OK, so this year has been a little manic. There has been the teaching around the country, food writing for magazines, producing a 2015 recipe calendar, and not to mention family life. Friends often say, ‘I don’t know how you do it with two young children’. Well, I will let you in on a little secret, and it’s called functional eating. I don’t think I have put a name to it here before, but these two words have been rattling around in my head for a while now. Basically using my knowledge of food and nutrition I fuel my body with the best possible food to give me energy and support the immune system. While also providing extra nutrients that can be stored away for those times of extra manic-ness when the body needs some reserves to fall back on.
Today I am introducing a new category to Homegrown Kitchen where every month or so I will share a homemade kitchen essential. In actual fact it is not the first time I have shared a homemade staple ingredient and have included a list below of others you may be interested in. It is more an intention on my part to make it a regular event around here rather than just when the urge arises.
To kick it off I am unraveling one of natures finest products and the simplest of pantry essentials to create – vanilla extract. I am yet to find someone who does not like vanilla – occasionally I come across someone who can’t stand chocolate – but so far not vanilla. I once read somewhere-out-there that the areola, the darker circle of flesh around a woman’s nipple, releases a subtle vanilla scent to entice a newborn baby to the breast. If this is true, then it most certainly explains why we love vanilla, because it makes us feel loved and nurtured – we all like a bit of that. Then again, that theory may just be a myth – as my Dad always told me ‘believe nothing of what you hear [read], and only half of what you see’. In any way it sounds plausible to me and makes for a good story.
A question I am asked often is, ‘when is your next cookbook coming out?’ The simple answer – not for a while, although it is happening. With two young children my time is pretty limited [to say the least]. Plus the kind of books I write are a little different than your average cookbooks that are often more cosy on the bookshelf than open on the kitchen bench. I tend to write books that are bursting at the seams with information, that are used and referred to often. Those of you reading this who own a copy of Feeding Little Tummies will know what I am talking about here. It is choker with kitchen tips and nutrition information, and of-course recipes. I am planning to repeat this theme for my next book, so it will take time. Plus I will style and photograph all the recipes myself this time. This is a HUGE task.
As I travel around the country running my Cooking Workshops I am often asked where I am visiting from. This question is generally not asked by the people coming to a workshop, but the other people I encounter during my trips. The shuttle driver, the cook school staff, hotel owner etc. And when I say Nelson, the response is always the same. ‘OH you are so lucky, I LOVE Nelson.’
Of-course I can only agree, that is why I live here. It is also my hometown, however many of my school friends now live elsewhere so that is not really why I live here. I live here because of my friends and the larger intertwined community, the access to amazing local food, the closeness of un-crowded golden beaches, national parks, and mountains. And it is a great place to bring up children – safe, community-based, good schools, and the weather is often sunny and warm.
If you have been following along here for a while you may have noticed it has been a little quieter than usual this last month. This is partly due to my busy cooking workshop schedule this term, both in Nelson and around New Zealand. And as if I wasn’t busy enough already, I am also working on a little publication including some of my favourite recipes. All will be revealed very soon, as they go to print next week, so don’t go far.
With the help of my graphic designer sister we have put together a selection of mostly brand new recipes. Although in no way are they new for us as they are some of the recipes I cook most often throughout the year. I have been squirreling away quite a few recipes for my next book. However as this won’t be coming for a few years [until my children are at school], I have instead created something a little smaller and compact. Something both functional and delicious. I can’t wait to share more details soon. For now, here is a little sneak peek.
Valencia Orange & Honey Curd just sounds so much better than boring old Orange Curd. When I wrote the title of this post I wasn’t even sure if our oranges were of the Valencia variety, I just loved the romantic sound of the name. However, a quick goggle search confirmed that our oranges are in fact Valencia’s as they don’t have a tummy button like navel oranges [you can read all about HERE if you want].