Wednesday, March 31, 2010

abc Wednesday: K for King

ABC Wednesday is hosted by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt

This company King storage employed a couple of young men to advertise for them at a very busy junction. It was winter and I felt very sorry for them. When I parked nearby to take their photos, they were very obliging.

watery wednesday: From the top of the cliff, we can see the gannet rock,


The Gannet birds come every year and nest here in Muriwai. We drove up to the cliff and look at the sea beyond to the home of the Gannets, Australia.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Out door Wednesday: New Zealand Cabbage Trees


Some of you have wondered how the cabbage tree got it's name. I am doing this post for you.

The New Zealand Cabbage tree, Cordyline australis is a native to New Zealand. According to New Zealanders whose ancestors immigrated to this country, when they first arrived in New Zealand after a long sea journey from England, the early settlers were starved of fresh vegetables. When they saw the Maoris, the native New Zealanders eating the Tī rākau tree, they forced themselves to eat it. The leaders probably told them to imagine they were eating cabbage, and because it is a tree, they call it the New Zealand Cabbage tree.

Here, among the other native plants you can see the cabbage trees in these two photos.

This tree stands smack in the middle of my front lawn like a Diva. It is taller than my single storey house. If it gets any taller, it will become a protected tree and no one is allowed to chop it down. The law says if the tree is 6 metres, you can't cut it down.

This New Zealand Cabbage tree

 known as Tī rākau or Tī kōuka (and, more rarely, whanake) in the Māori language is a monocotyledon endemic to New Zealand. It grows up to 15 m tall, at first on a single stem, but dividing into a much-branched crown, each branch may fork after producing a flowering stem. The leaves are sword-shaped, 40 to 90 cm long and 3 to 7 cm broad at the base, with numerous parallel veins. The flowers are creamy white, each flower small, about 1 cm diameter with six tepals, and produced in a large, dense cluster 50 to 100 cm long. The fruit is a white berry 5 to 7 mm in diameter.
Because their high carbohydrate content can be made digestible by cooking, they were a valuable food source for at least the first 800 years of Māori occupation of New Zealand. Radiocarbon dating points to use since about the year 1000. Related trees were probably valuable elsewhere in the South Pacific. Fern root was the only other substantial native carbohydrate source.

The Maoris obtained a most nutritious food, kauru, from the root of the young cabbage tree. This root is an extension of the trunk below the surface of the ground and is shaped like an enormous carrot some 2–3 ft long. An observer of the early 1840s, Edward Shortland, noted that the Maoris “prefer those grown in deep rich soil; they have learned to dig it at the season when it contains the greatest quantity of saccharine matter; that is, just before the flowering of the plant. They then bake, or rather steam it in their ovens. On cooling, the sugar is partially crystallised, and is found mixed with other matter between the fibres of the root, which are easily separated by tearing them asunder, and are then dipped in water and chewed


Monday, March 29, 2010

Yellow mellow Monday/Ruby red Tuesday

Once a year, the different teams in school put on a themed morning tea. We put on an Easter morning tea. There were lots of Easter eggs, and I brought some rabbit food to counteract all the sugar over load. Some staff had Easter Egg ear rings and rabbit ears and rabbit tails.

I had these little yellow chicks which I "stole" from the morning tea. A student told me that it was her birthday, I gave one to her, and we did a chick hatching story and hands-on activity. I was told I wasn't allowed to give the kids any Easter egg. Some of the kids might be allergic to diary products.



It's coming up to Easter. This school term ends this Thursday. Government schools are secular. We don't teach religion, but the Government allows Bibles in Schools . Some churches send their people to the schools to conduct this. My school doesn't have Bible in school.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend reflection: Native bush in stagnant water


The water at this creek in Mt Albert was cloudy and stagnant. I was surprised that there was still reflection of the native cabbage tree.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scenic Sunday: Bamboo Bridge in Sarawak


On my other site, http://annkschin.blogspot.com/2010/03/friday-shootout-bridges.html
, I join other bloggers on the Friday Shootout Meme on doing a black and white theme on bridges. I had fun changes my coloured photos to sepia.

My sister Helen is currently touring Malaysia and Singapore with her Australia born children. She sent me this photo of her daughter Olivia and partially hidden Thomas and Lincoln in Sarawak.

"Good try Olivia, I don't think you are meant to go sidewards.

Photohunt: Fresh: beans from the garden


Where can you get these wing or square beans (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus),as fresh as this? I just picked it from my sister in law's bean vine growing on her fence in her garden in Johor Malaysia. It is so fresh you can eat it straight away, and have a mouthful of vitamin.

My parents used to grow them in Borneo. It is a good plant to grow because it is very tough and no insect will attack them. So it is a good plant for an organic farmer. The pod is highly nutritious, some people eat the leaves. I guess the leaves are edible as my parents used to serve the leaves of the long or string or snake beans.

To cook the pods, you can blanch them quickly and eat with a belachan sauce, or the traditional way, just slice them diagonally and a quick stir fry with some garlic pieces. Remember, a quick fry, don’t overcook. Your pods should be crunchy, slightly sweet and very tasty. If you overcook, they turn a dull black colour.

Wing beans are popular in all South East Asian countries. You can get them in Hawaii. I don't remember seeing them in New Zealand.

Friday, March 26, 2010

ABC Wednesday: J for Jumbo Jandal

ABC Wednesday is hosted by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt

The word jandal is unique to New Zealand. It is a word formed from Japanese Sandal. The jandal is an icon of New Zealand, and is adopted by the national surf and life guards. We are a small country found of 3 big islands and many small ones. During the summer season, many volunteers work as life guards.

This jumbo inflatable jandal was sold as a fund raiser. A teacher in school and her children are involved and my school took this up to sell to the kids. Two students were pumping up the jandals and I got one of them to hold it up to show how big the jandal is. It is only a toy.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

skywatch Friday: Auckland, Mt Albert


The tower of Mt Albert Baptist Church looks like a chimney bellowing smoke. Talk about brimstone and fire.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday: Pole climbing


At the Mulu resort, Sam wanted to do rock climbing, but he was too young. We went to the entrance, and Sam found balancing on small logs quite challenging. On the reclining log, wedges were cut from the log to allow climbers to have a footing. They are not even as wide as your foot.

Watery Wednesday: Timber


This log was lodged at the river in Mulu when we went passed in the long boat. If this log was sold, it would bring in a lot of money. Sarawak is well known for her hard tropical timber.

Monday, March 22, 2010

mellow yellow Monday, ruby red tuesday: Saffron



These days, I am more often at the computer than in the kitchen. But when I entertain, I like to serve the best. My guests are curious about my saffron rice.

Saffron is more expensive than gold, but you need only a few strains to produce when I produce a special pot of saffron rice. It's aroma is very unusual, and you don't need to doctor the taste with lots of other spices. I just fry up some ginger, garlic and onion. It goes nicely with curry and other mid eastern dishes.
In the past, I used to cook the cheaper version of yellow rice, using tumeric or yellow ginger. The rice turns out more yellow, and to make it more aromatic, I have to add coconut milk or suntan. In South East Asia, they call it nasi Kunic.
This info is from wikipedia.
Saffron (pronounced /ˈsæfrən/, /ˈsæfrɒn/; Persian: زَعْفَرَان; Chinese: 藏红花) is a spice derived from the dried stigma of the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant's carpels. Together with its style, the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant, these components are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and coloring agent. Saffron, which has for decades been the world's most expensive spice by weight,[1][2] is native to Southwest Asia.[2][3]. Saffron is known as 'Kesar' in India.
Most saffron is grown in a belt of land ranging from the Mediterranean in the west to Kashmir in the east. Annually, around 300 tonnes of saffron are produced worldwide.[5] Iran ranks first in the world production of saffron, with more than 94 percent of the world yield.[67] Iran's annual saffron production is expected to hit 300 tons by the end of the nation's Fourth Five-Year Socioeconomic Development Plan in 2009. Other minor producers of saffron are Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco, and Italy. A pound of dry saffron (0.45 kg) requires 50,000–75,000 flowers, the equivalent of a football field's area of cultivation.[68][69] Some forty hours of labour are needed to pick 150,000 flowers.[70] Upon extraction, stigmas are dried quickly and (preferably) sealed in airtight containers.[71]
Saffron prices at wholesale and retail rates range from US$500/pound to US$5,000/pound (US$1,100–US$11,000 per kilogram)—equivalent to £250/€350 per pound or £5,500/€7,500 per kilo. In Western countries, the average retail price is $1,000/£500/€700 per pound (US$2,200/£1,100/€1,550 per kilogram).[2] A pound comprises between 70,000 and 200,000 threads. Vivid crimson colouring, slight moistness, elasticity, recent harvest date, and lack of broken-off thread debris are all traits of fresh saffron.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend reflection: Goldie's bush


During my tramp on Saturday, there were big pieces of rock formation. Most of us waded in the water, but a young chap managed to scale and slide across the rock wall.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Photo hunt :3


I went to the Gold Coast of Australia, and saw these bananas that looked as though they were dipped in some soft wax like plastic. I asked why and were told because the weather in the Gold Coast is so hot, the bananas ripen very quickly. Dipping them slows the ripening process.

I made these dimsums which some chefs call them as money bags.

Number three is an auspicious number to the Chinese. Three or SAN sounds like alive. Car plates with number 3 is very popular.

scenic Sunday: Stream walking adventure.


Yesterday I went for a four hours tramp. Part of it included stream walking. I was glad to have my pair of good hiking boots. As I waded in the foot high water, I remember another adventure I didn't quite enjoy.

The year was in the early 80s. As a newly wed, I was happy to help the water engineer, then the water student. His PhD thesis had to do with stone scouring, and he had to go up the bush/mountains to do his survey. I went with him as his assistant, and as a poor student, he did not think of getting good tramping boots. I borrowed a friend's white gum boots which he used for his summer job in the freezing work.

It was freezing cold, and I followed the water student as he did his survey and research. Wearing the ill fitting gum boots was very uncomfortable and cumbersome. I couldn't walk as fast as he could. At the end of the trip, I had blisters.

He had forgotten about this trip, I haven't. I told him we have to go back to the Coromandels Mountains with the kids to show them that we did not get things easy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Skywatch Friday: Out West in the Waitakeres


It's been a dry summer. I went on a track with friends in the west today. The fire warning was high risk. I looked at the clouds and hoped they would turn to rain clouds. They only humored me with little droplets on my way home.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


One Labour day, the water engineer and I and Sam headed out west to Bethells beach. The drive is an hour and we had to drive through the windy road to the other side of the Waitakeres.

The sand is black because of the iron, and the surf is strong. The life guards have set out their tsunami equipment just in case the sea gets hungry and swallow up our home like it did to Sri Lanka and Thailand the Boxing day of 2005.

I saw silvery tiny Koru shells basking in the sun and pick them up as teaching aids for my lessons. I teach English to speakers of non English speaking children.

Together, we talked about the Koru. The most famous would be our Silver Fern, the national plant of New Zealand, and our formitable national net ball team.

I asked my kids what the Koru reminds them of, and here are some of the ideas.

The Koru reminds me of:

A graceful ice skater swirling on the spot on one leg.

A beautiful ballerina spinning a pirouette on one spot.

The unusual ethnic logo of a double koru on the an air New Zealand jumbo plane.

A caterpillar curving inside the chrysallis.

Fast whirling helicopter's propeller blades.

A slithery snake as it curls under a rock as it hybernates.

A mad ferocious gigantic tornado zooming across America.

A swishing old fashion washing machine going swish-swoosh.

Mr. Whippy's cold delicious mouth-watering yummy icecream.

A gianormous big black hole whirling in outer space.

A candy floss seller making delicious candy at the county fair.

An armadillo curling up as he hibernates in winter.

A zillion legged millipede after a thunder storm.

A pin-mill I just made, making a whirl whirl sound against the wind.

*Koru is a Maori word for the spiral shape.*


ABC Wednesday: I for Ibis

ABC Wednesday is hosted by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt

I was very interested in the ibises in the Gold Coast. They were seen in flocks and my interest in them did not wane despite being told that they are now a pest, and commonly known as "Rubbish" birds. They even take food out of babies. This is mainly man's fault when they feed them. In many places, they have signs," Do not feed the ibises."

They can also be found in residential areas. These two were found in my brother's backyard.

The Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) is a wading bird of the ibis family Threskiornithidae, also known as the "Sheep bird". It is widespread across much of Australia. It has a predominantly white plumage with a bare, black head, long downcurved bill and black legs.

Historically rare in urban areas, the Australian White Ibis has immigrated to urban areas of the east coast.