Water cooler: K’ Road openings, Christmas biscuits and an urbanite kereru
This week in the water cooler: K’ Road openings, Christmas biscuits and an urbanite kereru.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
There’s a new food destination in town, and it has a bit of something for everyone. The just-opened K’Rd Food Workshop, at 309 Karangahape Road, offers an array of trendy delicacies from salted caramel popcorn to fancy gin cocktails. Our top picks to try:
– Argentina is famous for steak so well cooked you can cut it with a spoon – and El Sizzling Lomito has the same respect for hand-cut meats. Their towering steak sandwiches (lomitos) are already near-legendary thanks to sister restaurant (and Food + Fire star) Ponsonby Central’s El Sizzling Chorizo.
– Stephen and Hayley Plowman of Hallertau Brewery have beer down to a fine art, so turned their eye to gin. Their new bar Lovebucket has cocktails on tap – need we say more? If that’s not enough to tempt the after-work crowd, they also make a mean pineapple ginger beer.
– While quality meat and cocktails sound all very posh, there’s a little something here for the inner child. Popped is a family-owned popcorn business using corn grown only in Gisborne; don’t go past the Churro Caramel (chocolate and caramel) or for something spicy, the Peri-Peri popcorn (watch for steam).
– Still in the mood for something sweet? Moustache is Auckland’s favourite milk & cookie bar – owner Deanna recommends trying the Lemon Meringue Pie cookie, or for the brave, the Marmite, Cheese, and Chip.
A KERERU AT MY FOUNTAIN
This great flapping visitor gave Buster Heihei (the cat) and I quite a start with an inelegant crash landing at the fountain while we gardened on Sunday. Lots of birds drop by our faux-Italian fountain for a wing bath. This causes Buster much consternation and he gets all het-up and makes yowling noises but doesn’t do much as they don’t come with Fancy Feast branding. However, he and I were startled by a loud whooshing sound as this large visitor swooped down on the rim of the fountain. Buster made a dash for cover and I made a dash for my camera. Mr ( or Mrs maybe) Kereru was way too large for a wing bath but seemed happy to drink and stare about my not-very-tidy garden before taking off with a lots of flapping of wings.
We are used to Louie the Tui, the daft bachelor who thinks it is a good wife-hunting ploy to begin yelling at 4.30am from spring til autumn and lives in a nearby pohutukawa tree. Is there enough food and shelter to sustain that Bristol freighter of the skies, the kereru in our suburbs? Anyone know how to help looking after them.
Editor, NZ Life & Leisure
Nigella has come to the rescue. Not the celebrity chef, (although Nigella Lawson’s Buttermilk scones and Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake recipe has saved me in the kitchen many times) but the plant Nigella Damascena (sometimes called Love in the Mist) which has been my gardening savior. There’s a strip of abandoned land near my house in Onehunga. Nothing will grow there, except nasty prickly weeds – but I’m an optimist when it comes to plants. I’ve sown poppies and other wild flowers in the hopes that good might conquer the weedy evil. And finally a flower has won the good fight – beautiful lacey blue Nigella flowers are spreading their way down the hillside. This cottage garden classic makes great cutting flowers and if they are left to grow they turn into alien-looking seed pods that are eye-catching in their own right. Nigella is a prolific self-seeder so let the pods burst open to ensure another season of flowers. Last summer I left nothing to chance, and I scattered the Nigella pods around by hand stomping a few into the ground just to be safe (weeds are lurking everywhere). In a year when ‘post-truth’ was named word of the year, I feel heartened that good can triumph in nature at least.
SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
I hesitate to mention this – but – it’s a month until Christmas Day. This weekend I’m making traditional Swedish pepparkakor biscuits with my granddaughters, aged 4 and 2.5. These delicious little spice biscuits are not too sweet, easy to roll out and quick to bake. Stars, hearts and Christmas tree shapes work well but embrace imperfection, especially with toddlers. We like to make holes in the top of the uncooked shapes with a straw, ice the biscuits with royal icing and hang them on the Christmas tree. Warning: the dough tastes good on its own, don’t expect more than 80 per cent of the dough to make it to the oven.
150g butter, softened
¼ packed cup soft brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp boiling water
2 cups flour
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 egg white
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 150˚C.
Beat together butter, sugar and golden syrup until pale and creamy. Mix baking soda with boiling water and add to butter mixture with flour, ginger, cinnamon and allspice. Stir to combine into a pliable dough. If not using at once, cover and chill for up to a week or freeze until needed.
Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out each piece to 5mm thickness, using a little flour to dust the roller if necessary (avoid using too much flour as this dries out the mixture). Cut dough into shapes using cookie cutters of your choice. Carefully transfer to prepared baking trays, allowing a little space between biscuits for spreading. Form unused dough into a ball and roll and cut again.
Bake until just starting to colour (about 15 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool on the trays; they will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight container until ready to ice.
Ice biscuits with Royal Icing up to 5 days before serving (they will soften just a little once they have been iced).
To make Royal Icing, gently beat the egg white until slightly airy. Add sifted icing sugar and beat for 10 minutes. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe decorations onto cookies. Allow to set before finishing with ribbon if desired.
Lifestyle Magazine Group Office Guru
Giving blood was never high on my priority list until recently. Scarred from a particularly bad childhood experience involving an elderly nurse and a needle longer than my index finger, I swore to avoid all needles unless in a severe life or death situation. However, with age comes wisdom and bravery (or if I’m honest, an inability to say no to people when asked a favour) and I soon found myself donating blood alongside my workmates. That was four donations ago; it turns out giving blood is not only fairly painless but comes with the bonus of helping to save lives (and you get a couple of chocolate bickies – for recovery purposes of course).
Donating has become even easier since NZ Blood Service launched their app. It is one handy little number; not only does it record your donations, your donor ID and help find the nearest location, you can also book appointments in advance, and it counts down how many days until you can donate again. But wait – there’s more. I was walking my dog last Saturday morning when my phone pinged with a notification – my blood had just been used to help save a life. Isn’t that a strange thing to think about? It certainly stopped me in my tracks. So no excuses – this app has everything you need.
Search NZ Blood in the app store, or visit www.nzblood.co.nz to find out more.
NZ Life & Leisure staff writer