Ah….chocolate. Nothing is better than chocolate! Especially when you learn how to have chocolate for dinner, which is what this mole recipe includes!
Andrew and I had the opportunity this year to attend the Cadbury Cooking Class as a part of the Cadbury Festival. What a great night! Two local chefs, four gluten free recipes, and chocolate in all of it. Chocolate is the language of love, you know…*wink wink*
Of course, it’s one thing to watch the professionals…it’s quite another to replicate their recipes in your own kitchen. The recipes were actually surprisingly simple and manageable. Without further ado….vegetarian mole (pronounced Mole-ay)
Spicy Vegetarian Mole with Crisp Winter Salsa
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, grated
1 large beetroot, peeled and grated
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 /2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
chili powder to taste (optional)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 large bunch of rhubarb stalks, stewed
1 tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 tin black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tin lentils, rinsed and drained
salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar to season as required
1/4 large kohirabi, peeled and julienned
1/2 of a fennel bulb, cored and julienned
1 handful of picked watercress
Juice of half a lemon
flaky sea salt
Heat the oil in a deep skillet or pot. Sauté the onion for a couple of minutes until translucent
Add the cocoa, cinnamon and paprika, along with the chili poser if using and sauté until fragrant
Add the tomatoes, rhubarb, beans, and lentils. Bring to a simmer, stirring continuously as this will stick if left alone.
Add the beetroot and carrots, stirring to integrate
Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 1-8+ hours. Check seasoning as beans and tomatoes can take a bit to enliven.
Adjust with salt, sugar, and apple cider vinegar
To make salsa:
Combine the vegetables in a non-reactive bowl and toss with lemon juice and salt to taste
How to serve it:
Serve the mole over corn or nacho chips, in a tortilla or taco, or over baked potatoes with some cheese curds and sour cream.
Given that a majority of this recipe uses in-season vegetables and tinned food, this could be a perfect camping recipe! Simmer for as long or as short as you want. If you happen to have a large cast-iron pot that you can leave over the campfire (don’t leave your campfire unattended!), you can toss all the ingredients in and just let it do its thing.
This recipe also lends itself well to a slow-cooker on those busy days. It is also easy to double or triple this recipe and freeze the leftovers for another day as it freezes quite well!
If you do want, you can also add some cheap cuts of beef or chicken…it simmers for long enough that you will end up with a very tender meat by the end of it!
One of the advantages of living in one of the four largest cities in New Zealand is that Dunedin is just large enough to still attract the major events that visit the larger cities like Christchurch and Auckland, while still being small enough to have that small town feel.
This past week, Dunedin played host to the ‘Night Noodle Market’, which hosted both performances and foods with an Asian influence. According to their advertising, it would allow locals to experience the “sights, sounds, and tastes of an authentic Asian street market”.
Authentic? Not so much…far too orderly with neat little queues marked out in the grassy fields of the Kensington Oval. Far too neat and orderly if anyone’s been to any actual Asian markets, but still, the food was quite tasty.
Andrew and I arrived just at the dinner rush, which wasn’t the best timing on our parts. We were hungry and most of the lines were ridiculously long (think around 20-30 minutes in line).
The portion sizes were also quite small given the prices. The only thing we were tempted by that we didn’t go for was the pineapple smoothies; they wanted $12 just for a small smoothie in a pineapple!
That being said, the food was still absolutely fantastic. Andrew and I shared our dishes and got to sample four different dishes while we were there. It did mean standing in line for each dish, but once we had our first one and weren’t so hungry anymore, it was a lot more enjoyable.
The atmosphere was nice and the people were quite friendly. Each of the stalls was quite efficient in their food delivery as well, getting through the long lines quickly.
The skewers were definitely the most popular stall in the place, and I can see why! They were absolutely delicious. It was $12 for 2 sticks and some people were walking around with entire bouquets of the things. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people spent upwards of $100-$200 on dinner, although Andrew and I kept our evening reasonable.
There was also some fire dancing performances, which were fun to watch. The fair could have really benefited from a small craft market as well, in my opinion.
Overall, Andrew and I really enjoyed our evening and the opportunity it gave us to sample food from a bunch of the different local restaurants.
Chocolate!! Every woman’s (and men’s) best friend. One of the best parts of living in Dunedin is sharing a city with the Cadbury chocolate factory, which means every city sponsored event has chocolate!
Of course, what would the city of chocolate be without a full on chocolate festival? From opening ceremonies and the chocolate games, to cooking demonstrations, to a scavenger hunt, and the epic annual Jaffa race.
There were a number of activities that Andrew and I didn’t have a chance to take part in during the last festival, so hopefully we can hit up some different events in the following year. What we did get a chance to participate in was excellently executed.
We started with the opening ceremonies, which included a variety of sports and games. It was aimed mostly at families and children, but they had no problems with a couple of big kids taking part as well. There were small chocolate rewards for successful completion of each skill and then a chocolate medal and chocolate bar for completion of a majority of the activities prior to the fireworks. Overall a very fun evening!
We then took part in a chocolate scavenger hunt which sent us all over the downtown core of Dunedin trying to find answers to all the different clues. Things like “When was the Settler’s Museum opened” and such. Upon completion of the scavenger hunt we were rewarded with another bar of chocolate as well as entered into a draw to win a $300 chocolate basket. Lots of chocolate this week!
We also went to a cooking class and watched the demonstrations of how to make two absolutely delicious desserts. The classes were exceptionally entertaining and informative, although I haven’t had the equipment (i.e. a mixer) to actually attempt the recipes. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the recipes!
The final part of the Cadbury Festival was the Jaffa race. A Jaffa is a ball of chocolate coated in an orange flavoured hard candy coating. usually they are fairly small, but the ones for the Jaffa race were larger.
The Jaffa race also takes place at Baldwin Street, marketed as the steepest residential street in the world. Oh, and did I mention that they release around 25,000 of these balls at a time?
It is done for charity, with each ball bearing a number that matches a raffle ticket. It was quite fun to watch! It was also like a giant street party with a DJ, dancers, and the race itself.
I’m excited to see what this year’s festival will hold!
One of the biggest challenges when camping in a small space is figuring out easy meals to cook that don’t take a long time and won’t break the bank. There are a number of cookbooks with camping recipes, but most seem to assume that you have a huge commercial kitchen, a food dehydrator, and a week to pre-cook and plan every meal prior to a camping trip.
While it is possible to prep a fair few meals from home when departing on a short camping trip, that isn’t possible for long duration camping.
Here are some of mine and Andrew’s favourite recipes that tend to be under $10, prepared in one pot, and take less than 30 minutes.
Cabbage and Bacon Stir Fry Recipe
Delicious stir fry that cooks up quickly, contains plenty of vegetables, and is inexpensive. Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry people are.
1 lb of bacon, beef jerky, sausage, or ground beef
1 head of garlic
Optional: Other in season vegetables including leek, capsicum/bell pepper, etc.
Fry the meat in a large pot or pan. Ensure that there is plenty of leftover space for adding the vegetables.
While the meat is cooking, shred the cabbage, mince the garlic, and dice the onion.
Once the meat is nearly cooked, toss the vegetables into the same pan and fry another 5 minutes until the onion and cabbage are just softened.
Vegetarian Chili Recipe
Containing no meat and no items requiring refrigeration, this meal is yummy and filling. Feeds 4.
1 can baked beans
1 can lentils
1 can chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes
1 head cauliflower
1 tbsp chili powder
Optional: Fresh onion, garlic, and/or tomato
1 bag of Nacho chips for dipping
Sour cream as garnish if desired.
Dice the cauliflower into small chunks.
Open all of the cans and empty them into a large pot. Add the cauliflower and other ingredients, reserving the chips until the chili is done. Boil all ingredients on medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is softened.
This can also be pre-prepared and frozen into a container to keep the cooler cold on the trip, cooking it once thawed.
Serve and enjoy!
Chicken with Mushroom Sauce Recipe
Quick and easy recipe that can be easily modified to accommodate larger families. Cooks in 20-30 minutes depending upon the size of the chicken pieces.
1/2 lb. chicken breast or thigh, bone and skin removed (Approximately 1 breast or 2 thighs per person)
1 can of soup: golden mushroom, cream of mushroom, or cream of potato work best
1 cup of rice
Combine all of the ingredients into a large pot and cook until the chicken is done.
Being geothermally active as New Zealand is, it is no surprise that the Maori people managed to find a way to make use of the steam vents for all areas of life. While in Rotorua, an area known for being extremely active in the centre of the North Island, we had the opportunity to take part in a hangi, or steam cooked meal.
We had our first hangi experience at the Whakarewarewa Maori Village. During the tour, our guide showed us several wooden boxes, each over a geothermal vent in the ground. She explained how they use the vents for cooking a majority of their meals. Why use a gas or electric stove and waste resources when the ground is always warm? Since it is steam cooked, the food doesn’t dry out and doesn’t burn, merely cooking to the appropriate temperature and then staying warm.
She told us how her family would sometimes stop at the grocery store, pick up a chicken, and then just toss the entire thing, styrofoam, wrapping and all, into the hangi cooker. They would then come back four or five hours later and the chicken would have spent the day steaming in its own juices. They also make corn, stews, and bread pudding in the cooker. The ones we saw in the village had bread pudding cooking in them.
While visiting the village we decided to try their hangi meal, which consisted of roast beef, chicken, sweetcorn, kumara, and potato, all cooked in the Hangi vents. Dessert was a bread pudding served with fresh cream and some papaya. Absolutely delicious!
We had noticed a hangi cooking area at our campground, so on the way home we decided to stop at the Pak n’ Save and pick up some ingredients to cook our own hangi. We picked up potato, corn, lamb, and kamo kamo (kinda like a zucchini).
We borrowed a roasting pan from the reception area, picked some fresh mint and rosemary from the garden, and tossed all of our ingredients in the pan together.
We then spent an hour soaking in the hot mineral pools while our supper cooked itself. Such a hard life! Supper turned out surprisingly well! It usually takes a few attempts at a new cooking style for things to turn out, but cooking a hangi was surprisingly simple and tasty.
You can’t get much more kiwi than lamb, kumara, and corn cooked in a hangi!
Andrew and I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Hobbiton movie set recently; thanks to a very generous Christmas gift we were able to go for the evening tour, which included not just a tour through Hobbiton, but dinner at the Green Dragon Inn and then a starlit tour back amongst the hobbit holes.
The tour started by the town of Matamata and the path that Andrew and I took was not very well marked. We had absolutely no idea if we were going the right way or not, but thankfully we managed to find the right place. We checked in, then waited for the tour bus to take us to the actual movie set on the Alexander Farm, which is still a working farm.
The drive itself was quite picturesque, through rolling hills with tonnes of sheep and not many signs of civilization. We got off at the parking lot where there was a sign welcoming us to Hobbiton. I was so excited I was literally bouncing as we walked through a tunnel of trees and out into our first views of Hobbiton. The entry way is the same small narrowing that Gandalf first drives through when he enters Hobbiton in the movies, and is the same small path that Bilbo runs out of when he goes on his adventure.
It was fun being there and not only immersing ourselves in the fantasy world of Lord of the Rings, but also learning about some of the film-making techniques that they used. The sheer attention to detail and lengths that they went to while making those films is simply astounding.
For example, the tree above Bilbo’s house is actually an artificial oak tree. After they finished wiring all of the artificial leaves to it, they decided it didn’t quite look like the right shade of green…so they hired someone to go up and paint all of the leaves! They also wanted the paths through the Shire to look naturally worn, so they hired a few people to go hang out washing and take it down from the hobbit lines a few times a day and to meander to each other’s ‘houses’ so that the paths through Hobbiton look like the worn paths in a normal village.
It was also quite fun seeing the hobbit holes of all different sizes so that the actors placed in front of them looked suitable smaller or larger depending on whether they were hobbit or wizard. I certainly felt distinctly hobbit sized in front of a few of them!
The tour led us through the Dell and then up into Hobbiton proper, where we climbed the hill to Bilbo’s house. I was very excited to see that little hobbit door, complete with the iconic “No admittance” sign. It’s one thing to visit a theme park where scenes have been re-created, or to see props from films (which are both neat experiences, don’t get me wrong); it is quite another to stand where those actors stood and to actually feel like I could have been in the shire with a hobbit just around the corner and to see where they actually filmed such wonderful films.
The tour then proceeded to the iconic field under the party tree, where Bilbo celebrated his birthday. It was also here that they imparted some little-known anecdotes about the film.
Like the fact that they filmed Bilbo’s birthday speech in one take and that Ian Holm did such a terrific job holding everyone rapt and nailing the performance that it wasn’t until they were back in the studio editing the clips that they noticed that the cake behind Bilbo was quite noticeably in flames. Apparently it was made of styrofoam, which isn’t a good combination with over one hundred candles! Instead of re-shooting the scene they did some clever clipping, zooming, and editing so that it isn’t visible unless you know exactly what to be looking for.
Of course, we also got to have some fun at the party tree. I just had to get on the see-saw and a little girl was kind enough to join me. They also had stilts, which all of the adults were a bit hesitant to pick up at first, but upon some encouragement that it was alright and that we weren’t going to hurt sensitive props, most of us had a go at it. They take a lot more balance than I had thought! Andrew and I both managed to walk a few steps with them though.
From the party tree and the house of Samwise Gamgee we proceeded across the bridge to Sandyman’s Mill and the Green Dragon Inn. The location is just so beautiful and picturesque. A local company has brewed ciders, beers, and ginger beer specifically for Hobbiton, which we got to enjoy from the Green Dragon while watching the sunset over Hobbiton. It was a really wonderful way to spend the evening.
After the sun set we were called inside to an amazing feast. In all the years that they have done the dinner and evening tour, they have never had a group be able to finish everything on the table. I believe them!!
The meal was absolutely wonderful. They were really great about handling allergies as well. After they served the main feast, the head cook brought out a plate specifically for me that had been prepared for my specific allergy. Another lady at the table was allergic to lactose as well as gluten and her plate looked quite good as well! They then proceeded to tell me what else on the table would be safe for me to eat as well if I was still hungry after I finished my plate.
They then left time for us to chat and explore the inn before they served dessert. I had asked another guest to take a picture of me beside the bar and the guide came past. He told me I wasn’t standing in the right spot for a good picture and that I should move further left…and then further still until I was standing behind the bar. He said that was the perfect place for a good picture and then offered to take the picture for me. Dessert could have easily have been an entire meal unto itself! Homemade cinnamon and honey yogurt, Pavlova with fresh picked fruit from the Shire gardens, and a brownie were my top picks.
After we relaxed for a bit after dinner and dessert, our guides handed out lanterns for our walk back through Hobbiton. It was beautiful wandering through the village, illuminated by our lanterns and the porchlights of hobbits who have not returned home yet. It was very peaceful wandering around, listening to the frogs croak in the pond, and enjoying an after-dinner walk.
They wanted to make sure that everyone had a chance to get at least one good picture of themselves in front of a hobbit hole after dark so they brought out movie lighting and had everything set up to get a good picture on almost any camera or phone.
It was truly a magical experience wandering through this fantasy world. Their customer service and attention to their customers was also exceptional and I thoroughly enjoyed my evening.