Welcome to our little patch of paradise in sunny Nelson, New Zealand. Homegrown Kitchen is where I share our simple life of growing food in the backyard, making things from scratch, and our favorite family recipes. For many years (almost 2 decades!) I have been studying, researching and teaching others how to cook and eat well through my food writing and cooking workshops workshops in Nelson and around New Zealand.
I started this blog as a place to share recipes inspired by what is growing in my garden and locally sourced seasonal produce. With two young children life is full… so the food we eat is simple, fresh and easy to prepare. What we eat is largely decided by what is growing in the garden and available at the local markets, combined with everyday pantry staples.
I also love making everyday kitchen ingredients such as bread, yogurt, preserves and ferments from scratch. I have spent years refining and mastering these traditional techniques to make them as simple as possible so to fit into our busy modern lives. I have shared these recipes and my favourite family meals in my new cookbook Homegrown Kitchen – Everyday Recipes for Eating Well.
Another little video from my kitchen made in 2012…
I grew up on a large property overlooking the city of Nelson. My parents were both GP’s (medical doctors) with a particular interest in holistic health incorporating acupuncture and diet education into their practice. Our house, built by my father in the early 80’s, had one of the first solar water heaters in the country and utilised recycled timber. Caring for the environment was important to my parents and has become something I am also passionate about. I now live several kilometers from my childhood home with my own family of four on a quarter acre with 35 fruiting plants, large vegetable beds, a glasshouse, 5 happy chooks, and a bubbling brook at the bottom of the garden.
When I finished school I trained as a chef before traveling around New Zealand and the world. While I was living in Canada in my early twenties, and feeling drained from the late-night chef lifestyle, I decided to study a diploma in natural nutrition. During my studies I discovered the digestive problems and lethargy I had endured for many years was due to a wheat intolerance. This sparked my interest into traditional cooking techniques such as sourdough and lacto-fermentation to enhance the digestibility and nutritional value of the food we consume.
On returning to New Zealand I combined my knowledge of cooking and nutrition to run cooking workshops in Nelson and around New Zealand. I also began my freelance food writing and photography career regularly contributing recipes and images to magazines, and writing cookbooks including the popular Feeding Little Tummies (now out of print). My fourth cookbook Homegrown Kitchen – Everyday Recipes for Eating Well, was released April 2017 and is now available in bookstores around New Zealand plus personally signed copies HERE. My recipe focus is on using nutrient-rich everyday ingredients, and where possible I include variations for gluten- and dairy-free (my son is dairy intolerant).
The garden is an integral part of my kitchen where I grow fresh food using basic organic methods. Organic gardening is largely about feeding and nurturing the soil to grow healthy strong plants. Plants that we then eat and gain the benefits of the healthy soil they grew in. The garden provides me with inspiration for many of my recipes, hence the name of this blog – although I am certainly not an expert gardener so this is not a blog about gardening. It takes time and many seasons to understand a garden, and I am learning the rhythms of my own garden, but every garden is a little different. Everyday I spend time (however long or short) in the garden with my family, where we can take a break from the busy-ness of our day, away from screens and disruptions, to slow down and enjoy nature.
This is my story… of eating well and living a simpler life. I hope you enjoy my recipes and stories found here. Thanks for visiting. Aroha nui, Nicola
*Find my food writing, styling and photography portfolio HERE. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram, plus find my monthly recipe columns in MiNDFOOD Magazine and Wild Tomato Magazine (Nelson/ Marlborough).
Press & Awards
- June 2017 – Sunday Star Times – Lynda Hallinan HK cookbook review
- June 2017 – Stuff.co.nz Homed – home kitchen tour and interview
- May 2017 – North & South Magazine – interview and recipes featured
- May 2017 – NZ Listener – Homegrown Kitchen cookbook review by Lauraine Jacobs
- April 2017 – NZ Gardener – Homegrown Vegetables for A Chef’s Garden
- April 2017 – NZ House & Garden – HK cookbook review
- April 2017 – interview on National Radio – Using vegetable scraps for stock making – listen HERE
- April 2017 – Nelson Mail – interview HERE
- March 2016 – Whanua Living TV One cooking segment – watch HERE.
- February 2016 – interview on National Radio – Preserving the Harvest – listen HERE
- Finalist: Best NZ Publication – 2015 Culinary Quill Awards – NZ Guild of Food Writers (other finalists in this category included Cuisine Magazine and Healthy Food Guide)
- March 2015 – interview on National Radio – Growing and cooking beetroot – listen HERE
- June 2014 – Next Magazine – ‘Web Star’ feature & recipe – Brulee Millet & Coconut Puddings
- February 2014 – Presented a cooking segment on the TV series Whanau Living – watch it HERE
- Finalist: Best Website/ Blog 2013 Culinary Quill Awards – NZ Guild of Food Writers (current member)
- Winner: Voted Best Food Blog – 2013 Munch Awards