We Can And We Can!, Or Preserving And Persevering! - The Well Travelled Spatula Blog at Allrecipes.com - 227404

The Well Travelled Spatula

We Can and We Can!, or Preserving and Persevering! 
 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:05 am 
Updated: Mar. 22, 2011 3:52 pm

PREAMBLE: Our hearts and deepest sympathies go out to everyone in Japan  – and around the world – who have been so deeply affected by the recent earthquake, tsunami and impending radiation issues. I have had this blog post in the works before our recent quake, and today just finally felt like the right time to get it off my chest. I mean no disrespect, and while Chrsitchruch has gone through a hell of a time, it pales in comparison to what our Japanese friends are going through… NO, it isn’t all about me, this is just my perspective…

Exactly three weeks ago today, I was sitting in this very spot, feeling more positive and cheerful than I had in a long time. Summer was rolling along, not great but steady. The bank account was slowly creeping up and the bills were slowing going down. The Man’s copious pepper crop was starting to ripen, the orchard across the road was selling box lots of seconds suitable for preserves, and I was keeping a close eye on our very own apple, peach and crab-apple trees, hoping to beat the birds to their offerings.

Ironically, we had recently noticed lots of grapes on our ancient vine, and they, too, were beginning to ripen. During the five years we have lived here, we have never had a single grape from this plant, as the little waxeye birdies always beat us. But, since the September 4thearthquake, these poor little dears have all but disappeared from our yard, even leaving a half eaten suet on the bird tray.

So far, I had bottled poached pears and rather unsuccessfully made a peach jam, that was more akin to peach flavoured applesauce, but something that could certainly be used as the base for something else.

Poached Pears


I was finding these old fashioned tasks therapeutic in light of the September earthquake that hit us on top of a very poor economy. Plus, on that day, we had a large corporate lunch booked for later in the afternoon, the Ellerslie Flower show in two weeks (which brings heaps of people to the province) and the Rugby World Cup Games in another 6 months. Right, we can and we will persevere – we might just squeak through!!! I had even written the tile of this post down on a slip of paper and stuck it in the back pocket of my jeans...

So, here I was sitting placidly, paying bills and sneaking at peak at the Buzz. I had showered and dried my hair, as I was planning to go to the Hilltop just before 2:00 to help with the corporate booking that was promising to be quite lucrative. At 12:52, I began to hear and feel the all too familiar rumbling of yet another aftershock. “Sheesh – when will they stop? Hey, wait, when will THIS one stop?” I dashed to the doorway just as a few things started to crash from shelves and Bessie began barking. I huddled in the doorway, near tears, trembling like a leaf, cuddling my dog. I tried to pull myself together. I wanted to go outside but the gate was open and I knew Bess would dash onto the road, so I reluctantly left her inside while I quickly closed the gate. By the time I got back to the house, I had decided I needed to go to the Hilltop and be with my people. Just as I was changing into old jeans and throwing a bra in my handbag, the cellphone rang (the power had gone out during the crashing). I knew it was The Man – I said ‘I’m coming up!’

As I went around one of the first bends, a campervan was stopped right in the middle of the on-coming lane, and some young folks were pulling rocks from a small slip out of the middle of the road. But, seeing as how they were in the middle of the road around another down hill bend, it might not have been the wisest thing. Happily, when I got around that bend, another uphill traveller had stopped and was ready to slow down other down-hill drivers.

When I got to the Hilltop, brooms were out, dust pans were filled with broken quiche dishes and other crockery. The bar floor was sticky from the crashed Sambuca, and the chill room looked a lot like it did back in September. BUT, everyone was okay, if not quite rattled. Fortunately, and strangely, we had no customers in at the time the latest earthquake struck.

The Grand Old Dame (The Hilltop) can rock and roll with the best of them. One of her recently repaired cracks by the front door opened up, and all the new plaster upstairs is back at square one, but by and large, there appears to be no structural damage.

We came home and, as it was a lovely day, decided to work in the garden where we could listen to the car radio (we still had no power). As we listened, we realized the full devastation of this event. Frequently, the car would bounce on its tires with the aftershocks. Unlike September 4th, when everyone was tucked away safe in their beds, this new quake hit on a busy weekday right at the end of the lunch hour. The epicentre was much closer to the central business district and was pretty much right by the little hillside town of Lyttleton that is our main port. Our power, unlike so many others) was restored in a few hours and we dashed inside to see the first images coming over the TV and get glued onto our computers. Familiar buildings were hardly recognizable, streets were buckled and our initial fears for the safety of our citizens were being realized.

For the first few days, we did not open the café. We would go up for a bit each day, clean up and try to work in the beer garden (after all, we did have a wedding scheduled for the following weekend, didn’t we?). We watched the road traffic and there was none, apart from what appeared to be locals relocating away from .

We finally re-opened on the Friday, more for our own mental health than anything else. We needed to DO something. By this time, I had identified a few charities that I felt I could help. Cash donations were out of the question at this time, but we had inventory and we can cook. I found out that ‘The Christchurch Baking Army’ was a Facebook network supporting ‘Comfort for Christchurch’ AKA The Comfort Crusaders. Each day, Facebook posts listed what they (the Police, The Student Army {now that’s another story, entirely} and those without power, water and/or sewerage needed.) Early on, I saw a request for Gluten Free stuff. I knew we had several boxes of Bakel’s GF bread mix, baking mix and pastry mix, which we weren’t really using very much. We also had a mountain of zucchini, as we do this time of year, so I had Chef Vojta make as many of our GF Zucchini Tarts as we could. I sent an e-mail to Bakel’s explaining that we wanted to help but couldn't really foot the bill for too much. Lo, and Behold, I got a phone call the next day from ‘Steve’ and the following day I had 6 boxes of bread mix and 6 of baking mix!!! Boy, have our bread makers and ovens been busy! Better yet, you should the faces of the organisers when you turn up at the drop site with boxes of GF stuff!

We are still baking and donating, but things are starting to come more under control. Day by day we get more familiar with the ‘new normal’.We are back at work with reduced hours and staff, running at about 30 – 50% of what we could expect. The wedding, at least, has been rescheduled for this weekend. Sadly, the Flower Show and most other major events have been cancelled.

So, on Tuesdays, like today, we are off. The peaches are ripe and are our best crop ever. The grapes yielded 8 cups of juice!!! Even, The Man is making an awesome Sweet Chilli Jelly with a peach base (aka the failed peach jam), and bottling it!

Grapes Ripe on the Vine

Large Ripe Juicy Peaches!


Bakel's Generous Donation!


Gluten Free Multi Seed Bread Loaf, one of many!


HABANEROS!!!


Peach Salsa simmering


Peach Salsa All Bottled Up


Grape Jelly, and LOTS of it!


Somehow, doing these old fashioned things with the many gifts from our garden is still reassuring. Flo and Myrtle are still delivering their daily finest of eggs, having set up a new nest in the shed. Even though my slightly confident attitude of February 22 got knocked right off its shelf, we can, and we will persevere!

 
Comments
Mar. 15, 2011 4:28 am
Glad to hear things are smoothing out for you. The pictures are fantastic, pefect as Spring is just around the corner! All the best
 
Maggi 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:29 am
Oh my! Thank you for sharing this. Our hearts go out to all. It is so hard for most of us to imagine what others are dealing with and how they are coping. We admire your attitude and giving what you are able to. You are to be admired!!!
 
Alex 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:35 am
Gosh I can't even begin to imagine how scary that must have been and how even more scary it is in Japan right now! Keep on keepin' on and I really hope you (and the rest of the world!) gets no more rumbly surprises anytime soon!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:55 am
marvel's kitchen sent me over to see the pictures of your poached pears....lots of beautiful pictures in your blog. I too find peace in canning etc. My grandmother taught me those things back before life became so hectic. We think of you often from the notes we have read here at AR, and pray things continue to run more smoothly. It's National Pears Helene day here in the US, I found out when following Doug's research. You might have to open a can of those pears and celebrate. Chocolate sauce will make everything seem better !
 
Mar. 15, 2011 5:19 am
What a great attitude you have! You must be a standout in your area for perseverance and determination. Living in earthquake country, we can use you as a model! Good luck!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 5:55 am
Blessings on you as you find your way into the "new normal". Your post is, indeed, timely. Thank you.
 
Mar. 15, 2011 5:58 am
Laurie, you truly are an inspiration and a role model. It is true that in times of desperation and great need, it really does make you realize what you are made of. Those that persevere, win. Those of you in New Zealand and our brothers and sisters in Japan, please know you are not alone. Our hopes and prayers are far reaching, and you will come through this.
 
Mar. 15, 2011 6:26 am
God bless you for your courage and strength. Your post full of hope and renewal was just what I needed with my coffee this morning. And as a small bonus-love your pics again! Hugs to you and all the other kiwis from another former Californian (now in Texas)
 
Anissa 
Mar. 15, 2011 6:39 am
Still thinking of you and praying for you all. I admire your strength and your generosity. Thanks for posting. And I love to can everything too. Can't wait to start this summer..(((hugs)))
 
Mar. 15, 2011 7:00 am
Thank you for a heart warming blog. Baking, canning, gardening - such good therapy in light of the devastation that you have witnessed. The summer fruit is an awesome reward and an excellent reminder of natures beauty amongst the rubble. Blessings to you.
 
Mar. 15, 2011 7:33 am
Beautiful photos and a real life reminder of the vulnerability of humans all over the planet. It is so heart warming to see the results of your fortitude and strength. Take care kid:)
 
Mar. 15, 2011 7:50 am
What to say? I think about how trival my irritations are in light of your troubles and the devastation in Japan. Reminds me of what really does matter-family, friends and having good health. Well, friend, the fruits of your labors look lovely. May the future get brighter for you. Hugs from afar!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 12:52 pm
WOW! I put this up very late last night, when I couldn't sleep. I certainly didn't think I'd wake to see so many responses! It still overwhelms me how the AR community rallies whenever they are concerned for one of their own -- I've felt this any times now and say enough how much I appreciate it! And, while I love ya all, I have to disagree -- I'm just an average woman trying to deal with things -- when times are tough, you keep on, keepin' on, as Alex said. Doing what you can for others and finding pleasure in the simple things are therapy. Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 1:15 pm
My daughter breathed on me a couple weeks ago (= and I now have her bad head cold )= My attention span is nil. I'm going to have to "read" this later - but the pics are wonderful! Always happy to see you! Thank you for sharing!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 1:33 pm
Good EatNZ, you are amazing. Thanks for writing this blog. I hope life gets back to 'normal' soon. I really feel for your community and Japan and Haiti...all those being affected by things that our completely out of our hands. May God bless you!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 2:33 pm
Wonderful reading. It must be human nature that when things get bad, many of us move into the kitchen to get some comfort. It must be a universal feeling that draws us together.
 
Mar. 15, 2011 3:43 pm
Ah my dear, but I care so I've been watching for a blog! Yes, you are right, you are just average just like I am but an average someone can do great kindness and that's what makes the world really go round. Did you mention going home to get clothes for someone else? And some of the other stuff you haven't mentioned. My dear friend if you are average, I'll take about thousand of you! Or more maybe :)
 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:26 pm
Sorry to hear you are under the weather, Barb! Get well!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:29 pm
Thanks Lovecakes. Yes, we are slowly finding our way to the 'new normal'
 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:31 pm
Chris k, yes, I do believe that it is the nature of human spirit. When things get tough, we all quickly forget about trivial things and get down to basics and offer whatever support and relief we can.
 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:34 pm
Aww, shucks, Cat blushing). those poor folks hadn't had a sower in days and the elderly grandparents were not coping well. What's a shower, a few bowls of soup, some clothes destined for the Sallie's and a 20 litre container of water? WE felt selfish because doing that and looking after them for a few hours made US feel so much better!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 4:36 pm
Oh, here is an example of great charity! Our coffee roaster had to move after Sept 4 and was just getting settled in their new digs. New digs are no more! So, their competitor, a few blocks away is letting them borrow their roasting facilities a few hours a week, plus they have given them some office space!!!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 6:13 pm
Laurie I believe that times of catastrophe raise the bar on "average" and all you Kiwis have been amazing. I hope your corner of the world has seen the last of horror for a while and you can get back to a more mundane existence.
 
Mar. 15, 2011 6:54 pm
goodie you and your husband is a god-send to so many needy folks in your area! god bless you. you inspire me to do more...that's the greatest compliment i can give. ROCK ON!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 7:53 pm
Hi, GoodEatsNZ! Thanks for this update. I greatly admire determination and charity as you and other New Zealanders are demonstrating. I remember something inspirational from years ago. "When everything we have is gone, we gloat in the richness of having each other."
 
Mar. 15, 2011 7:53 pm
Indeed, what is a small act of kindness(clothes, food, opening your bistro) when all I can give you are typed words on a page? Oh bugger, I'm getting all mushy. You rock!!! Can on!!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:04 pm
BSM, thanks. I'll take 'mundane' anyday!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:05 pm
Wow, Gary -- that is a huge compliment. Thank you, coming from you, that means heaps!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:07 pm
I like that quote a lot, Mike. thanks for sharing! Very inspirational, indeed. It's the type of thing I need to remember when I get grumpy because I'm having a bad hair day or a flat tire!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:08 pm
Thanks, Cat -- your words typed on a page have helped me many times other the last many months. Don't discount that!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:21 pm
Ah, but it isn't the same as being able to offer something much more tangible like a hug or some lunch or just a shoulder. One you can get wet :) when you need to!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:29 pm
Wonderful blog! Makes me want to do more and be better! You truly are an inspiration to the strength and "perseverance" of the Human Spirit. I say (standing up to clap) YOU ROCK my sister from another continent.
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:32 pm
Awww... but you are still doing whatever you can!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:32 pm
I love what Mike said above, ""When everything we have is gone, we gloat in the richness of having each other." That's what this site is all about.... "EACH OTHER." We have "EACH OTHER."
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:33 pm
Gee, thanks, Candice!!!
 
Mar. 15, 2011 8:42 pm
@ Cat: posted this on your blog, too: Hah! I thought my ears were burning!!! Speaking of amaranth, since I was in a good enough mood to do some housework yesterday, I found a card in a stack of magazines. A card with amaranth and thistle down pasted in it! Yep, that's tangible! Maybe that brought my muse back! Thanks!
 
zeebee 
Mar. 15, 2011 11:30 pm
cute title. :) way to keep on keepin' on, laurie. it's wonderful to see someone stay so positive in the midst of it all. i feel blessed to read this and to see you finding the good in this difficult time. i pray that many more blessings will find their way to you. ♥ zoe
 
Mar. 16, 2011 1:19 am
I'm sorry I pooped on your blog earlier (= I finally came back to poop some more =D It has been such a rough year for ya'll! And you know we all hold our breath when we hear the news - and we have been SO GRATEFUL each time when we hear from you after. How wonderful that you have been able to take care of yourselves by helping others! You are always in our prayers!
 
Mar. 16, 2011 4:44 am
I can't imagine what this time has been like for you, but thanks for sharing. we don't all have earthquakes but we all have reasons remember we can! lovely pix
 
Mar. 16, 2011 6:03 am
Maybe time and distance aren't that great because I was wondering yesterday what to do different for this year's card :)
 
Mar. 16, 2011 3:07 pm
What a perfect blog title! We were all so relieved to hear you all were okay, and now you deliver the REAL goods of the experience. Thank you for your timely updates, your courage in the face of hardship, and your generosity -- and those lovely pictures of plenty. We on the W. coast of the US await our "big one" and can only hope for your spirit and determination. Thank you!
 
Mar. 16, 2011 5:45 pm
Thanks, Zoe! I keep saying this, tho -- I think my 'positivity' is almost a crutch to me going! Helping out any way I can helps me cope!
 
Mar. 16, 2011 5:46 pm
Thanks, Barb, you little pooper, you! I can't ell you how the support my friends on AR helps! I love you all!
 
Mar. 16, 2011 5:47 pm
LOL, Cat! if you mail it next week, I might get it in time!
 
Mar. 16, 2011 5:49 pm
Thanks, Gahsmom! It IS important to remember that anything can happen to anyone at anytime.
 
Mar. 16, 2011 5:51 pm
Hi, Mizemma! thanks for your lovely comments. Glad you enjoyed the title. I had scribbled it down on a slip of paper a few days before the quake, and never thought I'd be able to make it work.
 
Mar. 17, 2011 10:28 am
LOL, I was thinking if I mailed it in Oct. it might get there in time :) I thought 3 &1/2 weeks would be good last year. Been weeding in the garden, well one of them, and I keep thinking of you, Cindy Lepp and all those people in Japan. You just never know how things can change. I imagine that is why we should all learn to really live in the moment while learning from the past and truly appreciating all of our future moments we receive. Hugs
 
Mar. 17, 2011 3:56 pm
Well said, Cat!
 
Mar. 18, 2011 4:36 pm
GoodeatNZ, so thankful you are okay. I was so worried when I heard of the quake there and now our friends in Japan are going through so much. Our Cindy and Danny Lepp are dealing with hard times. I feel ashamed to complain about anything! I love all my AR friends and when they hurt I hurt. So good to celebrate when we get good news from you. You are very strong and very special. Like Alex said, Keep on keeping on! Much love, Ginny
 
Mar. 18, 2011 9:09 pm
Thanks, Grannygigi! Yes, there just seems to be so much pain in the world right now. Yesterday there was a huge memorial service in Chch, and Prince William attended. He said something to the effect of 'Grief is not possible without love.' So, even tho our hearts mya feel like they are breaking, it is only because we have had such great experiences with others.
 
Mar. 20, 2011 6:35 am
I saw Prince William on the news say that and thought, "how true". Thinking of you, Cindy & Dan and all those in Japan while snowsuit gardening. Gardens are such great places for thinking :)
 
doggonegood 
Mar. 20, 2011 11:15 am
I pray God will keep a hedge of protection around you, your family & country always. Your Christian Friend Dianne Hargrove
 
Mar. 20, 2011 3:56 pm
First day of Fall here, Cat! Actually, looking forward to it this year!
 
Mar. 20, 2011 3:57 pm
Thank you for your heartfelt sentiments, Diane!
 
PrettyMissusR 
Mar. 21, 2011 6:56 am
Hi Good EatNZ! I too, am in shock about the recent quake in Japan, with the ensuing nuclear threat from the reactors. These people, our brothers and sisters, are suffering! (Even Einstein knew how dangerous it was, to unleash the power of the atom.) And I was well aware of your plight, when YOU were hit with that quake! I was 30 miles from the epicenter of the Landers earthquake (remember that one, in the high desert of California in 1992?). It occurred at 4:59 AM in June of that year, and it was a doozy - 7.5 quake. I woke up, thinking someone was trying to break in; then when I heard the glassware and plates falling out of the cabinets, I knew it was an earthquake. My 2 cats were totally freaked out - ran out into the Joshua trees, and so did I. People screaming, kids crying - I was outside by then (5 seconds had passed) and I saw ripples of the ground coming towards me, on my left. Have you ever thrown a pebble into a pond, and then witnessed the gentle ripples coming from that toss? Imagine a large boulder, then, thrown into that same pond, with the ensuing ripples! THAT'S what happened to me that morning! I saw these ripples - coming from the ground! - and then, all of a sudden, I was surfing - on the ground, on the Earth! We had 2000 aftershocks that day. Anyway, thanks for such a nice blog, but can you please answer an "emergency" request about canning? I'm going on my spring break soon (I'm an American secondary math teaching, now living and working in Uganda, Africa) and I need some advice! Everyone loves my bread and butter pickles, so I'm making them today (in between trying to put the final touches on an educational seminar I'll be directing for 2 weekends in a row, starting Friday, March 25!). I'll be bringing them up to see hubby in Switzerland, as well as bringing them to our grandson in York, England. Here's the problem: I'm making 2 liters (2, 1-liter jars) and I forgot to bring my "canning jar lifter-outer" with me from America! HOW can I get these jars (and they will be boiling hot!) out of my canning pans?? Should I gently pour off the boiling water, and use 3 people to help me?? I know I have to then wait for about 10 minutes until I hear the "pop", that tells me the jars are indeed sealed! I have my cukes at the ready, all iced down! Can you please help me? You wrote, in your profile above, "There is tremendous pleasure in preparing something, even something simple, and having it brighten up someone else's day." I do the best I can in doing just that, everyday, even with my math students!! My grandson and husband LOVE these pickles - I forgot my "canning jar lifter-outer" - how can I do this safely?! Thanks in advance, and thank you for your heart-felt commentaries! ~ All best, Lauren
 
PrettyMissusR 
Mar. 21, 2011 7:01 am
Oops, I meant, "I'm an American secondary math TEACHER." Line 19, of my above ramblings!! Thanks again! Lauren
 
PrettyMissusR 
Mar. 21, 2011 7:14 am
Yikes-o-rama, Good Eat NZ! Third time's the charm, I guess! When it's convenient for you, can you please post your recipe for the peach salsa? My gosh, that looks wonderful!! Peaches, green bell peppers, red onions, chilies? Lemon or lime juice, or both? Any cilantro? (Also called leaf coriander, to those that don't come from the United States.) Girl-scouts honor: I will post my recipe for Chicken Fajitas with Pineapple Salsa!! What say you? :) ~ Take care now, Lauren
 
Mar. 21, 2011 2:09 pm
Thank you for a peek into your life. It is good to see people helping eachother. We had a little earthquake here in Chautauqua county in western NY. It seems like natural disasters are getting more common. Your Zucchini Tarts sound good. Could you share the recipe? Thank you for blogging.
 
Mar. 21, 2011 4:11 pm
PrettyMissusR1 I love bread and butter pickles! We had such a bountiful zucchini crop about two years ago, I subbed zuke for cukes and it's fabulous, but I STILL have numerous jars! OK -- I only got my 'lifter-outer' a few months ago, and have tried numerous things in the past. Last year I bought a silicone oven mitt, having searched everywhere for the basic tools to no avail. Or, could you ladle most of the water ut of the bath and let them cool in the semi-empty bath? I'm sorry - I should have included the peach salsa and jelly link, but I forgot. I'll go back and do that, but in the mean time, they are both AR recipes: Peach Salsa II, and Concord Grape Jelly. And, the Salsa is THE BOMB!
 
Mar. 21, 2011 4:12 pm
Oh, and PrettyMissusR -- your earthquake story sounds positively horrifying! At least you were safe and sound in the end! And, don't even get me started on aftershocks...
 
Mar. 21, 2011 4:16 pm
Hi Maureen! I always feel like helping others helps me just as much, and its generally at no real cost. It's a bit like the Buzz marathon that's been going on for Cindy and Danny -- We all want to help, and sharing good, positive thoughts is about the best we can do! Anyway, the gluten free suchini tart is excellent -- even if you aren't on a GF diet. It's zucchini, feta cheese and mint -- very fresh and tangy. I covered it in my blog about 18 months or so ago, or you can look in my recipe box -- I think I have a folders called 'quiches and tarts'
 
Mar. 22, 2011 3:52 pm
May your Fall be quiet. Just had our first day of Spring. As always in the garden thinking :)
 
 
 
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Good EatNZ

Home Town
Yuba City, California, USA

Member Since
Jan. 2009

Cooking Level
Expert

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Southern, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Healthy, Gourmet

Hobbies
Needlepoint, Gardening, Wine Tasting

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About Me
As a Californian, now living in New Zealand with 20 odd years spent in the Caribbean in between, my cooking style has had a lot of different influences. After several years in other businesses, we finally came to NZ 9 years ago, and with no experience other than eating in a lot of them, we opened a cafe! Our friends thought we were nuts, and in retrospect, we were. We have now sold that business and are trying to figure out what to do next! Watch this space...
My favorite things to cook
I love to play with Asian inspired marinades/ingredients - getting the blance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy just right. I also seem to be drawn to fiddly foods -- home-made pastas, tortillas, filled won tons and grape leaves.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mother loved Mexican food, and definately passed the taste on to me. I always loved my mom's enchiladas and tacos, and often whip up something like that quick for dinner. When I have more time, I make home-made Tamales. It's time consuming, but worth it. We have a hard time getting decent whole roasting turkeys here in NZ, but there is nothing like spending a day preparing 'the works' for a holiday dinner.
My cooking triumphs
I recently catered for a group of 18 - 22 for 18 days straight. I had prep support from the cafe (they were able to make all the cookies, muffins, cakes, etc) but I single-handedly managed all the main dishes, plus the organization and ordering supplies. The group was so impressed they gave me a gift certificate and I had a real Sally Fields' moment: They like me! They really like me!
My cooking tragedies
Serving things at dinner parties, not realizing that they weren't things that everyone liked or had tasted before. I was shocked when an important client turned up for the lovely roast lamb and said he had never eaten lamb before! Corned Beef was another one.
 
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