Tuesday, June 29, 2010


In this modern world we live in today, it is easy to forget about what seasons are. Yet the seasons are constantly changing and shifting, daylight waxes and wanes, and, sometimes extravagantly and often subtly, nature changes her face.  We see it as rain or shine, going to the beach or going to the ski-field but what really are seasons? 
Many ancient cultures devised artful explanations for the never-ending transition from spring to summer to autumn to winter. The Navajo Indians believed the seasons were caused by Estsanatlehi, the wife of the Sun God. They believe that Estsanatlehi renews herself each spring, blossoms in the summer, ages through the autumn, and dies in the winter.   
Matariki is the Maori celebration of the new year, and is dependant on the visibility of Matariki (the Star), thus in turn determined the coming season's crop.   The brighter the stars indicated the warmer the season would be and thus a more productive crop. It was also seen as an important time for family to gather and reflect on the past and the future.
In the modern world we live in in Matariki means celebrating the unique place in which we live and giving respect to the land we live on, that of in Marlborough and on the land of Marlborough.  The Matariki star constellation marked a time for starting all things new, this was a particularly important period for new crops to be planted and the preserving of old crops to be finished. When Matariki was sighted ceremonial offerings of food were planted for the gods Uenuku and Whiro to ensure a good harvest for the coming year.  In today world we only need to look in the fridge to celebrate the harvest, and you can tell a lot about people by what they hunt and gather  from around them.
The Matariki stars  (the star cluster, Pleiades and as known in Japen as Subaru) themselves were looked upon for guidance as to how successful the coming season would be; the brighter the star constellation the warmer the year was destined and the better the harvest was thought to be.   The timing of Matariki fell at the end of a harvest and food stores were full. Meat, fruits, herbs and vegetables had been gathered and preserved and the migration of certain fish ensured a great period of feasts. Matariki was seen as a time to share with each other, for family and friends to come together and share in the gifts that the land and sea had provided for them.  It does not have to be a formal occasion but in a world where takeaway and TV dinners are the normal Matariki is now more and more relevant as he learn, grasp and attempt to understand what is important in life. 

Seasons are a important  way of remembering that life is not all about the  generic same same, and making everything fit into a box or neat little packages, life is about how bright the stars shine and how you embrace what you have
To intensify the flavour of this soup peel and roast pumpkins and vegetables until golden brown and then add the stock.   
1.5kg Pumpkin
2 onions chopped and diced roughly
2 stalks celery
4 cloves Marlborough garlic crushed
2 T Marlborough salt
1 t Fresh black pepper
Liquid to cover + extra - to intensify flavor use ½ vegetable or chicken stock and ½ water
Place all ingredients in a large pot and cook for 5 mins with a little grape seed oil, stirring well, add liquid until it covers plus 1/3 rd again.  Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook until soft (15 mins).  Puree and then check for seasoning, add garnishes and serve
Garnishes for pumpkin soup
1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
Sour cream
1/4 c chopped parsley
Freshly ground Black pepper and Marlb Flaky Sea Salt

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The ugly the tastier

They all belong to the same family but do not share the same looks, Parsnips, carrots, celery and celeriac.  Even though celery has a long history and was prized by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans the same cannot be said about children valuing it in the 21 st century

The ugliness of the celeriac should however be something that we celebrate,  for hiding under its tough and rough brown dry skin is a white flavoursome and creamy flesh.  Celeriac Remoulade (grated raw and mixed with mustard mayonnaise) is the most famous of all dishes in France and is a every day  food eaten at the dinner table (think of the kiwi version of coleslaw!)  Celeriac is pungent and crunch when raw and creamy and soft when baked or mashed or can be baked just as parsnips and potatoes are. The uglier the celeriac the better it tastes !
Ugliness is the real test for how good something will taste, the uglier the better and the more flavoursome is my general rule of thumb.   There is something about ugly food that just seems to make it taste better than everything else, take heirloom tomatoes, paua, nips and tats,  forked carrots, wild rocket and bitter lettuces, Jerusalem artichokes and many other vegetables and foods for example.   Over the past  two decades, strict E.U. regulations had dictated the shape, size and appearance of 36 fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets, with strangely precise bans on such items as:
• Cucumbers that bend by a curve of more than 10 mm per 10 cm
• Forked carrots

For those who truly understand food, this ban was seen as wasteful because up to 20% of perfectly tasty produce simply does not meet this grade,  because it wasn't up to snuff visually. Fruits and vegetables can be ugly on the outside but still taste fine on the inside, where it counts, Heirloom tomatoes may look like Frankenstein, but they often taste better than the perfectly round, plasticized tomatoes you see in supermarkets. An irregular shape usually has nothing to do with taste. Next time you looking for inspiration, don’t look past the ugly food, you may just try something that you end up really liking

Celeriac Remoulade
1 Celeriac
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lemon
½ cup of mayonnaise (homemade or use mayonnaise that does not contain any sickly sugar)
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped

Peel the celeriac with a large knife,  slice off either end and cut in half lengthways. Lie each half on a chopping board and slice into thin slices. Lie 4 slices on top of each other at a time and cut into thin matchsticks (this is called julliene). Even easier is to use a good quality grater and to grate thickly.  Place the celeriac in a bowl and sprinkle the slices with sea salt and squeeze lemon juice over them. Stir in the mayonnaise and the mustard and check the seasoning.  Serve with smoked fish, wild game, ham, walnuts or antipasto style items.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

“a compassion deficiency”

“a compassion deficiency”

 “The depression was in origin a matter of markets and prices; prices for all major exports suffered a sharp and prolonged fall. The cut in the farmers' income blighted the whole of society and government; merchants and shopkeepers who sold to the farmer, banks and credit agencies who had lent him money, workers who handled and processed his products. The whole economy slowed down, and the symptoms of the illness appeared everywhere: farmers unable to meet interest payments and threatened with foreclosure, tradesmen and shopkeepers faced with bankruptcy, large employers reducing staff and cutting wages, wage earners either unemployed or underpaid facing destitution and eviction. Generally speaking, society was divided into two groups: those who could hold on in straitened circumstances and await the upturn, such as established farmers, business and professional men, and white collar workers with secure tenure; and, secondly, those with little or nothing to fall back upon, small farmers on poor land, wage earners subject to dismissal, casual workers, the aged, the widows, and the infirm without private means. For these latter, there was no recourse beyond niggardly public relief and haphazard private charity.
Extract from the 1920’s
Soup is good food, soup is “moms”, mom means compassion, moms’ compassion protects from everything (even preservatives) because it always helps
It seems we always have a compassion deficiency and adding compassion always enhances life.   When you are too busy, you do not create or experience enough compassion. When you take a moment to make yourself some tea, hot chocolate or soup you are showing yourself attention and care. Compassion deficiency results in symptoms, seemingly placed at random in the body. The signal from symptoms is that you need more compassion, overall. We ignore the signals for compassion replenishment at our peril. Our subjective thoughts create our reality for better or worse. More compassion is “for better,” less compassion is for “worse.”

Conclusion. Creating compassion enhances healing, health, happiness, longevity, creativity, productivity and everything else good we want. And if you focus on any one correlate, you will enhance the others. This is synchronicity and why people say we should think positive thoughts. Positive synchronicity helps exclude the negative information of fear and its correlates of pain, sickness and disease – medicine, invasive procedures and doctors.

Serving and consuming soup is positive. It is good food but not necessarily for the reason most people believe. And that reason, you know by now, is pretty important.

So far, my research has found the power of compassion has unlimited potential in helping us create better realities. In practice, it seems to be limited only by our beliefs of what is possible. Maybe it is time to start changing some beliefs.

Compassion? That is the short answer to the question: Why is soup good food?

For your bowl of locally made passion come to the soup kitchen at the Marlborough Winter Twighlight Farmers markets – 2 pm to 5 pm, Thursdays, market place.  Local Chef Matt from Highfield Estate Wintery will be serving Locally made compassion with potatoes and leeks

Matts Potatoe and  Leek Soup
For a full flavoured soup firstly, preferably a day ahead make a court Bouillon, you will need about 3 Litres.
Take 3 carrots, 3 celery sticks, 1 fennel bulb, 3 cloves of garlic, 5 peppercorns, 3 star anise, 6 Bay leaves and a handful of herbs.
Roughly chop vegetables and place in stockpot with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes remove and allow to cool.
The next day sieve off all the ingredients so as to leave yourself the liquid, this is your court bouillon (stock)
To make to soup:
2 Tbspoons butter
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic crushed
600g potatoes peeled and cleaned, cut into small cubes
200g chopped and washed leek
3 litres of court Bouillon
1 Litre of cream
salt and pepper
cracked pepper

Melt butter in pot adding onion and garlic, gently brown until translucent, add potatoes and leek and gently sweat.
Add Bouillon and simmer for around 30-45 minutes take soup and pass through a moule or food processor transfer back to pot and gently reheat adding cream Season to taste and finish with cracked pepper. Yum.