Zesty Mumma's Words

A life lived without passion is a life half lived

Archive for the tag “Vegetarian”

From Lunar Landscapes to Patchwork Quilt Cultivation

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Never, never, never book a long haul flight from Australia to Europe without at least one night stopover somewhere, that is unless you have the luck of travelling first class and that probably isn’t likely for most of us. This is my first piece of advice, it just isn’t worth the stress on your body.

Flying out of Brisbane at 5.00 am having not slept for twenty four hours seemed Like a good idea. My reasoning being that I would be able to sleep longer  and better on the flight if I was tired, but no this didn’t happen! I did manage an hour or so as we flew over Australia, then woke up only to find we were still hadn’t  even left the Northern Territory. It was then another hour till we exited via the coast of Western Australia.

You cannot help but be impressed by the enormous oasis in the middle of the desert that is Dubai and the airport a fitting match. Dubai Airport is enormous, so big that it takes a train to move you speedily for some distance to your departure gate. Like many of the other man made structures that appear in that part of the world it is a vast spiralling monument to those in power at the time of construction.

Peering down on the gulf states from thirty two thousand feet as we headed out of Dubai exposes the true expanse of the lunar landscape. No trees, water or seemingly vegetation of any sort (I know there really is some I just can’t see it ). I can’t help thinking in wonder at the resilience of the people that have called the region home for much of human history. Tankers, too numerous to even mention, steam back and forward, filling man’s insatiable appetite for petroleum products.

I handled the long, long trip from Australia to Dubai quite well really but the next leg of my trip however, was a different story. About half way over the Mediterranean I was ready to jump out of the plane. Again, not that it was a bad trip, it was just doing my head in being cooped up, too, too long! Even the magnificence of eastern Spain from the air wasn’t enough to totally dispel this feeling, and magnificent it is! A patchwork of gigantic proportions, laid out as intricately as any of their famous mosaic murals; fields under cultivation producing varying colours and textures, with small nutmeg kernel hills popping up here and there dotty the tableau.

Madrid Barajas Airport is a giant mausoleum on this Friday evening at 8.00 pm but later discovered that we had actually arrived at the newest and as yet under utilised runway. This also turned out to be another very fast, few kilometre train trip away from the main airport, it being much busier and just a little scarier.

There is a smell in the air that I can’t explain, I won’t call it a scent because that would elude to something pleasant. Not that it was offensive either, although I think it could be, if a little stronger. My nostrils tingled but realised that I better get used to it since it wasn’t  going away anytime soon!

My hotel booking was supposed to be very close to the airport, walking distance even, but I quickly felt like someone standing on one side of a raging river needing to get to the other side without a bridge.  After twenty three and a half hours travelling and a couple of failed attempts to find a shuttle bus I opted for a taxi. What I would have found if I had researched the transportation options better was that the train from the airport would take me one stop and  cost under €2.00. I then had to only walk 500 mtrs in a straight line to my hotel instead of costing €20.00 by taxi. Then again, as I said I’d had it and all I wanted to do was arrive at my hotel.

There have only been two times in my life where I have been genuinely happy to find a McDonalds (I haven’t and never will be a regular consumer of fast food) and both occasions involved an overwhelming desire for a cup of tea. The first after a long and uncomfortable bus trip from the middle of Laos to Bangkok, a city that never seems to close, except for a two hour window between about 4.00 and 6.00 in the morning, unhappily coinciding with our bus arrival. The only thing open in the whole of Khao San Rd was Uncle Ronald’s restaurant and those Giant  arches gleamed like the gold of El Dorado and made my heart happy as I sipped my “Lipton”.

The second was my exhausted 9.00pm Friday night arrival at the Hostel Aeropuerto, made even more euphoric by the unexpected discovering of the same gleaming arches directly across the road, calling me to my pot of gold (a cup of black tea and a garden salad), bliss!

My Tips

  •  Never book a long haul flight from Australia without an over night stop over.
  • Always research transportation option – including key words if not in English speaking countries e.g tickets – billetes (Spanish)
  • Sometimes it’s just worth it to pay a little extra to get where you are going
  • As much as it pains my to say it but MacDonalds can be a saviour.
  • Hostel Aeropuerto – immaculately clean, great staff,  comfortable, only €30 single room or €35 double

Gorgeous Gorges, Flat Rocks and lots and Lots of Water – the Trip to the West Coast NZ

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Motueka Valley Road, sounds magical doesn’t it, well it was. This is the route we chose to take from Motueka and eventually met highway 6 which took us to the West Coast. Don’t be deceived, despite the fact that I say we travelled on Highway 6, it is as unlikely a highway as ever there was. Mostly single lane each way  but  there are sections  that you will never forget. At the Buller Gorge the road actually cuts in under a cliff (it’s not a tunnel) and winds around a couple of corners like this. No joke, it is only wide enough for one car and you can’t see if anything is coming. There is no warning signal, you just have to keep honking your horn and hope if anyone coming in the opposite direction hears it. You feel like your in one of those reality TV shows “The Worlds Deadliest Roads”.

We had given a young German backpacker a lift earlier in the day but he only lasted in the car about fifteen minutes before informing us that he had decided he wanted to hike down to the river. I’m sure it wasn’t my driving that freaked him out but I’d hate to have seen how quickly he would have tried to get out of the car if he’d been with us when we went around the gorge.

The river side park where  we stopped for lunch was charming and I went for a swim in a mountain stream. It is amazing how many people stopped to stare, it seemed amazing to them that anyone would want go swimming. Before leaving Claire went to use the toilet, she undid her jeans and pulled them down, then lifted the lid to sit down. The moment she lifted the lid hundreds of wasps flew out of the bowl. Poor Claire she had to try and get out the door, while trying to pull  her jeans as she went and fell out the door followed by a swarm of angry wasps at the same time.

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The South Island’s West Coast is unique  due to the fact the Mountains run like a crooked spine  it’s full length. Being the west the sun doesn’t rise till later in the morning and the sky is covered in clouds ninety percent of the time. All I can say is it is a very moist environment.  We decided to stay at Punakaiki for the night.  We hadn’t booked anywhere so we took our chances. Arriving at the Punakaiki Caravan Park we paid for a cabin. which was $65 a night but it was awful. There wasn’t any linen, bare thin mattress, a peeling chipboard  bench and it smelt like it had been closed up for eternity. Needless to say we got our money back and went 1 km up the road to the Punakaiki Beach Backpackers, booked the last room (which was the same price) and was knocked out by the cleanliness of the place. Situated right on the beach and a nice walk up to the Pancake Rocks it was awesome. Clean white sheets, spotless well equipped communal backpacker kitchen and stunning views for about the same price. I would suggest you book though we were just lucky and got the last room, there were still travellers arriving after us that couldn’t be accommodated.

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view from the verandah of the backpacker

We walked up to the rocks after  unloading a bit of gear and will tell you that this wasn’t a place I had honestly wanted to visit. You know, ho hum, rocks by the beach, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The rock formations are amazing and the NZ national park have done a terrific job of making the area accessible for every type of traveller. Lucky for Claire there enviro toilets do not come with complementary stinging things.

Which brings me back to sandflies. The west coast is rife with them and again make sure you have your insect repellant.

It was late when we arrived back and the accommodation so we just cooked a simple meal. I had bought a few pack of vacuum packed indian style veggie dishes a few days before. These are so yummy and they only cost  a few dollars NZ. Mixed with a pack of pre cooked brown rice and served with natural yoghurt it was a great meal and it only cost in total about $3 each. The other nice thing about backpackers accommodation, they usually have a few herbs in the garden that you can add to your meal.

Tips

* Make sure you arrive by at least 4.00pm as you want to enjoy Punakaiki cause you will probably head south first thing in the morning.

* As I mentioned in this story I went to an Indian Shop (Actually in Wellington before we left for the ferry) and  bought packets of vegetable dishes in vacuum pack. They were so cheap and no nasties like preservatives in them.  Have something quick to prepare is really important when you are getting back late, your tired and there are no shops around. This particular location is a little isolated so this rule definitely applied here.

 

 

Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry

I bought a Paneer Curry from a Vegetarian cafe the other day and got a little obsessed by the flavours. Below is my version, without the Paneer (Indian firm cheese). I replaced the Paneer with Tofu.

I call it Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry.

Ingredients
1 cup of raw cashew pieces
1 can of tomato pieces
250 gm tofu piece
1 cup of brown rice
2 medium sweet pieces
1/2 head of Broccoli
10 green beans
1 small geen capsicum
1 small zuccini
3 – 4 tablespoons Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Herbs and spices for curry
2 chillies
1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger
2 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon each of garam masala, cumin, turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and coriander

First things first
Soak cashew pieces for 1 hour by covering them with boiling water.
Partially drain, process to a paste and set aside.
Grate ginger and garlic. Chop the chillies and combine all the spices.
Heat oil in large pot and add the herbs and spices. Break them up with a wooden spoon as as they cook. Add diced onion. This should all be cooked in a couple of minutes, be careful not to burn them. Pour in the tomatoes stir and allow to thicken. Once the mixture has reduce begin spooning in the cashew paste, stirring continually. Allow the mixture to simmer slowly for about 5 minutes. Add a little water to loosen mixture every now and then. Peel and chop sweet potatoes (into approximately 2 cm square pieces) and slice tofu into cubes (1 cm pieces approx). Add 1 can of water,sweet potato, and tofu to the sauce. Bring to the boil then turn it down to a simmer for about 15 minutes.

Boil the rice and chop remain vegetables in small pieces. In another saucepan cover green veggies with the boiling water, bring to the boil and turn off the heat.
Drain vegies and mix with boiled rice.  Serve with the Sweet Potato and Tofu Curry.

For a variation you can add chopped fresh mint to the rice and veggies.

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