallholder blog). Both were very nice, and I mixed the chutney with some Greek yogurt as a dip for sweetcorn fritters, but the rest of the meal seemed to shrink in the making and would have comfortably fed two rather than four. Luckily everyone was very understanding, and happily filled up on toasted bagels between the so-called main course and the all-important dessert. Here is the mousse, complete with festive misteltoe and the last of the Tim-Tams (Eco Bro's favourite):

I do think I need to get better at photographing food! However, I think that's probably quite enough of that for now. The Magical Fosse Way is calling, and we are keen to sample its delights. What will we find....?

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Setting out...

Today, my blog sets out into the interweb for the first time, as does the reason for writing it: my sister (hereafter Kiwi Sis), her husband (Kiwi Bro) and her one-year old son (Kiwi Munchkin), who are on a plane to New Zealand as I type. They set off from Leeds Bradford airport at 1045 this morning, and have been flying pretty much constantly ever since. I went shopping and they were flying, I cooked lunch and they were flying- I will wake up tomorrow and they will still be flying. New Zealand is a REALLY long way away!

So, this blog is going to be a way to stay in touch with Kiwi Family, and to let them know the ins and outs of what we're all up to at home. I'm starting today as I'm sad that they're going, and I want to focus on good stuff instead. To kick things off, I have been doing a bit of web surfing and have found some Interesting Facts About New Zealand (courtesy of this site
and this one)

1.Wellington is the most southerly capital city on the planet

2. 20% of NZ residents were born overseas

3. Due to a decline in the NZ sheep population, there are now only 10 sheep per person (I guess there had to be a sheep fact in there somewhere)

4. NZ school students report better relations with their teachers than the average for the OECD (this is good news for Kiwi Bro, who will be teaching English at a high school come February!)

New Zealand has 6000 kilometers of coast line and nowhere is more than 120km from the coast.

NZ was the first western democracy to give women the vote

7. NZ invented the bungy jump (I'm still sorry I did it, Dad)

8. NZ has the biggest earthworms in the world

9. NZ is getting one more person than it expects when Kiwi Family arrives - Kiwi Mini-munchkin is due next July!

I feel more in touch with them already! Even if I had no one to go sales shopping with today, and ended up taking all my purchases back again. Anyway, welcome to New Zealand, Kiwi Family, and we can't wait to hear all your news when your computer arrives! xxx