Word of the day

January 4, 2012

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

January 4, 2012

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

January 4, 2012

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


Beef back in favour

January 4, 2012

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

January 4, 2012

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

January 4, 2012

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

January 4, 2012

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.

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