At 4.30 on Saturday morning life as we know it here in Christchurch changed forever. We were woken with the bed shaking violently and a loud rumbling sound - yes, we were in the grips of an earthquake. Now here in New Zealand we live on the fault line and earthquakes are nothing new to us. But it didn't take long for us to realise that this was something way bigger than we had experienced before and, once we could hear glass breaking and stuff crashing down all around our apartment, we knew it was time to get into a doorway - quick! It turned out to be a 7.1 magnitude quake, and although it was all over in 15 seconds (apparently), those seconds were terrifying and seemed like minutes. Equally terrifying have been the constant after shocks - over 100 of them now since the big one, and many of them in excess of 5 on the richter scale.
For all that, on a personal level, we have survived with nothing more than a bit of broken crockery and a few broken bottles which fell off the kitchen shelves - a shattered bottle of orange blossom water and a jar of teriyaki sauce that lost its lid and sprayed all over the kitchen walls - the combination of the two together left an interesting aroma in the kitchen! So we have been incredibly lucky.
Many others have not been so lucky - there are many people who have had to be evacuated from their homes, and many who still have no power or running water. Many of the old character and heritage buildings in the city, which give our city its particular charm, have been severely damaged and will almost certainly have to be demolished. Our central business district, where many of these older buildings are located, is largely unsafe and has been completely closed off for the last four days. Many of our smaller businesses (despite the immediate setting up of financial assistance by our government) will simply not survive. Redevelopment and rebuilding of the city will doubtless take several years, and the character of our city will be very different, which is rather sad to contemplate.
Miraculously, however, the human toll has been minimal. Not one life has been lost, and despite quite a few minor injuries, there have been only two serious injuries. I believe we are amazingly blessed to live in a city with a small population (we have only 330,000 people here), so we don't have buildings which are over-crowded; we have relatively good building and construction standards in New Zealand; and essential services have been able to swing into action with relative ease. But the greatest miracle of all must surely be that the quake happened at a time of day when our city buildings and streets are largely deserted - even just a couple of hours earlier the results would have been catastrophic.
There's no doubt that an event like this, even when you come out of it largely unscathed, leaves you feeling shaken up and vulnerable. It has clearly reminded me of the value of living from moment to moment - I definitely feel very uneasy, and every after shock scares the hell out of me, but all my yesterdays and tomorrows have never felt less relevant. Despite my nervousness, right now, I am alive, I am safe, I am healthy - what more could I possibly ask for?! I am grateful to have a yoga practice which sustains me at a time when I need it most, and I am also immensely grateful for all the emails and comments I have received from so many of you out there in "blog land" - that so many people from all over the world, who I've never even met, have taken the time to spare a thought for me and the other people of Christchurch is deeply humbling and I thank you all. I will reply to you all, but please don't be offended if I haven't gotten to you yet.
And since I'm so grateful to you all, I thought I should share a recipe with you - would be rude not to, wouldn't it?! To be honest, I haven't been cooking much the last few days, but I sure as heck have been "comfort eating". Now when it comes to comfort food, favourites come in the form of chocolate, brownies and ice cream, and making a batch of ice cream seemed like just the thing to satisfy, as well as providing a good distraction.
I made this adapting my favourite vanilla ice cream recipe by David Lebovitz as my base - I left out the vanilla bean, although I did include the vanilla extract, and I added an extra egg yolk. To this I added a couple of tins of pink guavas (pureed) and some chunks of macadamia nut white chocolate. The result is a beautifully delicate flavour (I think next time I would cut the vanilla back a bit, as it does dominate the guava a little); a gorgeous, pale, pinky-peachy colour; and, a smooth, creamy and luscious texture interspersed with hits of crunch from the white chocolate and macadamia nuts. I will definitely make this again - perfect for a celebration meal, or when you just need a bit of comfort and indulgence.
Pink Guava, White Chocolate & Macadamia Nut Ice Cream Recipe
Adapted from David Lebovitz's Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes about 1.5 litres
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
250ml (1 cup) full-fat milk (preferably organic)
pinch of salt
150g (3/4 cup) sugar
500ml (2 cups) heavy cream
6 large egg yolks (preferably free range)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (maybe reduce to 3/4 teaspoon)
2x 410g tins guava halves
1 tablespoon cassis (optional)
125g macadamia nut white chocolate, cut into small chunks
Drain guava halves of all their syrup. Using a food processor or stick blender, process the guavas until you have a smooth puree, then strain to remove the seeds (you could probably do this in a food mill if you prefer). Add the cassis, stir well, then cover and refrigerate for several hours, ideally overnight.
Next, strain the cream into a 2 litre bowl, and then stand that bowl in an ice bath.
Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl and set aside.
Combine milk, salt and sugar in a small saucepan and gently heat. Then slowly pour about half of the warmed milk into the egg yolks, stirring constantly to ensure the eggs don't curdle.
Return the warmed egg yolks and milk to the saucepan. Then cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon or spatula.
Strain the custard into the cream, which is standing over its water bath, and keep stirring until the custard is completely cool. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Cover with cling film, pressing it right down onto the surface of the custard, and then refrigerate for several hours, ideally overnight.
Mix the custard and the guava puree together, and then churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Remove churned ice cream to a cold bowl. Stir through the chopped up chocolate.
Serve immediately, or freeze in a suitable container until ice cream has firmed to your desired consistency.
For ice cream inspiration and perfection, I recommend:
I'm submitting this post to the Two for Tuesdays blog hop.