Twelve Days of Christmas Deliciousness 2015

For Seven years now, Mrs in Frame has composed a special menu for the “12 Days of Christmas” – alternating between the traditional (Partridge in a Pear Tree) and New Zealand (“Pukeko in a Ponga Tree”) versions each year.

This year it was the turn of the traditional version.

Wherever possible she tries to tie in part of the carol lyrics to the dish – i.e. “Partridge in a Pear Tree” will usually contain pears to some degree, or there is some sort of alliteration or similar tie-in.

When all else fails, a fair chunk of artistic license is brought in. It really takes a fair bit of dedication and imagination to pull off!

I’ll do my best to explain the theory behind each dish as we go.

So sit back and enjoy as I reveal what my true love made for me over the Twelve Days of Christmas Deliciousness for 2015:

1 Partridge in a Pear Tree

Day 1 – A Partridge in a Pear Tree:
Meal: Pear and Blue Cheese Tart
Reasoning: The Pears for the pear tree, but also serve as PART of a RIDGE atop the tart.

2 Turtle Doves

Day 2 – Two Turtle Doves:
Meal: Chocolate & Pecan Turtledove Bars
Reasoning: Straight forward and VERY delicious!

3 French Hens

Day 3 – Three French Hens:
Meal: Chicken Cordon Bleu
Reasoning: Again., pretty straight forward – Chicken with a bit of French flair!

4 Calling Birds

Day 4 – Four Calling Birds:
Meal: Seared Lamb with Couscous
Reasoning: Ok, this is where we delve in to the “artistic license” category – Originally the line was “Four COLLY Birds” (Blackbirds in ye olde England) and has since evolved to now resemble sparrows with cellphones.
Mrs in Frame took it as “CULLING” birds, so we had lamb – which is culled and couscous – Why? Just be-couscous! XD
I’m more inclined to say it’s because the couscous looks like bird food…

5 Gold Rings

Day 5 – Five Gold Rings:
Meal: Panko Deep-fried Origin Earth Camembert
Reasoning: The cheese is round like a ring and fried till it’s a delicious golden brown.

6 Geese a Laying

Day 6 – Six Geese a Laying:
Meal: Roast Goose and Potatoes
Reasoning: Simple one again – This goose was well and truly cooked!

7 Swans a Swimming

Day 7 – Seven Swans a Swimming:
Meal: Baked Eggs with Truffle Oil
Reasoning: Swan-white eggs cooked “swimming” in a bain-marie.

8 Maids a Milking

Day 8 – Eight Maids a Milking:
Meal: Steak and Roast Veges with Herb Butter.
Reasoning: Reasonably straight forward from the butter perspective, the steak, however, was from less lactose tolerant cows.

9 Ladies Dancing

Day 9 – Nine Ladies Dancing:
Meal: Duck with Cherry Glaze
Reasoning: Dancing ladies, just like ducks, love to “shake a tail feather” 😉
(I actually made this one, because Toddler in Frame was having a bad day and only Mummy cuddles could fix, so my wife was indisposed.)

10 Lords A Leaping

Day 10 – Ten Lords a Leaping:
Meal: Baked Terakihi in a Rice Salad
Reasoning: Fish, especially those on the end of lines on TV fishing shows, apparently love to leap out of the water. Lords (allegedly) also like leaping – though the lords are more likely to be on the other end of the fishing line.

Eleven Pipers Piping

Day 11 – Eleven Pipers Piping:
Meal: Scotch Eggs.
Reasoning: Pretty straight forward again – Pipers, especially the bag-pipe variety are from Scotland. We shall ignore the fact Scotch Eggs were apparently an Indian-inspired dish first made in London and, instead focus on the fact Scotch whisky is from there instead – Slangevar!

Twelve Drummers Drumming

Day 12 – Twelve Drummers Drumming:
Meal: Biltong and Mushroom Creamy Pasta
Reasoning: The Biltong represents drumsticks, while the pasta bowl looks not too dissimilar to a drum!

So there we go, another year of deliciousness done and dusted! Many thanks to all the Facebook and Twitter friends and followers who liked and commented on the dishes!

Wherever possible, we sourced ingredients from our own garden, the Napier and Hastings Farmers’ Markets, local greengrocers, butchers etc.

For the more specialised ingredients, we went to Gourmet Direct and Vetro – any Napier foodie’s best friends!

Have a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Summer Time in Hawke’s Bay – the Song!

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I was listening to the radio in the car the other day and one of my favourite Christmas songs – The Pogues’ “Fairy-tale of New York” came on, so I started singing along to it.

But then the unthinkable happened – and no it wasn’t that I started singing perfectly in tune.

I happened to be listening to a “Middle of the Road” station, so THEY CUT OUT THE ENTIRE VERSE of “You’re a bum, you’re a punk…!!””

Heresy!!

Sure it’s a “family-friendly” radio station and this was the “radio edit” of the song, BUT COME ON – you can’t play Fairy-tale of New York without the rude bits!!!

It’s what makes the song so Christmassy – There’s always than one friend or relative who has a bit too much to drink at Christmas and gets a bit… “Opinionated”…

Taking out that part ruins the whole song 🙁 

So that musical travesty inspired me to get writing – My own version of that song!

Using the same backing music / tempo, I came up with my own Christmas song – a special Hawke’s Bay one called “Christmas Time in Hawke’s Bay”!

I sent it to my friend at the offending radio station, who thought it was great. They were going to record a version using my lyrics and play it in the lead up to Christmas.

But that was over a week ago and I haven’t heard anything, meaning that any decent chance of airplay in the lead-up to December 25th has been lost – which is a great shame and waste of my fabulous lyric-writing skills.

But I am adaptable and with only very slight changes, please feel free to read along, while humming “Fairy-tale of New York” to:

Summer Time in Hawke’s Bay!

(If anyone would like to help me record this, please get in touch!)

It’s summer time
In Hawke’s Bay again
The man on the radio says “Another stunning one!”
We crank the music up
And roll the windows down
Smell the fresh sea air
And drive into town.

Gee aren’t we lucky ones?
Having so much fun
Living here in the Bay
There’s just so much to do
Over summer time
We love The Bay, baby!
Can’t think of being anywhere
Than Summer in Hawke’s Bay!

There’s trips to Kidnappers
Art Deco with flappers
Seeing New Years in
At the Soundshell
Hundreds of wineries
Restaurants with fineries
More fantastic cafes
Than anyone can tell

Playing backyard cricket
With a bin as the wicket
Smash a window,
Oh no!
That’s six and you’re out!
Cooking lunch on the barby
Man life is so hard, eh?
Spending summer time
Here at home in Hawkes’ Bay

The weather forecast on the TV
Predicts another stunning day
Just typical summer time
Here in Hawke’s Bay!

Geez you’re naff, urgh!
Such a Jaffa
A regional flaffer
You don’t even think the Magpies are great.
You don’t want a latte?
Just don’t even start, eh!
Then next summer time
Visit Manawatu

There’s cricket on at McLean Park
The Blackcaps are blazing away
And the crowds are yelling out
“Come on the Bay”!

We could live anywhere
But no, it wouldn’t be fair
With all the long summer days
And perfect Waimarama waves
A walk along the Parade
Eating yummy ice cream
Could this all be a dream?
These perfect Hawke’s Bay days!

All the rellies have come to stay
And Santa’s on his way
Just another stunning Summer
In Hawke’s Bay!

© Andrew Frame December 2015

A Better Hawke’s Bay Today

In recent years New Zealand’s news media has taken a bit of a hiding.

Sure, people aren’t consuming news like they used to – Papers are still read, but web-based news is being read more.

People still listen to the radio – But what used to be interactive “news” and “talkback” has devolved into getting the most sensationalist sound-bite (the audio version of “click-baiting”) and “commentators” (rather than “journalists”) blurting their unqualified opinions over top of experts and members of the public who have been actively encouraged to “join the debate”.

Even those supposedly at the helm of New Zealand’s handful of television networks seem hell-bent on steering the nation away from the calm, measured waters of current affairs and investigative journalism and running what is left at flank speed onto the rocks of rotten hyper-reality television.

It’s very grim stuff if all you want is informed discussion and the truth.

Even my local paper – the Hawke’s Bay Today doesn’t appear immune to lessening standards.

In June this article aroused both my interest and ire when it appeared on Hawke’s Bay Today’s website.

Being familiar with most Hawke’s Bay reporters and not recognising the name of this article’s author I clicked on the link to learn more.

It turned out this wasn’t a local article at all. The author appears specialises in commercial real estate articles around New Zealand.

Essentially this was a real estate advertisement masquerading as news.

Not “officially” being news apparently meant the opinions of those featured in the article – the two agents trying to sell the property which is the focus of the piece were quoted:

“The retail centre of Taradale is about 1.5 kilometres away, so a new neighbourhood café here would have a virtually unrivalled trade catchment area. There is no other real local alternative for grabbing a barista-made flat white and a plate of eggs benedict.

“There’s a pie ‘n’ cake bakery down the road and a small cafe within the New World premises but that outlet is more an adjunct to shopping rather than a hospitality destination location in its own right.”

Whether it was just sales pitch, or mere spin, but facts in this piece were a bit thin on the ground, as this map of nearby food outlets shows:

EZview

But it didn’t stop there:

“Video Ezy, as with most DVD rental outlets, has been finding trading increasingly harder as greater numbers of New Zealanders move away from hiring out DVDs on a nightly basis, to watching films through legal downloading providers such as Lightbox, Quickflix, and Netflix,”

This article was followed up a couple of weeks later by a counter-piece, this time written by a local reporter, as the proprietor of the Video Ezy store that is part of the building up for sale had to reassure his customers, who were concerned he was in the throes of closing down, that he had no plans to shut up shop, or awareness of the new nature of his reduced lease terms.

In August, while Hawke’s Bay’s amalgamation debate was reaching a heated climax, someone at Hawke’s Bay Today chose to allow the pro-amalgamation group, “A Better Hawke’s Bay” to buy a four page wrap-around advertisement on one edition of the paper’s regional and community issues.

While the actual front page and rest of the paper was untouched inside this wrap-around, the “faux-front (and back) page” included the paper’s title banner, giving the appearance of an authentic front page and leading some readers to perceive that the paper supported amalgamation.

Now let me be clear – Editorially, throughout the amalgamation debate and voting process, Hawke’s Bay Today did indeed maintain a fair balance in giving voice to both the anti and pro-amalgamation sides, so this appears to be a commercial decision.

Given the sheer cost of such a large, wrap-around advertisement; it could be very hard to turn down that sort of money.

But, as some pointed out, when the paper was doing its best to remain neutral, surely such an advert would have been better suited as an internal lift-out, rather than an audacious wrap-around.

Putting this advertisement on the outside damaged people’s perception of the paper’s neutrality and for many perception is reality.

Speaking of perception, I thought mine was failing me when I read this article online one morning in July, then happened to read the same article in the print edition the same day.

Paper

Something was missing – it was Napier’s mayor!

The article centres around Ngati Kahungunu chairman, Ngahiwi Tomoana, who is pictured online in a file photo next to the Mayor of Napier, Bill Dalton.

But in the version of the photo that went to physical print, Mayor Dalton ceases to exist – he (except for his hands – see the red circle) and the background has been rather badly photo-shopped out.

Why?

Mr Dalton doesn’t feature in the article’s text, so didn’t need to be in the picture. Why not just crop the photo around Mr Tomoana? Why the bad photo-shop job instead?

Given the timing, I thought it might be part of the paper’s neutral amalgamation stance, but that just didn’t stack up – a rather odd move all round.

Now given my criticisms above, you may think I don’t like the Hawke’s Bay Today.

But you’re wrong – I love it!

I love that it gives a voice to Hawke’s Bay’s people, its events and news.

I love that our region still has its own printed newspaper over a hundred years after the launch of the Daily Telegraph and Herald Tribune.

But like things you care about, your love often has to be “tough love”.

When you see it doing something wrong, you need to tell it to change its ways, to help it grow and improve.

In the changing world of modern media, that’s what its staff and readers want and deserve –

A better Hawke’s Bay Today!

Volunteers are Worth More!

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Four years ago New Zealand was the hosts of what would become a legendary Rugby World Cup.

I volunteered as a “Flash Quote Reporter” at McLean Park’s two games and got to meet and interview All Black legends John Kirwan, Kieran Crowley and current international players.

Hundreds of others volunteered too.

In return for our participation we got trained, clothed and fed. Being volunteers, naturally, we didn’t get paid, but we had fun experiencing something we usually didn’t get to do in our normal daily lives, which kind of made up for it.

This year New Zealand co-hosted and equally epic Cricket World Cup and once again I and hundreds of others, the majority of whom were the same ones who had taken part in 2011, took days off our regular jobs and lives.

Once again, got clothed, fed and for a few long days in March volunteered to help showcase McLean Park and Hawke’s Bay to the world.

But this time something felt a bit different.

Our shifts were much longer this time – often up to twelve hours at a time – so got quite arduous on occasions. But as cricket players and fans we got to watch some of the world’s best players in action which sped the time up a bit.

Maybe it was the longer shifts, or financial conditions being a bit tighter than four years ago, but some of the volunteers seemed less keen or able to be as involved as they would have liked, too.

Maybe it was because we had gotten past the “experience” buzz of doing the same sort of thing for the Rugby World Cup that took the shine off of volunteering in such roles for long “days off.”

Or maybe it was because the experience gained working at the 2011 World Cup meant we felt like there was more value to our taking part than doing it for free.

You see, the problem with volunteering is it doesn’t pay the bills.

I’m no stranger to volunteering. To date I have:

• Volunteered for the HB Cancer Society working as a Smokefree ambassador from 1996-1998.
• Been a volunteer radio announcer on Radio Kidnappers.
• Helped Stage Challenge really establish a foot-hold in Hawke’s Bay in 1998.
• Played for, managed teams and been secretary for Napier Old Boys’ Marist Cricket Club for almost a decade.
Dressed up as a Duck for the Georgie Pie #SuperSmash at McLean Park last year.
Written this blog – 127 posts of inspiring, (mainly) though and debate-provoking writing. Asking questions and shedding light on local issues.
• Promoting as many local events, ideas, products and thoughts as I can on social media.

But volunteering has worn a bit thin on me recently.

While most people will happily volunteer to do something for a charity, community group or the like for a few hours or days every once and a while, the feel-good factor of helping out can only last so long before the cold, hard realities of a modern, money-driven life creep back in.

There are bills to pay, mouths to feed and mortgages / rents to keep up with.

Working for free won’t help cover those realities.

Does thinking that make me a bad person? I don’t think so – I like to think it means I put the needs of my family above my own interests or those of others.

Recently I’ve become more and more concerned at how the good work of people volunteering seems to be getting taken for granted, taken advantage of, or even used so others can make a profit, while the volunteers are often left unrecognised, out of pocket for their work, or even worse.

Hawke’s Bay seems to have become a bit of a target for this type of thing.

There was an article in the newspaper just after Napier’s last Cricket World Cup match that stated the obvious – That while a small minority of the organisers and managers got paid for their roles

“The Cricket World Cup in Napier would have been impossible without the volunteers”

The article went on to outline the concept one of the event’s (surely not a voluntary position) coordinators had – a “Volunteer Army” to help run and attract such big events to Hawke’s Bay in the future.

I thought there were local government agencies that got paid to do that?

Two months later another article appeared in the paper. This time a Massey University professor (another non-voluntary role, we must assume) espousing his “educated” belief that:

“An ageing population is an opportunity if Hawke’s Bay can take advantage of its retirees’ wealth and skills.”

Translation: “Use retirees living on the pension as volunteer (i.e. “FREE“) labour to do tasks that younger generations would / could be paid to do, further deepening Hawke’s Bay’s economic and employment doldrums”.

Reading genius stuff like that really makes me glad I never went to university

Now volunteering is, well, a voluntary choice – you have to choose to do it and having worked, earned their money and paid their taxes for most of their lives HB’s elder generations are entitled to their retirement – to take it easier and to do what they want.

But merely using them as free labour? That’s just not right – especially when it also takes the opportunity for paid work away from others, like the younger generations struggling to get a foothold in our region’s depressed job market.

It’s not just the retired that are being taken advantage of when it comes to working for free.

Those in the final stages of tertiary education often face the increasing prospect of applying for the job they set out studying for, only to be told while they have the right qualification, their lack of real-world experience means they aren’t successful in getting the position.

Fortunately for a select well-heeled, or well-connected few, the chance of an unpaid internship during the university breaks mean they can get that much needed experience, but as the name suggests, it comes VERY cheaply for their “employer”.

Unless it is included as part of their curriculum, students aren’t eligible for the study / living allowance while on internships, so unless they or their parents are well-off enough to cover the living costs during this time many miss out on the opportunity.

Worse still are companies that get in multiple inters to “fight it out”, as it were, for one paid position. The “winning” intern being the one who puts in the longest hours, does the most work or makes the biggest profit for the company – all for FREE.

That is just not right.

Surely, if you’re good enough to do the job, you’re good enough to be PAID to do the job!

Even those already in work – particularly creative and design roles are expected to work for free for new clients – it’s called doing stuff “On Spec”.

Hours, days or weeks of time, effort and creativity to try and get a prospective client on board, only for them to say no, or just get ignored.

That’s gratitude for you.

It’s like going into a new café and asking the barista, having never had their coffee before, to make you a free sample in case you like it and come back again. See how far that gets you in real life.

And that’s not all!

Thanks to grey areas in perception and New Zealand laws, your rights and safety while volunteering often aren’t guaranteed, either!

When I put my earn-as-you-learn submission to the Napier City Council – trying to encourage Hawke’s Bay youth to stay in the region and be paid to learn, rather than working for free, or even worse, incurring crippling debt, one councillor chose to point out the number of local voluntary community groups in our community.

The irony of such a statement would have put any Alanis Morissette song to shame.

These VOLUNTARY groups get out in the community and do good stuff, while city councillors are PAID to sit around a table and gas-bag!

I believe the expression is “All Hui and no Do-ey!”

New Zealand NEEDS volunteers.

The likes of St John’s Ambulance, the Cancer Society and other life-saving and changing organisations couldn’t do the brilliant work they do without them.

But we must be careful not to abuse the good faith of volunteers – They need to be respected, recognised and often times they don’t actually need to be volunteers – they deserve to be paid, because working for free can do more economic harm than good.

Volunteers deserve better – They are more than worth it!

But what would I know – I only write voluntarily! 😉