Thursday, July 31, 2008

If you can't stand the heat ...

Kapiti blogging friend Nikki is an inspiring advocate for cooking with retained heat and residual heat.

Talking with her got me thinking about those recipes for meringues where you pre-heat the oven, turn it off as soon as you put the meringues in, and leave them overnight.

My daughter and I had a go at some chocolate chip ones this evening, using a recipe from The Uncommon Gourmet. (And when we'd dolloped about half the choc-chip meringue mix onto a tray, we also added some orange zest to the rest.)

Now it's approaching midnight. My daughter is tucked up in her bed, the meringues are tucked up in the oven, and everyone who's still up and about has strict instructions not to open the oven door till morning.

It may be foolhardy to attempt meringues on such a damp night, but we'd had this bowl of egg whites sitting in the fridge for two days, begging to be used. If you're wondering what we did with the yolks, we made kawakawa icecream - which I'd like to post on another time. It tasted divine, but those leaves are potent!

Back to meringues ... I've been wondering how much electricity our oven uses compared to our stovetop. Obviously making meringues with this residual heat method uses less power than baking any dessert that has the oven on for longer.

But how does it compare to making a dessert that only requires one stovetop element - even if it's turned on for longer? Like custard, or steamed pudding, or rice pudding? (Although I dare say desserts like rice pudding might work well using residual or retained heat - so perhaps really no need to leave the element on for a long time?)

I haven't done the research. If anyone else reading this has, I'd be interested to know.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New wild foraging email list

Just started up ...

Wild Foragers Aotearoa NZ

For New Zealanders interested in sustainably foraging food, medicine, and other useful stuff from the wild. A place to share ideas, questions, difficulties, experiences, and knowledge. Topics may include identification, sustainable harvesting practices, ideas for preparation and use, and more.

There are just four of us there so far, and we haven't started talking yet. (Although I am dying to post a picture of a weed in our garden that I need help identifying.)

To join, or find out more, go to

Food activism article

A while ago, a couple of people asked if there was a link available to the article on food activism that I wrote for Sunday magazine, but there wasn't. (Often Sunday articles go up on, but this one didn't.)

So anyhow, I've put it up on a file sharing site, in case anyone is still interested. It's here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

When can we start?

My Dad, a retired physicist, has kindly been calculating when we might have enough sun to start solar cooking this year. Here's what he's come up with:

I don't understand it in the slightest.

Luckily he's also provided a translation:

In Wellington, prime solar cooking days (when we're at a 45 degree angle to the sun, or greater, for 4 hours or more) will begin in mid October, and run through till early March.

Solar cooking is, however, often also possible a few weeks before and after that prime period, so I'm planning to have a go towards the end of September.

The further north you are in New Zealand, the earlier you can start. That means Aucklanders can get in there about a week and half before Wellingtonians, while Mainlanders will have a few more days to wait.

Hurry up, spring!