Monday 22 April 2024

A little holiday at home

Martin and I were due a 5-day mini break this weekend.  With my ongoing concussion issues, I found the logistics of planning an actual trip away too daunting - plus, the idea of sleeping in a tent didn't much appeal, as I'm still strapping my arm every night to treat an entrapped ulnar nerve.  So we decided on a 'staycation'.  I mostly had the internet off, and didn't use my computer except for a twice-daily concussion exercise that involved watching a video.  We bought in some yummy food, sourced a good book and had a weekend mostly without plans.  It's been really nice :-) 

banana cake for yummy snacks

I prepared some okara-based sourdough starter which was used extensively in recent days - here it was made into crumpets :-)

One day we had takeaways from Timmur, our local Nepalese restaurant.  We had lamb momos (dumplings) which we'd had before (super-yum) and also tried two kinds of street food.  Pictured is a 'chicken sausage on a stick' - with the sausage kind-of carved; the other was chow chow sadako - like a pasta salad, but with uncooked 2 minute noodles and poppadoms instead of cooked pasta.  It was surprisingly good!

Home-made sourdough pizza :-)

We also tried doing sourdough pizza in the skillet.  This one was trying to be a 'deep dish' type pizza and didn't really work, but cooking two flat half-size ones on the stove-top worked well :-)

I've been working on more vegan and vegetarian ideas for camping food, as food is often the biggest component of our camping carbon footprint.  This was our second go at making a carbonara-style sauce with TVP and dried shiitake mushrooms.  I think it's 'good enough' now and we'll have it on pasta next time we're camping :-)  We'll also make a tofu jerky that starts with chickpea flour (to add protein to a boxed risotto) and rehydrate powdered hummus (also made with chickpea flour) to have on wraps along with either salami or cheese.  Recipes below in case you're interested.  We had some of the jerky on pizza this weekend and it worked reasonably well there, too - although chicken was definitely yummier!

More sourdough baking - this was American-style 'biscuits' which we ate with the carbonara sauce for breakfast one morning. 

It wasn't all eating!  I carried on with my concussion exercises - various things to help my vestibular system sort itself out, as well as walks and short bursts on the exercycle.

I love this white-flowered camellia in our street - both the flowers up close, and the carpet of white the petals make on the footpath.

Not quite in focus - but aren't the flowers stunning?

I set a new "furthest from the house on foot" record - 9 min from home.

Today I'd been hoping to try a tiny swim - probably just 'being' in the water rather than actually swimming - but high tide was pretty early on the Waitematā and Safeswim marked Blockhouse Bay Beach as being unsafe till after the water would have all gone away.  So we'll try that on Thursday, and today went to Eric Armishaw Reserve instead.  I was delighted to find my arms were still strong enough to comfortably enjoy time on the swings, and my vestibular issues weren't too bad - I kept going a satisfying amount of time before deciding my nausea was getting noticeably worse :-)

We also made two other excursions (no photos).  On Friday evening we went to the final "Fridays in the Neighbourhood" night market in Avondale (more yummy food! Highlights were a Chilean filled roll made with home-made sausage, a Mexican beef broth, and a classic Kiwi jam and cream donut).  It was a bit overwhelming with both noise and choices, but I'd been curious to see what it was, and we can't usually do Friday evenings due to other commitments, so I'm glad we went when could.  And then on Sunday morning we went to our local Anglican church, where I finally met a Facebook friend who's the new interim vicar there.  We both appreciated the liturgy, the sermon he gave, and the warm welcome from the congregation.

Throughout the holiday Martin also read aloud the book his sister gave us for Christmas, Yumi and the Nightmare Painter by Brandon Sanderson.  It's one of four books Sanderson wrote for his wife, and that she then persuaded him to publish.  We both found it really good - a compelling story, and lots of interesting ideas.  Brandon Sanderson has an incredible imagination!  It concluded with two epilogues, and we both thought the story would have been stronger without those, but overall it was highly enjoyable.  Thanks Sandra for the gift, and Martin for reading it.

Here's the camping recipes I've developed :-)


Powdered hummus

Prep at home:

60g fine-ground besan (aka chickpea flour)
5-6 dried garlic slices
1T tahini (can also use 15g toasted and ground sesame seeds)
1t dried basil
3/4 tsp cummin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp citric acid (err towards less - is very strong)
pinch chilli powder

grind garlic in a spice grinder
add everything else (but only half of the besan) and whizz again
scrape out, stir with remaining besan, leave to cool then seal in a ziplock bag

To use:
add 1T olive oil and mix with water.  Will absorb more if you let it sit for a bit.  Makes about 2/3 cup.  Shelf-stable for at least a week in the sun.

TVP carbonara

make up in a ziplock bag at home:
▢ 1/2 cup TVP
▢ 8-10 slices dried garlic, broken up
▢ 1 teaspoon soy sauce
▢ 1/2 teaspoon paprika powder
▢ 1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
▢ 1/4 teaspoon salt
▢ 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

take separately
▢ dried shiitake mushrooms, equivalent to 10-12 mushrooms

soak mushrooms in water and slice smallish when soft.

mix TVP mix with 1/3 cup water, cook in hot pan till water is absorbed, then add a little oil and cook until satisfied (crispy and brown takes a while but is nice - just cooked through is OK).  Set aside.

Cook 250g pasta.  Tip off most of the water BUT reserve it.  Stir through 2/3 cup milk powder + prepped TVP + mushrooms and add enough water to make a sauce (don't want it too gluggy).

TVP recipe from

Shan tofu jerky


1 cup besan
3/8 tsp MSG
1 T stock powder
10 mL liquid smoke (try 15 mL with beef stock)
1T crushed garlic
1T brown sugar
1T mixed herbs
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch chilli
2/3 cup cold water

Mix well, checking there are no lumps, then add 1 cup boiling water, bring to a boil then simmer till very thick (10-15 min), stirring often.  Pour into a silcone loaf tin to set (should take 30 min or less at room temp), then cut into 4-5mm slices and dry at 90 degrees 4-ish hours.

Gives around 200-220g, has 21g protein.  Is shelf-stable for a week in the sun, but needs to be stored airtight - otherwise it dries out too much.  Slice into squares then add to a Diamond risotto box, along with half a packet of dried peas and some extra water.

NB Have also used 1/4 cup soy sauce in place of MSG/stock powder/some water.  Was a bit 'harsh' but still worked pretty well in risotto - likely would be really good with only 2-3T soy sauce.

soy flavour from:
method from:
shan tofu from:
NB shan tofu is traditionally dried, but right through to crispy deepfried chips/crackers rather than leathery like this.

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