We used to have this big ole cow bell that the mokopuna would love to ring to round everyone up to the dinner table. You'd have to block your ears when you rang it, cos it boomed through the house, but since we did a mini kitchen reno and the bell and the cabinet it was on, was removed, we've had to resort back to shouting out at the top of our lungs now the whānau have moved back. It's been ages since we have had our whānau all in the same country, let alone eating kai together so last night's call to "Get the table extension out, set the table, grab some more chairs, kai is ready" makes me appreciate again how blessed we are to finally have all our children back in Aotearoa.
Our two eldest children and their tribe came back home from Melbourne in two tranches. Both families went through the drama of booking MIQ spots after trying for several months, with one arriving home from MIQ just before Christmas, and the rest of the famz in the New Year. We were marae styles here for a wee while and now our house feels like it was when they were last all living with us 8 years or so ago - except that, our three lil mokopuna that lived with us back then have grown into teenagers, and along with their parents, have brought the noise and life back into the house again!
It's still a settling in period for everyone, us included, even though its nearing two months now. The mokopuna are learning from home this week (and next) as the college is mostly closed due to teachers and students recovering from a recent covid outbreak. Like everyone else we are figuring out our new norm in these everchanging times.
A good friend gave me a cool as diary as a Christmas gift and I marvel through the whakataukī on the pages. There's a few that hit home for me, but this one in particular: Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa - Let us keep close together, not far apart, acknowledges to me how much it means to have my whānau home, and to make sure I make the most of that. Although the kids have told me that they miss the big cow bell and find yelling out all over the house for everyone to come to the table a bit tiresome, I love that I can call out to them "Come on, kai is ready". So love having them home.
Noho ora mai, Till next time,
Stopping to smell the roses, enjoying the scenery, that's the best way to enjoy the journey, right? My head tells me to take a pause, get your nose in there, and smell those gorgeous roses, and keep that balance - in amongst the chaos of whānau, study, and Toru Road Kai I definitely need to stop and take in the scenery.
Being by the ocean always calms me, as it does for most of us, and is my go to place when I need a pick-me-up. That Blue Mind theory about 75% of the brain being made up of water (and 60% of the body) triggers a response in the brain to tell me that when I'm by the water, I'm in the right place. Yes its true, its a blue mind thing lol. I reckon some of that has to come from being lucky enough to grow up just down the road from the beach, on Toru Road in Paraparaumu, and being able to soak that in everyday. Also it could have a wee bit to do with us living on an island in the Pacific Ocean!
A few weeks ago on a walk around Pauatahanui, the sight of seven orca right in the inlet stopped everyone in their tracks. I could've sat there for the day just watching them, it was so cool to see them, and it set my spirit level right again. I was really happy that they made their own way out of the Inlet that same night, I don't think I could stand to see them being herded out - they got themselves in there for a reason and I'm pretty sure they knew how (and did) to find their way out again. There was a whaling station in Porirua back in the day so this was a place that they would've come to, and perhaps, maybe this is a sign that they are returning to this place once again, that would be amaze.
My Toru Road Kai work has kept me on my toes, and balancing my work with my study over the past year has been challenging for those around me (talking about Augie really lol). Whilst I study, he will do every kinda chore you can think of, and when I do my Toru Road Kai, he's my main sous chef (was going to put helper but I know better). Every now and then he will take time off from his own work to help me, so I really appreciate him. I'm now onto my very last assignment for my Bachelor of Business (Management) and I'm not sure who is more excited about it, him or me! He deserves a medal either way for keeping me fed, cared for, and sane for all those years of torment!
And of course, as I near the end of one piece of learning, I go and start another (you can see Aug's face can't you!), but what's so cool is that all this learning is and has been for me, not for anyone else, and this past year of study has all been about what's good for me and Toru Road. So on Sunday I started Ka Hao i Te Ao, a programme run through Te Whare Hukahuka to get indigenous people from around the world into starting their own e-commerce business (check it out next intake is February). I'm in a rōpu with around 20 other business owners, some are start-ups like me, others have been around for quite a while. My aim is to give my Toru Road Events and Props Hire businesses (my side hustles) a push, get their own e-commerce site running properly, and also to take the learnings I gain into my Toru Road Kai business as well. Look anything in the digital marketing space will surely help me as its just not my forte!
To gain a scholarship you had to do 5 comfort challenges, so basically do stuff that you find awkward for the day, and then video yourself talking about it, and load it up onto social media. The videoing was, and still is, the challenge! But I guess the more you do it the more of a habit it becomes. So video content is a big part of my next piece of work, and I will be publishing/flooding my personal page going forward with videos each week to comment on the speaker, and then on one of the modules - cementing the learning, already have my first one up. Good news is, that Augie doesn't have to suffer for too long with me and this piece of study - its only 10 weeks and not quite as intense as previously so will be done in time for Christmas. Then, we/me/us can take a well-deserved pause, find a beach, a lake, a pond, a swimming pool, or paddling pool, and I know for sure that we will most definitely be taking in the scenery!
Over the past few years there has been significant events that have occurred in my life around the time of Matariki. Often changemaking decisions are presented around that cusp and as each New Year reveals itself I reflect on the past year, and look at the direction I am going in the upcoming year. Whilst I might not see right now what has appeared for this year, I know that the elastic band of goals that I set for Matariki are dragging me up and flinging me into the future.
Madly it’s been just over a year since I finished 30 years of working for others. I can’t quite believe that either. It was a big step to go into the unknown and the best thing that I have done for myself in forever. I took a couple of months off to get back to me, and then I started Toru Road, and at the same undertook to finish my study towards a Bachelor of Business (Management) which I have been doing part-time for an eternity. I can thankfully say that I’m on to the last two papers now! Yesssss.
One of my best delights has been this week, when for the first time that I can remember I was able to take time out in what would have been one of the busiest times during my old work-life to spend the past two days with my moko Winter, just having her all to myself – no sharing with her Papa! I so appreciate that I can spend time with her. Luckily she loves being in the kitchen so we’ve had a lot of fun making kai together. She has her own cooking utensils, but apparently my rolling pin is better (and bigger) than hers, and even the place that I am standing is better than where her chair is (right next to me I add), so of course we have to swap places and utensils. I haven’t quite got her into making Toru Road Kai, but she did really well at making tortillas, so the talent is there, maybe I should just wait a bit longer before I hand her an apron for the big girls kitchen 😊. She's back tomorrow so today I got some kai orders made and they are ready to go out for enjoyment over the weekend, and I can devote some more time to catch up on Toru Road, and yes, study without feeling the need for a Nanny nap. I still need to plan out some activities for her tomorrow though!
Our newest product Tahi Bay Oil has been a star, and I just love putting it out in orders with our dukkah. I often get asked if I make my own oil when I have tastings, and now I do! Our Tahi Bay Oil is infused with organic bay leaves and extra virgin olive oil. That’s it no additives, actually there are no additives or bad stuff in any of our kai and where possible we try to use organic goods if we can. Yesterday Winter and I made some focaccia bread and at lunchtime today I enjoyed dipping my homemade bread in the oil and then in the dukkah. But you can try it for yourself, we've been running a Matariki Special which gives you the Tahi Bay Oil and the yummy Horopito Dukkah so you can do just that. This special only lasts until the end of the month, so get in quick.
This time during Matariki six years ago our eldest boy, August, moved over to Aussie and our daughter Ashlee moved over a few years later. I have to say I am ready for them to come home and in anticipation I have completely cleared out my office, painted, put in curtains, a double bed and a desk. I'm ready for my mokopuna to be here. All my gears from the office are now in the garage, and that space is shaping up into an office come art & craft space and bar area. I will be able to create, and have a drink at the same time, should I desire, or even do a workout, and have a game of pool. It really is a multifunctional space! We’ve also had the plumber in to replace ALL of our plumbing pipes throughout our house as they were 80’s installed Dux Quest pipes that like to burst and flood at random moments in your life, and at the same time that the walls and bathroom ceiling are down, we thought it a good idea to replace our also 80’s inspired apricot toilet suite and put in a new shower head. The new aqualine ceiling is going up in the bathroom tomorrow and that will be so very welcome, as is the gib board on the walls of the toilet. Years of leaks and burst pipes will finally be over and we can then plaster and paint. Everything will be all done ready for when the whanau come home. Now I just need to work on getting them home, in the meantime I have this lil e te tau to smother with attention, I wonder if she will have time for me when her cousins come home....
Yesss, we are introducing a new product to our pataka kai! After numerous tastings by the whanau, our Tahi Bay Oil is on the shelves. At the last pop-up event we had loads of people ask, “Do you make and sell the oil too?”, it got me thinking I should either collaborate with another producer but really I’d love to make something that is truly Toru Road. So we did - organic bay leaves have been infused into extra virgin olive oil to create our warm, mild-tempered olive oil, that we are calling Tahi Bay Oil. It’s name is a twist on one of Porirua’s local beaches, Titahi Bay, and is where my hubby first started out as a pepe. It also takes into account our brand name Toru, Tahi Bay Oil seems to fit. This product will complement our Horopito Dukkah, so you will be able to dip your bread into the Tahi Bay Oil, then into Horopito Dukkah and wallah, deliciousness.
More kai news, I have a few regulars who I courier loads of our big whanau 500gram packs of Chocoholic Granola – they have a big whanau and they are into looking after themselves and keeping fit. The last time couple of times they have ordered six bags of Chocoholic Granola, so I thought let’s make these bags a bit bigger – say hello to our new 1kg Papa Size bags! Don’t worry, you can still grab the 500g Whanau Size, which is just right for our household to get through, but I think the whanau up North, and our boy up the road might appreciate the Papa Size bags – keep them going for a bit longer!
And while we are at it, we’ve finally added Kawakawa Tea Leaves to our stores as well. We did them for a pop-up at Christmas and included a glass tea diffuser (which was so cute, I wanted one), and dried orange slices and they shot out the door quick as and all I was left with were dried orange slices. I’m not complaining cos those dried orange slices came in super handy for some old fashioned drinks over the Summer – looked flash as too. I love kawakawa tea and most mornings I have a cuppa with my parakuihi, and I thought if it’s my go-to, it could be yours too, and now it is.
Whanau are just about to arrive down from Auckland for the week, so I better get my skates on and say kia ora. I did used to skate, and skateboard too you know, at the old Kapiti Roller Rink on Paraparaumu Beach by the MacLean Shops, and yes I was there when it moved from a skating rink to a skateboard park. Boy back then skateboarding was my thing, not sure that I'm quite up to the same ole skateboard tricks I could do then, possibly could manage a few tic tacs but I think I shall leave that to the moko now.
Kia pai to wiki
It's been a year and a quarter now since we've seen our babies in Australia, that is our four mokopuna, and our two big babies Ashlee and August, and the possibility of a bubble opening up has my fingers and toes crossed that all will be well so that soon they be able to come home. I can't wait, we can't wait, till that happens. When we saw them last we were in the Cook Islands for my nieces wedding and we had a very short 4 days with them, which included the wedding, and while all of us were spread a bit thin, getting together was just the best, and I can't wait till we have them back on NZ soil.
As a post lockdown start-up the pandemic has made me really think through my goals for Toru Road - about how I approach things. I've always had a thousand ideas in my head about everything - of what to do, when, where, how, and what next, and rather that diving deep into the abyss I tell myself to be sensible, realistic, and practicable - its a mantra I'm having to hold to. Whilst that sounds easy, taking the slow approach can be so annoying to my creative side! My goal from get-go has been to open a cafe/deli, and starting with a few items that I would have available has set the course for that. I just have to follow the Road I'm on and trust that eventually I'll get there and I'm good with that (repeat that 100 times), lol.
Going green is a realistic goal that I CAN put in place and it ticks off the sensible, realistic and practicable mantra I just went on about. Using glass jars rather than plastic was the first choice I opted for from the outset. I want a jar that I can reuse for preserves, chutneys etc so that was an easy one for me. I'm cool too to use misprinted labels on my brown paper carry bags - still has my Toru Road branding on it. I reuse cardboard that was used for something else perhaps it was the front or back cover of one of those spiral bound books from an old AGM, or brochure that was sent to me, so when I pop in a Nga Mihi card its often got some old printing on the back (now you know that was done on purpose!). The labels on the jars can be peeled off so you don't have to spend hours soaking and washing and peeling which can be so off-putting. We compost everything, reuse, recycle. I'm also big on following sustainable practices when picking kai from the bush and for kawakawa (picking only single larger leaves, and not over-picking leaving food for the birds, the insects, and to grow) and of course saying a karakia and giving thanks. For my closest friends and famz I reuse jars and get my boy Keenau to bring his empty containers down for refills rather than waste packaging, which got me thinking I should offer this option to everyone, so I have, its now an option on the website. If you are picking up kai you are more than welcome to bring your jar, or packaging back and I will refill for you. Every bit counts.
And on my favourite topic, kai - having as much good stuff in our kai as is possible is also important to me and where possible using organic or locally sourced goods, and then NZ sourced. In the Chocoholic Granola we use organic cocoa nibs and organic almond oil, and our Vegan Kale & Kawakawa Pesto has the best NZ cold pressed rapeseed oil sourced from The Good Oil Co., and organic sunflower seeds from CommonSense, and we will continue to move towards getting the best products into our kai for you. I'd love all of our products to be organic. It's probably psychological but I just appreciate my kai so much more knowing that its out of someone's spray-free garden, foraged from the bush, or sourced from an organic store like CommonSense. Eating my Chocoholic Granola for lunch one day last week (yes good enough for breaky, lunch, dinner, or supper) gave me a burst of energy that I know was due to all the goodness in the granola, and whilst it does say chocoholic, its the healthiest cacao nibs, premium cocoa, with some of NZ's own manuka honey so its not at all sweet, just delicious feel good food.
Foraging over the weekend was fun, and I picked up some purple sage, chives, pineapple sage, gorse flowers, and bay leaves. Picking prickly gorse flowers takes patience and so you can see by the photo the amount taken was quite small so perhaps I'm not as patient as I thought I was! I'm not sure if I will use all of these goodies in Toru Road Kai, they may end up dried and in a jar ready to add to a salad or meal, but I am keen on making Bay Leaf Oil, I've been reading up on this nutritionally high relatively boring herb, however Augie has convinced me that getting some of the nutritional values from bay leaves into our system on the daily will help keep us healthy and ward off loads of ailments, so will give that a go. The leaves are now drying after being washed and will soon be ready to add to some extra virgin olive oil, work in progress, and then once made it takes quite a bit of time for the oil to be ready, can't wait. Good things take time as they say, and maybe by the time the bubble opens and my big babies and my moko come back from Australia it will be ready, and they can join me and Aug in testing out whether this is another healthy addition we can add to our lives. I wish they could be here tomorrow, but be patient Tracey, sensible, realistic, and practicable, remember! Now just say this 97 more times today. I know that when that time comes the reward will be so sweet.
P.S. Some pics of my foraging bounty...
Kia ora koutou
Sending some good vibes out to the whanau up in Auckland who are staggering through a fourth lockdown. You guys are doing it tough for the rest of us but hopefully its been worthwhile and the community outbreak is back under control, stay safe, and nga mihi. xx
Just before the announcement of lockdown, Augie and I were up in Taupo collecting our commercial oven that we'd purchased a few weeks back. The change in alert levels went off unceremoniously on the phone on Saturday night and put the shivers down my spine, actually news like that throws me off course so when I hit the sack I spent half the night tossing around, but some of that could've been cos it wasn't my bed, and likely the lack of air-conditioning (don't go there, lucky it was one night at that motel). Anyways we decided to head back home fairly early on the Sunday morning to beat the traffic with our trusty beast of an oven strapped into the floor of the van. Gas, electric, plus steam. The thing can even clean itself. Felt like I could give it a big hug when I saw it in real life but there was a lot of sweat going on loading it into our van and my focus shifted to silently hoping that my precious baby didn't get dropped from the makeshift ramp, and rollers, it didn't, phew. The journey back with it went very well, and Keenau and Augie with their big biceps haha were able to get it out safely - might need the help of the nephews when we go to put it on its stand and connect it though, cos its weighty as! Reading up on the manual man I cant wait till its all wired in and I can get cooking.
Managed to get some chillaxing time in whilst in Taupo and visited the Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa an adults only mineral pools - pools too hot for tamariki. Very relaxing and I could've stayed there the whole day excepting my body would not be able to handle it. Will definitely do that again and going in on a Friday it meant that the pools only had one or two other people in them, unless you were in the cooler pool which had more, but no not us, we were going for the ultimate sweat out lol and the hottest pools would only suffice!
This week I managed to get Augie to go blackberry picking with me down the Old Road. Made me recollect that back in the day I'd be sent off to pick blackberries (and have a mean feed at the same time, so was always up for it) across from our house in Toru Road, Paraparaumu. Back then there was a mound of sand which was covered in blackberry bushes, and later on it was smoothed out and was a place where people parked up their boats (half of Dads mates, no crap), until it eventually made way for housing. So I was stoked to get to forage again and off I marched with my trusty ice-cream container, a big smile on my face at this exciting adventure, with a reluctant August in tow, to see what I could gather from the Community Harvest Blackberry Patch, on the Old Road here in Porirua. Absolutely love getting back to the whenua whenever I can, always grounds me, and to boot, I now have just under a kilo of blackberries ready to go into a pie or maybe a few smoothies. Augie contributed around 30 blackberries to the ice-cream container (first-time picker, and such joy it brings me to compare haha) and when I said "that was such fun" he didn't quite capture the same vibe that I had. I love the throwback to my childhood, and that sense of adventure, not caring about the scratches, eating, picking, eating, and just enjoying the sunshine with lots of other whanau who were picking too - kids screaming in and around the bushes not realising we were right there, and then seeing us and staring like 'who those strangers in the bushes' lol. I can't wait till my moko come back from Aussie and I can share stuff like that with them too. Hurry up, come home Nanny's got some adventures in mind for you!!
Last night I ticked off completing two more papers towards my Business Management degree by finishing a Marketing assessment. It was supposed to be an exam but was changed to an assessment due to covid19. Can't stand exams, I forget everything, write far too much and miss key points cos I'm off on a tangent (bit like my blogs), so an assessment was far more my thing. Just four more papers and I'll be done and I start two of those - next week. All the papers I have done previously were what I thought I needed to make me more skillful in the work that I used to do, now my papers are focused on the things that I want to get out of my study, for me, and for Toru Road, so my next paper that I am about to do is Leadership and the other is Buyer Behaviour and Communication Strategies. Cool aye. I had to have a laugh as my Facebook memories brought up a comment on the results of a paper I did a few years back on Strategic Management and it said something like "Tracey has a profound understanding of the...." and then I got my results from my Quality Management paper and just realised it had the exact same wording. Took the gloss off a bit, cos the word profound, well that just sounds clever and back then I was probably walking around like a peacock with my profound knowledge. Apparently I'm profoundly knowledgeable about a few things but these two papers have motivated me to try out some theories in real life. Now that I have this knowledge in my kete that will actually help me in my business, and having a beautiful big oven, its going to mean I can make bigger batches of kai like our Chocoholic Granola, and Horopito Dukkah, and whatever new kai that's on the cards, and add to that me with my profound knowledge X2, Toru Road is, much like our oven was, strapped in and ready to go on this next phase of the Toru Road journey!
Hei kona ra
Well I can't quite believe where six months has gone, but that's how long its been since I left my job in the city (is that a song?) and about six weeks after that started on the road to Toru Road. So far so good! Lots and lots of learning, which I love, even more I love doing what I want, when, where, and how. Its all on me and that's just brilliant, in charge of my own destiny.
I've never been short of ideas, always have an A, B, C to Z project going on, or in the making. So you'd think that launching into a new business would be enough, but no lets complete the degree that has taken up what feels like half my life, part time, now that I have time, TOPNZ, and do some well overdue home renovations as well, why not? Oh and then there is the whanau, but that's no project, that's the easy part, well mostly, (as my whanau read this hahaha). Love yous.
I couldn't have been more excited when my BEST BEFORE date gun arrived the other week. You know when you have too much to do, and you know you have to find the item, and can't, and you don't have time, and you don't know really where to look anyway? Well I finally found one to use on our Kale & Kawakawa Pesto and Kimchi with Watercress! Was just ecstatic that after six months of printing lil labels, it arrived. But then I realised I had to figure out how to use the thing, watched a youtube video, nope no luck, disgruntled left it for quite a few days and then when I was forced to figure out how to use it, watched another youtube video, quite a number of times, and by magic it works! Phew. Don't ask me to change the labels cartridge though.
Another biggie for me, well much bigger, is that Toru Road has purchased a commercial oven. Sooooooo excited about that. Its not here yet, couple of weeks away but it will literally open the (big oven) door for some more kai options which is so cool. I'm still on the hunt for a heavy duty commercial food processor and once I find that gem, then just try and hold me back!
Hasn't the Summer weather been amaze (ignoring any showers or rain that we may have had). I've been out and about making the most of it. Been venturing on some new walking tracks, finding kawakawa along the way at different places, which of course I love. Even managed to set my office up outside for a week or two which was something I've never done before but was inspired a few weeks back when a friend of mine had her gear outside doing work for her lil business, https://www.facebook.com/Tootute/(checkout her page, loves). Am really enjoying accomplishing things I haven't done before: new office and kitchen gear will make my life a lil bit easier, discovering new walking tracks that I've never been to before (in Porirua too, arohamai way overdue), and just being able to work outside in the sunshine, with a cuppa kawakawa tea, with the Tui's singing, well, it was just a blessing. Six months has gone by so quick and yep these guns are still blazing - including my pretty new date stamping gun! Wonder what's in store for the next six months? I'm sure there are loads more new learnings and adventures on the way for Toru Road.
Kia pai to wiki.
P.S. Aren't my BEST BEFORE's the bomb - I've never had so much appreciation for those little beauties till now.
Wasn't it just the best thing to start the New Year fresh from what was the crap, I mean erratic, year that was last year! Like many I happily left 2020 behind. What I appreciated most about last year, cos every cloud has a silver lining, is my whanau. Not just my tightknit lil whanau here in Porirua and in Melbourne, though they are the best, but my big as extended whanau and friends that probably don't realise how special they are to me.
According to my youngest boy who likes to tell me how it is, I tend to only get emotional about twice a year hahaha, silently annoyed at that comment, but to be fair there is a tiny bit of truth in that, and this Summer I had 'one' of those emotional urges to catch up with my Hawkins famz so Augie and I headed off on a roadie. Visiting my Dad first as he was housesitting in Fielding, then to Palmy and we saw the New Year in with our Best Man and his wife over a pub meal at Rosie O'Grady's (who do a superb seafood meal btw), and the fireworks display at midnight was pretty amaze for PN, had a night with our boy who was travelling to the East Coast and our moko in Taupo for her 'lil holiday with me', then we headed over to Hamilton to see my sisters - all four of us in one place at the same time can be quite scary for some and my sister Marlene had a friend over who at times was quite petrified, then up to Auckland to see Augies Mum and Bro, and Uncle who hasn't been too well, a day over at Waiheke Island inbetween with my bestie and hubby for wine tasting and eating gorgeous food, then over to Coromandel to stay with the cuzzies to enjoy their stunning vista of Long Bay, down to Rotorua for mineral pools and breaky each day at one of the lakes (pretties Blue Lake), then Taupo again for more mineral pools, before heading home. Loved it. Augie, whanau, sunshine, beaches and lakes, and awesome kai. Coro had the best kaimoana, still dreaming of the just smoked snapper, white wine mussels, and then the coconut fish curry that my Uncle made. And the biggest scoop off goody-goody gumdrops ice-cream at Long Bay campsite. Waiheke island was pretty cool too and the oysters were divine, so was the wine tasting, and hanging out on the beach, eating at restaurants, living the dream - literally pretending we were in Fiji. Being with whanau this Summer has filled up my heart and has set me right for what's ahead.
It's always great to come home though. Have been doing a few local walks enjoying the sunshine and I love to stop when I spot something and take a photo and later use my APP to tell me what is what - found Hawthorn the other day, didn't know what it was, now I do, and according to FB foraging aficionados you can make a jelly or jam with it - just don't eat the berries raw. I love foraging, and found a new kawakawa spot which I am overly excited about, said my little karakia and picked some, not too much of course and am drying it off atm. Another day got some apples from Bothamley Park (the old road in Porirua) which will be great for the next batch of Kimchi, and I cant wait for when the community blackberries fruit - apple and blackberry pie yum. Been busy at home to, well Augie has! He's putting in some new vege pods for me and the two big full compost bins that we have have been tipped in into them and are now in there settling. Will leave that for a week or two before looking at what to plant - yes kale for sure! Our moko who was out gardening there yesterday arvo said that the compost was smelly, sure is all organic matter there, so instead she moved over to my current garden dug quite a bit up, and pulled out quite a few baby carrots, she loves eating carrots and luckily they are the right size for her. Also picked up a fig tree on my travels, I love figs and so stoked to find one with some lil pepe figs on it already. I checked the maramataka and managed to plant it yesterday which was a perfect date for planting. Lot's of gardening stuff happening atm, must mean that this year is going to be a year for growth, I'm into that, and whanau, and for keeping it real (I still have my second 'emotional event' in reserve lol) - all that sounds pretty good to me. Bring it on I reckon.
Loved having our whanau come down this past week. My cousin Princess (named after our Nanny Princess Te Puea Wirihana-Tawake) came through from Coro for a flying visit with her bright as a button wee pepe (who is just the cutest) and her doting Karani or Lollie (Nan's name is still to be confirmed), Aunty Sonia, and to add to the mix, our brother Ronnie from Auckland was also down for the week with his wife Tracy helping out with some whanau matters. Both visits went by so quickly and on Saturday we saw the cuz off, and then that same afternoon the bro. Have been hinting hard out to Augie since then that we might need to do a roadie to Auckland over Summer, a detour to Coromandel, and stop off to see other whanau along the way. Enticing him with the promise of kaimoana, and fishing in Coro. I'll let you know if I am able to coax him into it, I think he is playing hard ball cos hello, fresh seafood.
Managed to jam in lots of Toru Road kai activity in and around the whanau visiting. Sadly my new printer that I purchased a couple of weeks ago died on me and after attempts to fix, via online, and several phone calls to someone offshore - yes we've all had those phone calls, a replacement printer was ordered and arrived a week or so later. Usually I couldn’t give a stuff about a printer, but typical when you really need something it breaks. I make my own labels, just until I get what I want right (I'm continually perfecting things) and so when my blank labels arrived yay, no printer. Thankfully a new printer arrived and after the tedious task of setting up my second printer in a few weeks, find out that the labels I had need a laser printer. So problem solved, next lot of labels ordered today! Whilst super annoying, I did suss out a typo on the label for kimchi pepe size which had 100 grams, when its 200 grams. Quality control issue detected. I also learnt that printing a test page first is useful as well, another handy tip. These are just some of my many lessons I'm learning on this journey which is great, as long as I get them out of the way now. FYI I'm trying to be nice to the printer so it doesn’t conk out on me again.
Took some time out from whanau to attend a Canestrelli (hope I spelt that right - its gorgeous Italian cookies) demo at Med Foods one evening during their Week of Italy with my friend Darlene, and of course stocked up with ingredients for Toru Road at the same time. Love love shopping for good quality kai. The cookies were gorgeous and surprisingly for me, they contained boiled egg yolks which were then sieved, like flour, into the ingredients. Cool aye. They were pretty, and all important, they tasted delicious. They also made some chocolate truffles that night which is right up my alley. Last week I tidied my pantry to realise that I have gone a bit OTT with the dark chocolate (just the good stuff) and have over a dozen bars on reserve, actually atm its 14 bars - I did buy a bulk lot of vegan organic dark chocolate blocks from Bennetto at the Go Green Expo with the intent that I might use them in a dish for Toru Road (still developing/tasting lol ideas). I reckon some of that chocolate can go towards making some chocolate truffles (with coconut cream for our vegan) ready to whip out when friends come around over the festive season. I was wondering what I should do with all those blocks, other than eating them all myself. Another problem sorted, not that dark chocolate is really a problem.
Had a couple of big orders that went out on Thursday and Friday which depleted my kai stocks. Not like me not to have some Kale & Kawakawa Pesto or Horopito Dukkah on hand, so to avoid any crisis it'll be back into the kitchen again this week after orders close off on Wednesday morning to make fresh for the weekend. Goodies for a Christmas Breaky gift pack are also getting prepped and putting these packs together is so rewarding. I just love that I am actually putting together a Toru Road gift pack and it struck me this week how awesome that is. Who would've thought?
This time last year we were at our nieces wedding (Lee & Nate) in Christchurch, then three days later with all our kids and mokopuna in Rarotonga at our other niece wedding (Lorraine & Sam). We haven’t been able to see our kids since, with two trips stalled due to covid, one of them the weekend that the country went into lockdown. With whanau visiting this past week it’s been a reminder of how lucky we are to have family that can traverse the country to see us, and on the flipside of that it reminded me again that this Christmas we won't see our rauru whanaunga that are living overseas, and those that have just visited. It makes me appreciate what we do have right here in Aotearoa, and it made saying our goodbyes to whanau that left this week just that little bit harder.
Heoi ano taku mo naianei
Been dreaming of the islands so much these past couple of weeks. Augie and I were married in Samoa 27 years ago and this week we celebrate 37 years as a couple. Yes the math is right, ten years from dating (and two tamariki in tow) to wedded bliss. On Wednesday last week we had our first official Toru Road Event, collaborating with MaiTui Group for the Wellington Pasifika Business Awards 2020 held at Te Wharewaka o Poneke in Wellington which also happened to be the 9th wedding anniversary for my bestie Darlene from MaiTui Group. What a way to spend her anniversary than with her Maid of Honour doing our first official event gig together, and a Pasifika inspired one at that. I love these meant to be moments. Took me back to her wedding day in the Cook Islands, with memories of that beautiful day, the sun, the ocean, the white sand, the kai, and the warmth of her beautiful whanau, oh and amazing friends (myself included!) As I write this I am so wishing I was back in the islands.
We wanted to create a warm Pasifika feel to the settings with no table the same – same but different! From the front table to the back of the room each setting had pieces from our collective whanau and it was with a good heart that we left them there for others to enjoy. 25 table settings for a crowd of 250 were created. I loved it and feedback tells me that others enjoyed it to. I so appreciate that I am doing something that I love, with whanau, with my bestie, what more could you ask for! We have some more events booked that we are working on and I can’t wait to collaborate again on the next one.
It’s been busy in the Toru Road Kai office as well. Finally, yes finally, have got my labels sorted for Vegan Kale & Kawakawa Pesto, Chocoholic Granola, and Kimchi with Watercress. Horopito Dukkah was done and dusted a few weeks back, and so was the granola – but needed a new label for our newest Chocoholic Granola which is really good - I am biased but yes it’s worth putting it in the cupboard for breaky, or even dessert, and yep its minus the fat content that can be associated with granola or muesli - all natural goodness with the addition of cacao nibs, premium Dutch cocoa and NZ manuka honey.
We’ve just finished our first jar of Toru Road Kimchi with Watercress which usually takes an age to get through but I’ve been adding it to my vege broth with rice noodles that I often have for lunch, and piling it with a cooked breaky whenever I get the chance. Keenau was eating kimchi on toast the other day, that is a bit too far for me but he reckons its delicious. Kimchi is worth trying, specially if you are into good gut health, this certainly promotes that, and the addition of watercress is so good – maybe that’s why I’m loving this kimchi so much.
With a promise of free Vegan Kale & Kawakawa Pesto for life, Keenau has come to my social media rescue and is taking the reins in that space for a little bit, and is teaching me some tricks so that I can then take it back on. I know its torture for the boy but I am doing my best and am learning bits and pieces as we go (he knows he already had free pesto for life anyways so he is humouring his mum (or putting up with) me 😊. We’ve also been looking at what Christmas packs we can put together as we lead up to the festive season and whilst it’s just a bit too early for us to get the whanau together to put up our tree, we will have some Toru Road goodies ready for Christmas and look forward to bringing you them.
I’m thinking about which pics to put up from our Pasifika event, there are so many to choose from, I just loved every setting, but I’ll just do a couple and you can check out more on our Toru Road Events page. At the same time in my head I’m singing a song and thinking about my late father-in-law (also named August by coincide lol) Gus Betham. He would sing this many a time in only the way he could, makes me miss him, and the joy he brought the last time we were in the islands with him, on our wedding day. I'll leave you with a couple of verses from that Harry Belafonte tune and a few pics from the event:
This is my island in the sun
Where my people have toiled since time begun
I may sail on many a sea
Her shores will always be home to me
Oh, island in the sun
Willed to me by my father's hand
All my days I will sing in praise
Of your forest, waters, your shining sand