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...