Friday, 31 January 2014

Hobbit burgers

We are having a picnic at Coneysthorpe for Chinese New Year. The people who are visiting are Chinese and Indian so he picnic is not likely to be cucumber sandwiches.....thank goodness.

Here are my Hobbit Burgers to graze on when they arrive, complete with chilli and tomato dip.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Alsace Onion Tart

Guests for lunch today, so I am starting my trek through the Elizabeth David recipe book that my husband bought me for Christmas. One of the early celebrity chefs, she introduced "exotic" continental food (mainly French and Italian) to British cooking. It is a fantastic way into French cuisine, and much more approachable than Julia Child's tome. Here is the contribution to today's meal from the book

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Healing space

I had a terrible headache overnight. Unusual for me, I am more likely to wake up with a racing heart than a thumping head. Quite out of character, I stayed in bed until I could sit up without the room spinning. When I finally made it out of the bedroom, I headed straight for the verandah with a cup of tea. It never fails in its healing touch. Below were the two views I enjoyed.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Republic of Plum

We have four plum trees. Three were ravaged by the birds this season, before I had the time to whip out the ladder to harvest their fruit. However, the word hadn't got round too far about the tree at our gate. I have picked probably 3 bucket loads from this small tree, and made plum jam with rosewater, plum jam with nutmeg, plum jam with cinnamon and.....plum gin.

Lest you think I am a drinker, the said bottle of Gordon's gin which I used for this experiment has been sitting in a cupboard unopened for 5 years. It was rapidly becoming vintage.

Ask me in 3 months, when the nights have drawn in and I'm needing some internal heating, how this tastes

Friday, 17 January 2014

Country shows

We spent a delightful morning at the Levin A P & I show today. Some of the attractions included a sheep race (we backed a loser - Yellow no 3) and the showing of various agricultural animals as well as the delightful alpaca.

The back story. I have always adored the whimsical alpaca, and whenever we drive through NZ I can be relied upon to shout "ALPACA" like an excited 8 year old each time one comes into view. I have always wanted my own trio, but until we moved here we didn't have a piece of land large enough.....well we now have a spare acre, and according to the experts we talked to today, you can keep up to EIGHT alpaca on an acre.....

You may need to watch this space.

As we wandered today through the show grounds, I missed my dad so much. He would have loved the day. He would have commented on the antique farm equipment, the vintage cars, would have downed a HUGE ice cream and would have told stories every time he laid eyes on a pig. He was a country man until the day he died. I miss him so much.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Middle Eastern Flatbread

.....from the very un Middle Eastern "River Cottage Bread book"

Introducing Ksenia and Masha

Those of you who have followed my other blog in the last 12 months (, know that I make Russian dolls. They are hand sewn from retro and vintage fabrics. I haven't made any for the last 9 months, but in the last couple of days I have completed two. Here are Ksenia and Masha. They are for sale, and if you are interested, please contact me at
Maybe we should change the name of our house to Coneysthorpeskaya?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Our other "local"

The old Court House in Levin has a coffee cart inside which sells really excellent coffee. On a warm day like today, you can sit out in the rose gardens and listen to the bees on the lavendar.
Hard life isn't it?

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Three "Firsts"

I made spaghetti carbonara, I filled 5 pot holes with asphalt on our driveway and my bedside reading is now "How to raise chickens". This time last year I would NEVER have imagined I'd be thinking of keeping chickens. Being 52 is sure interesting.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

House Rules

Dear Otto, Cumin and Ruppin, In principle, we have no problem with you catching mice. In fact, we are even OK about you bringing them into the house, so long as 1) you don't put them down and forget where you put them and 2) you kill them or remove them after you have played with them. We are not happy about the abandonment of creatures of any kind in the house to "fend for themselves". Yours sincerely, The Management

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Wild and wet summer?

A big storm just blew through the bottom of the north island. We got it. Our power went out.......but, we have a wood burning stove, so at least we can boil water! The electricity was only out for half an hour, so we are grateful.

Sunset last night - please ignore the poetic wheelie bin!

A Nocturne of Coneysthorpe

'Twas several nights after Christmas, and all through the house ALL the creatures were stirring, especially the mouse. The shrieks could be heard two rooms away, The tabby was joyous and blood thirsty in play. He posted the mouse under the bed woke up the sleepers, the village, the 'hood. At first it was caught and deposited outside But the stealth of the cat brought it to ride on the couch, the floor, the carpet and polished corridor. Its demise was swift, but noisy and scary, Little Ms Ginger tried to steal a bite, But tabby was jealous and put up a fight The other was puzzled, the humans half dead Its now 8am and time to go back to bed. (with apologies to the original poet)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Second proverb of Coneysthorpe

I've been back in the strawberry patch, and it is now looking much more respectable. I even managed to harvest 3/4 cup of black currants from the wandering bushes. So, still no strawberries....but enough black currants to make a bowl of jam, in the microwave yay verily!
And talking of finding random things unexpectedly.... I went to extract a load of washing from the washer in our posh new laundry, and what do I hear first, see second? A large mouse balancing precariously on top of the clothes airer. I remembered Ruppin scuttling towards the back of the house, but I didn't see that he had company with him! I popped a very cooperative mouse inside an empty toothbrush holder, put a face cloth over the top and deposited her on the verandah steps. She gave me quite a look. I'm half expecting to find abandoned mouse laundry waiting to be folded the next time I go in there. So, another proverb "be neat, be clean and check for mice in the washing machine".