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