Water cooler: Nuts, bikes and the boogeyman

This week in the water cooler: the thisNZlife team talks about tough nuts, big friendly giants and big friendly vegetables.



By accident my husband Peter and I recently became the proud owners of half a dozen macadamia nut trees. We were aware of their reputation as being tough nuts and we had no idea when we should be harvesting them or what to do with them once we did. Although our trees are pretty scrawny they do have a fair amount of nuts on them. Some had started to fall to the ground and following our “waste not, want not” philosophy we consulted ‘Doctor Google’ and his cousin ‘Uncle Youtube’ to find out what to do. Armed with our new found knowledge, we took to them with a hammer to remove the outer green husk.

The next step was to borrow a dehydrator from a friend as according to our research the nuts needed four days drying.

Macadamias drying.

Macadamias drying.

We had read in our research that we’d know when the macadamias were dry when the nut rattles in its outer brown shell. After more than four days of checking and furious rattling, we have our first nuts. The brown shell is extremely hard to break, but the nuts inside are the best macadamias I’ve ever eaten. Our next investment will be a proper macadamia nut cracker – our little walnut one isn’t up to the job and using Peter’s hammer isn’t very elegant. When I think about all the electricity involved the cost-per-nut does not bear thinking about. However now we can say we  have given something new a crack.

-Lynley Belton
Commercial Director

Want to read more on Macadamias?  Read here about Vanessa Hayes, the nut lady on a mission to establish a macadamia industry for Maori on the East Coast


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Burt Munro: The lost interviews

A new biography of Burt Munro

Burt Munro, the world’s fastest Indian. I’m the only person I know who missed the movie, but since then I’ve started learning how to ride a motorbike and I’ve taken up reading about great motorbike riders. I’m not sure Burt Munro was in Valentino Rossi’s league (he’s a multiple world champion Italian rider), but Burt sure knew how to fiddle with an engine.
There’s a new book out on Burt, Burt Munro: the Lost Interviews, and you could say it’s by Burt. It’s a series of interviews by a young, would-be journalist called Neill Burss who spent hours and hours recording the biker back in the 60s talking about his exploits – then lost the tapes for 40-odd years. But then he found them, and reading this book feels like you’re listening in on those conversations.
What I’ve discovered about motorbike riders is they can talk numbers like you wouldn’t believe. In this book, Burt is rattling off speeds and dates and times and inches and miles, in amazing detail, and having met men like Burt, I don’t doubt every figure is true. A book for fans of Burt, for motorbike riders of a certain age, and for engineers (because I believe Burt’s true talent was his engineering).

Nadene Hall
-Editor NZ Lifestyle Block 



Photo: Dreamstime

I used to think parsnips were some sort of  perverse anaemic carrot but lately I’ve come to realise my own parsnip prejudice. Growing up I never had much experience with this vegetable, my mum was so traumatised by the boiled parsnip she was served up in the school dinners  that she refused to cook them. Parsnips became the ghostly white boogeyman of my vegetable world – until I tried parsnip crisps. I first sampled the sweet, caramelised joy of parsnip crisps at a Britomart restaurant a few years back; now I bake my own version at home. Last year NZ Lifestyle Block’s Jenny Somervell wrote an ode to parsnips – turns out not only are they really yum but a cup of parsnip has only 100 calories and less than half a gram of fat. They are also packed with fibre and vitamins. I recently put this story up on thisNZlife  because I’m good like that.

Parsnip crisps made by Nelson company Proper Crisps.

Parsnip crisps made by Nelson company Proper Crisps.

For the uninitiated parsnip chef, I suggest you try Jenny’s parsnip hash brown recipe or the parsnip chips -om nom nom.  Still scared of the veggie boogeyman? Why not try these parsnip crisps by Nelson company Proper Crisps. Made from parsnips grown in Invercargill and Ohakune, they are incredibly moreish.

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-Emma Rawson
thisNZlife editor


If you’re looking for a school holiday film for the kids, don’t be deterred by the headlines about The BFG. The adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic about a big friendly giant is being touted overseas as director Steven Spielberg’s ‘biggest box office bomb’ – but I say this “buckswashling” film is worth a shot.

The book was a childhood favourite of mine and Spielberg’s adaptation masterfully captures Dahl’s magical wordplay (or as the BFG calls it ”gobblefunk”). Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall) is transformed into the BFG through the motion-capture wizardry of New Zealand’s Weta Digital but Flight of the Concord’s Jermaine Clements is hard to spot as mean giant Fleshlumpeater.  Dahl’s books are laced with a dash of darkness and all the film adaptations I’ve seen (including this one) have never quite nailed the tone. In the 1990 adaptation of The Witches starring Anjelica Huston the filmmakers changed the ending of the story dramatically. At the conclusion of Dahl’s Witches, the boy lives the rest of his life as a mouse, but frightened of scaring kidsm the studio decided the character should be transformed back into a human – what a cop-out! The BFG is a more faithful adaptation but this is definitely a film for older children. Not because of the scariness factor (it’s pretty tame) but because the humour is in the language and it’s a long, long wait for restless littlies waiting for a “whizzpopper” joke.



Hot air balloon flying over rock landscape at Cappadocia Turkey.

Hot air balloons flying over rock landscape at Cappadocia Turkey. Photo: Dreamstime

Terrorism works by making people afraid to carry out their normal lives. Giving up your plans helps them win. Whether it’s Paris or Brussels, New York or London, go where you want to. The statistics will show that you are far likelier to be hurt at home than you will be by terrorists. I’m in Turkey and with tourist numbers at record lows because of recent events, the kind and helpful Turks we know are struggling to keep their hotels and restaurants open. It couldn’t be a better time to visit. Massive discounts ( just look on the internet and see!) on hotels, golf, tours of all kinds, boat charters and domestic transport make it the best bargain ever. And safe? I never feel safer than I do in this beautiful, ancient country. They love NZ saying we are just a baby country -so young and sweet with no enemies, no neighbours, no scars, no ancient grudges…everyone loves a baby!

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Miranda Spary
-NZ Life & Leisure writer

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