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January 28, 2013

in a boat we'll sail away | weeknight stirfry

Do you ever have too much to blog about, so you blog about nothing? This space has been quiet recently - but that's not for the lack of cooking or baking or preserving, but because every time I sit down to blog I lose myself in the countless pictures of recipes I have, some now embarrassingly out of season.

Despite holidays only being a short two weeks ago, they feel so distant that I look through pictures I took while I was away, reminding myself of the sunsets and skies I saw. The picture above is the view from the Waihi beach kitchen one night. It's best to cook simple food when you're getting back into the everyday routine - on high rotation at Maitland recently have been simple stirfrys and salads - quick to cook, easy to eat, and good for lunch the next day too. Think of this not as a recipe but more as a gentle guide, a suggestion .. 

You might remember last year we had a huge harvest of coriander, and with some of that harvest I made kratiem prik thai - a simple spice paste with red chilli, garlic, ginger, black pepper and lemon juice. These were frozen in small tablespoonful amounts. I used this for a thai-inspired stirfry the other week - but in the place of the spice paste you could use some or all of the individual ingredients. You can't go wrong with garlic, ginger and red chilli!

weeknight stirfry

green capsicum
broad beans (about 2 cups)
cavolo nero/kale/spinach
rice noodles/udon/pasta/couscous/quinoa
frozen spice paste OR 2 cloves garlic, chopped ginger, red chilli and tamari
olive oil
coconut oil (or another high heat oil like peanut)
juice of 1 lemon
sea salt
black pepper
optional: avocado; 1 egg

Chop the kale, shell the broad beans, cut the capsicum into thick pieces. Heat the coconut oil in a heavy pan, add the spice paste or spice ingredients. When it's sizzling, add the beans and the capsicum. Sauté briefly. Set aside (or turn the heat very low to just keep them warm).

Cook the noodles - we have been using lots of rice noodles recently as they are very easy to cook - simply boil in water for 2-5 minutes until completely soft. You could substitute any noodle or pasta or rice carbohydrate in here - just use whatever you have.

If you're using kale, it's quite nice to massage it with olive oil and salt until it goes dark green and shiny - I didn't cook this but alternatively you could pop it in the pan with the capsicum/beans. If you're using spinach I'd just put that in raw. Assemble all the ingredients either in a bowl or directly on the plate (this is a weeknight meal after all, why not save on the dishes?)

Mix some olive oil with the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Drizzle this over. The first night we made this we ate it with the Waihi beach avocado, ripened at Maitland. The next night, I whisked an egg with a fork and quickly fried it in a hot pan to make an omelette to chop on top. An easy way to reinvent a meal so you don't feel like you're eating exactly the same thing.

The picture below shows a different version of the same kind of dinner - with couscous, asparagus, miner's lettuce, flat leaf parsley, mushrooms and walnuts. We ate this in late spring, when the first asparagus made it into the shops. Simple dinners with whatever you have to hand in the garden or in the pantry. For those in the northern hemisphere, a nice winter version would be with roast beetroot, pumpkin and garlic, perhaps with some sunflower seeds and maybe some feta. 

The past two weeks have been full - in many ways. Many ways that are good. One of the highlights was my first piece of writing published in a newspaper, about an issue I feel passionate about. It's amazing, the doors that can open up if you look out for them. 

I feel as though I am always promising more here - but truly, I do have so many recipes up my sleeves, ready to show you. Broad bean dip, an invention of J's, that tastes like guacamole, a soup made with lentils and lemon, dal makhani . . and a January playlist to share, too. See you soon! 


day 8/365
today I'm grateful for Monday after work swims in the ocean, South island sea salt through my hair. It's been hot here, with the hot weather expected to last. Our department at work does not have air conditioning, and today all the doors, fire exits and windows were opened to the sun. Still, the best remedy for the departmental humidity is the cold room - at 4ºC it's truly a walk in fridge. Awful in winter, excellent in summer..


title from elle graham - wild things & lost boys


  1. G I've been experiencing exactly the same thing...sitting quiet umming and ahing over a few posts, recipes, photos building up whilst the blog continues to stay quiet. Seems like we both found some momentum today.
    Quick simple meals have also been on my mind as I embark on a new full-time job tomorrow.

    And big congrats on your words being published...I'm about to read it.

  2. That stir fry looks delicious, i too have been staying quiet(ish) but doing lots 'behind the scenes', congratulations on your article, go you and I can't wait for the January playlist.xx

  3. Oh yummmm. Congratulations on the words, I need to go and read them..xx

  4. this sounds delicious. right now i'm craving western food. but as soon as i'm back to wanting a taste of thailand, i'll be here to give this a go !

    rachel xo

  5. That's so exciting that you were published in a newspaper! I think that is so monumental! Congrats!

  6. what a good looking sunset! and stir-fry to boot! And I hear you about so many planned or halfwritten unblogged recipes that are now out of season; hmmm perhaps we should do a "spring-clean" of recipes come March? Happy weekend!