20 December 2014

The land of the Long White Cloud

Much to my amazement I survived 28 hours of flying, 3 airport transfers through 4 hemispheres, one dash through Dubai airport, being stuck in one seat for more than a whole day, an emotional reunion at the airport, 4 hours sleep in 48, read 3 books and watched 2.5 movies.

And now I've awoken to birdsong, warm rain on my pale Brit-influenced skin, the sun shining off a nearby pohutukawa tree and a stash of kiwi goodies. Win!

18 December 2014

Thoughts of home as an expat

I'm about to board a 30-hour flight home, and it scares and thrills me in equal measures. In all the time I've lived in the UK, I've never been back home for the festive holidays and an upside-down Southern Hemisphere Christmas is thrilling.

As last minute decision booking the flight, telling my family and packing the essentials (ie. enough Jaffa cakes to last a fortnight) has been a whirlwind of emotion. Excitement at going home, sadness at leaving my boy & cat to get up to mischief without me, nervousness of flying to the other side of the world on my own, the fun of buying presents for my first baby Nephew, glee of booking a tour around a Matamata farm (ie. MiddleEarth), the anticipation of several mini-Christmasses and sand between my toes, the heavy-heartedness of not seeing my British family and overall gratitude that it's possible to spend Christmas with my nearest and dearest.

I still can't really believe it.

Thoughts of home as an expat - Adventures of a London Kiwi

It's also been too long since I hugged my Dad, drank coffee with my brother and harassed my poor sister the only way a sister can. It's been much too long since I tasted my aunt's baking, ate Toastie Pies with my best friend and bridesmaid, and shook my head with my brother's girlfriend at the antics of their pet menagerie (and my brother is definitely included in that). It will also be too long apart from my crazy husband, nutso cat, watching my but lovely diminutive mother-in-law keep her mischevious boys in line, toast the Queen with my brother- and sister-ine-law and listen to Big Ben chime.

Thoughts of home as an expat - Adventures of a London Kiwi

(Ps. I blame Kaelene for this post - she wrote such a fantastic gif-laden description of the emotions of home!)

I think it's safe to say that once I land I'll be a cheerful, knackered ball of emotion ready for a real bed and the hugs of my family.

My good friend and fellow expat Yannick asked me how I thought I'd feel as the new me, compared to the old me who used to live in New Zealand and it's a actually really difficult question to answer and played on my mine for days. Leaving aside the fact that I'm not entirely sure who me is anyway (though I'm rather proud of my Ode to Toast blogpost, possibly the pinnacle of my career) once you leave the bosom of your home country it's inevitable that you're going to change in a million ways. You learn about your own character, you form opinions, experiences change your character and even the way you see your own country changes. What's more I've lived most of my adult life in the UK - how can I be the same naïve Kiwi girl who jumped in an airplane, ready for life to happen?

Thoughts of home as an expat - Adventures of a London Kiwi

That, in a waffly nutshell, are the bittersweet joys of being an expat. But, it is worth every single second.
“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

17 December 2014

Unctious Baked Brie - a Christmas table canape

There is something magical about a communal dish - Spanish Tapas nestled in the middle of a table, a warming pot of goulash, a selection of spiced Indian curries or tearing the end off a piping hot loaf of freshly baked bread that unites us in an almost neanderthal manner.

This year I have discovered something from the kitchen tables of yesteryear that will blow your mind (and possibly the size of your hips but it is worth every single extra flight of stairs). A warm, indulgently oozy Brie (or Camembert) baked in the oven with a sprinkling of delicious flavour, served alongside a selection of freshly toasted bread and dipping crudite. What more could you want to start a luscious Christmas feast alongside the people that you love?

What's more you could make individual ones if you get small rounds of brie, and depending on your crudite choice, it is a is totally gluten free starter. You might try baking it in the wicker containers some cheeses are sold in, but for SinterThanksgiving the other week we didn't want to risk it.

Baked Brie

Serves several people depending on the size of the cheese and their predilection for dairy goods
There are no calories in Christmas fayre, right?
1 large round of Brie
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
4-5 springs of fresh rosemary
Olive oil
Crudite such as fresh toasted bread and crackers
  1. Pop the oven on to pre-warm to 180°
  2. Unfold the Brie from the wrapping & place in an oven proof dish, or a round of foil with the sides folded up.
  3. Lightly skim the skin of the brie (literally just a few milimetres deep) off with a spoon, from the top level to about a cm from the edge (ie the green area in the pic >
  4. Insert the tip of a knife into the body of the cheese, then slide slivers of the skinned garlic and sprigs of rosemary in order to ensure the flavour is evenly imbued.
  5. Dash a few drops of olive oil onto the exposed surface.
  6. Slide into the oven for approximately 12 minutes, or until the centre seems liquid (if you're in the process of cooking a Turkey just make a little room on the bottom of the oven and add a few minutes if the heat is much lower).
  7. Serve with the crudite.
It can't be much easier really. The alternative flavour possibilities are also making my mouth water; cranberry sauce and walnut, sundries-tomatoes and olive tapenade, a splash of your favourite liquor, pesto, honey (served with fresh apple slices), wild mushrooms & fresh thyme, a beautiful onion chutney...

This gif courtesy of Beantown Baker says it all (and she gives a wonderful hint about not having to scoop the top of a plain baked brie);

Baked Brie