At last! Workshops in our new studio

The new studio at 299 Riddell Road with boutique Loft accommodation above

It is so long since I posted here. 2015, in fact.

When I closed my little store in Roberta Avenue, I  had plans for a quick new setup in Riddell Road, but life got in the way.

I cooked and chaperoned the girls for the second "The Bachelor" series (can you imagine chaperoning Naz?), and took part in a fantastic seminar at Mana Resort, Coromandel, learning Pure Bioenergy healing. I have completed Level 2 since and and am so happy being part of bringing this ancient, restorative art to mainstream.

Coromandel viewed from Mana Sanctuary

I revisited the extraordinary land of contrasts which is USA with my daughter. San Francisco is so vibrant, balancing sophistication with new age alternativism perfectly. The produce on display at the Ferry Building Market just wows, and we enjoyed a wonderful day in the Mission looking at outlets and convenience stores selling Mexican provisions and fresh cheeses I had only ever read about. We finished our evening on the recommendation of a friend who knows these things, with tapas and margaritas on a roof bar, watching the sun mosey on down behind a smokey San Francisco. 

Margaritas in a Mission roof bar, San Francisco

We were privileged to stay with friends in deepest Pennsylvania  and share in the family celebrations preparing for the marriage of a wonderful young woman to a terrific young man. Watching  the tender prayers and intentions from our gathering of women ascend to the heavens as wisps of fragrant sage smoke will stay with me forever. Smudging is a beautiful form of prayer dating from native American prehistory, and even further back to Egypt, Greece and Rome. There is plenty online about it, but I enjoyed this article from the Chopra Centre                                             I will always be grateful for the welcome and generosity shown us by the folk from middle America. We met beautiful people, had a wonderful time and learnt so much to bring home with us.

Washington DC was about the city, it's monuments and social myth. It was great fun and again we were awed by the hospitality and warmth we were offered.

Grande Dame, New York, so different to the hard city I knew in the 1980s was still fabulous. Martinis in the gorgeous bar of our Soho hotel, whelks and French wine in the local Italian restaurant (which incidentally offered 32 different oysters), the flower district with it's upmarket perfumeries, MOMO contemporary art museum which captured my heart on my first visit is still amazing, and that is before the shopping....
Arlo Soho Hotel lounge NYC
The American food thing is a whole other really great blog.

Back home, I watched the sun creep up behind Bluff  lighthouse on a paua expedition with my son. Southland is just beautiful. I loved the rugged Catlins, seaside Riverton, and climbing the hills surrounding Invercargill with views that reach forever. Having a chef for a son has its advantages, and I have to say I enjoyed the best paua I have ever eaten, sauteed quickly with masses of  basil, oregano and parsley from his garden. He had stocked up before my arrival so there was plenty of fresh fish on the BBQ,  and rabbit and  venison from the West Coast hills. It was lovely to relax in the comfort of provincial New Zealand.

Sunrise behind Bluff lighthouse is almost unreal

I have worked on my recipes, run seminars in schools for Auckland Council's Love Food Hate Waste and more recently the innovative Live Lightly incentive. I have reviewed my own purpose and intention for the next years which will take me into old age. 

As wonderful as the time has been, knowing we have a planet with endless blogging blogging blogging, so much talk, I felt presumptuous writing. Thank you to all those kindly souls who said they missed my letters and chats.

Our new studio space

But now I have something to share. We have workshops planned next week in our new Riddell Road studio, and are in the process of getting Council approval to sell food, We are back. 

To all those who have helped me get this far, in ways too diverse to describe, thank you. 
Thank you really, really. I can't repay you, I know, but I can pass it on.

Our last workshop around wellbeing at St Heliers Community Centre was a great success. I still get feedback on it which I love. Thank you to all those who attended and contributed

Small cacioricotta as we will demonstrate in the next dairy workshop

Our first "home workshop" will be around milk, stripping some marketing away so you can choose a product to suit,  and looking at some lovely, simple ways to fit milk products into a busy household.

This is not about telling you how to live, or even how you could live, but suggesting ways to streamline processes so you can live your way with less fuss, time, money and waste. And dare I say, more taste!

I have been working on recipes for simple spreads and cheeses (the  truffled labneh is unbelievably good under blanched spinach and poached eggs, or grilled aubergine), salads, tarts, paneer curries to offer as vegetarian meals or as part of a menu. We will talk about how to lighten  meatballs, how to use up whey in crackers and baked goods, and look at some different custards and milk desserts. I am sure most participants will have some fabulous ideas to share also. It will be action packed fun!

Should you have any queries or want tickets, call me on 0272522296
In the meantime, we have known another winter, and spring is here. There is a lightness in the air.

Fresh spring violets and their leaves make a healthy and interesting addition to salad

Think about putting some violets and their leaves in a leafy salad. Violets have been used for centuries as a remedy for skin, blood pressure issues, and other health considerations, but  beautifully, they add little flavour pops in a salad.

Citrus is abundant and inexpensive so enjoy oranges with watercress or rocket, and mint, lemon balm and parsley. Oranges are great with the new season beetroot; fresh orange zest and juice with grated raw beets and carrots, maybe celeriac, a little chopped kawakawa if you have access to some, salt, pepper, EV olive oil, red wine vinegar if it helps; or boiled beets and parsnips with sliced orange and horseradish; maybe olives and fennel for a change.
Grilled citrus is great with meats or accompanying a custard or cream. Fresh oranges round off a meal nicely, and we will have a great recipe for orange cheesecake in our next workshop.

Orange cheesecake as we will make in the  next dairy workshop

Try to finish up the dried goods and grains in the cupboard before the insects do. This is the moment to clear out the pantry in anticipation of summer bounty. Old barley can take a while to cook, over an hour sometimes (soaking will reduce this, no salt), while new season grains will be ready in 30 minutes. Rice is the same; this is why new season rice is dearer in some Asian/wholesale stores; it cooks quickly and tastes like a vegetable, not like the box it came in.
Boiled barley steeped in lemon and EV olive oil with herbs and salt and pepper makes a good base for a lunch or dinner. In fact, the soft, chewy texture of boiled barley makes a very good cereal with yogurt, ripe pear and cinnamon sugar or honey. Or berries and a cultured cream. Or anything you like.

Spring vegetables: leeks, artichokes, asparagus, broad beans, green beans, silver beet, fennel, add variation and sophistication to broths, in soups and stews. Think about: cream of asparagus, potato and leek, cream of spinach and mushroom, lemon and barley with vegetables, broccoli with a favourite cheese, coconut butternut; or an Asian pork and ginger broth with lovely new greens and Chinese dates; not forgetting our own soul food, tasty  NZ Boil Up with free range ribs, salt, pumpkin, potato and watercress and puha if you have some.

Globe Artichokes

One of my favourite spring recipes, and a lovely foil for artichokes is vignole, an Italian spring vegetable stew. There are many variations; I don't bother to pod my broad beans for myself, I use silverbeet and add plenty of lemon zest because I love it that way, but you can find your own way. Use whatever vegetables you can find, and although this recipe is a celebration of fresh vegetables, frozen works well too. Add them to the pot in an order which will allow them to be cooked at the same time. Key is a good home made stock I think; not too much as the vegetables are the stars, just enough to cover; either chicken or vegetable, but it needs to be courageous. You can add rice, pasta (preferably fresh to keep the stew soft).  Often a slice of prosciutto or diced ham is added with lots of parsley and mint. Any way you like, it is delicious.


3 Tbsp EV  olive oil
1 leek cleaned well and sliced into 3 cm lengths
1/2 bulb fennel, washed and slivered
2 spring onions cleaned and cut into 1 cm lengths
3 cloves garlic grated
2 lemons, zest only
6 spears of asparagus trimmed. Reserve tips to add at the end, remainder chopped into 3 cm lengths 
2 cups broad beans, podded for softness
2 cups peas, or any beans
small sprig rosemary
1 bunch silverbeet green leaves stripped and chopped, and if the stems are nice, they can be finely sliced and added too
2  artichokes, in eighths, fresh with outer leaves removed, stalks peeled and trimmed, rubbed with lemon juice, or frozen, or high quality jar, rinsed.
1/3 cup mint sprigs
chicken stock, to cover
salt, pepper to taste
a little EV olive oil and plenty (1/3 to 1/2 cup each) mint and parsley to serve.

Add oil to a heated pan. Add leeks, spring onion, fennel and garlic. Stir, and cook gently so as not to brown. Add lemon zest.
Add asparagus stems, beans, broad beans and peas, rosemary, and stir.
Add silverbeet, and when wilted, artichokes, asparagus tips and mint sprigs.
Stir, and add chicken stock to cover.
Top with the ham if using.
Simmer 5 to 10 minutes until vegetables are cooked. Stock will thicken slightly.
Check seasoning, and adjust if required.

Or use the same ingredients and completely change the method to a risotto!

I made vignole this week as a side for leftover lamb. I didn't have artichokes, added sliced potato and plenty of greens. I used borage leaves, spinach, and puha which I picked off the stalks and soaked in cold water for 10 minutes before adding, then plenty of lemon. The slices of lamb heated gently on top of the saucepan for the last minutes of cooking.  I could have added more mint, I thought as I ate, but it was delicious.

I hope you can make it to our next workshop.



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