Saturday 26 March 2011

Rabbit au Vin aka Bugs Bunny Stew

This is probably going to horrify vegetarians and small children but we ate Bugs Bunny.

No seriously, rabbits are considered a pest here in New Zealand and farmers are all too happy for hunters to come and help keep their rabbit population under control.  So off the boys went the other week for a spot of rabbit hunting and they brought home some rabbits for the larder.

Having never cooked or eaten rabbit before I moved down to Dunedin I was intrigued.  What on earth would bunny would taste like?

We first tried it as a pot roast in the slow cooker loosely using a Jamie Oliver recipe but the meat ended up being really dry and the lemon was completely over-powering.  However, you could still just make out the flavour of the meat and guess what it tasted like...

Yip you got it - it tasted just like chicken.  Only gamier.  I kid you not.

So not to be defeated by the first failed attempt, I thought to try a different approach: Rabbit au Vin or as we jokingly called it Bugs Bunny Stew.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Super gingery ginger crunch and Hug-Your-Kitchen Day

I declare today to be Hug-Your-Kitchen Day.

Go on, give you kitchen a hug, polish the bench tops a little, give it a little loving, just to let it know you appreciate its hard work.

If my old kitchen could talk it would probably be a little grumpy with me and feeling just a little under-appreciated and used.

Not that I was ever rough with my kitchen, I would lovingly clean it when it got splattered with grease and diligently put things away so its benches were clear.  But it's only coming to live in a someone else's house and using someone else's kitchen that I realised I actually did take my old kitchen for granted.

You take for granted that the oven will cook at a certain temperature, that the pantry has certain things in it, that the elements on the stove would light up when you turn them on and that your baking pans are in a certain place.  It's only when you cook and bake in an unfamiliar kitchen that you realise that your own kitchen wasn't just a room you go into to make food - you and your kitchen are a partnership, working in synergistic harmony to make beautiful food together.

Dear Kitchen, 

Sorry old friend.  I do appreciate all the lovely meals and baking we made together as a team.  I miss you and I promise to make sure I take special care of you next time I'm up.  

Love Nessie.

I only came to this epiphany when one of my first baking forays down in Dunedin ended up being a bit of a disaster.  Half the pan turned out delicious Super Gingery Ginger Crunch and the other half ended up as Ginger Charcoal.  Cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen is a lot harder than it looks on Masterchef.

Thursday 10 March 2011

Cookies for Grandma: Traditional Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies

Is it just me or is 24 hours in one day is far too little?   30 or 35 hours would be more like it.

Dear big man upstairs, for my next Christmas prez I would really really like just a couple more hours a day, if it's not too much trouble.  Thanks big fella. 

For the last couple of months the days have just flown by so fast I find that we are suddenly in March and I swear new years was only about a week ago.  Where on earth did February go?

Chinese New Year fell at the beginning of February this year, right smack bang in the middle of the intense craziness, one week before I moved down south.  We had Grandma over for dinner and I had meant to make some Traditional Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies, which as the name suggests, are peanut cookies made and served traditionally at Chinese New Year.

But in amongst packing and organising and general mayhem, the cookies fell through the gap and even though I had all the ingredients ready and the recipe all sussed out, I didn't end up making them in time for the dinner.

Grandma did come over for dinner though: we had amazing scampi sashimi, steamed tofu with ginger and spring onions, pan fried snapper and stir-fried kang kong.  I love cooking for my Grandma - there is just something incredibly wonderful about cooking for someone who has cooked all her life, who taught my Dad to cook who in turn taught me to cook.

I ended up making the cookies a couple of days later, fully intending to get some to Grandma before my big move but again just got too busy and I never got that package of cookies to her.

My Grandma passed away at the end of last week.  After a sudden and completely unexpected stroke.

I won't get the chance to give her cookies again.  Being down in Dunedin, I didn't get a chance to say goodbye before she slipped away. It's really hit me rather hard.  Another suckerpunch.  Grandma was the only grandparent I've ever known and it's incredibly sad to think of all her stories, her recipes, her hopes and dreams that we never got a chance to ask her about.

I think from now on, I'll make sure to take time out to breathe and bake cookies.


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