Monthly Archives: September 2015

Western Springs Park

Lloyd and I live right next to Western Springs Park which is home to many, many water fowl. I walk through it on my way to work every day and took these pictures on my way home. It’s officially spring here in Auckland!

I saw goslings immediately upon entering the park proper.

I saw goslings immediately upon entering the park.

I'm not sure what they're actually called, but I see why swanlings would make ugly ducklings.

I’m not sure what they’re actually called, but I see why swanlings would make ugly ducklings.

And a sleeping mass of ducklings. Too much swimming today!

And a huddling mass of ducklings. Too much swimming today!

Roller Derby

A friend of ours let us know about a roller derby event last week and we figured that we had to go check it out. The match was between the Auckland Pirate City Rollers and the Sydney some fancy name that I can’t remember. I don’t know anything about roller derby and I think that I am now slightly more informed in my ignorance. It was fun to watch nevertheless, even if the only sense I could make out of it was a bunch of women skating in a circle while attempting to dodge and block someone with stars on their helmet. A worthwhile fun time on a random night.

A little bit of a warm up. I think the floor has sufficient lines on it.

A little bit of a warm up. I think the floor has sufficient lines on it.

Roller Derby action at the YMCA. One of the weirder things I have done in a while.

Roller Derby action at the YMCA. One of the weirder things I have done in a while.

Bagels

I can’t believe that I have not posted on making bagels before, but that appears to be the case. Now that we are almost antipodal to the bagel epicenter of New York, it is extra important that I know how to make a tasty bagel. First things first, bagels are a toroidal bread with a chewy glutinous core surrounded by a crisp exterior. This is achieved by first boiling the dough, then baking it. Any bread that is not boiled first is not a bagel; it is a foul abomination that should be exterminated from the surface of the earth. Alternatively, we can refer to such blasphemies as toroidal bread and be saddened that such a thing exists.

Recipe:

-4 cups flour (normal old all purpose)

-2 tsp yeast

-2 tsp salt

-1/4 cup molasses (Malt syrup is also used. Please don’t use honey or sugar; not all sweeteners are created equal.)

~1 1/2 cups of water

Step one is to combine all the ingredients and knead with a stand mixer or by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic. Note that mixing by hand is usually required unless you have an industrial strength mixer. This may take a while. Bagels are not quick to make. You may have to add flour or water at this stage to get a good firm dough consistency. Any internal bagel ingredients should be added now. I’m partial to garlic if I add anything, but cinnamon and raisins are also a classic.

Let the dough rise for at least 3-6 hours preferably overnight. I said good bagels, not fast bagels. Now form the dough into 3″ diameter spheres, punch your thumb through the center and form the toroid. Now set the toroids aside and let rest in a warm location for another hour. Bagels = tasty = slow = the theme of this post.

Bring a gallon of water to a boil with a table spoon of baking soda, this helps form the bagel crust. You will boil the bagels for roughly a minute on each side before placing on a lightly greased baking sheet or on top of parchment paper. If you want to add toppings, I like sea salt or kosher salt, add them immediately after placing the bagels on the sheet while the crust is still moist.

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Bake the bagels for 20 minutes or until crisp and brown on the outside. Eat and enjoy. As far as condiments go, I will often eat them plain, but cream cheese and smoked salmon are traditional and the go to favorites. After some experimenting I think that baba ganoush might be the bagel’s best friend.

That is it, super easy and quick recipe right?! On the plus side, these bagels are the best bagels I have had > 50 km from New York City so I consider it time well spent. One last note about bagels temporal cruelty: eat them now because they do not keep very well. By day 2 they are only half as good as they are fresh.

mmm, bagel.

mmm, bagel.

Lower Nihoputu

Jasmine and I did our weekend hike on Saturday out in the Waitakere Ranges. Mark this as the first park that we have revisited in NZ. Instead of approaching from the Northeast with the train as we did last time, we took the bus and started from the Southeast in Titirangi. The day almost got off to a very bad start as the bus had a breakdown; conveniently, for us at least, it had a breakdown at the station we were getting off at.

For starters, the hike was rather pretty and I think that both of us are fans of the Waitakeres, even if we really need to get a car to make it much farther in. Quite obviously, public transport doesn’t really serve the not densely populated park and we can only manage the outskirts. The hike only ended up decent though as it had been raining most of the previous week, converting the trails into muddy quagmires. Plus, the mud was also quite hard to navigate when going up or down hill. The trails were in the worst condition of any trail I can remember hiking recently and the constant slog made us go home after only ~25 km.

Even with the nasty trails, there were still pretty views and getting out into the woods, so on the whole it was still a positive day.

The start of the trail, Exhibition Dr, was quite nice and dry gravel following a water pipeline.

The start of the trail, Exhibition Drive, was quite nice and dry gravel following a water pipeline.

The ugly trail. Probably about 1/2 of our hike. Two words of description. Glump, sqwlirch.

The ugly trail. Probably about 1/2 of our hike. Two words of description.:glump, sqwlirch.

We even got some glimpses of the ocean on bits of the hike.

We even got some glimpses of the Manakau Headlands at the peak of the hike.

Some of the aforementioned good view out of the bush.

Some of the aforementioned good view out of the bush.

On the lower end of the Lower Nihoputu reservoir there was a dam. A damn fine looking dam if you ask me or my dame.

On the lower end of the Lower Nihoputu Reservoir, there was a dam. A damn fine looking dam if you ask me or my dame.

Another Sweater!

Before we left for New Zealand, we were doing a lot of traveling and I wasn’t able to do any knitting or sewing. Consequently, I did a lot of looking at craft books and planning what I’d work on when we moved. The project at the top of my list was the Courtyard Pullover from Metropolitan Knits. I think I waited maybe a week after arriving in Auckland before buying some yarn and needles and starting knitting.

However, between work, settling in, and general distractions, I just finished it this week. I’m very happy with it and think that I learned a lot about knitting. This was the most complex thing I’ve ever knit and used a different construction method. The sweater was knit in the round and used a top-down method. I enjoyed watching it turn into a sweater as I knit and was able to get more of a feel for the finished project before it was done. It did make the sleeves a little awkward to knit, though. None the less, there are probably more projects from this book to come.

All made, of course, from 100% New Zealand wool.

All made, of course, from 100% New Zealand wool.