22 October 2008

Do You Hear The People Sing?


I know I've plugged the Otaua video incessantly, in fact you are perhaps thinking "Gee, I know already Laura, you might get a waste oil refinery right by your house, I've watched the video three times, what more do you want from me?!" Firstly, a massive thankyou to those who have watched the video and especially to those who have commented with words of support. The thing is, the Franklin District Council actually...doesn't care. They think that right in the middle of residential Otaua village is a fine home for this oily oil plant. I'm guessing that if it was their home and hometown poised to be ruined forever it would be a wee bit different. Basically, it's not looking terribly positive for us, but the more support we have the more likely it is that the council will wake up to the fact that it can't happen. If nothing else, knowing the eyes of the world are upon them will annoy the council and the WPC Ltd. If you're wondering what else you can do apart from watch the video, well...there's not a lot. But you can visit the brand, spanking new Otaua Village blog, read an article and look at the lyrics to the song on the video. Hopefully there will be more to read soon. I know I keep talking about it but it's all I can offer in the way of help for the cause. Frankly I'm scared about what's going to happen. And angry.

So, Tim bought a barbeque yesterday. A $40 barbeque. It's pretty flimsy, and has all the power of an electric toothbrush, but he and Paul were monumentally excited in a primal, alpha-male kind of way. What is it about barbeques? (Or is that barbequi?) I look at them and think "oooh, griddled eggplant and Japanese marinades and stone-fruit kebabs!" while Tim and Paul de-evolve back to Cro-Magnon Man.

Above: Cro-Magnon Man is, however, modern enough to buy free-range organic chicken nibbles rather than woolly mammoth steaks.

Above: Fell in love with a grill...

The chicken nibbles were pre-marinated (*clutches pearls*) but still delicious, because there's little better than that smoky, outdoorsy, slightly charred taste that comes from barbeque-ing. It wasn't even particularly sunny yesterday (and it's downright icy today) but sitting round "Big Red" as it has been dubbed, with a glass of wine and the smell of protein coagulating over a hot flame, well it felt as though we were in the middle of some endless summer. I can't wait to think of things to cook on it...

Above: Beef - (a) the meat from an adult bovine (b) inf. gripe, objection, grudge. We got both.

Last time I went up home, Mum bought a healthy slab of corned beef for Tim and I which flew back to Wellington with me (much to the chortles of the guy scanning my backpack at the airport). It was sufficiently chilly over the weekend for me to defrost it and shunning the normal slow-cook way of cooking it, submerged in liquid, I instead adapted a recipe from the Best of Cooking for New Zealanders by Lynn Bedford Hall. I made several incisions in the flesh and pushed in a mixture of butter, white miso paste, garlic and parsely. I know, miso and corned beef, sounds hideously fusion-y, but think of it as a slightly more mysterious version of worcester sauce or marmite. Its mild, complex saltiness makes it good for more than just straightforward soup. The beef was then braised slowly on the stovetop with onions, Stones Green Ginger Wine (also courtesy of Mum), a little stock, some tomato puree, a squeeze of golden syrup and a dried bay leaf. This created a marvelously flavoursome, surprisingly moist corned beef, which we ate with mashed potatoes on day one...

Above: And on day 2, cold and sliced with soup.

I made a version of Nigella's South Beach Black Bean Soup - by that I mean I was too lazy to actually find the book with the recipe in it for fear that I'd be mising half the necessary ingredients and just souped it on the fly. First of all you need to simmer your black beans, I think I did about a cupful but I don't actually remember, I don't think it really matters though. Bring them to the boil in a large pot then turn it down to a simmer for about half an hour or until you can bite into a bean without breaking a tooth. Drain them, and (in the same pot if you like) slowly fry an onion, a diced capsicum, a teaspoon of cumin seeds, a diced, seeded red chilli if desired, and a a teaspoon of ground coriander. Then I added a slosh of dry sherry, the black beans, and plenty of chicken stock, and let it simmer away. It's so simple but also something a little out of the ordinary to add interest to cold leftovers.

The flavours are perfectly complemented by the earthy-yet-perky taste of coriander. And...the feathery green leaves prevent your soup looking like a bowl of swamp water. I mean, let's not lie here.

A few months ago I installed Google Analytics on my blog, which allows me to find out how people are accessing my blog. For high-powered business websites it's an asset, for the casual blogger it's merely a source of occasional interest. It comes into its own, however, when it lets you see how people have found you through Google. I haven't checked it in a while, and there are some intriguing paths being trekked to my kitchen door.

Firstly, I must be a veritable guru, nay, a shaman of burghal wheat because there is a staggering number of searches for it that resulted in people viewing my blog.

To the people who googled "Otaua WPC" and found my blog, well now you know to visit the Otaua Village site. If it was anyone from the council or indeed, WPC Ltd, I hope you were intimidated by my special brand of intimidation. Many food bloggers across the world now have contempt for your policies! Be uneasy!

To the person who googled "Bit on the side roast pork Allison Gofton Watties", you won't find any of that Food-In-A-Minute, cover-it-all-in-Watties-Sauce-and-potato-pompoms business here. I said good day!

To the person who googled "oat fritters" - oh dear. Even I, patron of the oat, wouldn't go that far.

To the many, many people who googled "the brain, the brain, the centre of the chain" from the Baby Sitters Club movie and ended up here - you are not alone. Re-reading your old BSC books is kitschy nostalgia, not worrying behaviour.

To the person who googled "Idina Menzel" and ended up here, I salute your dedication. Out of curiosity, I went and googled "Idina Menzel" and, thirty pages in, still had no sign of my blog. Clearly, our paths were destined to cross. But to the person who googled "Ina Menzel" and found me - I hope I set you on the right track. It's Idina. And it's not pronounced "eye-dina" because you strike me as the type. Also googled was "how many units of Idina Menzel's 'I Stand' have sold". Because a food blog is the obvious place to find out. But it's a nice thought that such queries would lead a person here.

To those who googled quotes pertaining to Rent, Wicked, Spring Awakening, The White Stripes, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Billy Bragg, Flight of The Conchords, and Neil Young and ended up reading my blog, it proves that quoting pop culture is nothing if not beneficial to your hit count.

And finally, to the person or people (please don't let there be more than one of you) who asked "why can't we eat polar bear liver" and inquired after the "polar bear liver iron count" - what you do in your own time is your business, but don't go dragging me into it. (also - Sarah Palin, is that you?)

To finish on a mildly amusing note, I found this carton of buttermilk in the fridge. I bought it a while ago, but haven't found the right use for it yet. Turns out I can take my sweet little time about deciding what to do with it.

Above: hey, if we can have adorable lolcats, why not lolkitchns also? According to this audacious little carton of buttermilk, I have till the year 2023 to use it. Now, I'm no dairy maven, but that strikes me as a little...optimistic. You better believe though, that if in ten years time I go to make a batch of muffins and this very buttermilk has disintegrated into dangerous spores, I will be complaining. 'Disgruntled of Wellington' demands a year's supply of buttermilk...or at least a voucher.


  1. Thanks again for your support for the Cause. (Just added post on previous blog entry not long ago.) It's certainly helping and is a boost to the morale.

    Loved your barbecue story - Tim looks like a bloke in his element. I can only begin to imagine what it would have been like at your flat if Kieran was still there .... Oh yes, I think I can.... He would have been the one who dragged home the hairy beast for the barbecue after killing it with a stick and his bare hands.

    Loved your recipe for corned beef too. I still can't get past the slow soak and cook version.

  2. Good luck with the Council!

    Loved your BBQ story too, funny writing :)and great food of course.

  3. I hope you get somewhere with the council.
    Men and barbeques...same the world over.
    I,too, love seeing where people 'come' from to land on my blog. Sometimes it's like 'you googled what!?! and landed here'

  4. I love soup. Soup, soup, soup :) Black bean tastes great, but the color is like a black hole... but hey it has a nice personality.

    That google analytics stuff is really cool. You caught me with my BSC addiction... please don't tell my testosterone about that one :)

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  6. I'm sure it is distressing, and thus you blog about it, which is what makes your blog real. I love it when bloggers blog about things that are important to them, good or bad. So keep plugging you cause and I know we are all interested to see what happens.

    Congrats on the new grill. Dinky or not it looks like it gets the job done! Everything look delicious.

    Hilarious to know what people googled to find you. I love browsing the stats and finding the crazy stuff people put up. Sounds like I need some pop culture if I REALLY want to be successful!

  7. i came wondering over because i saw that soup on tastespotting!! it looks immense..i htink i'll give it a try tmr!! looks heatwarming.x

  8. We didn't Google Idina and end up on your blog. We have Google Alerts set up to email us every time her name pops up on a blog or article or anything and it brings your blog directly to your inbox.

    Which it did again! :)

  9. Mum: I think three comments on one post is a record for you :) and yes, that's probably exactly what Kieran would do!

    KJ: Thanks, glad you enjoyed this post too :)

    Om!Ap!: Thanks. And yeah, finding out how google links to one's blog can be unexpectedly hilarious...

    Adam: So the goosebumps books were just a front then? :)

    Hot Garlic: Thanks for your kind words :) And definitely give the pop culture references a go LOL.

    Diva: Cheers :D

    Veronicamae: Why hello, and now that you mention it...that does make much more sense than my theory ;)

  10. That was the funniest post I've read in a while :P

  11. Oh wow, you answer people. Thanks.I'm sure many people do but I never check back!

    Anyway, ya'll are good people. Your cutest Mom {okay, Mum} left a sweet comment on my blog, whatta gall! I love that. Tell her thanks and that it made my day.

    And let me know when there are t-shirts and flags for the cause, I'll be a supporter!

  12. Golly I feel positively late in writing here! How many comments is this?!?!

    Loved the google search replies!! So funny!
    Grrr Tim eat charred meat! BBQs always bring out the men. (LOL at Kay's comment about Kieran!...so true)

    Shall miss you kids over summer. Will keep reading though!
    Loves this blog!

  13. Oh golly gosh! I shall go right now and find your post/s about Babysitter's Club. Oh yes.

    And, WPC Ltd, I grimace and shake my fist at you! Go, I say, be gone! *glares scarily*

  14. Zo: Hey thanks :D comments like that totally brighten my day.

    HG: I do reply! Just not always. I try to though, because it's always nice when people do the same to me.

    Scotty: We'll miss you too! And YOU are going to miss out on whatever vegetarian treats I will make for the kick-ass Christmas Dinner :/

    Sumara: Hi! Thanks for stopping by and many thanks for the fist-shaking :) And yeah, I'm totally at peace with my renewed love of BSC books.

  15. I watched the video again, just to up the view-count. Let's hope the support makes some sort of difference!

    Also, I was impressed with the swamp-water stew! Looks interesting! I have never really loved corned beef, but your white miso paste-garlic marinade thing looks intriguing. Might have to give it a go.

    It's amazing how people have found your blog! What's with the one about polar bear liver?!?!

    Thanks for another great read Laura, you truly have a way with captivating audiences (as evidenced by your many commenters!)

  16. If someone other than you said that corned beef with miso and ginger wine tasted good I would suggest that they had been smoking their socks. But your pictures and description are strangely compelling...

  17. Wow. Now that is some meat. Looks like the electric toothbrush made it's way through.

    I'm jealous of your nice weather. We're in a snow storm here.

  18. Isn't just amazing what searches bring folks to your blog? Boggles the mind.

    And that 2023 milk? Seriously, you need to hang on to it until then - for posterity's sake. Amazing.