mood: panicked

I just submitted my full proposal to the school administrator.  It is 32,000 words, or 105 single spaced A4 pages in 12 pt font.  She will soon send it to all the faculty in the school.  Then, they will all read it, and laugh at me.

self preservation

The autumn harvest is upon us here in New Zealand.  That means baby root vegetables, new season apples, and the end of summer fruits.  As the last of the summer’s peaches, nectarines, apricots pears, and plums have been coming in, I have been bottling them for winter treats.

I also did a few jars of preserved lemons, after a preserving workshop at Moore Wilson’s, where that was the main recipe demonstrated.

In addition to bottling, I made a batch of pickled beets, and a few jars of lemon curd, which are long gone by now!

But, my most exciting (and tasty!) accomplishment on the home-preserving front thus far has been my fire roasted tomato and chipotle ketchup!

How did I do it?

Well, I started out by cobbling together my own home-made charcoal grill from bits of scavenged garden and kitchen supplies, including, an old terra cotta planter, a rusty brazier that has been holding a bucket of clothes pegs since we moved in, and the grill rack from the broiler (which clearly now needs a good clean).

homemade grill

I threw some balsamic-marinated tomatoes on the grill, let them char a bit, and then peeled off the skins once they were cool.  I also threw on a few jalapeno chilies I had picked last weekend at the chili pepper patch in Kapiti, and let those get nice and smoky for a few  hours.

Once it had cooled a bit, I blended up one chili, one can of chopped tomatoes, about 1 cup of the fire roasted tomatoes, 1/2 a white onion, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 2 tbs white sugar, 2 tbs brown sugar, some salt until it was fully pureed.  I then added a few cloves and pepper corns, and let that mixture cook on a very very low heat semi-covered for about 3 hours.  After it had thickened up and there was not too much liquid left in the pot, I took it off the heat and let it cool. It thickened up quite a bit after that, and I pushed the whole thing through a sieve, which was very messy and a lot of work.  But the taste… was worth every minute of effort.

Below are some pictures from my trip to the chili pepper patch last weekend!


Now that I have been here in Wellington for more than 1 year… it’s starting to grow on me.  It’s actually not such a bad place.  Yes, I hate the hills, but they do keep you fit.  Yes, I do hate the traffic and the shitty public transit with privatized buses, but things change slowly.  Yes, I hate how expensive it is, and the lack of decent Mexican food.  The wind!  The rain!  They make this place miserable!  But, I am also aware of my dangerously high standards, to which most places don’t really measure up, and the fact that my utopia probably doesn’t exist.  So, for the time being, I have to make do with Wellington.  And now I can say there are actually a few things I like about it.  This is my shortlist:

  1. The greenspaces.  My house is practically in the town belt, on the Southern Walkway, a ring around Wellington’s downtown reserved for flora and fauna and free from development.  I walk out my door into the woods, yet I am merely 8 minutes by bike to downtown Wellington.

    lookin' out my back door
  2. The wildlife (read: the bird life) . This could be a sub-category of no. 1, as the greenspaces contribute to the abundance of bird life one sees on a daily basis, all over town.  I wake up to birdsong, and see several species when hanging out the washing.  There are no snakes or bears or lions or piranhas here.  Instead there are fantails and tuataras!

  3. My office’s ocean view.  Yes, that’s right, from where I sit typing right now, I have a view of the Wellington harbour, where I can watch the Bluebridge ferry pulling in and out of it’s dock several times a day.

    office view
  4. The food and drink.  Wellington has a surprisingly decent selection of restaurants, from nearly every country in the world, as well as addictive fish n’ chips shops all over the place.  And, most of the places are pretty affordable!  The wine and beer selection here is also of very high quality, ad relative to things like rent and bills, quite reasonably priced.
  5. The small-towniness.  In fact, an encounter I had last night illustrating the small-towniness of Wellington is the impetus for this post.  As I was riding home from pottery class, around quarter to 10 pm, I pulled up alongside Wellington’s Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, who was also heading home on her cycle.  I commented that I was happy to see her out on her bicycle, and we rode along side each other for the next few kms until she turned off towards Island Bay and I continued on towards Newtown.   She chatted to me about bike lanes and the weather and I told her about how much I had been enjoying my pottery class.  As you dear readers must know, this is actually not the first time I have met the mayor.  But imagine running into Richard Daley on a bicycle?  Not in a million years.  (Ok, actually I just found this blog post and picture of Richard M Daley on a bicycle… so it is possible, though unprobable.)  At the Salvation Army, at the supermarket, buying stuff on TradeMe (NZ’s eBay), on a random downtown street corner, eating breakfast, attending a workshop on home preserving, I have run into people I know who I was not expecting to see.  And I don’t know that many people here!  That old cliche “It’s a small world” very aptly describes the world of Wellington.  After living in big cities so for so long, Wellington gives me the small-town feeling while at the same time being a pretty cosmopolitan place.  In some ways I miss the anonymity,  but I actually know who my neighbors are here.  For the moment, I am liking that about Wellington. This is a typical look for Celia Wade-Brown, Wellington’s mayor:

But seriously, the wind.  It’s enough to drive a person mad.