17 December 2008

Fruit 'Em Up

Christmas shopping: 3 Laura: -100,000,000,003.
I've attempted to Christmas shop every weekend for the last month and have ended up with very little to show for myself. I know it's not all about the gifts, but after a lifetime of getting presents for my family, I can't just stop now because I can't find much of anything. I have one weekend left to scour Wellington for trinkets. Wish me luck. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one in this sorry boat.

Melodrama aside, we have been eating remarkably well lately because, to my endless happiness, summer fruit and vegetables are finally getting cheap, properly cheap, at the local market. I've eaten more fresh fruit in the last two weeks than I have all year and I am loving it. Strawberries for $2 a punnet, and three mangoes for a dollar more than makes up for six months eating uncrisp apples and canned peaches. Not that canned peaches don't have a special place reserved in my heart, but there is something so exciting about summer fruit.

Vegetables too - I finally got my hands on some of those sugar snap peas that everyone talks about, $1.50 for a big bag (but they cost $4.95 for about 6 beans in the supermarket), a whole bag of red, swollen tomatoes for a dollar, bunches of asparagus for a song, and the top story in my world this week, beetroot has gotten really really cheap again.

Inspired vaguely by an orzotto in Nigella Christmas, I wrapped two large beetroot in tinfoil and roasted them at 200 C for about 45 minutes. While that was happening, I did the usual risotto thing - sauteed onion and garlic in butter, added vermouth, let the arborio rice sizzle (I know, arborio is the least culinarily desirable of the risotto rices but it's also the cheapest), and ladled in vegetable stock, stirring all the while. I diced up the now soft and roasty beetroot and folded it into the risotto, which promptly turned the whole thing a garish (but pleasing!) pink and made the frozen peas which I'd added seem particularly green in contrast. I've said it before but I'll say it again: pink goes good with green. A spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkling of basil from the garden finished off this almost ridiculously colourful dinner. Bright? It's phosphorescent! And delicious too, but any reader of this blog will already know that I am a fan of the beetroot from way back.

We always seem to have a swag of overripe bananas kicking round. And, I'd found myself a very cheap ring cake tin at the Newtown Salvation Army store and was amped to make something in it. I'm not going to even try and present this cake to you as if it's anything new and revolutionary, but who could possibly turn up their nose at a slice? I based the recipe on the Banana Breakfast Ring in Feast by Nigella Lawson. It's a little more spongy and springy than your trad banana cake, but still moist and delicious and very simple to make. And is it just me being irrational, or are ring cakes way easier to slice up than normal ones?

Banana Cake

60g butter, melted
3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
150g brown sugar
50g white sugar
250g flour (I actually used 200g flour and 50g cornflour, but whatevs)
1 t each baking soda and baking powder
2 heaped tablespoons sour cream

Mix everything together gently, bake in a buttered and floured ring tin for about 45 minutes at 180 C. I iced it with a mix of butter, icing sugar and cocoa and it was perfect. Some kind of lemony icing would be equally marvelous, I'm sure. The cake may or may not keep well, it didn't really sit round long enough for me to find out.

Well, well, well. Wellity wellity wellity. I hope to get another post in before Christmas, it has been quite slow here lately but my excuse about the slow computer still stands. Conversely, time is going so fast. I finish work for the year on the 23rd and then shall commence the annual war with my luggage in that (a) I have to cram everything in and (b) I have to pay exorbitant excess baggage fees on my flight home because they weigh too much, apparently saying bitterly, "Hey lady, it's Christmas!" doesn't really help the situation. Even though I'm only just getting home this side of the big day I hope to fit in a ridiculous amount of goodie-baking. New Years will be very quiet for me, and Tim will be in Wellington working through at Starbucks, but we will be hitting the ground running come 2009. In a matter of weeks -admittedly, several weeks- we will be seeing Neil Young and goodness knows who else at the Big Day Out, Arctic Monkeys (that's right, we bought tickets to their Wellington gig even though they'll be at Big Day Out), Kings of Leon AND The Who. Oh yes.

I haven't been on Twitter for a while, once again the slowness of the computer prevents such frivolousities, but here are some random thoughts:

- I heard my neighbour singing the other day. Does this mean they heard me singing Defying Gravity while no-one else was home?

- What did we use for the saying "recharge your batteries" before the advent of electricity? Did people take mini-breaks or book facials because they needed to "stoke their coalrange" or somesuch?

- I wonder if Leonard Cohen ever got called Leotard as a child. Admit it. Now you're wondering too.


  1. That banana ring looks incredible, really! Wow.

    Neil Young? I saw him years a go w/ the Grateful Dead - AWESOME show!

  2. 1) Leotard? hahaha!!!

    2) Banana ring looks fabulous.

    3) Do you know what I'd give for some swollen red tomatoes right now?

    4) Good luck finishing up your shopping! We need to finish up, too, this weekend. Fingers crossed!

  3. I am amazed - that beetroot risotto/orzotto/whatever is the best thing I have seen today! Yum!

  4. I too am loving the summer fruit, everything tastes so much - fruitier??
    Prize giving at school went off without a hitch, a good way to end the year.
    I need to delve into the depths of my wardrobe to liberate the Christmas goodies I have been storing there, wish me luck!

  5. I *heart* Defying Gravity!!!

    xox Sarah

  6. oh my goodness!! that banana cake looks fabulous..the icing is just amazing :)

  7. OMG seeing NEW ZEALAND FOOD made me salivate mroe than Pavlov's dogs!!


  8. Opened a tin of beetroot tonight to add to a trad lettuce salad for dinner. Nothing says Kiwi summer as much as beetroot in a salad!

  9. Ann: You totally win :)

    Elle: Hey, I haven't eaten them fresh since last summer. Wait your turn!

    Foodycat: Why thank you!

    Viv: You're right, much fruitier! Glad to hear prizegiving went well and good luck with the wardrobe liberating ;)

    Sarah: :D :D :D

    Diva: Thank you :)

    Scotty: It has been tooooo long, hope you're having a rad time though with all that Pad Thai...

    Mum: I guess not...only four more days till I'm home!

  10. Stoke the coalrange? Haha ya know, maybe they did :)

    I do remember you love for beets, because it's so hard to find a fellow beet lover. I just think the rest of the world misses out on the fun :)

    Good luck with the travels, and try not to tip the scales in your luggage war. My tip.... don't pack underwear if you don't have to :) Just kidding...