Sunday, October 24, 2010

The taste of more to come - From Christchurch to Queenstown

New Zealand Tour 2010 continued/......
our shopping and tourist tour of Christchurch had come to an end. We had done the punt the gondola... been to Akaroa, done it was time to move on...

Canterbury plains.... in the distance a taste of what was to come... Snow ice, mountains and alpine country. And the most spectacular scenery imaginable. We were lucky, they had just had weeks of heavy rain and a fresh dumping of snow several days before we arrived, so the weather was fresh, crisp and we were thermal equipped, coat and scarf wrapped and ready.

New Zealand is spookily similar to Iceland in many respects, both North and south Island but it was the alpine landscape that brought back such lucid memories of the land of "fire and ice" .
Yet another parallel to Iceland - New Zealand is one of only a few other countries on earth, (such as Alaska and Canada) to have the natural feature described as 'braided rivers' present in the landscape, as seen in pictures below. These rivers vary greatly in their width and depth according to the snow melt from the mountains behind. Prior to the melt, and spring thaw, the rivers are thin, windy, split by beds of shingle stones. Similar to a braided hair plait on a young girl, wispy, fine and running left and right of the river bed. In fully flood, it is a different story... wild and full, the shingle beds are hidden from view.

More information on these rivers can be found here:

The bridge over this "braided river" is over 1.6 kilometres long! The longest in New Zealand

This area is naturally dry until the rainy season and the spring thaw.... but now the fields are lush and green year round, thanks to an extremely intensive irrigation system that ensures that dairy cattle can graze on this lush grass, any day of the year.

In turn, this has resulted in an ever expanding dairying industry, now New Zealand's biggest export. Not content with imported broad range products, China has commissioned a plant to be built especially dedicated to producing bottle formula for babies in China and it is to be built on the Canterbury plains.

A bus was to take us through the area, on our 11 hour journey to Queenstown. Whilst most of our fellow passengers slept peacefully with their Japanese-English earpiece translators tucked into their ears, I listened intently to the commentary by the Kiwi bus driver with eager ears and prepared my camera for some heavy duty action... because this was only the curtain raiser to the main event to come.... and that is really something to ponder about.. the mountains get higher, the sky gets darker and the snow gets lower...
But where do we stop for lunch... a nice cafe at a lookout spot, where one can test the limits of the battery life of one's camera on the beautiful backdrop of snow covered peaks???? No, in a dismal valley town with no discernible views save for that which includes Subway fast food restaurant ( which may I say is a gross over use of the word restaurant, although I do like the food), and the local service station.

A place called Geraldine!

Clearly the bus company has a contract with this lunch cafe come souvenir shop to bring their passengers here in the hope of stimulating the economy of this small town, but oh despairing I was that there was no vistas to be had of snowy peaks anyway! Not even if I craned my neck in all directions!!! There was a memorial garden to someone whom left no big impression on me, as I can't remember his name, but it did have some interesting flora within.
I guess the only other claim to fame was the fact that the town has the same name as my sister in law....
not something to ponder much about at all.....

Next: On To Tekapo one of the prettiest places in the world....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Human Body!!

It takes your food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your


>One human hair can support 3kg (6.6 lb).

The average man's penis is two times the length of his thumb.
>Human thighbones are stronger than concrete..
>A woman's heart beats faster than a man's.
>There are about one trillion bacteria on each of your
>Women blink twice as often as men.
>The average person's skin weighs twice as much as the brain.
>Your body uses 300 muscles to balance itself when you are standing still.
>If saliva cannot dissolve something, you cannot taste
Women reading this will be finished now.
Men are still busy checking their thumbs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Veal Goulash with Nutty Rice

Veal Goulash

1 kg stewing veal ( but I use leg steaks but don't let it simmer for long )
60 g butter ( optional )
3 tbspn oil
1 clove garlic
2 medium onions, diced
250 g mushrooms, sliced
1 tbspn paprika
1/4 tsp thyme
seasonings to taste
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 cups water
2 chicken/vege stock cubes
200 ml carton sour cream

I make half this quantity for a family of 4

Remove fat and gristle from meat, and cut into strips.
Heat butter and oil in pan, add meat in portions and cook quickly til golden brown. Remove from pan, and set aside.
Saute onion, (celery and capsicum too, if desired) till onion is tender.
Add sliced mushrooms, tomato paste, paprika and thyme, saute 2 minutes.
Return meat to pan.
Add water, crumbled stock cubes,tomato paste, seasonsings and stir till combined.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer covered one hour or til veal is tender.
Just before serving, stir in sour cream, heat through gently.

Can stir this through cooked pasta too, or serve with the following recipe:

Nutty Rice ( even staunch refusers of brown rice gobble this up!!)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
50 g pine nuts
1 1/2 cupful long grain brown rice
1 1/2 cupfuls vege stock or water
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bayleaf

Heat oil in heavy saucepan, saute onion, till soft.
Add pine nuts and cook til they are lightly browned also.

Add the rice, stirring well until the grains are well coated with oil.
Add the stock, bring to the boil and then add the thyme and bayleaf.

Cover pan and simmer til rice is tender ( approx 45 minutes) and all stock is absorbed.
Season if desired.

Add 1.4 tsp cumin or tumeric towards end of cooking.

Leave to cool, then add beansprouts and serve as a cold salad.