Word of the day


Hokum– something apparently impressive or legitimate but actually untrue or insincere; pretentious nonsense, bunkum;  a device used (as by  showmen) to evoke a desired audience response; elements of low comedy introduced into a play, novel, etc., for the laughs they may bring; sentimental matter of an elementary or stereotyped kind introduced into a play or the like; false or irrelevant material introduced into a speech, essay, etc., in order to arouse interest, excitement, or amusement.

Hat tip: Andrei

A Home-grown Cook


If a New Zealand kitchen had only one recipe book, chances are it would be one of the 99 Alison Holst has produced since 1966.

For more  40 years she’s been promoting New Zealand produce, educating and inspiring home cooks, keeping alive old skills and recipes, introducing us to new ones and helping us to be more adventurous in our cooking and eating.

Having her books is like having a trusted friend in the kitchen. Through them and her appearances on radio I felt I knew her even before I started reading her autobiography.

Her 100th book is a gentle read which introduces us to her family, takes us through her childhood and then a career which she says “just happened”. That, however, seriously understates the skill and hard work required which, while never laboured, is an obvious ingredient in her achievements.

She was a pioneer on television and ahead of her time in combining her career, which included domestic and international travel,  with supporting her husband and raising their children.

Her story is one of a star with a down to earth approach, seasoned with lots of photographs and finished with a selection of her favourite recipes.




Simple pleasures


The first bite of the first apricot of the season, sunwarmed and juicy.


Beef back in favour


Lean beef  could gain a place as an acceptable ingredient in a low cholesterol diet, after a study at the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University.

People using a diet centered on fruits and vegetables to lower their cholesterol may be able to introduce lean beef and get similar results, suggests a new study.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are similar to those of past research that found red meat may be fine in moderation.

Lean and  moderation appear to be the key words.  That’s not always easy to achieve when dining out but isn’t too difficult to do at home.

Apropos of this, the Listener’s cover story (not yet online) on the secret to weight loss discusses the importance of protein for satisfying hunger.

The protein-leverage hypothesis of Massey University nutritional ecology professor David Raubenheimer and colleagues suggests a lean beef steak for lunch might not be a bad thing. their theory is that humans have a dominant appetite for protein and when our food supply has a lot ratio of protein to fat and carbod=hydrate we tend to overeat, and this consumption of excess energy promotes obesity. . . 

Raubenheimer . . . said studies . . .  suggest that when faced with nutritionally unbalanced diets, we prioritise our protein intake. In other words we keep on eating until we’ve ingested enough protein.  . . 

Raubenheimer’s calculations suggest if the amount of protein in our food supply drops by just 1.5% and our carbohydrate and fat intake rise accordingly by 1.5% we are likely to over consumer carbohydrates and fats – eating about 14% more – to maintain our protein intake.

When we’re on holiday my farmer often has a cooked breakfast which isn’t usually low in fat but is higher in protein than the toast and fruit I usually eat. By late morning I’m usually hungry again but he can go a lot longer before wanting to eat.

Last July when we were in the  USA and Canada I decided to try having more for breakfast and ordered an omlette most days. It worked – keeping me satisfied until at least early afternoon and sometimes longer.

It wasn’t as easy to eat healthily and be satisfied in the evening. Servings of meat in most restaurants might have been lean but were  anything but moderate and the Presbyterian in me objected to paying for a lot more than I could eat.

However, a Holiday Inn in Vancouver offered a healthy option with a small portion of lean meat and very generous serving of lightly steamed and deliciously seasoned vegetables.

The waitress told me it was one of their most popular meals which makes me wonder why more restaurants and cafes don’t offer something similar.

Why Occupy NZ failed


A court in Auckland ruled that people’s right to protest doesn’t mean they can continue to occupy public land but a few stragglers in Wellington are refusing to give up.

If they took the time to read Chris Trotter’s explanation of why the Occupy movement didn’t work here they could save themselves time and the public money.

Beloved communities arise out of the open and collective struggle for a better world, not from muddy encampments, or the ineffectual fluttering of consensual hands.

The Occupy movement was an import which didn’t relate to the local situation. Protesters made a fuss but accomplished nothing positive because they were against all sorts of things but not united for anything.

Small drop in milk price


The trade weighted index was down .7% in the first GlobalDairyTrade auction of the year.

The price paid for anhydrous milk fat dropped 5%; buttermilk was up 9.3%; cheddar was up .2%; milk protein concentrate was up 2.3% rennet casein was down 4%; skim milk powder was down .6%; and the price paid for whole milk powder was down .8%.

Farming driving business optimism


Grant Thornton’s quarterly business survey shows a cautious  increase in optimism for the year ahead and it’s being driven by farming:

“In New Zealand our rural sector has a far more widespread effect because there is barely a city, town or province which does not have some farming component. The benefit is that when the rural sector is doing well it feeds right throughout New Zealand. There’s a far greater distribution of benefits than from the extractive industry in Australia, which is far more geographically defined.”

The 2010/11 year was the best in a generation for farmers. This season isn’t expected to be quite as good as that but even conservative budgets are indicating a reasonable year.

Last year many used better returns to reduce debt, this year there is more going into development which will flow through the wider economy.

January 4 in history


1490  Anna of Brittany announced that all those who allied with the king of France would be considered guilty of the crime of lese-majesty.

1493 Christopher Columbus left the New World, ending his first journey.

1642 King Charles I of England sent soldiers to arrest members of Parliament, commencing England’s slide into civil war.

1643 Sir Isaac Newton, English mathematician and natural philosopher, was born (d. 1727).

1698  Most of the Palace of Whitehall, the main residence of the English monarchs, was destroyed by fire.

1785 Jacob Grimm, German philologist and folklorist (one of the Brothers Grim), was born (d. 1863).

1809 – Louis Braille, French teacher of the blind and inventor of braille, was born (d. 1852)

1813 Isaac Pitman, English inventor, was born (d. 1897).

1847 Samuel Colt sold his first revolver pistol to the United States government.

1854 The McDonald Islands were discovered by Captain William McDonald aboard the Samarang.

1865 The New York Stock Exchange opened its first permanent headquarters at 10-12 Broad near Wall Street in New York City.

1869 Te Kooti was defeated at Nga Tapa.

Te Kooti defeated at Nga Tapa

1878 Sofia was emancipated from Ottoman rule.

1878 Augustus John, Welsh painter, was born (d. 1961).

1884 The Fabian Society was founded in London.

1885  The first successful appendectomy was performed by William W. Grant on Mary Gartside.

1903 – Topsy, an elephant, was electrocuted by Thomas Edison during the War of Currents campaign.

1912 – The Scout Association was incorporated throughout the British Commonwealth by Royal Charter.

1947 – Rick Stein, English chef and television presenter, was born.

1948 – Burma regained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1958 Sir Edmund Hillary led a New Zealand party to the South Pole.

Hillary leads NZ party to Pole

1958  Sputnik 1 fell to Earth from its orbit.

1959  Luna 1 became the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon.

1962 New York City introduced a train that operated without a crew on-board.

1965 Cait O’Riordan, British musician (The Pogues), was born.

1972  Rose Heilbron became the first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey in London.

1975  Elizabeth Ann Seton became the first American-born saint.

1991  Olivia Tennet, New Zealand actress, was born.

2004 Spirit, a NASA Mars Rover, landed successfully on Mars.

2007 The 110th United States Congress elected Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history.

2010 – The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building was officially opened.

2010 – A ruling by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, removed a ban on people with HIV from entering the country.

Sourced from NZ History Online and Wikipedia.

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