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Thursday, August 30, 2012


Spring is here! I love the change of seasons. All of a sudden we seem to go from cold quiet earth to little lambies springing about and trees in blossom. You can almost feel mother nature taking a huge breath out. I always thought that it was such a shame that Easter (or Eostre) wasn’t celebrated in spring, all of the allusions to fertility and new life with rabbits and eggs seem a bit lost on Autumn. Being a bit of a celebration fiend I feel that most of the ‘traditional’ commercial holidays are a bit off in the Southern Hemisphere and as such I have recently bought a NZ published book called Celebrating the Southern Seasons: Rituals for Aotearoa written by Juliet Batten. It’s a fabulous book which looks at seasonal changes, pagan ceremony and native maori traditions to construct a more logical way to celebrate the change of seasons.

Bird Hunter Tautoru, also known as Orion the hunter
On August the second we had Imbolc or ‘first light’, in ancient Celtic tradition this was symbolic of the flowing of milk or the birth of new stock.  The word Imbolc literally means ‘ewes milk’. For New Zealand Maori  this change of seasons was known as Hongonui, a cold time to light fires. This is when the ground would be prepared to plant crops. The constellation Orion was known as Tautoru the bird hunter and after Matariki when the Pleiades entered the Southern skies time was spent observing Orion and the Pleiades movement in the night sky. When I was little I remember dad pointing out Orions belt to me, it is my favourite constellation!

 Rituals associated with first light are the lighting of candles, drinking of milk or eating milk based meals, feeling the earth (Papatūānuku), spring cleaning, star gazing and lighting fires.

 We celebrated Imbolc in a low key manner (which is the tradition) with a candlelit dinner and a peek at the night sky. It strikes me that if you were an Easter type person then now would be the time to decorate eggs and eat rabbit. You could also do something earthy and pagan like pouring milk into the earth. Next year I might be a bit more organised and go a little more into the ceremonial side of it. As it was it felt really amazing to actually be engaged in a celebration that had some relevance to our life in the antipodes. I felt more in touch with our seasons and what they mean to us and, almost like magic, as soon as Imbolc had passed all of my farmy friends suddenly had lambs, goats, sheep and cows being born left right and centre. 

 Spirits were dampened however by almost a whole month of rainfall (scuse the pun) which drove everyone with kids stir crazy and turned the ground into a mucky mire. As a result a coccidiosis epidemic occurred which knocked out a lot of new life. And that’s the understanding really, when we are more in touch with the land and the seasons there is the flipside, new life and death go hand in hand. It’s easy to see how celebration and ceremony could be turned into superstition and sacrifice!

Here are some family friendly things you can do to celebrate imbolc

1.       Build a hugelkultur or start a compost heap

2.       Make real custard out of eggs and milk to eat with spring fruit

3.       Have a milk bath like Cleopatra

4.       Camp out for the evening and do some star gazing ( this works so much better in the countryside)

5.       Decorate some eggs a la Easter

6.       Have an easter egg hunt

7.       Bake some spring biscuits

8.       Have a candle light dinner

9.       Build a bonfire (check with local council regulations first)

10.    Float tealight candles in a pond or pool

11.   Make a bird feeder 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I fudged it up

I found a really yummy looking raw fudge recipe on facebook that got me excited, the picture made me salivate with anticipation! The thought of a tasty chocolate recipe that was sort of guilt free had me sweating like a jogger with anticipation. Even more exciting  - I had all of the ingredients on hand. I almost lost the plot. So I immediately got my dates out and started soaking them.

This is the recipe here. Posted by


 26 medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 20 minutes

 1 cup raw cacao powder

 1/2 cup coconut oil


First, make sure you have some soft coconut oil (coconut butter). It doesn’t have to be liquid, but it shouldn’t be white and hard either. Leave it out at a warm room temperature so that it is soft enough to work with.

Then soak 26 medjool dates in water for about 20 minutes. This helps to soften them up so that they are easily blended. Be sure to pit them first.

In a blender or food processor, mix the coconut oil and dates until almost mixed. Next, add the cacao power and blend until completely mixed. The mixture will become thick and form a ball in the blender or food processor.

Press the ball of fudge into the bottom of a small pan and let is sit in the refrigerator for about on hour. The coconut oil will help further solidify the fudge. I topped mine (before putting in fridge, press down lightly) with buckwheat groats and cacao nibs!!

Then cut it into pieces and enjoy 

The recipe comes with this little picture. Looks yummy right?

The problem with some recipes is that they don’t always turn out as expected, I suspect a combination of happy go lucky measuring and ingredient differences resulted in a mixture that resembled cow pats, cow pats that wouldn’t set. After 24 hrs in the fridge I decided to give the freezer a go, surely if I got it cold enough it would harden up? Right? Right????


 One week in the deep freeze and the mixture was still too soft to use for anything. I almost despaired. Then I had a brainwave! 2 blocks of dark Ghana chocolate, a big old mess and a lot of fun later I had some delectable, dairy free, nutritious one hit wonder truffles. 


So let this be a lesson to you, ALWAYS follow the recipe gram for gram and be prepared to innovate….

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Green Garlic Butter

I love garlic, I love garlic butter. Currently I have 2 whole beds of little garlic shoots sprouting up and each and every one of them is probably destined to be garlic butter. My poor heart. Or is it?

Garlic has some phenomenal health benefits including cardio protective properties and butter even has some healthy components, such as medium chain fatty acids. I doubt we’ll be hailing garlic butter as the next health food but it’s still not as bad as we might thing – especially when made properly.

Here is a little recipe I concocted to harness the antiviral and cholesterol lowering goodness of garlic in a spreadable butter!

Green Garlic Butter

200 grams butter
 50 grams softened coconut oil – deodorised.
Fist full of parsley
Whole head of garlic peeled and crushed
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

In a saucepan sizzle the garlic in a tablespoon of your butter. You can skip this step but you lose heaps on overall flavor if you do.  Crushing the garlic releases the sulphur compounds and has the biggest health benefits by activating specific compounds. When you sauté it you do not need to brown it, only the slightest sizzle is needed and this will preserve the integrity for maximum health benefits and flavor.

Technique is everything for this one, here are a few key things to get right. The coconut oil MUST be soft, not melted but soft like spreadable butter. The butter also needs to be soft, a little bit melted is fine but not liquid.  If it goes liquid then it will lose its creamy goodness and split. If it's too hard then it won't combine and you will end up with butter that has coconut lumps in it.

Once the garlic is sautéed tip it into your blender with the, parsley, softened coconut oil and butter. Add a pinch of Himalayan rock salt then blend until smooth and light green. I used my magic bullet but any blender will do. If the mixture is too thick then warm it a little and then repeat the blending. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate.

Perfect for spreading on toast, basting roasties, a butter rub or adding to savoury dishes for flavor.

Om nom nom

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wash Your Fruit

Pesticides on fruit and veg don't just sit on the surface of the skin, they soak into the flesh and are absorbed into the leaves and stems. Peeling or washing your produce will only remove a percentage of the pesticides but you should still do it. And here is why.

Glass on the right is vinegar mix before washing, Glass on the left is vinegar mix AFTER washing

I use a vinegar fruit wash to clean my produce, it helps reduce mould growth (great for berries), kills any surface bacteria and helps to break down the waxes and pesticides on commercially grown fruit. 

My recipe is

1 part vinegar
4 parts water
1 tiny squidge of eco grade diswashing liquid - less than a drop. This breaks the surface tension and acts as a wetting agent.

Submerge your fruit in this mix for 3 minutes before rinsing off.

Clean fruit!
You can also make a 50/50 mix to put in a spray bottle for bigger fruit that won't handle soaking even for short periods.