Monday, June 11, 2018

Don't go to the shop ... open the cupboard and cook up a healthy and cheaper treat.

I am a 'treat-lover.' I like to go to my 'cookie-jar' when I have a cup of tea or a coffee. There is something comforting about being able to do so. Howwwwever, I know that the 'store-bought' ones are not the best option. Now ... I am the first to admit, that one needs a bit of time to make the choices that I do ... but then again, the following recipe or variations on it, are not exactly time-consuming.

I had to really think before I wrote this little number up because it is so random. I never make it the same way, and results most certainly vary according to how you apply it. It IS QUITE HARD TO STUFF IT UP if you stick reasonably close to my 'suggestions.' Let's call it THE WHATEVER IN THE CUPBOARD MUFFIN/COOKIE. Yes, ... is it a cookie or a muffin ... or is it a bun? I guess the answer to that is how long you cook it and at what temperature and the moisture level.

1) Go and turn the oven to bake at 160C.
2) Get a big bowl.
3) Have a few trays of large (or smaller) muffin trays. Non-stick is best.
4) Chuck two cups of rolled oats into your bowl.
5) Biff some butter (Maybe two tablespoons.You can use a light oil if you wish)
USE A PLASTIC BOWL< because, at this stage, I microwaved the mixture on high for about 40 seconds, then mixed it all up.
6) Slide a cup of desiccated coconut in.
7) Use half a cup of sugar and/or some molasses (half a cup)
8) Throw in about 2/3 cup of ANY mixed dried fruit ... I used the cheapest, which even had peel in it.
Mix in a generous amount of powdered ginger/cinnamon or mixed spice ... whatever is in the cupboard.
9) chuck in one or two eggs.

NOW---get ya hands in or if you are a wimp ... use a spoon to mix it up. For a 'wetter' mixture, add a little milk When it all feels and looks mixed, spoon it into the muffin pans, press it down evenly. If there is heaps over, just freeze it in plastic bags until the next batch, or use it as a topping for an apple/feijoa/ rhubarb crumble.

Bake it in the preheated oven for about 25-40 minutes, but keep a watch. Don't burn it.
When ready, leave to cool, then gently loosen them from the pan and leave to cool, unless you really can't wait to try one.

I love them as an anytime snack-food.

I'm still not sure what to call them, but  I guess, Harry will do!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sitting on the 'SEAT' in the Bay, just tumbling my thoughts away:



From time to time, I like to sit and contemplate the last two years.
Two years since I left the city over the GULF.
Sometimes I can almost see it,
over the water as an imagined glow at night.
I know it's there, hiding behind one of the many islands.
It casts its influence wide and far,
sending its children, scattering them in new directions.
Some come here, to my new 'hometown,'
seeking solace, relief from pain, debt and NOISE.
They find the time that's kind, a pace that is more gentle,
a time that was.
They reach out, meet people, connect and live.
As I sit on the green seat at TararuBbay, I look in a different direction,
Towards the old town, the 'City of Gold,'
or is it?
You can still find treasures, but they are defined anew:
Peace, tranquillity and a life that makes sense.
That is what I see, what I feel, as I contemplate my two years.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Egg-Art! The ultimate expression of 'oneself.'

Art is a personal journey of discovery, be it as a participant or an admirer. It can also be an investment, sometimes owing little to the actual 'love of the object.' There are other variations, using a huge range of 'material, some extreme in the least.

Today I unwittingly expressed myself, using an egg. As usual, I went to the hen-house this morning and gathered the eggs. At this time of the year, my girls are taking a rest, giving me about half their normal production rate. I appreciate their efforts and reward them with little bits and pieces from my walks, the table and from contributions of friends and family.

I picked up the singular warm egg and lovingly carried it inside. I opened a can of NZ's iconic 'go-to' food ... a can of baked beans, and spooned enough to cover the bottom of a mini casserole dish ... I mean really small, here. I cracked the ... BACKTRACK! What on earth has this to do with 'art?' Patience, dear readers.

The baked beans are merely the base, the nest if you like, for my ONE egg. Once the egg was cuddled up to the baked beans, I sprinkled a little bit of pepper and then pricked the egg yolk. There is a reason for the action just described. I crowned the egg and beans ... yes, a somewhat simple breakfast ... with a piece of plastic-wrapped-processed cheese. I know ... my standards are slipping, but hey ... I like my rustic breakfasts.

I placed the lid on the dish put it in the microwave. Now, you know the reason for pricking the egg. Well, maybe you don't. The art is about to be revealed, expressed in a dramatic manner. Some of you will be way ahead by now. Shush ... don't spoil the punchline!

I set the microwave on about 50% and gave it three minutes. I checked it after the allotted time came to an end. The egg was still opaque and need another minute. I took off the lid and pushed the 'quick start' button.

At this point, Perdy, my often described and quite famous Jack Russell, started an almighty, but very common manic barking. She usually ensconces herself on the top of the couch facing the window looking out on the main road. She regularly informs me of the 'goings on and passing by' of traffic; foot, wheeled and other mediums. If a dog wanders past with its mum or dad, all hell usually breaks loose. This time, her barking was at a level that the entire neighbourhood would be aware that something as dramatic as Moses alighting from the Arc ... yes, I know he didn't, but imagine if he did?!

So, Perdy was rewriting the Old Testament and more to the point ... I was distracted. I returned to reality when there was a BANG ... yes, an explosion. It was not originating from Perdy's imagined imagery of the 'view from the couch.' No ... it was from the kitchen.

I wobbled down the corridor and quickly turned off the microwave. Those of you who already guessed the scene that confronted me will be amassing a range of viewpoints. The word ..STUPID ... probably features, Others will be keen to have my report on the 'art-work.'

Pretty would be somewhat lacking and possibly inaccurate, but who am I to assume how you see creativity? I tentatively opened the microwave door. STUFF was overflowing, splattered in a yellow concoction, mixed with white and red ... on the door, the top, the side, bottom, beneath the tray. It was incredible. Eat your heart out DaVinci et al! Food art, micro-art ... cal it what you wish. Ugly? Only if you are the person doing the scraping, rinsing of countless paper towels. I suppose some of you would see the artistic side.

Did I have breakfast? Of course I did! There was a residual portion of the mixture in the dish. My breakfast was tiny, but the cleaning efforts, resulting in a pristine microwave, finished with a cup of lemon-infused water, steaming in the oven to remove those stubbon bits that refused to leave, still went ahead.

My experience with the exploding egg is only about the third time in my lengthening life that I have had an 'egg-full' artistic experience.' Hindsight is a wonderful stance. I could have stuck the arty microwave on the floor, opened the door and let THE PERDY in to lick it all clean! But no ... many paper-towels later and a cup of lemon-infused water, steaming away for three minutes helped to return the microwave to its pristine condition.

Time for my walk, methinks. Come on Perdy!


Monday, May 28, 2018

Dear Mr Putin ... it's about 'Russian Roulette!'

Kia ora, Mr Putin ... I am asking in a most respectful, something quite difficult for me to do, a special favour. I was going to ask President Trump, but sadly, he is incapable of writing a letter never-lone reading one. So ... it really is up to you to come to my aid!

Now ... the issue. I have an unusually active life form living with me. This 'person' for want of a better word, has a very high energy level, demanding constant activity and 'stimulation.' Thankfully, her needs do not extend to jewellery, 'high-end clothing or top-of-the-range Teslas. No ... she is quite content as long as I do not insist on keeping her permanently 'leashed.' She loves her freedom, and let's face it ... we are both better if she is well exercised. She places fewer demands upon me!

Today began as most days do. She woke me with a lick, after performing some of her usual morning tasks ... in the bed. Yes, she likes to wash, before arising. Being an accommodating sort of guy, I give in and do not challenge these slightly 'alternate' behaviours. One has to give a little in order to keep the peace. I am sure, as ruler of one of the most powerful Kingdoms on earth, you understand such matters.
 So the morning was proceeding as per normal. I was about to make my first coffee for the day and being a cold morning (That's relative, of course, in Thames, New Zealand. Cold here is a morning where the temperature is nudging 3C, not the minus 20c, you are used to!) I decided to keep the fire going. We have some dry firewood stacked by the front door, where it is easily accessible, should the box of wood beside the fire run out.

I made sure that my 'girl,' who had not completed her morning rituals, was safely inside She loves to run outside, naked, onto the road. It's in her blood. Perhaps she has a few Gypsy genes ... who knows! So I take precautions. I always make sure that I know her whereabouts if I open the front door to access the woodpile. I looked to my left (being a good Socialist!) then to my right. My girl KNOWS me so well. She darted left when I looked right and was off in a flash.

I saw this blur of whiteness (yes she is predominantly a blond) as she 'streaked' towards and then along the road. Of course, the traffic swerved to avoid her or was it so they could get a better look. She is, after all, quite a sight, first thing in the morning.

Here we go, I thought. I hope my Afibrulation doesn't kick in. That's all I needed. I yelled ... no ... pleaded for her to return to the fold. No way. She wanted to play Russian Roulette with the cars, trucks and other traffic. Yes, the traffic slowed down. They could see my predicament, and for the most part, were well acquainted with the rules of Russian Roulette. They seemed to understand that 'my girl was just 'doing her thing.'

It's at times like these, that I take a view of life where one just has to accept that some people need to be left to do their thing and trust that fate does not intervene in a tragic manner, but at some stage, after the driving force has run for a while, there is a need to take a firm hand and reign in such exuberant behaviours ... for the good of the person.

This may sound  like it is from the barnyard, but I had the help of someone else who loved this 'girl,' and together we managed to corral her in a neighbour's front yard, then when she was about to once again 'pull the trigger' in her 'Roulette,' we grabbed her and returned home, with the toots of cars and drivers, resounding in our ears.

Being the leader of a vast nation, with a long history: you have given us music, art Stalin and of course ... vodka ... perhaps you can suggest a way in which one can easily CATCH A JACK RUSSELL when she insists on playing Russian Roulette. There is no point in asking President Trump because he is way too busy with his own endless dramas!

I eagerly await your response.

PS:  My girl's name is Perdy. Here is a picture of her.


And another ... a more innocent one!


Friday, May 18, 2018

Falling in--- down a bank! (Coffee and cake, Puha and stuff!)

Just on a year ago, Perdy was a little hero ... drawing my attention to a lovely lady who had fallen down a bank, and was getting close to being in a perilous condition, probably hyperthermia. That all ended well. As many of us know, 'falling' is a major cause of injury and sometimes death for the elderly. I am NOT immune from that action, especially when I decide to climb down banks for various reasons.

    Why would someone my age (I'm not far off 68) go gallivanting down banks?! Hey ... I need to put food on the table, or ground, for my hens. They LOVE Puha. (Milkweed, for my overseas readers)  I like it too, especially the young tender leaves. I love the peppery flavour. It cuts through fat. My hens almost kill one another, when I throw it over the fence.

    Today, I noticed lots of it. This time of the year it grows in abundance, conveniently close to the pathways where I walk my Jack Russell, Perdy. I espied some beautiful, huge examples of Puha on my walk this morning. It was growing in the long grass on a gentle bank, facing the mangroves. How could I ignore it?

    I didn't. I very carefully clambered down the bank, filling my bag with the luxuriant foliage. It took only a few minutes to gather enough for a good feed for my chooks. I do not take any more than I need, leaving some of the bigger flowering ones to seed for future gatherings, both for myself and others. I guess you could say, I am conserving it.

    I felt most content, as I neared the top of the bank with my bag full of beautiful Puha. Just as I reached the top of the bank (I'm sure you will be laughing at my description when you see the picture of very modest BANK!) I stumbled. As I plunged to the grassy slope, I saw people coming towards me. Crazy thoughts went through my head. I thought ... Miranda loves that word, plunge. 

    I landed safely in the verdant grass, my feet pointing to heaven and other regions of my body supported by the mass ... I couldn't have chosen a better place to fall if I tried!

    'Are you OK?' a friendly voice called.

    'Sure,' I replied, slightly embarrassed. 'I can see why hospitals have all those warnings about ... falling,' I added. (Actually, I'm not sure if I'm imagining I sad that, now.)

     But the kind lady did say ... 'Tai Chi is very good for balance.'

    My embarrassing moment over, I continued towards my car, where another lady, with her kids, noticed the Puha. She told me where there was more. 'I like to leave it ... I only take what I need ... gotta share it, eh.'

    She smiled.


'Ka kite,'



   she said as she left.

    I returned to my car and headed to the cafe, where I rewarded myself with a coffee and a Fudge-Brownie, not quite what the doctor ordered, but oh so yummy. (Thanks Rex  ... The Kitchen Cafe in Thames.)

    Superhen was most pleased when I threw the Puha over the fence. She gave me the look of course, which said ... 'there better be much more of that tomorrow, if you want breakfast!'

    Perdy replied on my behalf ... 'Careful feathered-one ... come from behind that fence, and you will be BREAKFAST!'

PS: I added a picture of the Kauri Gum in the dunny!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Something a little different.

I watched you … every day! 
            
So, I’ve been up here for months now. No one has painted over me and there are only a few scribblings on my periphery, that sully my visage. Sure … a few kids have tried to whack up some inferior ‘bombs,’ but for the most part, I have been left here, undisturbed.
    Sure, the sun, rain and rubbish have all blasted my shiny surface, but I’m made of quality paints, born out of the passion of an enthusiastic and talented ‘artist.’ She comes by from time to time, reminding me of the hours we spent in my berthing; laughing and even the odd tear or two. I met some of her friends … and family, not always sure of the distinction between the two. It didn’t matter.
    I wasn’t looking forward to the day you finished me … leaving me alone. Would I feel lost? I started noticing people; the ones who passed at the same time every day, on their way to work. Then … there were those who came to the park most weekends. I surmised that they lived nearby and did not have gardens or backyards. Two have earned a place in my heart. I even know their names.
    James, a willowy twenty-something, ‘alternatively-dressed’ guy, with long blond hair, tied up in a 70’s style pony-tail, always stopped and watched the progress of my ‘birthing.’ He never said anything. He just stopped and observed. If someone else came and started a conversation, he quickly moved off, after muttering a brief reply, that did little to encourage more meaningful conversation.
    Then, one day, a slightly younger guy, different in so many ways, came past. He wore torn or was it ripped jeans. I wondered if he had paid an exorbitant price for them, or was he just …poor?  He always seemed to have the same T-shirt. That led me to think he either had many of the same types or he washed them every night because believe me … I tried the ‘smell-test’ on him when he approached to touch my surface, stopping only when the artist glared at him. He smelled fine ... fresh and clean. His name was Jessy. The T-shirt was tight, showing off his muscular chest and well-defined arms.
    That day, James took longer to move on. I noticed him glancing at Jessy and moving off … reluctantly. As he left the park, he looked back. Jessy returned the look. I felt an ‘energy,’ a connection, but neither said anything.
    Two days passed, Jessy coming on the first day, staying a little longer than he did on his first appearance. The next day he didn’t come, but James did. That’s how it was for the next week … Jessy one day, James the next … until James started coming again … every day. He even came when it rained and my ‘creator’ didn’t come.
    Finally, I was finished. I stretched over a wall, a myriad of colours. Jessy and James both came. There was quite a crowd … at least a hundred people, and a TV news crew. Yes, I was on TV that night. Anyone could be forgiven for mistaking me for a ‘Banksie creation!’
    James kept looking towards Jessy. Jessy pretended not to notice … for a while. It was Jessy who moved closer until he was right next to James. Their shoulders almost touched. They were silent. People began to move away, the TV crew packed up after interviewing the artists and gathering a few reactions from the people.
    I ignored the ‘ceremony of my ‘coming out.’ I was way more interested in the two guys. When the last of the crowd had left, Jessy and James remained, still silent. It was James who spoke first.
    “I guess if I said, ‘Do you come here often, you’d throw up.’
    Jessy laughed. ‘I’ve heard that corny pick-up line a few too many times, but I guess it’ll do.’
    My heart missed a beat or two. They left together. I have never seen them again. I often wonder if they are still together. I wonder if I will fade. Love is a bit like a mural … in some ways!

www.authorneilcoleman.com
   


Friday, May 4, 2018

The HILLS are alive with the sound of----

Yes, it's that time of the year. It is not so much the 'sound of music' in the hills; it is the sound of gunfire across the water. If it was in some other countries, one would shiver in fear. Here, in New Zealand, it is the seasonal sound of ducks been shot.

    Every year,  this event draws some negative comments from folk who find the practice abhorrent in some way. Many of their utterances are baseless, ranging from their belief that the 'sport' is cruel, through to being unnecessary.

    OK ... let's look at those claims. The ducks that are being hunted have the potential to reach 'plague-like' proportions, which has ramifications for native wildlife and probably the health of some waterways. The ducks we hunt today are the ones that Europeans introduced. New Zealand a was magic place for them to breed and flourish.

    We quickly realized that there was a need to 'control the numbers of ducks.' They needed to be 'culled,' and the 'duck-hunting-culture' became a popular past-time. Generations of NZers have enjoyed the 'sport.' Many of the hunters became expert shooters and spent much of the duck-hunting-season in their little shelters, on foggy mornings in wetlands and waterways of NZ's provincial regions.

    Not all of the hunters eat their 'prizes.' Perhaps they give them away. I remember living on a farm in my childhood days, and my mother receiving ducks that relatives had shot. I remember being told to be careful when we ate them (probably roasted) because there was always the possibility of the lead-shot still being in the meat, meaning that teeth would come into contact with the little hard pieces of 'shot.' Not a nice experience!

    These days, there are m nay more ways available to cook the ducks. Our more diverse population has introduced us to fabulous new ways to process and cook the duck meat. I am extremely hopeful that I shall be the recipient of some fresh, meaty duck-breasts this season, given that I now live within 'sounding-distance' of the bedlam that is this time of the year. On my morning walk today, I could not miss the sounds from across the water on the Firth of Thames. Bring it on!