There and Back again with Added Flavours – a trip away broadens the food horizon!


Shellfish (called Pippies in NZ) dug up with toes from Blackpool beach


Our home-grown peaches and avocados

big O

I have been there and back again in true hobbit sense and I confess my heart mostly lies there. It is taking me some time to adjust to my urban wintry skyscape and digest all that I have seen. Firstly let me say I know that I am lucky in the extreme to be able to call such a unique part of paradise my  home (at least when I am in New Zealand). I post the pictures above not to make anyone feel envious (no, really) but to show how it closely nature and food can be connected, well particularly in a warm temperate climate. Sadly the climate was almost too warm and dry when I was home, as on Waiheke, similar to many other places in New Zealand, we are reliant on rain-water fed tanks for drinking, washing and watering plants. It hadn’t rained for many, many weeks when I left and many farms have become dustbowls. But onto food…

The top picture shows a favourite New Zealand shellfish, similar to a cockle, usually dug up with ones feet, which we harvested from a little tidal beach not far from our house. We made them into the typical fritters with some eggs, flour and herbs. The New Zealand government allows you to take 150 per person per day! You are also allowed 50 sea eggs (Kina), 20 scallops or 50 mussles – when I was young I don’t remember any restrictions but these days limits have been set to conserve natural resources.

On the island (see pic above) you can fish off the  rocks and catch a snapper for supper if you are lucky. No license is required for sea fishing but the fish must be of a certain size, unlike the fish I saw being sold in Crete last year which would barely make a mouthful! There’s a lot of composting going on and many residents grow vegetables, fruits and are the guardians of beehives. There is what I call extreme recycling going on with grey waste water, and at the local dump where you can drop anything usable so others may benefit from your castaways. Island residents are very aware that non-recylables have to be transported off island at a high cost – so the least amount of waste the better. And at the market on Saturday everyone is doing a little honest trading with anything from sun-dried plums on sale, to cardamon and lemon tarts, to fresh herbs, lavender products, coconut buns, second hand books, locally made fashion – it’s the place where everyone meets for a chat and some fine, homemade food and coffee. See below for the lovely home-made tarts on sale. Waiheke is a vibrant community where people are doing what they can, to earn a daily crust, keep the earth as healthy as possible and get by. I did an Eco tour while there and learned much more about composting Bokashi style, about eco- style building, about grey water use and square foot gardening – the latter is entirely ‘doable” for us here in the lowlands, and I will be attempting it this year.

One man has built a Gaudi style Bio Backpackers out of home made mud bricks and old paper, madly interesting and an intense labour of love. Suffice it to say I was inspired by the food I tasted while home, the people who shared their valuable knowledge and I will do my best to pass it on to as many people as I can.

Not only was I gathering knowledge I was collecting recipes and sampling as well. My friend Linnet in Singapore was kind enough to share some of her favourite recipes with me and so I am now sharing with you. Given that we quinoa eaters are in danger of depleting  the locals main protein source, I leave it up to you to use quinoa or substitute it with bulgar as I did. This dish is good warm or cold, can be stored in the fridge for 3 days and is an excellent and substantial side-dish. I served it recently with Halloumi and pea fritters, a yogurt sauce and a crisp green salad – the punters were impressed.

I will call this Linnet’s Yummy Tahini & lentil Salad

1 cup cooked bulgar or quinoa

half a teaspoon salt

quarter of a cup of lemon juice

quarter if a cup of olive oil

quarter of a cup of tahini

same of warm water

1 clove of garlic

half a tsp ground cumin

half a tsp ground black pepper

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 cup cucumber diced (optional to make it a more summery dish)

1 cup cooked drained lentils – green or cooked chickpeas etc ( I used roasted red peppers for a little sweetness!)

2/3rd cup of finely chopped parsley

2 finely chopped spring onions


Mix the lemon juice, oil, tahini, warm water, garlic, cumin, pepper and salt together. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, toss and serve.

Linnet's yummy salad with halloumi fritters

Linnet’s yummy salad with halloumi fritters

Oh, I have loads more recipes to share but I won’t overburden you! Travel is wonderful to broaden the mind and the broad bean mash I met along the way was pretty jolly good too.

Thanks Tracey, Linnet, Jacinta, Jane, Fiona, Briar Sheryl, Tanya, my sister Dyanne, nieces Charlotte & Annabelle, nephews Sam and Paul for putting up with me and showing me a right royal time. New Zealand, Waiheke I pray to all the weather gods for a decent drop of life-giving rain for that dusty earth.

Apologies for the empty blog post earlier today, some tiny, weeny, over-eager typing fingers I fear!

Kathy Voyles

14 March, 2013

homemade gorgeous pies at the Saturday market on Waiheke

homemade gorgeous pies at the Saturday market on Waiheke

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