I had pizza dough getting happy in the fridge. You know what that means…
I opened up a bottle of wine and made pizza. I was not so happy with how the dough was responding. It didn’t brown as fast or as much as I would have liked. Perhaps the fridge was too cool for the three day ferment, or the oven was not hot enough, or I was too timid to let it cook long enough. All part of learning to work with a living thing.
I formed the balls of dough and let them rest for an hour before I started making pies. The first balls are always the most difficult to stretch, as they have the least amount of time to relax. Unfortunately, my oven has difficulty maintaining heat, so when the oven is at it’s prime, I’m stretching the most difficult dough to work with and by the time I get to the last dough ball, the oven has cooled. Oh, well. If only I had a pizza oven…
I wanted to try something different for one of the pizzas. I made a white pizza with smoked mozzarella, lemon, basil, and olive oil. I liked the combination, but the smoked cheese I used was only lightly smoked, so it’s flavour was covered by the lemon. Next time I’ll either top it with more cheese or look for one with more flavour.
This morning I played with the dog for a bit before baking.
100g unbleached, organic, stone ground white flour, 464g High Grade white flour, 2% salt, 0.25% active dry yeast, 75% hydration, 24 hour bulk ferment, 70 minute proof, 30 minutes in a covered cast iron cloche @ 250C and 24 minutes uncovered @ 225C.
This time I remembered to score the dough before I put it in the oven.
Tonight I’m going to try making a leaven from my new wild yeast culture and try baking a boule tomorrow, if I’m lucky…
Morgan took me for a walk to One Tree Hill the other day.
On the way to the park, we found a Nikau Palm that was flowering.
The remainder of our walk was uneventful, save for the occasional sheep and pheasant.
This afternoon we drove out to St Heliers to walk along the beach.
The forecast called for a chance of rain. Luckily, the weather was fantastic.
Morgan just wanted to run on the beach.
It was such a nice afternoon, we decided to take a walk along Big Manly Beach. The dogs were happy to get some exercise.
It was a great afternoon to be on the water.
Such a gorgeous beach. We’ll have to visit in the Summer and go for a swim when the water is warmer.
We turned back just as the Sun set below the ridge.
Just time enough after our walk to have a feed at a local restaurant before heading back down to Central Auckland.
Yesterday I took my 2005 Toyota Echo to the Ilam Toyota dealer here in Christchurch for a Warrant of Fitness inspection. After the inspection I was informed our car had failed its WOF due to two damaged rear passenger seatbelts (our dog Kuri had a go at them). I was then informed by the Toyota dealer the rear seatbelts could not be repaired because of the proprietary endings on the belts and the belts would have to be replaced with factory units. He then informed me these units were not currently in inventory in Toyota New Zealand, and, in fact, one of the rear seatbelt units had never before been in the Toyota New Zealand inventory. Consequently, I was informed these two rear seatbelt units would have to be imported from Toyota Japan. It was his next sentence that made me do a double-take. He informed me that these two rear seatbelt units would cost NZ$1530 plus GST and installation, which works out to around NZ$1700!
That’s right, NZ$1700.00! I was shocked! How can it possibly be that two rear seatbelts for a 2005 Toyota Echo (the least expensive vehicle sold by Toyota at the time of its manufacture, BTW) could amount to a full 10% of the entire purchase price of this vehicle? Even the insurance inspector was shocked by the price of these parts.
Then, to add insult to injury, the Ilam Toyota dealer informed me it would take 14 WORKING DAYS to receive the product – That’s three weeks!
Recall that this is a late model Toyota vehicle we are referring to here, not something long out of production. I don’t uderstand how it could possibly take so long to get this product? When I asked this question to the Service Manager I was told that’s how Ilam Toyota’s contract with Toyota of Japan works. Boy, if that doesn’t sound like a run-around I don’t know what is.
I find this situation more than a little annoying. Every vehicle which I have ever owned has been a Toyota. I have previously owned a 1979 Celica, a 1984 3/4 ton pickup, a 1992 FJ88 Landcruiser Wagon, and I currently own a 2005 Echo. My past experience with Toyota in the States has been very good – parts and service are available and the work has been up to Toyota quality.
I would hope Ilam Toyota would do their best at obtaining replacement parts for a valued Toyota customer.
23 March Update: The price Ilam Toyota quoted me for two replacement seatbelts was so absurdly expensive we searched for alternative sources. We eventually found a Toyota dealer in Sydney, Australia, that listed the exact same part numbers – also ordered directly from Japan – for one third the price! I ordered the replacement parts and contacted the insurance company to notify them I would like to withdraw my insurance claim. Once the parts arrived, I contacted Ilam Toyota and they installed the replacement seatbelts. The total cost including the parts and service ended up being less than half of Ilam Toyota’s original quote! So, we now have five functional seatbelts in the car and can breath easy for another year – when our Warrant Of Fitness inspection is due once again.
10 April Update: Late last week I decided to move the car a short distance down the driveway. Later, when I decided to move the car back it would not start. Actually, at first the engine started, but emitted such a terrible noise (like only one or two cylinders were firing) I quickly shut the engine off again. After that, the engine would turn over, but not start up. I called Ilam Toyota. They graciously offered to tow my car to the dealership. The next day I received a call from the dealership. They very kindly informed me the engine was flooded, nothing more. It turns out, as the mechanic informed me, these engines can rarely be subject to engine flooding if the engine is started and then stopped after a short period of time, for example, when a car is moved out of a garage and into the driveway for a wash. I was very satisfied with the mechanic’s response. I have regained my faith there are at least a few honest mechanics still around – Kudos to Ilam Toyota!
Located along State Highway 73, just 40km east of Arthur’s Pass and an hour west from Christchurch, Craigieburn Forest Park, in addition to its many walking tracks, is one of the few inland areas where dogs are allowed. In early December, 2006 we decided to take our dog Kuri and team up with our friends M and C1 and their daughter C2, along with their dogs Chewbaca and Leo and head out for a leisurely Sunday tramp. Our goal for the afternoon was to walk to Lyndon Saddle and continue to Lyndon Hill (Helicopter Hill).
It is interesting to note that in California dogs are not usually allowed on beaches, but it is often just fine to take a dog to the mountains, while in New Zealand dogs are usually allowed on beaches (outside of manned lifeguard stations) and generally are not allowed in inland mountainous areas.
This track is very popular with mountainbikers, and everyone seemed to get along together well. Much of the track winds through shady beech forest, at least up to the saddle leading to the Lyndon Hill summit, where the ridgeline becomes more exposed.
The forest is lush green, with mosses covering the forest floor like carpeting and green leafy plants attaching wherever they can find a place.
Under the shade of the beech trees the temperature was nice and mild, a perfect temperature for an uphill walk.
Sometimes we would walk through areas of the forest covered in light, airy moss which resembled sphagnum moss.
We paused at the saddle and grabbed a bite to eat, enjoying the beautiful surrounding beech forest.
Chewy and Kuri tackle M as he takes a break. The dogs seemed to enjoy playing together along the trail.
The summit of Lyndon Hill was covered only in low scrub and allowed for a great view of the surrounding Craigieburn Range.
Just a day or two before there was a bit of a nasty little storm which dumped some snow, some of which lingered on the summit for the dogs to play in.
We had a great view of the valley we ascended, all the way back down to State Highway 73.
Leo enjoyed the view.
After a brief stay at the summit we headed back towards the saddle.
Soon we were walking within the shady ramparts of the beech forest.
M’s daughter C2 was a real trooper.
Kuri enjoyed playing with his new friends and the opportunity to get outside.
We talked about getting a pet – perhaps a dog, so we decided to check out the Christchurch City Dog Shelter to see if there were any that we liked. We wanted to adopt a dog from a shelter because there are already so many dogs out there that people regard as objects to be thrown out when they are not wanted anymore. We also wanted to avoid purchasing a dog from a pet store because many pet stores get their dogs from “puppy mills.”
It is often possible to find great dogs from a shelter and it is amazing just how many dogs are not adopted by folks through these organizations. So about a week ago we decided to visit the Christchurch City Dog Shelter, where dogs are kept for a period of 8 days, after which, if they are not picked up, are sent to Dogwatch, a shelter here in Christchurch. This is good because the Dogwatch shelter is a “no kill” shelter, which means it will board these animals until a home can be found.
Our first trip to the shelter was a quick trip on a Saturday and we spent about a half hour looking at the dogs they had. We both liked one particular dog – a puppy – which was not barking even though the other dogs’ barking made for quite a cacophony. After we left the shelter we decided I would return to the shelter on the following Monday, and if that dog was still there I would put my name down to adopt him.
I drove to the shelter on Monday and the dog was still there so I put my name down by his number. I was informed that if no one claimed the dog by the following Saturday we could adopt him – Great! We talked about what we would need to get for a dog and wondered about a name (BTW, I was not sure if he already had one 🙂
The next Saturday Gaby and drove by the shelter to see if the dog was still there – he was! – and made the necessary arrangements to pick him up. They then informed us he did not have a name and asked if we had a name picked out for him for their records. We didn’t have one.
I had a friend who once had a dog name “dog” (pronounced “dee-oh-gee”). I asked Gaby to look up what “dog” translates to in Maori and she said it was “kuri” – which sounded like a good name to me. So, now we have a dog named Kuri. We were informed by the folks at the shelter that he was a 5 month old male. He is a mutt; or, as the Kiwis say, a “bitsa” – bits of this and bits of that. Of course, without knowing what breed his parents were we will never know exactly what he is a mix of (his parents could have been mixes themselves.) That being said, the best consensus I have heard so far: he appears to be a mix of a staffordshire terrier and a fox terrier. He has the brindle coloring (black and brown stripes) and white paw(s) common to a staffordshire and the forward flopping ears common to a fox terrier.
Yesterday Kuri had an appointment with the vet for neutering and a general health checkup. I picked him up in the afternoon and the vet said he was a very healthy dog. He seems to be doing fairly well today given the type of procedure he had only yesterday 🙂
Since Kuri is only five months old, he is very curious about his new environment. I know it takes quite a bit of love and devotion to raise a puppy to a well behaved dog; however, I know the effort will be worth it.
“It seems our Kuri likes to please/
Let’s hope we have the expertise.”