Saturday, 9 February 2013

Letters from New Zealand

I'm in contact with Alysn and I've jokingly told a couple of people that she is running the Aukland branch of the Beetroot Tree.  Here is another letter from New Zealand and to start a fabulous recipe for Patties

Sweet Potato, mint and feta patties.

Great as freeze and reheat.

Serves 4

1lb 5 oz/600g sweet potatoes –peeled and grated (orange kumara)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup plain flour
2 ½ oz/70g butter, melted
3 ½ oz/100g feta cheese, crumbled
3 tbspn chopped mint
1tbspn veg oil

Sour cream
Fresh chopped parsley

1 mix the grated sweet potato with the egg, flour melted butter, feta and mint until well combined. Seaon with s&p.
2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spoon large tbspn of mixture into patties, flattening slightly and cook on both sides until golden (we placed the patties in flour to make them more handleable)
3. Slide patties onto a cookie sheet (use parchment paper over unless using a silicone sheet) and bake in preheated oven (325 F/160C) 15 mins until crisp.

If freezing, place parchment between the patties.

Word of the week for you is ‘tramping’, Kiwi’s don’t go walking, they tramp.

Brian and I booked to join a group of ‘Trampers’ and go for a 7k walk. When it said that the walk would be 5 hours, I thought – wimps! At the end of a good solid 5 hours walking up and down dale, plenty of huffing and puffing and ‘glowing’ (because ladies don’t sweat), I believed them!

The walk left Whatipu beach and followed upstream through native bush, past an area which was once a large settlement for the Maori (you can see why – the sea for food, fresh water, flat ground for cultivation, wood for building and fuel and bush for hunting), we tramped uphillcrossing the stream several times along the Kura track then crossed to the Omanawanui track, fantastic views along the coast and then down back towards the car park for the obligatory beer, wine and chips. (Second NZ word of the week: Chips means crisps, but hot chips are chips!)

A feature of the walk were the Kauri trees. Kauris are a magnificent, huge when mature and ancient tree species, evidence of their existence reaching back to the Jurassic period. They have many adaptive characteristics which have made it such a successful tree, including amongst other features  a flaking bark which protects it from parasitic plants, it drops its lower branches which discourages vines from growing up it, the leaves and bark are acidic, which stops many plants and other trees from growing around it and smothering the young Kauri.

Because its trunk grows straight, the wood is close grained and resistant to rot, over 90% of the Kauri trees were used between 1000 and 1900 AD, by the Maori and by Europeans for boats, ships, railways, houses and decorative use. Logging is now banned and efforts have been made to re-introduce the trees to their native areas.

 It is a sad consequence of the movement of people and animals across borders, especially oceans which may otherwise have protected ecosystems, that foreign pests can become a problem. One such problem which has reached NZ is a disease called ‘Kauri dieback’. This is a soil borne disease from Australia which first affects the bark of the Kauri tree and then kills the tree. There seems to be no treatment. It is a soil borne pest,  so the management involves placing disinfectant and boot scrapers for everyone to use at the start of tracks through areas in which Kauri’s are found, and efforts are being made to control other introduced animals which root in the soil then spread contaminated soil to the next area.

A week ago my parents braved the snow and after delays reached us for a holiday. This gives me an excuse to continue being a tourist and to take time to visit new areas and attractions around us. So far our site seeing has included the lovely Puhoi village (A reserved Bohemian settlement and site of a cheese factory to visit and buy scrummy local cheese and ice-cream), Waiwera Hot Springs, the Kaipara sculpture trail (more of which on soon), Helensville (another settler town with a real outback feel and the best antique shop I have found so far) and a preserved lava forest.

I haven’t been idle in making new friends and contacts but will leave letting you know about those until later.

I am also excited by the exhibition planning which I am working on with Paul and the Beetroot Tree team for the next few months. I won’t spoil the surprise by letting on what is coming, but I will be missing some good stuff (don’t forget to check out

I have just heard that our container arrives in 4 days, so excitement and trepidation are equally balanced!  (Alysn has told me that her container has arrived so now she can have her own things around her)

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