Word of the day


Synteresis –  conscience as a guide to action; intuitive moral knowledge; innate knowledge of right and wrong.

OED says pavlova is NZ’s


It’s official – the  Oxford English Dictionary has decreed the pavlova was created in NZ:

In its relaunched online edition, the OED says the first recorded pavlova recipe appeared in New Zealand in 1927.

This was in a book called Davis Dainty Dishes, published by the Davis Gelatine company, and it was a multi-coloured jelly dish.

But New Zealanders claim the meringue version also originated there, with recipes for it appearing in publications in 1928 and 1929.

Dr Helen Leach from New Zealand’s University of Otago is something of a pavlova expert.

“I can find at least 21 pavlova recipes in New Zealand cookbooks by 1940, which was the year the first Australian ones appeared,” the author of The Pavlova Story told the Daily Telegraph.

This reminds me that Deborah and Kate  made requests for my recipe.

It came from the mother of a friend. We met on our first day at high school after her parents had retired from a farm in South Otago. Our parents became friends too and, as friends do, swapped recipes, including this one.

The slow adding of sugar and long, slow cooking both seem to be important. The result is a pavlova which is crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.

Peggy Sheat’s Pavlova

4 egg whites                                pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups sugar                      1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3 Tablespoons water               1/2 teaspoon vinegar *

3 dessertspoons cornflour *

Beat whites to soft peak stage.

Add water & beat to mix.

Add sugar gradually (about 10 teaspoons at a time) beating well between additions – this should take at least 10 minutes.

Add cornflour, salt, vanilla and Vinegar.

Spoon onto baking tray lined with baking paper.

Bake 140 degrees for 10 minutes,  130 degrees for 20 minutes then 110 degrees for 30 minutes.  **

Turn oven off and leave pavlova in until it cools – but only if oven is clean, if it’s not the pavlova will take on the aromas from the oven – or so I’m told because I’ve never had a dirty oven  🙂

When cool turn onto serving dish crisp side down, cover with whipped cream and pile fruit on top – kiwifruit in winter and berries in summer.

* If cooking for people with  a gluten allergy make sure you use maize cornflour & white vinegar rather than malt.

** The temperatures are from memory because the recipe is in Fahrenheit –  275 f for 10 minutes, 25o f for 20 minutes and 200 for 30 minutes. If your ability to convert temperatures from F to C is better than mine I’d welcome more accurate figures.

Hard to keep quality with 12 month supply


It’s not good for the reputation of our meat when a celebrity chef says it’s not up to scratch. It’s even worse when he’s an ambassador for Beef + Lamb NZ.

But Peter Gordon claims the quality of our meat has dropped while prices have increased steeply.

In response to questions from The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, Gordon said: “It is getting to the point where we will probably have to drop NZ lamb from our menus and move to Welsh or other lamb. It seems madness that a NZ-owned business can’t support its own product.”

Gordon, who owns top-end London restaurant The Providores and Tapa Room, along with Dine in Sky City, Auckland, added there was a risk of protein substitution in restaurants as prices pushed higher.

Beef was appearing more in cheap meat cuts like flank, bavette and cheeks. “Kid goat is appearing, even squirrel is all the rage in some London restaurants.”

Gordon had also noted that there was “more kudos” for restaurants to feature European lamb from sources including Salt Marsh and Pyrenees milk fed lamb, when NZ lamb could be bought in supermarkets.

Beef + Lamb NZ market development manager Craig Finch said he was surprised at the comments. Gordon has appeared in some netcast videos through Beef + Lamb’s http://www.national-obsession.com website, including one on how to prepare and cook a roast leg of lamb.

“We would admit he would be finding it horribly difficult right at this point in time to source chilled lamb, it is out of season and he would be paying through the nose for it,” Finch said.

Regarding quality, Finch said it most definitely was not a sliding trend and felt Gordon would have directed any quality concerns direct to Beef + Lamb staff in the United Kingdom.

“Buying out of season though, you would get some variable quality.”

That’s the problem with trying to maintain a 12 month supply for a seasonal produce – there will always be a few weeks of the year when it’s out of season.

Improvements in processing and storage have extended the shelf life of chilled meat but the longer it’s kept the less like the fresh product it will be.

If supermarkets and restaurants want continuity of supply they’ll have to accept that price and quality will vary through the season.

The alternative is to find another source of fresh meat for the few weeks of the year when there’s a gap in supply between last season’s meat and this season’s.

Cow numbers moooving up


A couple of decades ago New Zealanders used to have more than 20 sheep each – that’s when our human population was around 3 million and the ovine one topped 70 million.

Sheep numbers have declined and the number of people has increased so we now have only about 10 sheep each. However while that’s been happening the dairy population has been growing and we now have more cows than people.

Dairy statistics released by Dairy NZ and Livestock Improvement show the milking cow population is now 4.4 million, compared with 4.39 million people.

They also show:

· Nationally there was a slight increase in the number of herds. The total number of herds in the 2009/10 season increased by 73 (to 11,691).

· Consistent with the trend for the past 30 seasons, the average herd size increased to 376, an increase of 10 on the previous season. The average herd size has tripled in the last 30 years, and has increased by more than 100 cows in the last eight years.

· Nationally the number of cows in New Zealand has increased 3.4% over the previous season to 4.4 million.

· Half of all herds have 300 or more cows, a little under 15% have between 200 and 249 cows, 56% have between 100 and 349 cows. In 2009/10 49% (5762) of herds had 300 cows or more, 2444 (21%) had 500 or more cows and 400 (3%) has over 1,000 cows.

· The majority of dairy herds are located in the North Island (77%). The greatest concentration of herds is in the Waikato region (31%).

· Although South Island dairy herds account for a little less than one-quarter of the national total, they contain over one third of all cows.

· There are more than 1.5 million cows in the South Island and the South Island average herd sizes are increasing faster than the North Island.

· The highest average production per herd, and per hectare was recorded in North Canterbury at 280,935 kilograms of milksolids.

· There are now 11,691 dairy herds in New Zealand.

· Holstein Friesian and crossbred cows show highest milksolids (Kg) production (herd test statistics).

· In the 2009/2010 season 3.15 million cows were mated to artificial breeding.

South Island herds are generally bigger than those in the north but there is a trend back to smaller herds.

We started with 400 cows, increased over a couple of seasons to 600 then built another shed and got up to 1200 cows. We’re now in the middle of preparations to build a third shed and run three smaller herds.

We think that will be better for staff and stock.

When you get up to 1200 cows your manager has to manage people and it’s not easy to find people who can do that well.

With smaller herds you can employ lower order sharemilkers who are generally highly motivated. Many of those looking for jobs are couples who are very good at managing stock and feed and have to employ only one other fulltime worker.

Larger herds increase milking time which means longer days for staff. It also means more time off-feed for cows and they have to walk further to get to the shed.

One of the big concerns with bigger herds is effluent. With three smaller herds and three separate sheds if something goes wrong with one we can be reasonably sure it’s due to either an equipment or people problem rather than something wrong with the system.

We’re interviewing staff at the moment and have been very impressed by the calibre and enthusiasm of applicants. By this time next year we’ll have a good idea whether reducing the herd sizes is the right mo(oo)ve.

December 8 in history


65 BC Horace, Roman poet, was born (d. 8 BC).


1432 – The first battle between the forces of Švitrigaila and Sigismund Kęstutaitis was fought near the town of Oszmiana (Ashmyany), launching the most active phase of the civil war in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.


1542  Mary Queen of Scots, was born (d. 1587).

1609  The Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan opened its reading room, the second public library in Europe.

1660 Margaret Hughes became the first actress to appear on an English public stage, playing the role of Desdemona in a production of Shakespeare’s play Othello.


1765 – Eli Whitney, American inventor of the cotton gin, was born  (d. 1825).
1854 –  In his Apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogmatic definition of Immaculate Conception, which holds that the Virgin Mary was born free of original sin.
Virgin Mary - Diego Velazquez.jpg

1864 The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon was officially opened.

1865 Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer, was born (d. 1957).

1886 Diego Rivera, Mexican painter, was born (d. 1957).

1894  E.C. Segar, American cartoonist (Popeye), was born  (d. 1938).

1894 James Thurber, American humorist and cartoonist, was born  (d. 1961).

1904 Konservativ Ungdom (Young Conservatives)  was founded by Carl F. Herman von Rosen. It is the oldest political youth organization in Denmark and believed to be one of the oldest in the world.


1925  Sammy Davis Jr., American actor and singer, was born (d. 1990).


1933  Flip Wilson, American comedian, was born (d. 1998).

1939 Sir James Galway, Northern Irish flautist, was born.

1941 New Zealand declared war on Japan.

New Zealand declares war on Japan
1941 – United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 7 to be “a day which will live in infamy“, after which the U.S. and the Republic of China declared war against Japan.

1942 A fire at Seacliff Hospital killed 37 people.

Fire at Seacliff Mental Hospital kills 37

1951 – Bill Bryson, American author, was born.

1953 Kim Basinger, American actress, was born.

1953 – United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his Atoms for Peace speech, and the U.S. launched its “Atoms for Peace” programme that supplied equipment and information to schools, hospitals, and research institutions around the world.


1963 – Pan Am Flight 214, a Boeing 707, was struck by positive lightning and crashed near Elkton, Maryland, killing all 81 people on board.

1966 Sinéad O’Connor, Irish musician, was born.

1966 –  The Greek ship SS Heraklion sank in a storm in the Aegean Sea, killing over 200.


1972 – United Airlines Flight 553 crashed after aborting its landing attempt at Chicago Midway International Airport, killing 45.

1974 A plebiscite resulted in the abolition of monarchy in Greece.

1980 John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of The Dakota apartment building in New York.

A bearded, bespectacled man in his late twenties, with long black hair and wearing a loose-fitting white shirt, sings and plays an acoustic guitar. White flowers are visible behind and to the right of him.

1987 – Croat Frank Vitkovic shotsand killed eight people at the offices of the Australia Post in Melbourne, before being killed himself.

1987 – The Alianza Lima air disaster –  a Peruvian Navy Fokker F27-400M chartered by Peruvian football club Alianza Lima plunged into the Pacific Ocean six miles short of its destination, killing 43 of the 44 people on board.

1991 The leaders of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union and establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.

1993 The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed into law by US President Bill Clinton.

1997  Jenny Shipley became New Zealand’s first female Prime Minister.

Jenny Shipley

199 – The Australian Cricket Board’s cover-up of Shane Warne and Mark Waugh’s involvement with bookmakers was revealed.

2004 The Cuzco Declaration  was signed in Cuzco, Peru, establishing the South American Community of Nations.

2005 – Ante Gotovina, a Croatian army general accused of war crimes, was captured in the Playa de las Américas, Tenerife by the Spanish police.


2008  Kirsty Williams was elected as Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. The first female leader of a political party in Wales.

2009 Bombings in Baghdad, killed 127 and injured 448.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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