Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cullen Skink

Last year when over in Scotland I had cullen skink, a smoked fish soup. The one in Edinburgh had a slightly more 'bisque-like' character and the one on Islay, a small island off the coast of Scotland where good whisky comes from, was 'hearty'. So I said 'when I get back to NZ I will learn how to make cullen skink... and I did.

The Ingredients

The recipe is simple:
  • 2x fillets smoked fish
  • 2x Potatoes
  • Onion and Leek
  • 300ml Water, twice
  • 250ml (1x cup) Milk
  • Parsley
  • Salt and Pepper

Putting it together

Of course I made it slightly more complex by smoking the fish myself, so here is the full thing.

Smoked Kahawai
When last in Christchurch I bought a stovetop smoker from Ballantynes. Using the apple sawdust I smoked two fillets of kahawai, gathered from the Hauraki Gulf on a previous fishing expedition. This could be done in any smoker obviously. Basic steps are
  • Defrost kahawai (did also try with travelli - good too).
  • Rub with 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup of cooking salt.
  • Put in pan with 300ml cold water, leave 30 mins
  • Pat dry and smoke for 15 minutes at 90-100C
  • Transfer fish to pan with 300ml of new cold water plus a bay leaf.
  • Bring to the boil. Immediately take off heat. SAVE THE LIQUID.
  • Take off skin (if any), pull out bones, break into big chunks.
  • OK, fish is done.

Leeks and Onions
Sweat them down in the pan or pot you are making the soup in.

Clean but leave skin on. I used Agrias.
  • Clean, skin on
  • Cut into chunks
  • Add 1/4 to leeks and onion
  • Cook remaining potato and mash

Putting it all together
Now we put it together and cook it.
  • Add the liquid you boiled the fish in to the leeks/onions/potato
  • Cook until potato is cooked
  • Add milk, mashed potato, fish.
  • Stir and heat together
  • Serve with parsley

I'm not sure if this is exactly how they make it in Cullen, but it is a mighty fine soup, especially in winter.

The traditional fish is smoked haddock. The version above has a finely chopped carrot as well. Not sure its part of the recipe or not just yet :-)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hauraki Gulf Easter Fishing 2014

Breakfast of champions - tiller in one hand, weet-bix in the other! [Go the Badgers]
Time again for a week of fishing on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, where the wind blows, the fish bite and the beer is cold!


Man-o-war Bay was our first destination, with a light breeze pushing us East down Tamaki Strait. As per usual we trailed a lure behind us and as per usual (in the harbour) we caught nothing but seaweed. Then we spotted the birds working, and not for the last time as the Gulf is abundant with life at this time of year. A couple of kahawai in the fridge meant that we would be having fish for dinner. We arrived at Man-o-war Bay and found a city of launches and yachts enjoying the Easter weekend. That was Saturday - we stayed on until favourable winds on Monday, working hard to catch our dinner - with lots of under-sized fish in the catch.

Kawau Island bound

Monday we headed for Kawau Island, about 30 nautical miles from where we were, with a rising wind of 20-30 knots and a moderate sea, we put a reef in the main, and furled the headsail to a No.2 size. A fantastic sail, with a couple of monster kahawai on the way. Going at 6-7 knots we arrived in Mansion House Bay absolutely exhausted. Once relaxed I decided to take the dinghy out to the channel and drift - 3 nice snapper later...

Mansion House Bay, Kawau Island anchorage.
We spent Tuesday and Wednesday around the island and the bay, with a day spent around Burgess Bay area.

Heading for Motutapu

Thursday dawned and we were up early, with the thought of a nice sail with a fish along the way, heading back closer to the city so we could be home Friday at a decent hour. Sailing across Kawau Bay we saw the fish finder go nuts and decided to drop sails and drift fish. As we started to catch fish we decided to drop anchor and spend the rest of the morning fishing. By 10 o'clock we had our limit of snapper, with a few travelli thrown in for good measure.

We couldn't believe the condition of these fat fish - there must be a lot of feed for them to be this healthy.
A fine sail back to Motutapu with an occasional downpour on the way we arrived in Home Bay with a bin full of fish and happy smiles.

One for the road - Rakino

Friday morning we got up at 6:30AM, had breakfast and went to our favourite spot between Rakino and Motutapu to use the last of the bait - we made sure we had plenty this year, so there was a bag of pilchards and a couple of boxes of squid left.


The fish were on again, and this time bigger and better, and we ended up filling the fridge with nice sized snapper - enough for Roger to take a few fillets home to Australia with him the next day.

Spider (the cat) can't believe his eyes!
We have quite a few packs of snapper in the freezer now - all good as we eat quite a bit of fish - especially on Sunday nights ;-)

The best trip yet! Cheers JohnHS.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Honda 500X First Ride

A Honda 500X on a ford.

On Friday I picked up my new Honda 500X from Cyclespot in Barry's Point Rd in Takapuna, and so one day later seemed enough of a wait before taking it on a bit of an adventure. Also had the idea of getting some km's on to reach the 1000km first service.

I managed to do around 325km including some gravel up the Kauaeranga Valley.

Kauaeranga Valley Road

The Honda 500X

Well I was very impressed with the Honda. I thought maybe 500cc was going to be a trial-by-gear-change but no... that motor pulls very nicely and runs super smooth. As I am in the first 1000km I was taking it easy, keeping revs under 6K, but it was a great ride! The ride=ing position is upright, but the little screen does a good job of keeping the wind off, and the seat was OK once I figured out how to sit on it. I started out sitting too far back and that made gear changes very difficult. As soon as I relaxed a bit, and came forward it all fell into place. I am looking forward to getting more Ks on it soon.

Thanks Motorcycle Trader magazine and Honda for the great bike.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

And the winner is...

Well someone has to win these things and I guess it was my turn... The Motorcycle Trader magazine was running a subscription draw for a new Honda motorcycle, with three options and all the gear to go with it.

You will no doubt notice that I am actually the one on the left - but that's show business. Can't wait to pick up the prize.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Man Has Shed

Garden Shed Appears In Suburban Backyard

...and in breaking news, a man in Mt Eden, New Zealand, has erected a shed in his back yard! Little did his wife know that he would one day come true with his promise to clear the laundry of tools and manly equipment - like a lawnmower, a rear pit-stand for a Ducati motorcycle, garden tools and many things that might come in handy one day... But yes, it has happened!

A Pinehaven kitset which arrived just before Christmas has been built and furnished with a man-bench and man-shelves.

How did it happen?

The ground was leveled and the staging beams (macrocarpa sleepers) were positioned.

The floor was built and trued square.

The panels were pre-drilled and laid out ready for erection. Sam held in position while I screwed the panels together

Soon all the panels were screwed together. My battery drill lasted the whole weekend on one charge.

Then the trusses went up, with Sam providing the authentic builders crack as he screwed the panels to the floor.

The roof went on including a skylight panel in the same profile as the roof sheets.

At the end of 6 hours the shed was at lock up stage, and on Sunday we finished it with flashings and trim.

The Job Was Done

Yes the shed was complete and it was time for a well earned gingerbeer ;-)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wednesday Night Sailing

In the summer we sail Kerkira in the Richmond Yacht Club Wednesday Night Series. To take a cue from golf regarding "prize for the most golf", we are often able to come up with "the most sailing".

Here is a good indication of why we love doing it, even if we aren't the fastest boat out there - the December evening sky over Auckland city is amazing - even better when you are out there sailing. I believe I had a couple of great mates on board, and we were drinking a cold beer just as the picture was taken. Follow us at Kerkira-Racing.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Going All Social

I was looking through some cartoons and came across this one, done back in July. I am currently working on a large 'social intranet' project and I had forgotten about this:

Ain't it the #truth :-)