One of my worst qualities is that I hate things I’m not already good at. I’m usually pretty capable and sure of myself, so learning a new skill – while obviously a good thing – throws me. Sure, eventually you’re even more competent, but before that, there’s the period of awkwardness and uncertainty where you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s hell to me. Of course, I push through that discomfort, because the alternative is never learning anything new. That’s worse than feeling frustrated and embarrassed for a short period of time.
For example – and here’s how you can tell I’m a very serious intellectual – I’ve recently taught myself to curl my hair with straightening irons. Yes,
I know many people figured this out 10 years ago, but every time I’ve tried before now it’s been too hard and I’ve ended up swearing at the mirror. Not the dream.
Armed with a renewed sense of determination and a couple of YouTube videos, though, I’ve given it another crack. The trick is to watch tutorials where someone is styling their own hair, so you can copy their movements. Figuring out which way you’re rotating the irons is half the battle.
On about my third attempt with the new ghd Platinum+ Styler, $380, something clicked, and now I can give myself the curls of my dreams in about 15 minutes (I’ve got a lot of hair, so it’s a bit of a miracle). Those irons are eye-wateringly expensive, but with a rounded barrel and self-monitoring plates that make sure you’re not burning your hair, they do give a significantly better result than cheaper alternatives.
Once you’ve got the basic movement down, you can mix it up a bit. Shaking your curls out with your hands and adding a bit of texturising spray (Schwarzkopf Extra Care Hair Spray Body & Texture, $8, is a good supermarket option) will give a more laid back, relaxed look.
To take things to a sleek, glam sort of a place, gently brush your styled hair so the curls form smooth, shiny waves. A paddle brush like the Mae Essentials one, $17, and a spot of Sam McKnight Modern Hairspray Mist, $48, are your allies here. This hairspray is another item in the “pricey but worth it” column – I have no idea how they engineered this level of hold without stiffness, but I’m so glad they did. Gamechanger.
never going to open a fine-dining restaurant. I wouldn’t do that to my family.
I haven’t come to the country to retire or take it easy. When I do something and I’m connected, I need to do it to the best of my ability. If I’m not pushing myself then what’s the point?
We’re still in growth mode. We want a real garden-to-plate focus, but to do it for real. I’m working really closely with a permaculturalist to lay the foundations for something meaningful and sustainable.
I’ve got a motto: what grows together goes together. We’ve been putting so much effort into our gardens at work that I’ve neglected my beds at home. Last year when it came time for dinner we were picking zucchini, cape gooseberries, basil, tomatoes. Everything you pull out of the earth and it’s fresh and you wash it and it’s raw, it just tastes surreal. It tastes like the sun.
I can see myself being here for a very long time. Within this enormous property we’ve still got so much land to tap into. There’s resources and time on our side to do it properly. That’s something you don’t necessarily get in the city because it’s competitive and cut throat.
I think eventually people will realise there are options other than Waiheke. You don’t have to queue for the ferry or worry about transport. The setting out here on a nice day is quite incredible.
My family are really settled in school and we’ve got such a nice house in Birkenhead.
We’re in a do-up phase. We scored a 1950s-style bungalow that has been added onto about four times over the years. We’re doing the whole thing up. We love our property, the outlook and the space. It’s an enormous home, so I’m very happy.
When we have dinner at home it’s always together. That’s very important to us. We always eat family-style around the table and talk. We do that every day, but on Sunday
I might cook a joint of meat or do something a bit nicer.
The connection with my kids has always been really strong. Even through the hard times I always got out of bed in the morning and got them to school. Now we’ve got time to do activities.
For a date, Jo and I might have a coffee and pick up some bits and bobs. You can get lost in Mitre 10 Mega for hours. We might do that, we might disappear and have a coffee. I’m not
We’ve had all the #MeToo publicity – where it was fantastic to see powerful creeps get what they deserve – and for a little while I was breathing easier, thinking women’s lives were going to be more straightforward. It’s only a month or two later and already I’ve begun to doubt that.
In the past few weeks I’ve had my boss standing way too close to me in the coffee room, pretending he’s desperate for his coffee but he was desperate for a feel. And a guy I was dancing with at a pub grabbed my bum really hard. When I protested he called me a cocktease. Then I saw several media reruns of an Invictus Games competitor pulling Meghan Markle in for a forced kiss. The commentary said nothing whatsoever about this being inappropriate, it was just presented as a “boys will be boys” scenario. And earlier in her tour of Australia, some old guy gave a sickening giggle as he described taking two cuddles with her. I feel for her being so much in the glare and having so many demands on her.
Can’t someone, preferably a man, stand up and state clearly that this is not on? For her and for the rest of us, PLEASE.
I completely understand where you’re coming from. I, too, would not be impressed to have a big, sweaty stranger holding onto my arm and planting a slobbery kiss on me as I tried to back away. Nor would I enjoy someone placing their body around mine for their own gratification. I love hugging my friends and will at times offer a heartfelt hug from compassion or to share a joyous occasion, but I seek permission to do so.
While I’m very happy to hear men challenging other men when they behave inappropriately and women challenging women on similar occasions, I don’t think there will ever be a way to give an overall clear statement that fits for all, beyond the obvious “do not proceed without consent”.
I remember beginning work at a shared practice and, when I told a sex-related joke, the receptionist said: “We don’t want that here, thank you.” I was embarrassed of course, as is anyone who steps forward to find their advance is not welcome, but I also respected her wishes and did not share my jokes at that workplace again.
Similarly, I believe for anyone being sexually harassed, your responsibility is to state clearly without apology that you do not want what is happening. Repeat once if the behaviour recurs. If that is not sufficient, take action involving someone with responsibility to escalate your objection.
Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: zilch Serves: 4-6 as a nibbly thing
Half a telegraph cucumber, peeled and deseeded
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
Zest and juice of 2 limes
2-3 tsp Chinese chilli paste
Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the snapper as thinly as possible, and lay flat on a platter. Using a peeler, peel long, thin ribbons of cucumber and scatter over the top. In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil, soy, palm sugar and the zest and juice from the limes. Spoon this over the top of the fish and cucumber, and then dot over a little chilli paste to suit your taste. Serve immediately.
Ilove me a tart, I do. And I’m glad the courgettes are back; I’ve been tiring of people complaining about the price of them as it’s been all I can do to bite my tongue and retort “…they’re not in bloody season yet!” This is fairly simple, as I love, but you may want to add a bit of sautéed garlic, some red onion, a bit of beaten egg and cream, or even a bit of sumac over the top before you pop it in to bake. I know I say this a lot, but invest in a julienne peeler if you haven’t got one already. You can just as easily grate the courgettes and then salt them as below, but what I like about them being julienned is that you get a bit of texture. Take the time to salt your courgettes – this will prevent them from going all soggy when you cook them.
QUICK COURGETTE TART
Prep time: 20 mins + 10-15 mins resting time Cook time: 25-30 mins Serves: 4
Yesterday I drove down to Port Waikato to join the judging panel for the beachside settlement’s annual whitebait fritter competition. A quick aside here for me to note that I’m well aware the majority of whitebait species are under threat. At this small community event there was a very limited amount of whitebait for sale for the cooks to use, while some cooks had caught their own in the estuary there. The conversation around whitebaiting needs to go right up the chain, to talk to the loss and degradation of habitat. Anyhow, the fritters were, as expected, delicious, and a timely reminder of the beauty of fritters in general.
Literally, a fritter is anything fried – from tempura to doughnuts. But here I’m referring to fritters of an all-in batter, shallow fried in a pan (no, I don’t think an oven-baked version can be called a fritter). They’re a way to make ingredients go far – whether it’s because they’re something spendy like whitebait or paua, or because you’ve failed to make it to the shops and all that’s in the fridge is half a head of broccoli, a knob of cheese and some eggs. Or you’re clean out of fresh produce, but you have a can of sweetcorn, or a pack of baby peas or edamame beans in the freezer. Fritters are built on the simplest of formulas: eggs, a little flour to bind, fillings and seasonings of your choice. They’re undemanding on specifics: season with whatever you fancy – a bit of garlic, spices like cumin and paprika, fresh herbs – the only must is a liberal amount of salt and pepper; turning out a bland batch of fritters entirely undoes the wonder.
Unlike fussy baking, fritters are nondiscriminatory on the flour front. Rice flour, cornflour, chickpea flour, nut flours, even LSA do just as well as plain wheat flour in a fritter. This is great news if you or someone you’re hosting is allergic to gluten. Which leads me to suggest that fritters are the perfect thing to whip up (or pull from the freezer, where they store well) when you have unexpected guests, or expected guests who stay on longer than your cheese platter was prepared for. It’s always nice to add a dip on the side which guests can spoon on top as they go – seasoned and herb-flecked Greek yoghurt, or an aioli, amped with chipotle or harissa, perhaps.
Here are some of my go-to fritter combos – bearing in mind that it’s never a panic if you drop one or several ingredients in favour of what you have to hand: pea (or zucchini or broccoli), mint or dill, almond slices, feta, lemon zest, cumin; mussels (steamed and roughly chopped), shallots, parsley, lots of finely ground pepper; blitzed cauliflower with a heavy hand of baharat spices and halloumi; Korean-style kimchi and carrot; and prawns with garam masala in a chickpea flour batter.
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Rollas Dancer wrap dress, $170