Originally meant as a repository of sort for published manuscripts and articles, but reading amazing food blogs lately, I was encouraged to include topics on food and gardening and share other topics of interests to other women like me, who love to garden, fine foods and good cooking.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Adult Learners' Tutor Training

Thank God, those wet, chilly and sometimes foggy travels during weekends to and from Masterton and Featherston were done with! We have finished the Adult Learners' Tutor Training Course. There were sixteen of us at the start of the course. Unfortunately, four had to drop the course after a few sessions. The course was conducted alternately at the Wairarapa Community Center in Masterton and the Featherston Community Center.

Finishing the training was not the last hurdle of the course. Next, the South Wairarapa Adult Learners' Association (the organization that supported us in this course) would assign student/s for us to teach and 20 hours of that would be supervised tutoring. Whoaa! Quite scary, really. The Coordinator warned us though, that it may take a year for us to satisfactorily accomplish the Adult Literacy Tutor Training Manual before that coveted National Certificate would be handed to us. That is if we pass the criteria.

Oh well, one step at a time and we'll definitely get there. A huge thanks to our very good trainor named Dara who flew in from Auckland during weekends for this course; to Coordinators Sittala and Natalie who kept us warm and well-fed during the training; to our classmate Angela who generously took me into her car whenever I needed a ride and to all members of the class who made learning easier!

These photos were taken during the last day of the training course.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Smoked Fish Chowder

Nothing beats fresh vegetables when it comes to good cooking. However, chopped, frozen veggies are sometimes practical, especially if you're pressed for time and you just can't be bothered preparing the ingredients--chopping, dicing, slicing, etc.--which is very time-consuming.

This smoked fish chowder was one of those recipes I saw on "Food in a Minute" (a one minute advertorial program to fill gaps between programming), which got me interested. However the recipe required for a packet of ready to cook frozen potatoes, capsicum and onions. Stingy me, would rather use fresh veggies (some of which may come from our garden), rather than buy the more convenient packets of frozen goodies. So I peeled, diced and sliced equal amounts of potatoes, capsicums and onions. Plus, I altered the quantity in the ingredients as the original recipe was meant for 4 - 6 people. I do not like using butter so much, so again, I used substitution--olive oil instead of butter. I'm sorry, I could not tell the difference in taste had I used butter, but there probably isn't much difference.

The picture may not have done justice to the taste of the dish because I took the photo in a rush before dinner, but David and I find it really nice. He asked me to do it again soon.

Hearty Smoked Fish Chowder


1 tsp olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, rinsed and cut into 1 cm slices
1-2 stalks celery cut into 1 cm slices
1 tbsp flour
1 cup vegetable stock or water
3-4 pieces medium size potatoes
1 piece onion
1/2 cubed red and green capsicum
1 cup frozen sweet corn
250 g smoked fish fillet, skinned and flaked
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped celery leaves
1 cup of milk
1 tsp (optional) grated lemon rind

Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the leek and celery until tender, but not brown. Stir in the flour and cook over a low heat for 1 minute or until frothy.

Gradually stir in the vegetable stock and milk, stirring continuously as the sauce thickens.

Add the cubed potatoes, green and red capsicum and onions. Add sweet corn. Simmer gently stirring regularly until the vegetables are hot and tender

Stir in smoked fish, herbs and lemon rind if using. Season as wished.

This can be divided into four servings for small appetites.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pumpkin and Date Muffins

It's too wet and chilly outside to do any gardening chores after days and days of intermittent rain. David suggested that I do some 'playing' to keep me from getting bored. By the way, 'play' for us, means for me to experiment on some recipes using the oven. As I don't know much about baking, I would usually go over recipe books in search of some interesting things to 'play' on. I immensely enjoy it, although admittedly, it's a hit and miss thing for me. Just so thankful that David is so polite (to say I am doing very well considering that I am not used to baking), and is very supportive of my hobby.

This time, he suggested that I bake some pumpkin and dates muffins for our afternoon tea. Let me tell you a story behind these pumpkin and dates muffins.

Last year, he mentioned that he so loved the date scones his late Mum used to bake for them. I wanted to please him so I searched for scone recipes from books and the internet. I came up with lots of different recipes, which confused simple me. I eliminated the more complicated ones and came up with one recipe that I thought was the simplest and easiest to do. It was called "Pumpkin and Prunes Scones". However, we did not have any prunes so I substituted them with dates. Afraid of mishandling the soft dough, I spooned it into muffin tins instead of patting the dough and shaping it. The result? They looked more muffins than scones when baked. My very polite husband said he loved them with a just little butter.

I have made several Pumpkin and Dates Muffins since then upon request. And probably, this time, David is really appreciating them.

Here is how I make them:


2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup cold mashed pumpkin
3 cups four
3 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4-1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped dates

Beat the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat well. Add the mashed pumpkin. Sift the flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda and add to the pumpkin mixture. Add the dates. Fold adding sufficient milk to make a slightly softer-than-usual dough. Grease medium muffin trays and spoon the dough into them. Bake at 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm with butter if you like.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Zucchini Fritters

We had a good harvest of fruits and veggies from our garden last summer so I had to freeze most of it. So glad I did because fresh veggies are quite pricey during winter if they are available at all.

Anyway, now is the time to dig the freezer and make an inventory of frozen veggies for immediate use. Problem with frozen veggies, your choices of how to cook them are limited as they get really soggy when thawed. But that is a non issue.

So, first to come out from down under the cold were the grated zucchini and I decided to make zucchini fritters for lunch. Served warm with your favorite chutney, this dish will surely warm your cold, cold days.

Here's how to do them.

1 1/2 cup grated zucchini
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

(If you're using fresh zucchinis, you don't have to thaw anything). So you can now squeeze the grated veggie using a clean cheesecloth to remove as much water as you can.

Mix together all the other ingredients except the oil to make the batter.

Heat oil in a skillet. Spoon batter--2 heaping tablespoons per patty--into skillet. Brown both sides.

Serve warm with your favorite chutney. Enjoy!