Water cooler: Walks with the kids, recipe misadventures and a lamb update

This week in the water cooler: Rebecca discovers a cool walk for the kids, two staff members have recipe misadventures – and we check in on Serita the lamb.


Tracey Yearbury and Rosemarie White with their pumpkin curries.

Tracey Yearbury and Rosemarie White with their pumpkin curries.

Art Director Yolanta’s last crop of pumpkins was a bumper and, as she vanished abroad for a month’s holiday, she bequeathed us her final pumpkin of the season. As everything is a challenge in our world, we set out to create a pumpkin-only lunch; anything BUT PUMPKIN SOUP. I found a recipe online for Pumpkin and Tofu Curry and from this experience I learned two things: it pays to follow only reputable recipe writers and, secondly, it pays to be prepared. I start to cook my dish and find the pumpkin curry recipe contains, in fact, no pumpkin. That’s manageable – the recipe was clearly originally a kumara curry which the recipe writer had renamed pumpkin but forgotten to substitution the ingredients. Kumara became pumpkin, so far so good. But that was not all that was missing. My pantry contained no curry powder but my neighbour over the way found a dusty box at the back of her cupboard. So the No Pumpkin and Tofu No Curry tasted a little bland. Fortunately our office administrator Rosemarie White’s pumpkin dhal was a taste sensation. Here’s her recipe here (and yes, we checked, it does include pumpkin).

the best way to cut into a pumpkin

The best way to cut into a pumpkin



1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
750g pumpkin, peeled and deseeded and cut into 2.5cm chunks
1 can tomatoes,
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 fresh red chillis, de seeded and finely chopped
3cm ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
225g red lentils (1 heaped cup)
1.5 cups vegetable stock or water
lemon juice
3 tbsp chopped coriander

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Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and gently the onion until it is golden brown, then add the garlic, chilli and spices and cook for two minutes, stirring a little.
Add the tomatoes, lentils and pumpkin to the onions and pour on the stock or water. Season – this needs plenty of salt – and bring to the boil.
Turn down the heat and cook for 20 minutes, until the lentils have collapsed and the pumpkin is tender. The mixture should be thick. Check the seasoning and add enough lemon juice to sharpen it up.
Serve with rice, plain yoghurt and the coriander.

Tracey Yearbury
Advertising manager
NZ Life & Leisure

Kate’s take on a crustless Pumpkin Pie (a la Jamie Oliver) was edible if not extraordinary. Maybe it needed a crust after all Kate?


After a trip to the snow on Ruapehu, my family and I decided to go on an adventure before we set off for home. We started out on the Silica Rapids walkway (250m up from the Whakapapa Visitor Centre) which leads visitors through a beautiful beech forest track onto a boardwalk surrounded by a marsh with the most amazing panoramic views of Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe. Because our kids are young we only did part of the walk but found a small frozen lake that was lots of fun for the kids.


On our return to the car, we stopped again to look at the golden rapids (which are made up of alumino silicates) and intricate icicles hanging from the banks. We went back to the car feeling refreshed and ready to face the long trip home. The walkway is well-worth the visit and and easy for kids too. Next time I’d like to do the full walk, read here for more information.

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Rebecca Needham
Art Director, NZ Lifestyle Block


leftover apples

My partner Andrew likes to eat apples for lunch, or at least I thought he did. I diligently bought apples from the supermarket for several weeks until I realised he’d stopped eating them – who knows why? I had a stockpile of apples in the fridge so I ventured to the Love Food Waste website for ideas on how to use them up. Inspired by the site, I made apple and boysenberry oat crumble and baked apples, but still I had apples left.

Apple and boysenberry crumbles (before baking)

Apple and boysenberry crumbles (before baking)

I ventured further into the dark depths of the internet and asked: ‘What to do with leftover apples’. Up popped several suggestions for ‘apple fruit leather’. It seemed simple, boil the apples with some water and boysenberries, blend, and then spread onto a tray and bake in the oven at a low heat to dehydrate the fruit. I failed to read any of the recipes closely, or notice that the dehydration process could take around six hours in the oven – not smart when you have started cooking your apple leather at 9pm at night (don’t judge, I was busy doing a phone interview). After a big debate with Andrew about whether it was OK to leave the oven on overnight (even if it was only set on 50 degrees C) we decided against dehydrating the apple pulp in the witching hours.

Apple pulp before baking

Apple pulp goes into the oven

The next day I tried intermittently dehydrating bits in spare moments. The pulp thickened but was still not dry. I gave up at that point, but discovered not-quite-cooked fruit leather makes a really nice topping for ice cream.

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Emma Rawson
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Skye takes over Serita's sleeping crate

Skye takes over Serita’s sleeping crate

The very small star of last week’s water cooler, Serita the lamb, is on your minds judging by the number of queries about her progress. It’s all good: she’s alive and kicking. Growing even and now big enough to climb the stairs and bossy enough to displace her guard dog (and heart-warmingly kind buddy) Skye from her prime fireside sleeping spot. Skye did exact revenge by squeezing into her old puppy crate in which Serita likes to spend the night. Serita was dismayed!

Other news from Nadene’s Mangatawhiri block:

Blossoms on the Billington's Early plum tree.

Blossoms on the Billington’s Early plum tree.

Most of the orchard is still deep in winter mode except one tree which has exploded. Billington’s Early is smothered in white blossoms and the fruit will be ready to eat by Christmas. It’s the best kind of plum: red-fleshed, sweet, not too big, disease-resistant, you can eat it fresh off the tree or cook with it and, the big bonus is it’s self-fertile. My tree does double-duty as a grave maker. In September 2014, I lost my elderly cat George and buried him at the base so Billington’s bright display are a beautiful marker. Almost a year later to-the-day I lost his brother Darcy and he too received a place of rest beneath billowy blossoms.

Nadene Hall
NZ Lifestyle Block Editor


Polly Greeks is an NZ Life & Leisure contributor.

Polly Greeks is an NZ Life & Leisure contributor.

Congratulations to our mudbrick maven Polly Greeks who won Best Columnist, Lifestyle at the 2016 MPA awards. Polly writes for us fortnightly on thisNZlife and if you haven’t read any of Polly’s adventures now is the time to start. She writes about everything from juice cleanses to making apple cider vinegar. Her latest column on a couple that inherited a large sum of money really got our office talking. What would you do if you came into money and would it change you?

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