Doubtful Baking

, originally uploaded by KTandCoffee.
I was worried, they didn't look as great as they should. That wonderful smell of freshly baked bread and banana loaf was there, so there was some hope, but I had my doubts and concerns.
The last couple of loaves I've made in the bread maker have not been good. Kind of stodgy in the middle!! My keen sense of logic led me to believe it was the yeast as this was the only thing new/different from previous gorgeous bread. So a new pot of yeast it was, so this was the first loaf, my trusty kibbled wheat and pumpkin seed.
As for the banana loaf, I tried a recipe from Sophie Dahl's book, and I was doubtful throughout, and more so at the end, darker than normal and not very risen. I must confess the couple of things of tried from this book haven't been great, but I am continuing with faith.

So of course the best thing to do is to take them all into work. These are the folks who think my muffins are 'too moist', so if there was a problem they wouldn't hold back. Kiwi folk are quite direct and speak their mind, with no holes barred most of the time.
Given the night shift we had was not exactly straight forward, I was very grateful for the moist, dense rich banana cake I had created. I'm sure it would be great with a dollop of cream, but not last night. The bread looked and I'm told was fine, I had a little prod and I didn't get a stodgy vibe. Hurrah. What to make next week.

Kevin's New Home

Our potted Christmas Tree has been looking rather sad of late, dead like would be a nearer description. We've been worried, so after two years in a couple of pots we decided it was time to be planted in the real world. When we emptied Kevin (named after the dog (or was it the bird thingy) in Disney's 'Up' (I'm not much of an animation film kind of girl, but I loved loved Up)) out of his pot, it was clear that the lack of drainage may have contributed to the poor state of the tree. 

So with Adam as ever doing the digging, Kevin is planted in the garden. He's looking rather forlorn and very small, but we have good volcanic soil. I do so hope he does well. 

Elsewhere in the garden I've kept busy, tidying up messy corners, sorting out pots for the front steps, enjoying the bulbs and other flowers I planted, rejoicing as the lavender looks set to flower again and grinning rather widely when I saw the first buds of blossom on our little tree. 

Spring is really on its way, which is just as well as I've taken a risk and planted my first tomato plants. 

Camping Resumed

Officially Spring is round the corner, but despite the flowers blooming and the lambs running around the park, there is still time to get some winter camping in (remember wet rather than cold here in sub tropical Auckland).  The van all sorted and on the road. We head north, well we set off a bit later than planned, after skype call, shopping, packing oh and lets just pick up a little BBQ (mainly the fault of my new VW camper can cookbook).  So we hit the fantastic market at Matakana (Em, you would love this place) a little late, but still time to get veggies for the risotto, no scallops however, but some great bread and cheese will do fine, thank you very much.
We drive on past Leigh, up and down the hills and tight corners that our van loves so much (!) and straight for the beach side campsite at Pakari. Now the AA is right, the scary gates put you off a bit, add in the rules plastered around and the you can't come in after 9pm business, you do wonder what you're letting yourself in for. However, it's a fantastic location and the joy of camping in the winter, no one else is here - a handful of people and that's it, this means we get a great spot and settle in for a couple of nights. As for the 'in before 9pm' bit, where are we going to go. In the summer there is the wonderful Goat Island for some snorkeling or we could go horse riding up in the village, but right now here is where we are going to stay.

Staff were friendly, the little shop looked useful (though didn't have the one thing I'd forgotten - heh ho) and the facilities all fine. As with all the motor home places we've been too, wouldn't really fancy it when it gets crowded in the summer, but the ability to plug in our little heater to make the van cosy and take the dampness out of the shoes and clothes is just perfect at this time of year. I actually thought it was all a bit sad really as the the campsite is full of caravans that clearly go nowhere, all with permanent looking awnings - one family was putting pot plants around their little patch! Another site we peeped into had a bookcase in the awning. Sad all those caravans with wheels, going nowhere. It appears the kiwis return to the same spot for weekends and summer hols  so I guess it makes sense. However, this is a stunning place to get stuck in.

The beach is wild, wide and that never ending kind of look to it. There was a good breeze around making the south pacific look just at it should. Our pitch eased onto the estuary and a quick walk along the side took you to the sand dunes and then onto the beach. A bit of wading through water was required and the tides made all the difference. It brings you to a special place, just watching the tides and the changes that it makes in your immediate surroundings. We didn't look at a watch all weekend, we got up when it was light, we ate when hungry, we walked on the beach when it wasn't raining, we took afternoon naps, we built sandcastles and drew pictures in the sand. We made burgers and cooked them on the new, rather wonderful little BBQ. The new camper van cookbook tells me this is a rule when you go camping, so who am I to disagree.

It was a restorative time, work has been busy, tragic and tiring for us both and we needed some gather it together time, which this trip gave us. Being a family kind of camping ground with all the trimmings we came across a games room and had one those great experiences of laughing till you cry and can't stop or control yourself times while (trying) playing table tennis. We love camping. We are happy campers. Love more, laugh more, camp more.


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