Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WINTER STOCKTAKE

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
WINTER PUMPKIN SOUP
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

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