It all began on Sunday actually. I went off to host the monthly Hot Lakes Craft Market at the Arts Village while my husband took our little people to the Ngongotaha Trout Hatchery for one of their 'Kids Fish Out' days. This is where children aged 6-14yrs can learn to fly fish and, get this, it's a guaranteed catch of a lovely rainbow trout. Seriously! How good is that?! So the more children you have, the more fish you come away with. I know - brilliant! So if you don't have any children, take my advice and borrow some - at $3 each you're onto a winner (for the fishing license that is, not the kid). The added bonus is that it's a really lovely place to visit and you can wander around the grounds and enjoy all the different trout pools, the hatchery and the lovely stream. Take along your coffee thermos and you're well and truly sorted.
So we ended up with two rather small (possibly not legal in the 'real' world) but lovely none-the-less rainbow trout. Yesterday they were gutted, butterflied, salted and sugared and left overnight in the fridge. Today they were hot manuka smoked for 15 minutes. While they were smoking I googled for a recipe (I do a lot of that) and thought that a 'Smoked Trout Tart' sounded like a fine way to appreciate our little beauties. I used this recipe, but with this pastry. The first recipe (which makes enough for 2 tarts) uses 14 tbsp of butter... what? Who measures that much butter by the tablespoon? Too weird/difficult I thought so I found one where they measure in much more civilised grams. It's pretty rich with a cup of cream in it... but blimey it's GOOD!!
I certainly ain't no food photographer and had to wrestle the kids away whilst being cruel enough to make them wait for photos, but I mean, just look at it. Drool...
On Saturday a group of my gal-pals and I set off to do the new-ish Tarawera Trail. It was a surprisingly beautiful warm day and we were walking along in t-shirts enjoying our gal-chatter under a sunny blue sky. This trail is a stunner. Really truly beautiful. There's something about Lake Tarawera all vast and tree-lined with that majestic mountain looming in the distance that makes it feel so... significant.
This image shows the point we got to before turning back. Down there is Hot Water Beach. Next time I'm going to head off a bit earlier and do the whole distance with a nice warm soak as the reward before turning back and heading home. There are so many awesome little semi-secret natural hotpools around Rotorua.
After much wailing and gnashing of teeth between the various parties involved, this 15km 'stage one' leg of the journey was completed in December. Eventually the plans are that it will take you the 42km all the way around Lake Tarawera joining ranks with some of the other iconic multi-day walks in NZ. Joy.
There are lovely little beaches along the way to stop and enjoy...
And enjoy some more! Yeow!!
Then later on that night to cap off a fabulous day we got together for a potluck curry dinner. Now that's my kind of Saturday!
By far one of my favourite birds from our fair shores is the Tui. I just love their boisterous raucous personalities, the way they dart at ridiculous kamikaze speeds through the branches, how they all flock to a favourite tree of choice and ransack it within days, or hours. Their antics make me smile. And of course, their magnificent song. Just so beautiful and interesting... the myriad of clicks and chortles - there's nothing like the chorus of Tui first thing in the morning. And how about the way they look? Stunners! We're very lucky to be surrounded by these lovely creatures and have a big sky vista so if we don't see hoards of them gathering in some of their favourite trees around our place, we see them darting through the sky - either alone or in large 'packs' like a group of teenagers up to no good.
We're all familiar with iconic images of Tui amongst Flax and Kowhai trees.
Some interesting facts...
Tūī are unique (endemic) to New Zealand and belong to the honeyeater family, which means they feed mainly on nectar from flowers of native plants such as kōwhai, puriri, rewarewa, kahikatea, pohutukawa, rātā and flax. Occasionally they will eat insects too. Tūī are important pollinators of many native trees and will fly large distances, especially during winter for their favourite foods.
Tūī will live where there is a balance of ground cover, shrubs and trees. Tūī are quite aggressive, and will chase other tūī and other species (such as bellbird, silvereye and kereru) away from good food sources.
An ambassador for successful rejuvenation. A good sign of a successful restoration programme, in areas of New Zealand, is the sound of the tūī warbling in surrounding shrubs. These clever birds are often confusing to the human ear as they mimic sounds such as the calls of the bellbird. They combine bell-like notes with harsh clicks, barks, cackles and wheezes.
Breeding facts. Courting takes place between September and October when they sing high up in the trees in the early morning and late afternoon. Display dives, where the bird will fly up in a sweeping arch and then dive at speed almost vertically, are also associated with breeding. Only females build nests, which are constructed from twigs, fine grasses and moss.
Where can tūī be found? The tūī can be found throughout the three main islands of New Zealand. The Chatham Islands have their own subspecies of tūī that differs from the mainland variety mostly in being larger.
Here's a really interesting and enjoyable interview with Simon Morton from Radio NZ and a Tui expert.
Thanks to DOC for the above info :)
I went for my usual Monday morning run today - complete with hat, gloves and jacket which inevitably come off half way around before overheating sets in. Anyway, after a shower followed by my coffee and email/online catch-up, I fancied something warm and tasty out of the oven. This super simple Coconut Loaf is delish and pretty healthy too. Thanks to the good folks at the Tauhara Centre in Taupo for the recipe.
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
1 1/2 cups coconut
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Add whatever fruit and/or nuts take your fancy - I like it with currants and pecans. You could try cranberries and macadamia or walnuts...
Mix all ingredients together and bake in a lined loaf tin for 1 hr at 180c. Too easy!!
THEN smear with lashings of butter :)