How to make Fresh Coconut Milk at Home

Coconuts are abundant in my hometown , so it is widely used in our cuisine. Making coconut milk at home for using in Stew and some of the traditional dessert is very common, instead of using tinned coconut milk or powder.

Coconut milk is made in three stages. This first one being the thickest, the second one a little thinner and the third one is very light. The third milk  is usually used for cooking the vegetables or meat for the gravy . Personally I prefer to cook them in the third milk as it enhances the taste of the gravy.

(This is a recipe that can be tailored as per need)
Method:
To make one cup of thick coconut milk.
Ingredients:
2 cups of grated fresh coconut
3/4 th + 1 tbsp cup of warm water
First, pulse the freshly grated coconut for a second.Then add the warm water and blend till the coconut is all ground and appears milky.
Squeeze out the milk by wringing or pressing the blended coconut really well with your hands through a sieve or cheese cloth.
The FIRST blend of fresh coconut milk  that is the thickest is the first milk.
Add water again to the the left over  squeezed out coconut pulp and  blend again , the consistency of the coconut milk gets thinner and this is the second milk.
Repeat the process and the third and Last blend is the thinnest coconut milk.
Cook Book Scribbles:
  • The most important thing to keep in mind when using the thick first coconut milk is to never let it boil (in the curry or stew etc)  as it will curdle  and spoil the taste.
  • If fresh coconut is not available, frozen fresh coconut can also be used . It is available at Yogiji Christchurch.
  • Dry desiccated coconut however, has not worked for me and Louise.

 

The Curator’s House |Review

The Curator’s House |Review



Today’s review is of the Curator’s House restaurant, set on the corner of the Botanic Gardens and the Avon River, near the Antigua Boat Sheds and the Hospital.


We wandered through the Botanic Gardens from Riccarton Ave to get to the Curator’s House, however, it is located on the edge of the city centre, on Rolleston Ave at the main entrance to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

The quaint Old English Tudor style building in which the restaurant is housed is surrounded by cottage style fruit and vegetable gardens.  This heritage building was the original 1920’s residence of the curator of the Gardens.
Prior to this there was a Head Gardener’s cottage located within the footprint of the present day building built in 1872 and before this a small Government Gardener’s cottage existed on the same site.

Wandering down the garden path…..

There is plenty of outdoor seating with large sun umbrellas to provide shade.  We chose to sit outside as it was a very warm sunny day and it was just lovely sitting outside enjoying our surroundings.

My eldest daughter and my Mum (whose birthday we were celebrating over lunch).

The staff were friendly but rushed and barely had time to stop and we had to ask for them to explain what tapas are and how to order from the tapas menu.
To start we ordered bread with a selection of dips and a tapas platter so we could taste a variety of tapas dishes.  I was pleased that a lot of these dishes were gluten free so I was able to try most of them.
The calamari was the stand out tapas dish, the patatas bravas with aioli a close second along with the yummy dips with bread.

We could have chosen more from the tapas menu and shared several tapas for lunch but we were so tempted by the a la carte menu we decided to choose a main dish each.
My husband chose the venison with vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, mushroom and potatoes.  He enjoyed this dish, the venison was cooked to perfection and the crunchy vege crisps were delicious, but he didn’t find the meal amazing (and he tells me for this price he expects to be really ‘wowed’).

My Mum and I both ordered the slow cooked lamb shoulder which was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Falling off the bone, this lamb shoulder was slow-cooked to perfection.  The portion of lamb is huge!  I would have loved a few more spring greens with this dish.
Mum loved the wine she bought to accompany her main so much that she ordered a second glass!

This delicious flavourful and fresh salad was the dish my daughter chose.  I nibbled on her salad and really enjoyed the strong Mediterranean flavours.  The price was reasonable too.



None of us thought we’d be able to fit in dessert but when we looked at the dessert menu we changed our minds and decided to splurge!  We all ordered the Pannacotta de Chocolate – a silky chocolate pannacotta with morello cherries, candied almonds and espresso syrup, this really was the cherry on top!

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our meal but due to the prices it isn’t a restaurant we can visit often.

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch Botanic Gardens


Christchurch Botanic Gardens, located in Hagley Park in the heart of the city, are one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve visited.

This week I took a walk with my Mum and eldest daughter. We started at the West Bridge next to the carpark off Riccarton Ave (free parking) and walked along the river until we reached Rolleston Ave (where we had an amazing lunch at The Curator’s House).

This pathway takes you along the Avon river,

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Past Water Gardens,

Through the New Zealand Gardens,

Beautiful shaded native bush pathways,

With stunning displays of native NZ trees like this Kakabeak in flower,

Tall stands of NZ native trees on the edge of the river,

Gently shaded pathways and gardens,

Opening out to beautiful green spaces.

Arching bridges over the clear Avon River.

Wide pathways with lush green lawns.

Dappled light under tall trees.

At this time of year you will be certain to spot ducklings.  We were delighted to spot several groups of ducklings, especially these silver and brown Paradise ducklings with both their parents nearby.

Their parents marched them across the path and down the the river just before us, their Father in the front and the Mother duck following closely behind, quacking as she walked.

Into the clear water they went and delighted us with their diving antics.  We also spotted several trout in the river.

A very common scene on the Avon river is Punting,

A leisurely boat ride up the river, pushed by a friendly guide’s long pole.

Tiny ducklings!

We paused our walk at the Curator’s House Restaurant where we had lunch before walking back to the car.

There are multiple pathways and directions one can walk throughout the gardens, all of them beautiful and most enjoyable.

After our lunch punting would have been a relaxing way to get back to the car!  We contended ourselves by watching the boats on the river as we strolled back along the path at a leisurely pace.

How to make Soy Candles

How to make Soy Candles

img_3939Making soy candles is simple and does not take long.  Once finished you have gorgeous, professional looking candles to use and give away as gifts.

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If you are a beginner I would recommend purchasing a soy candle making kit to get you started.  I purchased a candle making kit which came with soy wax, wicks, fragrance oils and glass candle jars.

Other equipment you will need:
A clean pot to melt the wax
A jug for pouring
A hot glue gun to glue the wick tabs in to the jars (or you can buy stickers for this purpose or use a drop of wax)
Wick holders (I used a knife to keep the wick centred)
A thermometer
Scales to weigh the wax and fragrance oil

To begin measure your wax into the pot and set to a low heat to melt the wax.Stir wax as it melts to break up clumps.

Using a hot glue gun, apply a drop of glue on wick tab (or use a small piece of double sided tape or wick stickers).Position wick in the centre of the jar and press onto glass.  Be careful not to have any glue (or tape) showing as it may be a fire risk.  If you have tall glass jars you may need to use a knife or screwdriver to press down on the wick tab to stick it down.Pour melted wax into a jug to cool.

Once the wax is 40 degrees or less, the fragrance oil can be added.  I used a ratio of 10-15% fragrance oil, to wax.  Mix well.

Place your jars into a position where you can leave them to set.  Pour melted wax carefully into jars until half full.  Adjust wicks to stand in the centre (I used knives to help position the wicks) then pour in the rest of the wax.

Leave wax to cool.  Ideally candles should not be moved until the wax is completely set (about 3-6 hours).

Excess soy wax can be poured into silicone mounds and made into soy wax melts.
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Once your candles have set (after about 6 hours) it is time to trim the wicks with sharp scissors to 1 – 1.5cm above the level of soy wax.  Leave candles to settle for a day before using (or packaging up to give away).

Label your candles.  I used cute gift tags with gold thread.  I popped the soy melts into a cellophane bag.  When you burn your candle for the first time, allow the entire surface of the candle to melt right out to the edges of the glass.  This will ensure you get an even melt pool.

HOW TO MAKE IDIYAPPAM AKA STRING HOPPERS : the easy way

HOW TO MAKE IDIYAPPAM AKA STRING HOPPERS : the easy way
Idiyappam or string hoppers is a very common and a very traditional breakfast dish in my part of South India. It is a very simple dish to make. Made with roasted rice flour , water and salt,and steamed in pressure cooker or a steamer , it is a dish that is well loved by adults and kids alike. It  is also often prescribed by doctors as part of a soft meal diet for patients.
Idiyappam is one of those dishes that I never tried to make before I got married. Jacob however loved  Idiyappams and that meant I  had to learn how to make it , you know, the way to a man’s heart and all that, so I  called  my mom  straight away to get the recipe . As it turned out, making the dough was  a much easier task compared to coaxing  the dough out of the Idiyappam press.
However hard I tried, I could not manage to  get the dough out through the press. Jacob ever willing to help around the kitchen,offered to help me . But only ended up breaking the  Idiyappam press  one too many and left me flabbergasted  how  someone could break something that I couldn’t even get move an inch !
Then my mom discovered a ‘magic press “as she called it and Idiyappam making has been a breeze ever since.
As much as I enjoy cooking  for my friends and family , if there is a easy way to do something, then thats what I  go for.
So here goes.
Ingredients to serve 4
 1 cup Roasted Rice flour .  white or red ( I used Double Horse Appam/ Idiyappam mix , available at Yogiji Christchurch
3/4 _1 cup Boiling water
1tsp oil
Salt to taste.
Method
Take flour in a mixing bowl, add salt . Pour boiling water slowly

little by little mixing with a wooden spoon to form a soft smooth dough

Pour in the oil

When it cools down enough to touch, form into soft dough .Taking care not to knead too much

Grease the hollow part of the Idiyappam press with oil and fill in the dough inside the press.

Fill upto the brim of the press hollow

In the meantime, grease the Idli mould with oil and keep aside.
Press Idiyappam presser onto greased idli moulds
Repeat until all the dough is pressed on to the moulds.
Steam in the pressure cooker without the pressure ,for 7-9 mins on medium  flame. Once done, let it stay covered in the pressure pan for a minute or two
When the steam stops coming out of the vent,open and transfer the cooked Idiyappam to a hot pack.
I like to serve Idiyappam with sweetened  thin fresh coconut milk or chicken stew. Ofcourse, chicken curry and mutton curry also taste great with idiyappam.
Cook book Scribbles :
  • when  the Idiyappam is cooked through is , it starts to look glossy.
  • Idiyappam tastes good served hot or cold.
  • Scrapped coconut can be sprinkled over the cooked idiyappam

 

Quick trip to Queenstown 

Quick trip to Queenstown 

One can never get enough of the beauty ,South Otago region offers. When my cousin visited New Zealand with his friends, we decided to tag along on their two day trip .

First stop was Lake Tekapo. About three hours drive from Christchurch, the deep turquoise waters against the backdrop of the rugged brown Southern Alps is just breathtaking.lake tekapoOn the banks of the lake adding charm to the scenery ,stands the Church of the Good Shepherd .Apparently a favourite spot for wedding photographers.DSC_0499.JPGEnroute to Queenstown, stopping at various Scenic Outlooks to admire the magnificent beauty of the landscapes meant our supposedly six hour drive from Christchurch to Queenstown ,was stretched by a couple more hours. DSC_0542.JPGHence we reached Queenstown late at night  .

Ready to crash ,The Scenic Suites hotel where we stayed, with its spacious bed and clean self contained utilities ,offered just the cozy comfort we needed. DSC_0570.JPGThe stunning views of the lake and town were an added bonus.DSC_0551.JPGOh ,the breakfast of eggs benedict  with english muffins and bacon we had at the hotel restaurant was large , filling and scrumptious.

Of all the adventure sports that Queenstown offers, DSC_0645

DSC_0681.JPGDSC_0660.JPGmy favourite past time at Queenstown is people watching , canva-photo-editor-6having a juicy burger at Fergburger , IMG_0784

(one  of the best tip we received and found immensely helpful to avoid the serpentine queue ,was to order beforehand on phone and then go get the burger . )

Or grab an ice cream at Patagonia. Not only do they have a wider variety to choose from but you can also create your own cone , add things you like . So fun and so so yummy !IMG_7102

or walk on the side path gawking at all the sights and sounds enjoying the touristy vibe of the town.

Looking at the pictures  just makes me want to go back there.

How to make Ginger Chai aka Indian Ginger Tea 

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Holding a cup of chai, watching the steam come up in curls, inhaling the aroma of ginger and tea leaves, just enjoying the quiet hours of dawn,  is my little morning  ritual. Even my dog Amber, knows to remain still, and let me savour my cup of chai, sip by sip. It does not last  long, but those few moments to myself, help me anchor myself and gear up to face the rest of the day.
In a home  dominated by staunch coffee drinkers, I cannot remember where my love for a good cup of chai came from. I did not fancy the karupatti kappi ( coffee made with palm sugar) that was offered at evening snack  time, so skipped drinking coffee altogether. J is not a coffee or tea drinker either and so I did not have the need to make ritualistic early morning coffee in our home.
It was in Pondichery that I was introduced to masala chai along with a spicy plate of kothu parrota. ( minced flat bread with eggs, meat and a spicy curry) Still there was never the ritualistic chai making in our home until we came to NZ!
A couple of years back, when we were in India, my aunt introduced me to Red Label Nature Care tea powder and it turned out to be my go to drink during the really cold first winter in Christchurch. My comfort for soul drink (as I like to call it) for homesickness and warmth !
When I had finished the tea stash I brought with me from India, my search for Nature Care Tea all over Christchurch came to nothing. I was relieved I found the Red Label tea here in Yogiji Indian Supermarket. I just add ginger or cardamon and I’m good to go!
Whenever I need a pick me up, I just make myself a good cup of ginger chai. And  I love making ginger chai for my friends too.
I thought I will share it on the blog for our  readers  to make at home as its pretty easy and quick.
Ingredients to serve 2
 
Water :  11/2  cup
Milk :    11/2  cup
Fresh Ginger : 2″ piece
Tea  Powder  :2 tsps
Sugar to taste
Method:
Crush the ginger. Add it to the water in a saucepan and allow to boil till you can smell the aroma of the ginger come through.Add the tea  powder and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Add in the milk .Switch off the flame. Let it sit  for a minute. Strain into a cup with a tea strainer.Add sugar as required. Serve piping hot!
 Cook Book Scribbles :
5 slightly crushed cardamom pods can also be added for a spicy aromatic chai. ( tea)