On Awhitu ~ Auckland

Manukau Heads Lighthouse

Last weekend, a photog friend and I headed south of Auckland to capture the historic Manukau Heads Lighthouse at Awhitu – and anything else that took our fancy along the way.

Built in 1874, the Manukau Heads Lighthouse is one of Auckland’s true hidden gems. Located at the very top of the breathtaking Awhitu Peninsula, this Lighthouse is one of a few in New Zealand you can actually climb to the top of and with views to die for when you get there.

Lighthouse-Door

There are plenty of photo opportunities on the way to Awhitu – most notably, Waiuku, a picturesque little rural town nestled at the southern end of the Waiuku River. My favorite attraction (as with every other photographer and artist) is the Kohekohe Church. Built in 1886, this tiny church is framed by a stunning backdrop of rolling hills, which stretches out the length of the west coast and the Tasman Sea – as seen in my photos below.

So, if you’re looking to escape the city for the day without having to travel too far, then grab your camera (and spare memory card) and head to Awhitu – you won’t be disappointed!

KoheKohe-Church

Hay Bayles

Heard-of-Cows-lge

Chickpea and Coriander Fritters

ChickpeaFritters

This recipe is healthy, delicious and very simple to make, especially when the pantry is running bare.

Chick Peas or Garbanzo beans (like most legumes) have long been valued for their fibre content and are great for weight loss. They can boost your energy because of their high iron content, are a good source of protein for vegetarians and can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Coriander or Cilantro is fabulous for healing skin disorders and can also lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Throw these tasty morsels together and serve with rocket, coriander and lemon wedges…oh, and Sweet Chilli Sauce is a must!

Ingredients:

      • 1 tin of mashed chickpeas (I use a potato masher so the chickpeas remain semi-whole and the fritters rustic)
      • 1/2 cup roughly chopped coriander
      • 1 roughly chopped onion
      • 1/2 cup flour
      • Cumin
      • Rock salt
      • 1 large egg
      • Coconut oil for frying

Lightly mix all the ingredients together, press a heaped tablespoon of mixture in pan to form patties, fry until golden brown on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

On Fort Lane

Fort Lane featuring 'Eye Light' art installation

Auckland city is a truly amazing place and I love taking photos (on my humble iPhone 5) to capture its vibrancy and character. One place I particularly like to photograph is the Fort Lane area in Downtown Auckland.

Once a tired and run-down street, Fort Lane has recently been transformed into one of the hottest places in town. Fort Lane is now an elegant shared space, open to vehicles and pedestrians alike. It’s a truly compelling space with a cobbled lane, historic buildings, raw brick facades and fabulous eateries – all beautifully restored to create a convincing New York/Melbourne-esque feel.

Fort Lane is home to the historic Imperial Buildings and Everybody’s Building which front on to lower Queen Street.  What surprised me, is that on the first floor of the Imperial buildings, there are two century-old picture theatres – who knew! Badly damaged by a fire, the Roxy and Everybody’s Theatres had been left untouched, gathering dust for 50 years. Today, the lux Hollywood style Roxy Restaurant and Japanese inspired Everybody’s Izakaya occupy the old theatres.

Fort Lane is now a photographer’s / Instagrammer’s mecca thanks in part to the recently erected art installation ‘Eyelight Lane’, created by Swedish artist David Svensson. The 120 metre long neon light feature is criss-crossed through Fort Lane – see it in the photo above.

I tip my hat to the developers of the Fort Lane buildings who have managed to preserve the elegance and grandeur of a bygone era. I also congratulate Auckland Council, who seem committed to transforming Auckland spaces into people-friendly destinations – all contributing to Auckland becoming a truly international city with a vibrant beating heart.

Everybody's Izakaya facade

On Vulcan Lane

Vulcan Lane Cafe2

I love Vulcan Lane in Auckland and use it often as a thoroughfare to upper High Street, thus avoiding the chaos and clutter of Queen Street. Vulcan Lane is also home to one of my favorite #cleaneats cafes – Raw Power Cafe whose window I shot the above photo from.

For me, Vulcan Lane is one of the few places in Auckland that truly evokes a sense of old European urbanism.  Steeped in history, Vulcan Lane first appeared on Auckland’s plans in 1841 as a narrow service alley linking Queen and High Streets, and as an access lane to the merchant houses in Shortland Crescent, or Shortland Street as we know it today.

The photo below has won some acclaim from various photographic communities in New Zealand, and is my attempt to capture the history and urban ‘Europeanness’ that is the delightful Vulcan Lane today ~ Hope you enjoy it.

The Vulcan

Simple & Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

LeekPotatoSoupPin

Only the pure in heart can make a good soup ~ Beethoven

Leeks

One of the best things about winter is hearty homemade soup as there’s nothing better to warm your soul on a cold day.  Soups are so simple to make and this one is no exception, in fact this recipe contains only leek, potatoes, stock and milk and yet it’s brimming with anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. The optional, naughty bacon and cheese topping gives the soup a decadent twist when serving.

Being pure in heart and all (according to Beethoven), I’m sure this fail-safe and delicious leek and potato soup will win the hearts of your loved ones and is the first of many great soup recipes I hope to share over the coming winter months.

LeekPotatoSoup

Ingredients:

60g Olivani margarine (or butter if you’re that way inclined)
2 chopped leeks
2 large potatoes, cubed
3 cups of chicken stock
1/2 cup trim milk (or cream)
salt and pepper
Crispy bacon bits and tasty cheese for garnish

  1. Melt margarine or butter in a large pot on the stove, add chopped leeks and cook until soft.
  2. Add stock and chopped potatoes – bring to the boil then simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are soft.
  3. Stir in milk.
  4. Season with a decent amount of salt and pepper.
  5. Allow to cool and then use a stick blender to purée.
  6. Reheat to serve hot.
  7. Sprinkle with crispy bacon bits and tasty cheese for garnish.
  8. Serve with crusty bread ~ Enjoy!

LeekPotatoSoupWood

The Art of Sushi

Sushi

I suspect it’s my passion for art which draws me into sushi making. I enjoy working with my hands and experimenting with colour, texture, flavours and presentation and always leap at the opportunity to make sushi for family and friends. My tuna and avocado combination (pictured) is a family favorite and the perfect partner to Friday night drinks.

Making sushi is not nearly as intimidating as you may think and home sushi is actually amazing if done right. The key to good sushi is making good rice. I use the absorption method where the rice is boiled then simmered for 12 minutes and left covered to steam for a further 10 minutes. I also add decent amounts of vinegar powder which imparts a unique sweet flavour to the rice.

For the tuna filling I use canned tuna, lemon pepper, finely chopped onion and mayonnaise. Partnered with avocado and bean sprouts, you get a great balance between soft and crunchy which gives the roll character and depth. The contrasting colours of pink and green also makes the sushi appear vibrant and interesting. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger on the side, and match with japanese beer or a good Pinot ~ Happy Friday!

Sushi

Cauliflower and Quinoa Fritters

Cauliflower and Quinoa Fritters

“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” ― Mark Twain

Cauliflower

With the weather getting cooler and the evenings shorter, enter the cauliflower, one of the most classic winter vegetables which is both flavorsome and good for you. The humble cauliflower is high in antioxidants and contains a ton of vitamin C and manganese, as well as carotenoids. It also has omega-3 fatty acids, the same healthy fats found in salmon and flax seeds, but with the added bonus of practically no calories.

By pairing the goodness of cauliflower with super food quinoa, you have one of the most healthy lunches or side dishes on the planet. Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) is a seed and a complete protein containing all eight of the essential amino acids. It’s packed with dietary fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron, is gluten-free and easy to digest. Not only that, it’s delicious.

Quinoa

For these cauliflower and quinoa fritters, I have used Donna Hay’s recipe featured recently in the NZ Herald, altering it just a tad to promote cauliflower as the hero.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup of quinoa
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup of ricotta
200 grams of finely chopped cauliflower steamed
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp dill
3 eggs lightly beaten
Sea salt and cracked back pepper
2 Tbsp olive or coconut oil

1. Place the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 12-14 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to stand, covered, for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

2. Place the quinoa, ricotta, cauliflower, parmesan, dill, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine. Shape a 1/3 cup of the mixture, at a time, into fritters and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Ingredients

QuinoaFritters

3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and cook fritters in batches, for 3-4 minutes each side or until golden. Serve with wasabi mayonnaise or a spicy fruit chutney. Enjoy!

QuinoaFinished2

Sissifus

IMG_SISSI

It’s been six years since my beloved Bengal, Sissifus passed away.

Sissifus (adopted name), was an almost human like cat with an apricot belly who loved the water. Over the years I sketched many of his moods and poses – the picture above was one of a series of portraits drawn with pencil.

No doubt today Sissifus would have been a ‘Cat of Instagram‘ with copious images posted, all adulterated with filters so I’m glad I kept the drawings which in my eyes capture the real essence of his personality.

Always in my heart Sissi x

We Will Remember Them

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

ANZAC Day 2013

Lest-we-forget-2

Photo: We will remember them by Linda Cronin

Rain Running

I love running. I used to run solely to try to keep in shape but these days a good run makes me feel incredible, strong and confident. It also gives me the famed runner’s high – that feeling of euphoria that comes after running a long distance. Sure it may only be chemicals shooting around in the brain, but after a long run I feel a great sense of achievement and somehow everything seems right in the world. This week however, my running efforts have been thwarted by a watery substance that falls down from the sky – RAIN.

Auckland has baked under its second driest summer in 50 years and I’ve been pounding the pavements on a daily basis since January. This week my inclination to run has somewhat lessened due to a sudden deluge of wind and rain, as if somebody’s pushed an off button, our perfect summer has come to an end.

So, given it’s a rainy Wednesday in Auckland today, this afternoon is going to consist of a run in the rain. Don’t get me wrong, once outside I actually don’t mind running when it’s raining, it’s just the thought of doing it that fills me with dread. If  you, like me need some inspiration to get out the door this winter, here’s a few pointers to help psyche yourself up:

  • Your skin is waterproof – you are not made of sugar and won’t melt
  • Jumping in puddles is fun
  • The air (apparently) has more oxygen when it rains making it easier to run
  • You are less likely to cheat and start walking as you have to run to stay warm
  • Your body won’t over-heat as fast in a cooler environment
  • There are less people on the footpaths
  • People will think you are either unstoppable or completely crazy!
  • Draw the line at lightening and thunder storms.

And remember, if you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done ~  just do it!

Don't Wait.jpg-large