Archives for category: food

Today we spent several hours getting un coup de soleil (sunburn = a blow from the sun; isn’t that charming?) paddling tandem kayaks around the harbor. We saw a lot of birds, minnows, and crabs and the kids taught Tasha how to swim by letting her doggy paddle instincts take over several feet from shore.

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The seven of us pushed off from the dock at Back of Beyond.
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This afternoon, B’s colleague L brought us some fresh-caught-and-cooked crab–the season just opened on July 4th and already they have too much to eat. B washed off a wrench and cracked the shells and it made for a great summer dinner!

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Gifts. Strong sunshine in early afternoon. Huge resounding drums. The long tail of holiday gift-giving. Unexpected gestures of thoughtfulness and kindness.

The annual Mochi Tsuki Festival on Bainbridge was a couple of Sundays back, hosted at Islandwood, and graced by sunshine all afternoon.



The sweet glutinous rice being steamed. While the first stage of the mochi is completed outdoors, the mochi balls are rolled inside the great hall. We watched the mochi-making while waiting our turn for the taiko concert. The drummers from Seattle Kokon Taiko were the main reason I went, as in years past. They are riveting.

Over the winter break, one of my students went to Tokyo and brought a gift back for me–senbei! The packaging was so pretty, we hesitated to ruin it.


Here we have a lot going on: it’s after 7pm, with dinner underway, homework, my work, a super-duper slouch, and the fun of seeing which little traditional rice crackers each package contains.




We’ve picked 20 lbs of raspberries already from Suyematsu Farm. That’s 4 full flats and some good picking by my kiddos! K and S probably don’t want me to call them kids anymore (they’ve loudly scoffed at the word ‘playdate’ in reference to getting together with their friends), but I’ll need time to put their childhood to rest. They can always be my minions, right?

Some of the berries are in the freezer, some are in the fridge, but most have been made into smoothies or piled onto waffles this morning.


This is the best waffle recipe ever—fluffy and crispy. Needs no butter. (GF, DF)

3 eggs
1 3/4 c almond milk
3/4 c tapioca starch
1 c rice flour
1/4 c almond flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 c olive oil
3 tsp baking powder

Whisk everything together!




This is Wardy’s, a locavore hub where we’re lucky enough to get most of our food. The pair of greengrocers who run the shop are generous and friendly, the definition of local businesspeople who are vital to their community. They know what’s in season for our particular microclimate; they know the growers who produce broccoli and mushrooms, etc. They carry macadamias and olive oil produced on a small scale by B’s colleagues; they know when there will be another batch coming.


They tell us how to prepare fruit and vegetables we haven’t eaten before (tamarillos, feijoas). They sort the produce meticulously. They don’t like to let things go to waste and if they have overripe bananas or tomatoes ready for saucing, they’ll throw them into the bag after they’ve rung us up.

Today Wardy tossed a handful of shallots into my bag, not because they need using right away, but just because they’re so gorgeous.


A. learned how to make marinara sauce from scratch a couple of months ago.

We take our egg cartons back to them after we’re done with a dozen; they fill them up again and write a new date on the top.


How lucky are we? A greengrocers. When I walk to town with my bags, fill them up with produce from Wardy’s, and then walk home again in the blustery outdoors, I feel like I’m experiencing a bit of that mid-Victorian English mode of life that gave folks astoundingly good health (read here).

It’s been downright cold here lately. How cold?

So cold that our quirky, beloved house here is no match for howling wind and icy blasts from the harbor.

It’s Three Dog Night cold.

Two pairs of socks cold.

Coats and hats in the house cold.

So cold you take a hot shower and then can’t find the willpower to turn it off.

So cold that you put on dance music at regular intervals and dance like crazy. At first this dance is called ‘The Icicle Shuffle’ but you’ll warm up to something like ‘Maniac Moves Now That You’re Thawed Through.’

Too cold to sew, too cold to practice guitar.

So cold that 8:00pm sounds like bedtime; after the warmth of dinner dissipates and you’ve grown gradually colder all you can think about is the (potentially) warm cave of blankets on your bed.

So cold you accidentally leave the soup cooling on the kitchen counter because you’re headed to bed so early and loose ends are everywhere, but they’re all too cold to think about.

So cold you find the soup in the morning and you register a brief dismay, but then…

It’s so cold it’s sure to be okay.

It’s so cold you heat that soup for breakfast…

And you’re right, it’s more than okay.

For a moment, you’re warm.


Fifteen years ago I gave birth to my first child after a long labor and a forceps delivery. I remember the feeling that morning when I held my healthy, beautiful daughter for the first time: a sudden rush of love, a dizzying sense of being overwhelmed and at the same time, up to it.

I still feel that way many days.

I snapped this shot of K last night at the Black Olive in Kerikeri, right before K’s friends arrived for a birthday dinner (all of them dressed up, very 15 years old, so fresh and happy and giggly, with me playing the part of wise old matron. It’s a part I play happily.).


B. and I walked to the market at Town Hall yesterday morning, where we were hoping to find something perfect for K’s present. We did! We came away with a beautifully tailored dress and a pair of blue earrings. S gave her a mother-of-pearl shell she’d made into a necklace, and A gave her an origami box filled with beachcombing objects d’art.


It’s turned chilly in the mornings and evenings now, so to celebrate K’s autumn birthday, we’re having shepherd’s pie and for dessert, pumpkin custard.


New Zealand pumpkins are grey-green on the outside but with the familiar bright orange flesh inside. Here’s my latest recipe for pumpkin pie or custard from scratch:

4 cups roasted mashed pumpkin
2 13.5 oz (400 ml) cans coconut milk (or use homemade coconut milk)
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp nutmeg

Roast pumpkin wedges for 1 hour at 400 F. Scoop out pumpkin into large bowl and mash; measure out 4 cups. Mix everything with whisk until you’ve got a smooth batter. Pour into pie crust or bake without a crust for a nice pumpkin custard. 375 F for about an hour.

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My moveable type is made of kowhai pods. S, B, A, and I spent some time down at our beach yesterday making a fort, toe-toe grass carpet, and other fancy stuff.

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B looks like a quintessential Kiwi with his gumboots and shorts.

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Look at this gorgeous mint I used for minted peas tonight. Sensory delight just walking outside barefoot on the damp grass, breathing in the heady after-rain smell and then the sharp mint.

Easter Weekend here spans Good Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, (and for the kids, Tuesday as well). We’ll spend at least part of that time comfortably turning into bookworms and swapping our Easter books with each other. Our Easter books this year were all from op-shops: A Harrod’s Cookery Book from 1985 for S (it’s as fabulous as it sounds), The Joy Luck Club for K, The Jane Austen Book Club for me and B (plus the Proust B got set up for me on my laptop–that’ll probably take me more than a year…I’ll check back with you next Easter), and a Readers’ Digest Book of Facts, also from 1985, for A.

Top Chef Hokianga was this evening! MasterChef finalist and self-proclaimed “bloody good cook” Jax Hamilton led the judging at Rawene Town Hall.


She was joined by three others, including the fabulous L, who I met just the other night. L persuaded me to join the competition, so I entered a dessert: coconut-blueberry tarts.


The tart base is my almond tea cookie recipe:

2 cups almond flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup rice flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup melted coconut oil

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Combine eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, ginger, and coconut oil in separate bowl and then add to dry ingredients. Mix until dough forms. Chill before baking. 375 degree F oven for 10 minutes.

The filling is my coconut custard recipe.

My little tarts made it to the semifinals!


The entries were beautiful; New Zealand foodies are really good at food presentation. I’ll know for next time to step that bit up a notch. :) New Zealand is a cornucopia of good food, in every season, influenced by so many cultures, and the tables at the Town Hall were covered with gorgeous dishes that demonstrate this well:






The hall was packed full of people who watched while the judges tasted and commented on the semifinalist dishes—someone sitting next to me quipped, “What kind of strange torture have we gotten ourselves into?” There was soup and fresh fruit available at the back of the room, which A very gladly chowed down on.


Two of the dishes that made it to the semifinals were made by kids, and S and A are all afire with even more cooking ideas.


It’s already Pi Day here and we’ve had our pie a day early, because we had something specific to celebrate: A. completed the Primer level for his piano studies and gave us a little concert last night! The past several months of being his piano teacher have been really pleasant and rewarding. I’m using the Faber Method books, which I particularly like because of their emphasis on student-teacher duets.


A’s favorite song is “Bells of Great Britain” (which has the supercool direction to hold down the damper pedal throughout the whole song). Least favorite is “Alouette”, because of the lyrics. After B. told him that he was singing about a lark getting his feathers plucked from head to tail, simply for singing, A. grew very quiet and sad for a moment, then said with decision, “I’m never going to sing that song again!” That’s okay by me.

On to the coconut custard pie with peaches, mmm.

We use this recipe for coconut pots de créme all the time; it’s perfect with strawberries too.

Coconut Custard (GF, DF)

14 oz coconut milk
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c dessicated unsweetened coconut
4 egg yolks in separate bowl

Combine first 6 ingredients in saucepot over medium heat; bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Temper egg yolks in their separate bowl by adding in a little of the hot coconut mixture at a time, until yolks are warm. Add them to the rest of the custard in saucepot, stirring well. Return to heat until just boiling. Done! Chill for at least two hours.


I took the kids to the Kerikeri Farmer’s Market a few days ago, where they got freshly-made crepes and I got some blueberries. Though the market was smaller than their advertising would lead one to believe, it was still a neat gathering of artisans and small-scale farmers. There were live chickens for sale, free-range eggs, macadamia nuts, apiarists with jars of manuka honey, vintners, folks selling local organic silverbeet, pumpkins, summer and winter squash, avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, garlic, onions, figs, apples, peaches, pears, and of course, blueberries. Autumn’s bounty in the Far North of New Zealand would just about cover one of those posters with every fruit and vegetable in the rainbow.

Today’s lunch with A. was a quick batch of the best crepes ever, with cinnamon and the rest of those blueberries.

3 eggs
1 1/4 c. coconut (or almond) milk
1/2 c. tapioca flour
1/4 c. almond flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Put everything into blender and pulse on low until thoroughly mixed. Pour from blender–easy peasy.
This recipe makes about 8 crepes.


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