Hogmanay, New Year and cooking lettuce

2013 was the year we moved to New Zealand, and so one that will not easily be forgotten.  It was a ‘new’ year in so many ways – we have seen so many new things, eaten new foods, smelled new smells, heard new sounds and met new people.  We felt our first proper earthquakes, experienced southerly winds coming straight from the Antarctic, sat in hot spring pools and started new jobs.  It has been quite a year.

The last day of the year was lovely and sunny, so we popped up to Zealandia, the sanctuary and conservation area, situated in the city and very close to where we live.  We were last there in the autumn, so it was good to go at a different time of the year.  I was lucky to see a baby tuatara this time, not in a tank, but actually in the open.  A tuatara is a reptile like a lizard, but from a different family lineage.  While I didn’t manage a photo of it, I did manage one of a green gekko.  Look hard and you will find it!

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Green gheko – if you look hard enough!

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Zealandia

For our Hogmanay dinner, we ate roast beef, new potatoes, courgettes tossed in garlic and ‘Petits Pois à la Française’ which if you don’t know it, is peas cooked with lettuce.  I used Nigella’s recipe and added in a spoon of sour cream at the end.  Basically, you just fry a little onion (or spring onion), stir in some shredded iceberg lettuce, add frozen peas and chicken stock, and cook.  It is really lovely and a great way to use up lettuce.

In keeping with a New Year ‘tradition’ in Sweden, Denmark and other places, we watched Dinner for One.  It is a short film about a 90th birthday, and has two characters, the lady whose birthday it is and a butler who gets more and more drunk as the dinner proceeds, as he drinks the toasts of the other imaginary guests (you have to watch it to get how this works!). It is a German production from 1963, has a British cast, and yet is unknown in the UK.  ‘The same procedure as last year’ used in the sketch has become a catch phrase.  We listened to the neighbours count down to midnight, opened our champagne, and then turned to Facebook to wish everyone a happy 2014.

Despite the rain today, the year has got off to a good start with the news that friends in Auckland have got engaged and getting a phone call from a dear friend in Copenhagen.    Let’s hope that 2014 is a great year, full of fun and surprises!

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