Waste not, want not

While waiting for a polar blast this afternoon, I decided to stay indoors and make use of my old veges going too soft to use after a vege bin clean out. In the tradition of “waste not, want not” I coupled this with some frozen hoki and prawns to come up with Fish Amok meets Chowder.

Seafood chowder has long been a favourite dish of mine. Its hard to think you could improve on such a traditional favourite but for me the Fish Amok meets Chowder is a brilliant example of fusion cuisine.

Fish Amok meets Chowder

1/2 carrot, diced into 1cm cubes
2 potatoes, diced into 1cm cubes
1/2 turnip, diced into 1cm cubes
300-500g frozen fish ( I used hoki)
1 handful of frozen uncooked prawns
1 tsp salt
1 star anise

Amok (Curry)
4 large lemon grass stalks, use the white core and roughly chop (use lemon peel if you dont have lemon grass)
25g garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 shallots or an onion peeled and roughly chopped
25g fresh tumeric peeled and roughly chopped ( use 1tsp powder if you dont have fresh)
1 medium green chilli, sliced
25g galangal or ginger peeled and roughly chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves shredded
50g roasted peanuts or cashew nuts
100ml coconut milk

To serve
1 Medium green chilli sliced
1 handful parsley finely chopped, save a few sprigs to decorate.

1.Put all chowder ingredients except prawns together in a saucepan with just enough water to cover them and simmer until fish is unfrozen, and vegetables are soft but still together.
2.Put all curry ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine paste/sauce
3.Add the curry to the chowder along with prawns and simmer for a further 10mins
4.Add 1/2 the chopped parsley and stir through before serving with the remainder of parsley and chilli to garnish.

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Winter Warmth & Prawn Malabar

As the days begin to lengthen I am starting to be inspired to write again. I wonder if it is the lack of vitamin D which we get from the suns rays that sends me into such a downward spiral, or is it a natural part of us to want to hibernate so our batteries are recharged for the longer days ahead. 

The dear old chooks went off the lay for a good 2 months or more – we were looking up the best way to despatch them and found in the book we were reading this is normal for older chooks, they moult then use all their energy (and a lot of calcium) to replace their feathers for the winter and as a result go off the lay. They’ve started up again just in the nick of time; else the curry below may have been a chicken one!

The winter gardens have been highly productive, with the exception of a couple of fails like my broad bean leaves curling?, new varieties of cauliflower (cheddar and green) getting rot in their flower heads, and the sheep pushing through the fence to nibble on my brussel sprouts!  There has been enough for us and then some with baskets of fresh greens being taken over to Mum and Dads each week.

We had a mid-winter get together with Todd’s family recently, it’s nice to celebrate the seasons with family and friends. Seasons are a good excuse for a party, and its lovely to have seasonal food to. It makes me “tut tut” when I hear news reports of fresh produce prices sky-rocketing when the examples cited by the media are out of season cucumbers or tomatoes and the like. For goodness sake buy seasonal or pay the price! For me it takes a little away from the specialness of a fruit or vegetable when it is available all year round. I remember as a child waiting until Christmas for our first taste of berries, or new potatoes. I think the anticipation makes us appreciate them so much more.

It was at this get together that my brother in-law mentioned Prawn Malabar. Up until then I hadn’t heard of it but give me prawns and curry in the same sentence and I’m won over instantly.  Google produced so many variations I didn’t know where to start! I picked this one off indianrelish.com and it was fantastic! I would say it would be hard to beat and is really simple to make! I will have to make it for him and see if it measures up ;) – Give it a go; it might make your winter warmer!


Prawn Malabar or Malabari



1 tblsp coconut oil
5 whole green cardamom pods(hari elaichi)
5-6 cloves(laung)
2 large cinnamon sticks
2 large onions, finely chopped
15 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ginger paste
2 green chilies, finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, pureed ( I used canned tomatoes!)
A bunch of curry leaves
2 tsp coriander powder (dhania powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder(haldi)
1 tsp red chili powder (lal mirch powder)
1 cup coconut milk
2 tblsp coconut cream
Salt to taste
1 kg prawns, shelled and deviened

How to make Prawn Malabar Curry:

  • Heat the coconut oil in a wok and add the whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
  • Once they start spluttering, add the chopped onions and fry till they become golden in color.
  • Now add the garlic, ginger paste, green chilies and curry leaves and fry some more.
  • You can now put in the tomato puree and mix well.
  • After 2 minutes, add in all the ground spices, salt and saute till you can see oil separating over the mixture.
  • Add the prawns to the mixture and stir for two minutes.
  • You should now put in the coconut milk and boil on low heat for five minutes.
  • Stir in the coconut cream and serve hot the Prawn Malabar Curry with rice.
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After more than 20 years of working pretty much fulltime, I have scaled back and am working very much part time with one day in the Auckland office and the remainder at home. They say you need to be careful what you wish for.

Work has given my life more routine than any other single factor. I am suddenly feeling like my whole self worth was wrapped up in and measured by productivity at work. I recognise it is a self measure and one that I can alter, but boy oh boy that’s easier said than done! I desperately miss the social side of work too.

Going into this new arrangement I endeavoured to fill the gap by adding other positive routines in my life like taking a jog each morning when the kids are off to school, and becoming more involved in the school, community and not-for-profit(NFP) interest groups.

I have found this self regulated routine really difficult to stick to and so easy to put off, while the NFP sector moves to the beat of a very different drum, so PC and chillaxed that it isn’t giving me the motivation or inspiration I had hoped.

I wonder if I have been caught up in the rat race for too long, or will time teach me to relax and give me more true measures to work too?

Writing this has been difficult I have had a writer’s block for such a long time now, my mind to scrambled to articulate clearly and separate one subject from another… there may be more on this; I would welcome any comments, has anyone else gone through , or going through this?

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Give a Little

I walked past Double Happy this morning, thats my name for the homeless guy on the cemetery corner. He always wears a smile twice as big as anyone else, so I call him Double Happy. Here is a post I wrote in September last year about giving …

“Dollar” was all he said as I walked past this man in obvious need of more than a dollar. I had spotted him from a distance and summed him up. Look fearless… thats what Dad always said, even if your petrified front up, walk tall and strong. Dont make eye contact… dont smile at anyone…thats what city life has taught me.

When did I become this person who doesnt see and doesnt hear, and most certainly doesnt give, not a smile not a dollar not anything dont give anything away. Phew… I dont carry change, perfect out I reason.

“Hello beautiful lady, how are you going today” the next guy was more used to me passing I see him most days, he sits on the sidewalk like some derelict Buddha, gut hanging out over his crossed legs with cardboard signs pleading his case, weve built up a rapport I smile at him and give him a wave. He looks happy, I wonder what he thinks as the crowd walks by with their poker faces.

I saw this same guy catching the late bus home after I had been on the turps, he had moved to a spot outside a small asian foodcourt that had seen better days. As I waited for my bus becoming more and more sober by the minute as the cold air hit me on the sidewalk I watched the shop owners in that wee foodcourt file out finished for their day at 11pm, passing the man, some threw parcels of food at him and kind words most acknowledged him and said goodnight. As the last shop owner left the man pulled his cardboard boxes around himself like blankets, and made him self comfortable across the entrance to the mall, tucked out of the wind, and happy, he was asleep in minutes, and the food court had security of sorts.

I approach the park on the corner of K’rd with caution, I like to know where they are, where he is before I walk through, are there other people walking my way, people with purpose, support safety in numbers, there he is its 8am in the morning hes out to it on the ground one day, on the park bench the next, usually without fail baring his butt cheeks to the world as he curls in a fetal position in his trackies and t-shirt, where will he go when it gets cold, does he have shoes and a jacket somewhere, does he have underpants?

The walking dead are the ones that scare me the most, that glazed over expression and if you actually look into their eyes they look opaque, if our eyes are the gateways to our soul then these gates are shut, is there a soul in there? I cant tell they let nothing in and nothing out other than the substances they live and die for… live and die for.

“Hi” I call and wave out, they scurry away pretending they havent seen or heard the lady from the house rented on the corner by a new family, my family. They look back – is she mad? it took 6 months before a neighbor said hello back when we moved from a small rural village of less than 30 houses to the burbs in Auckland. Is this really the world we live in?

When did a smile begin to cost us to much, when did kindness become dangerous, when did we stop giving? What happens if we forget how to give do we also forget how gratifying it is? Does that part of us shut down, what example are we setting for the next generation will they live only for themselves?

“Why did you say hello to that lady Mum?” “Because its nice to say hello to people even when you dont know them Darling, for some people its the only hello they will get in their day” her warm little hand in mine her beautiful blue eyes and face turned up to mine…. she doesnt know her Mum was one of those people just waiting for someone to say Hello.

Give a little.

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My teenage son went out to say hi to my Mum and Dad

I am so proud of the respect he showed

We talked a lot about respect

About what it meant through eyes so old

It is a simple act


Mum’s eyes glistened as she told me my son had gone out to say hello to her, my father stood, shoulders back, proud. It touched me to see how much it meant to them and made me appreciate the values my parents have taught me, and we have taught our son.

Respect doesn’t come easily to a lot of the next generation; young men push past women with children and old folks. I was stoked to hear the other day while waiting in a queue a young Maori lady chastising some private school college boys who were pushing to the front. It was interesting to watch their reactions; some ignored her, others who had been taught respect looked at their shoes.

I appreciate respect is earned. Like a lot of things we have to learn to give respect before we can get it.  I liked this way of describing respect: actions that honor somebody or something.  There is a lack of respect evident when I look around me today; a lot of problems in society (it could be said) stem from a lack of respect; racism, violence, theft to name a few.

I heard a story recently that made me cringe a fellows wife was in a Taxi ringing out what was described as “foreign” tunes on the radio, the driver asked her not to clean her nails in the car as it was against his religion, and her reply was something like as soon as you turn off your music as it is against mine. Where is the respect?

Posted in Family, Respect | 1 Comment

To duck or not to duck?

You might be thinking by now that I am duck mad, you would be right if that means I love duck, I do! Duck is also very expensive to buy $16.50 for a leg and thigh or a single breast, about $22 for a whole duck! It is quite a treat when I am by myself to try a new dish each week.

The little place I am getting these divine duck dishes from Kaffir Lime at the top of Symonds Street, Auckland has been taunting me for a while with its menu in the window by the bus stop where I wait. It only opens after 4:30 and for the 4 years Ive been up here Ive usually left the vicinity by then so I feel like a small child must when finally allowed in a lolly shop!

The generous portions of duck in these dishes (had one last week too) really means its good value for money $17 for the curry and rice, which for me lasts two meals…. heaven…twice!

And fancy that for years we had pekin ducks wandering around our backyard, I wonder if I knew how lovely they tasted in a curry if they would have stayed as pet ducks for as long?

I might just be encouraging the other half to learn how to nab a duck in duck shooting season this year to give some of these delightful curries a go myself. We will have to get around my daughter (7) who is quite an activist for animals first.

My father has always been a hunter, and duck shooting season in May was something to look forward to every year on the farm. The dogs would be trained up and a mai-mai built to huddle in inconspicuous and relative luxury on cold foggy rain soaked mornings and nights. I preferred sneaking up on the pond to biding time in the mai-mai, and still remember the musty smell of the ground and the pond and the eerie call or chattering of the ducks on the still pond as we approached.  Then as they took flight in alarm the shot guns would ring out in deafening contrast to the peace and silence that went before.

I am not sure I could do it anymore, there is a constant battle in my mind over killing an animal for our own sustenance vs letting the animals be. I tend to try and rationalise it somewhat by telling myself that the duck numbers need to be controlled so our native species have a chance and our waterways arent muddied beyond practical use. And we do use the duck and find every duck that is shot… I will have to do some further research on it so I can make a call – before duck shooting season this year!

Here is a recipe for Roast Duck Red Curry, you might like to try adding fresh pepper corns, bamboo shoots, grapes and pineapple – mine had this in it too and it was lovely!


Roast Duck Curry
Servings: 6


Ingredients :
•    1 roasted duck, deboned and cut into 1-inch squares
•    2 ½ cups coconut milk
•    1 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
•    3 tablespoon red curry paste
•    2 medium tomatoes, halved or 10 cherry tomatoes
•    ½ cup sweet basil leaves (horapha)
•    4 kaffir lime leaves, halved
•    ½ teaspoon salt
•    2 tablespoon fish sauce
•    1 teaspoon sugar
•    ½ cup water (or chicken stock)

Put vegetable oil into wok over medium heat and add the red curry paste, stir well, add ¾ cups coconut milk and stir to mix thoroughly.

Add the duck and stir well.

Next, add the remaining coconut milk, water, tomatoes, kaffir lime leaves, sugar, salt, fish sauce and sweet basil.

Cook for about 10 minutes or until duck absorbs curry flavor.

Posted in Asia, Duck, Food, Recipes | Leave a comment

Drunken Duck

Its 6:15 and I’m sitting in my office having a dinner break, – Drunken Duck (pad kee mao)  which I really should have got a photo of before I started eating, my hunger was such that i thought I might eat then look for a image on google – none quite looked like mine does. Its description on the menu at Kaffir Lime reads

“Sliced duck with hot thai basil, garlic, chilli & whisky ( guess thats why its drunken?) with seasonal vegetables.”

Mine is served on rice most recipes and images I found were for noodles. I must check my Rick Stein “Far Eastern Odyssey” book for a recipe.

I am sure if I rebranded it or maybe just called it plain old Drunken Duck my Dad might give it a crack next duck shooting season, maybe add some mash to make it more english?

This is an odd first post I know, and I am rambling ..it does set the scene though. Life dictated by a working schedule were my 40hrs is done in 4 days in Auckland, New Zealand and my 3 days off are focused on family and food. Or in another sense the pursuit of happiness and health.

Thanks for joining me, and  thank you also in anticipation of your patience as I get used to writing and wordpress

- – Update – -

Heres a recipe I found for  a tofu and noodle Pad Kee Mao – although as I said mine was duck and on rice so go figure!

Pad kee mao

    * 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    * 1 1/4 cup (1/4 kilo, 1/2 lb) fresh wide rice noodles
    * 1/2 cup baby corn (about 6 ears)
    * 1/2 cup white tofu, pressed (or 1/2 cup seafood such as squid & shrimp, or meat pieces)
    * 2 tablespoons fresh peppercorns
    * 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
    * 1 tablespoon smashed small thai chilies
    * 1 sliced orange chili (about 1 tablespoon)
    * 1/2 cup packed holy basil leaves & flowers
    * 1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
    * 1 teaspoon black soy sauce
    * 1 1/2 teaspoons golden mountain soy sauce
    * 1 tablespoon white soy sauce or fish sauce (or more to taste)
    * 2 teaspoons white sugar
    * about 4 tablespoons water
    * 1/4 teaspoon vinegar


      1. Separate the noodles by peeling them apart one at a time. Set aside.
      2. Prepare your ingredients: Slice the baby corns into 1/2 lengthwise. Crush the garlic and chilies, and set aside. Pick off the leaves & flowers of the basil, and set aside. Chop the large chili into rings.
      3. If you’re using tofu, pre-fry it in hot oil until browned. Set aside.
      4. Add the oil to a pan, and heat on high until it’s dancing around. Then add the garlic, chilies and green peppercorns. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.
      5. When the garlic turns light brown, add the veggies & meat/seafood if adding. Keep stirring and cook until finished, about a minute. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to help things not stick.
      6. Add the tofu (if adding), then the noodles. You may need to add a bit more water if the pan gets too dry. Don’t add a lot, or the noodles will get mushy.
      7. After frying for a minute or two, add the soy sauces, sugar and oyster sauce. Stir well to mix.
      8. Add the basil & vinegar. Stir to mix. When the basil is wilted it’s done.

      I also found this …. not sure how accurate it is!

      In Thai, ‘pad’ means to stir-fry, and ‘kee mao’ means someone who likes to drink too much. ‘Kee’ literally means ‘shit’, and adding ‘kee’ in front of any verb means it’s a bad habit. ‘Mao’ means drunk. So, a ‘Kee Mao’ (shit drunk) is someone who has a bad habit of drinking! What this has to do with this dish, I’m not 100% sure. I’ve heard that this is a common drinking food, and also that it’s a good cure for a hangover. Your guess is as good as mine.

      ref: http://www.realthairecipes.com/recipes/drunken-noodles/

      Posted in Asia, Duck, Food, Happiness, Health, Recipes, Work/Life | Leave a comment