Oct

28

The Incredible Edible New Zealand Egg

eggsinccarton


We moved to New Zealand to find the good life. We found the good egg.


The New Zealand egg, fresh from the hen, sporting a good bit of  whatever that is that is cleaned off of American eggs before they reach those pristine styrofoam cartons, big as life and, oftentimes, neither fully white nor fuly brown, could easily be a metaphor for all that is great about the NZ lifestyle. Gorgeous, delicious and not always what you expect.


The eggs here are dirty. At least the ones I’ve been getting. Whether they’re from a nearby farm stand or our neighbor’s chickens, they’ve got a bit of this and a bit of that that I’d rather not think about on the shell. Not to mention a feather or two on occasion. Nothing a quick wipe with a vinegar-soaked paper towel won’t fix, though. My NZ lifestyle’s a bit dirty as well. Mucking about in the vege garden gets one a bit dirty. And everyone’s got a vege garden. Loaded with cabbages and brussels sprouts and all manner of things that New Zealanders seem to actually eat! I’m not complaining… these are the sorts of foods I love.


3eggs


The eggs here are big! Or very small! At least that’s been my experience. I’ve found a few mediums here and there as well. When my recipe calls for 2 large eggs, I’ve got to think a bit and rummage around in the egg basket for what I imagine the equivalent of 2 large eggs is at that moment. One of the rather large ones and one of the very small ones ought to do. And the banana muffins turned out great! My life here seems to be a bit like that, too, so far. Making do with this or that and having things turn out great.


The eggs I get come in a few colors as well. Of course there’s white and brown. But the white eggs don’t seem nearly as white as their American counterparts. And my brown eggs range from lightly beige to full on brown. And green. I love the green eggs. They’re not terribly green, mind you. Just a lovely green cast that makes you stop and look.


But what’s really amazing about NZ eggs is the way they taste. First take a look at a freshly cracked egg. The yolk is nearly Halloween orange. It’s that way from the hen’s diet. She’s likely eating bugs, greens and whatever she can scrounge up. The way nature intended. That yolk is going to be full of beta-carotene and omega-3 fats. Much healthier to eat. And the taste is not like any eggs I’ve had before. Believe me. You just have to try one…


duckegg


We also get duck eggs from a friend. These are lovely. They’re about the size of the largest chicken eggs I get. But do really look different. The yolks are the same bright orange. But the whites are quite clear. And they cook up quite bright white!


So lately it’s been eggs for breakfast — fried and scramble — and eggs for lunch — hard-boiled and deviled. I’ve even made some gorgeous mayonnaise. Maybe I should fix eggs for dinner tonight. Fresh herbed frittata it is!

Oct

17

Zen and the Art of Cheesemaking

cheesemaking


Making your own cheese is a great way to eat locally. Some local milk and some very local labor and you’ll be enjoying homemade cheese in under an hour.


My first memory of homemade cheese is from my teen years when my dad started making cheese. I remember cheesecloth balls draining at the sink. And yummy soft cheeses served just as is without even crackers. This was good stuff.


Looking back, I can see that my dad was an interesting mix of hi-tech gadget geek and a man longing for the old ways. When we lived in California we had an olive tree. So of course my dad set out to cure his own olives. Now that’s cool! My dad also made his own pasta, his own bread and, later in life, his own wine. His geek side meant that we had the first microwave, first VCR and first computer of anyone I knew.


I’m a bit of a gadget geek myself, but it was my dad’s hankering for homemade novelties that I remember most fondly. A few years before he died, my dad would wow relatives with his cheesemaking abilities, making a  beautiful, glossy, delicious round of mozzarella cheese in under an hour.


I like to think I take after my dad. For years, I have made my own bread, baked most things from scratch and helped with the family winemaking. (My geeky side means I have an iMac, and MacBook Pro and an iPhone.) So making cheese seemed like the obvious thing to do! In the last year or two, I’ve made mozzarella cheese a few times. With mixed success.


When it became clear that my dad was really dying, I set out to garner whatever cheesemaking ability he could pass on. So while my dad lay in his hospice bed in the living room (holding court as usual with lots of family members around), I set up in my mom’s kitchen with pots and bowls, thermometers and milk. At one point I snapped a quick picture of the developing curd with my iPhone so that Dad could take a critical look. That photo is here in this post. Yes, the curd was ready. Dad pronounced it! My perfect batch of mozzarella was soon ready to be tasted. I feel certain my dad was proud that day of that glossy ball of cheese. I’ll consider his wisdom passed on. So now it’s me that makes the cheese in the family (with plenty of help from husband). Some day I’ll pass the skill on to daughter.


I look back now and realize that the photo here was taken October 18, 2008. My dear dad passed away on October 22 (just days later). The cheese wisdom was passed on just in time!


For great information on cheesemaking and a recipe for mozzarella (and many more types of cheese) follow this LINK.

Filled Under: food

Oct

14

Do you speak my language?

vegemitesandwich


As many of you know, I’ve recently made the big move to New Zealand. It’s been quite an adventure and one that is in no small way related to my quest for the best food I can find.


From my almost immediate trip to the local farmers’ market to my now weekly bread baking, my time in New Zealand has revolved around food. It must be said that eating out in NZ is nothing like it was in the US. I haven’t decided yet if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Family restaurants don’t seem to exist much here. Certainly not the way Americans know them. And yet the cities are teeming with cafes. We live in a town of  just over 3,000 people, but the small downtown of Warkworth has at least 4 cafes in its several blocks. We tend to eat at home a lot as a family. That’s a good thing. But where are the cheap Ceasar salads? That might just be bad.


That said, it’s easy to eat locally round here. You can’t go out driving without seeing hundreds of sheep as just as many cows. And they’re all grass-fed. The farmers’ markets and roadside stands are generous with local produce, including a few NZ-only fruits and veges.


So my lunch today comprised of the lovely NZ tamarillo, my freshly baked NZ-style rolls, a bit of sliced chicken from the deli (a definite low point in eating locally, but more on that in a later post), and a very generous smear of Vegemite. Although Vegemite is from the land of Oz, it’s NZ counterpart, Marmite (love it or hate it!), is just as tasty.

Filled Under: food