Winter is Here, or Ramblings of an Island “Batchelor”


The last couple of days have been savage. We have a really nasty weather system sweeping across Southern New Zealand. Yesterday was steady rain from a very low cloud base, and gale westerly. This morning after a night of heavy rain and occasional thunder I was startled around 0830 by a really bright flash followed a second later by a huge clap of thunder. The power  went off,and Anne’s little dog Eddie promptly leaped into my arms in bed   …. OK on a Sunday morning as bad as this I can have a lie in….  Eddie is a bit of a wuss, as our two didn’t even stir. I went out side to check the circuit breakers, but the problem was elsewhere and a few moment later the power came back on. There must have been some quite heavy hail squalls as well. The present outside temperature is 3.4 deg C, which is really cold for Stewart Island.

Hail stalagmite washed off our roof

Hail stalactite washed off our roof


Communications Down

As far as I can tell only one minor piece of our electronic kit was fried, but the Island did lose its microwave link to the mainland. So no phone other than local, and no internet until 1330 when service was restored. Cell phones did not appear affected. But a down side of the system is that the local cop’s phone has an Invercargill number, which in my mind is stupid. This means that while the village can still call each other, in the case of an emergency we can’t contact the local police. I have no idea what happens to 111 calls… wasn’t going to test that one.

Service Cancelled

The forecast bad weather saw the monthly Anglican Sunday service cancelled. Most of the local congregation was away, and as the transport across the straits was probably going to be interrupted the Priest ( who lives in Invercargill) decided discretion was the better part of valour.

Down Side

That was of course the correct decision, but it did mean that the venison I had thawed for a dinner for 4 on Saturday night was all of a sudden an awful lot for me on my own.

Venison Pie

Venison and Apricot Pie, complete with 'tater and cheese top... Plus stuffed and baked potatoes

Venison and Apricot Pie, complete with ‘tater and cheese top… Plus stuffed and baked potatoes


I had decided on cooking a venison pie. Years ago I was addicted to the Arrowtown Bakeries Venison and Apricot Pie, and had decided to try my hand at one. And so even though on my own I thought I would anyway … far too much for one person of course, but that’s what freezers are for.

I enjoy cooking, and while I do occasionally use a recipe it tends to be on the “Oh that might work ” basis rather than to be slavishly followed.

I cut the venison into medallions about 40mm across and 8 mm thick then rolled the meat in flour and dried beef stock and heavily braised in good cooking oil. Into the crock pot, together with braised onion rings, some chicken stock and a couple of dessert spoons of honey….. commercial stocks can be a little bitter to my taste and a little water.  3 hours in the stock pot, thickened with a little flour, then into a pastry lined dish. Add a layer of apricots … my own preserved… a layer of cooked sliced potato , grated cheese and bread crumbs and bake in a 175 deg oven until well browned. To go with it I stuffed some baked potato and had my first meal of swede turnips.  I’m a good Southlander and love my swede turnips. Dessert was a fruit medley pie , frozen gooseberries, apple, apricot and rhubarb all in pastry, served with ice-cream.

I guess it all sounds a bit sad, a dinner party for one. But Iris is halfway through her France trip, and so I can look forward to her return. And what else to do in bad weather.

I remember a guest once saying He hated “haute cuisine”. He was never sure when presented with some exquisitely prepared microscopic portion whether he was supposed to eat it or frame it. Never a problem with my cooking. I lean heavily toward “Hearty” with bold flavours, but never the main ingredient disguised. Venison should taste like venison.

PS… My rule for deciding a good pie is how it tastes cold. And this one was superb. The sweet tang of the apricot a perfect counterpoint to the gamey flavour of the venison.