The Changing Seasons, June 2020

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Matariki lights at Auckland Museum. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Matariki is the Maori term for the group of stars also known as the Pleiades or The Seven Sisters. Matariki rises during Pipiri (June/July) and marks mid-winter and the Maori New Year.

In recent years, Matariki has begun to be properly celebrated in Aotearoa New Zealand with many cities and communities holding festivals. This year, Auckland Council has scaled back many of the planned events and shifted others online. It was lovely then, to see the Auckland Museum lit up for the duration of the festival. The Harbour Bridge is also lit, but we’ve yet to have a clear night for me to try and photograph it.

According to Te Ara (Encyclopedia of NZ):

Traditionally, Matariki was a time to remember those who had died in the last year. But it was also a happy event – crops had been harvested and seafood and birds had been collected. With plenty of food in the storehouses, Matariki was a time for singing, dancing and feasting.

There hasn’t been a great deal of singing and dancing in the ZimmerBitch whare (pronounced like farrie and meaning house), and not many photos taken either.

But there’s been plenty of eating, so for this month’s Changing Seasons post I’m giving you a recipe.

Anyone who joined me for afternoon tea recently will recognise it, but it proved such a hit with my (real life) dinner guests that I’m confident in sharing it.

Squash, fennel and orange soup

Adapted from a recipe in Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi (1) Serves 4-6 people

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Squash, fennel and orange soup, with homemade sourdough. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Ingredients

50ml olive oil

2 fennel bulbs

1.2kg pumpkin or butternut squash

1 litre vegetable stock

1tsp harissa (2)

small pinch saffron threads (3)

1 large or two small oranges

sea salt and black pepper

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C
  2. Trim fern from fennel bulbs and roughly chop
  3. Peel squash sand chop into small pieces (2-3cm)
  4. Put fennel and squash pieces in roasting dish, add olive oil, about a teaspoon of sea salt and a grind of black pepper.
  5. Toss to coat the veges in oil
  6. Cook for around 20-25 minutes at 200°C; until everything is soft and caramelised. Depending on your oven, you may want to check it before then to make sure the edges aren’t burning.
  7. While veges are roasting, finely grate orange (you want about 2tsp zest) and squeeze juice (4) from the fruit.
  8. Put stock, harissa, saffron threads and orange zest in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  9. Remove 1-2 ladles of liquid and set aside.
  10. Remove roasted veges from oven and add to pot of stock.
  11. Use the set-aside liquid to moisten and scrape up the
    caramelised bits in the bottom of the roasting pan. Add this to the pot (5) .
  12. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  13. Remove from heat, add orange juice and use a hand blender to blitz until completely smooth.
  14. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds (6) and cashew cream (7) .
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Squash, fennel and orange soup. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Notes:
  1. There is a version of this soup — slightly different to that which is in Simple — on Ottolenghi’s website. It includes a recipe for caramelised pumpkin seeds.
  2. Harissa is available from Middle Eastern shops, and some supermarkets. It varies a lot in taste and chilli strength, so you will probably want to experiment with how much you add. I would start with 1 teaspoon, and perhaps add more to the stock once it’s warmed up a bit and you’ve tasted it.
  3. Saffron gives the soup a distinctive, earty taste, but if you don’t have it (or don’t like the taste), I wouldn’t worry — leave it out.
  4. In Ottolenghi’s recipt in Simple, he adds 180g crème fraiche to the soup before blending it. Because I was making the soup for vegan friends, I omitted that, and used the orange juice instead to thin the soup.I think it also adds a nice amount of acid and tastes really good. If it is still too thick, you could add more orange juice, or a little water or stock.
  5. If you follow my suggestion to de glaze the roasting pan with stock, you will get dark flecks in the soup from the caramalised bits of veges. These taste good. But if you’re aiming for a more elegant look you could leave this step out.
  6. The simplest way to toast pumpkin seeds is to put a single layer in a heated, heavy frying pan. Toss them for a few minutes until they start to colour and pop. Tip into a bowl and add a good pinch of salt (and a teaspoon of olive oil if you like).  In the Ottolenghi recipe, the seeds were mixed with maple syrup and chilli flakes and roasted to make more of a praline. 
  7. I wanted to make this a vegan dish, so as well as omitting the crème fraiche (above), I made some cashew cream and put it on the table for my guests to add if they wished. 

Besides making soup

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them.

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to this post, I can update it with links to all of yours.

Update

Please visit these bloggers to see how June played out for them:

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind

Tish at Writer on the Edge

Little Pieces of Me

Suzanne at Life at No. 22

A Wonderful Sheep

Pauline at Living in Paradise

Sarah at Art Expedition

Ruth at Ruth’s Arc

Marilyn at Serendipity Seeking intelligent life on Earth

LadyLeeManila

Katy at Wanderlust and Wonderment joins us this month

Darren at The Arty Plantsman

XingfuMama

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flowers

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Roses, cottage garden, Scandrett Regional Park, Auckland. Image; Su Leslie 2019

Another trip to the archives for my Friday flowers.

A while ago, T and I decided to explore the less well-known parks around Auckland and about this time last year, we discovered Scandrett Regional Park, on the Mahurangi Peninsula.

Formerly a farm owned by the Scandrett family, the park still contains the old homestead, and remnants of a once beautiful cottage garden.

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Scandrett homestead. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Old roses growing along a fence drew my attention.

As did the Japanese Maple in all its autumnal glory.

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Autumn leaves, Scandrett Regional Park, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2019

And these pretty little wild flowers growing along the shore — that I feel I should be able to name but can’t.

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Scandrett Regional Park, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Of course we needed explore the beach too.

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Scandrett Regional Park, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Regional parks are currently closed due to Covid 19, so it may be a little while before we can revisit Scandrett — perhaps on a sunny day?

Friday flowers

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Auckland Wintergardens. Image: Su Leslie

I’m learning how much I’ve taken for granted in life, and how easy it used to be to follow a whim.

A couple of nights ago I craved fish and chips, but as all our takeaways are closed, I cooked dinner instead. It was tasty, but contained neither fish nor chips.

This morning I woke up and thought how very much I would like to visit the Auckland Wintergardens.

The two glasshouses and surrounding formal gardens opened in 1913 and have provided generations of visitors with a chance to enjoy rare plants, spectacular floral displays and most importantly a calm, beautiful sanctuary in the middle of the city.

In recent years they have also given me a chance to practice my photographic skills and learn about plant care from the incredibly friendly and dedicated staff.

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Tropical House, Auckland Wintergardens. Image: Su Leslie 2019

But since there is no indication that the Wintergardens will be open in the near future, I’m going to take a virtual stroll through some of my old photos.

I apologise in advance for the lack of species labelling; most of these were taken back in the days when my personal flower taxonomy went something like “roses, orchids, daffodils and tulips, daisy-like things and weird stuff.”

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Auckland Wintergardens. Image: Su Leslie

blue flowers

Auckland Wintergardens. Image: Su Leslie

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Auckland Wintergardens. Image: Su Leslie

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Auckland Wintergardens. Image: Su Leslie

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Auckland Wintergardens. Image: Su Leslie

Lights on at 4pm

… and then the sky turned yellow. Parnell pool and Waitemata Harbour, around 2.30pm. image: Su Leslie 2020

The sky is Auckland has been vaguely hazy for days now, but around two this afternoon, it began to turn bush-fire yellow.

Smoke from the blazes consuming so much of Australia has reached us.

Parnell, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2020

St Stephen’s, Parnell. Image: Su Leslie 2020

View from my office, 5pm. Image: Su Leslie 2020

It’s really hard not to go all apocalyptic right now. And I’m over 2000km of ocean away from the nearest bush fires.