Monthly Archives: December 2013

Tea for two (or more): Pineapple mint tea and tropical chai tea

I’m making good on my promise to give you more recipes in record time. That might have something to do with being at work. In a mall. On a Sunday. If, like a sane person, you do not go to the mall on a Sunday here is all you need to know about what you’re missing: practically the only people at the mall are all under 10 years old and all they do all day is eat McDonalds, chase each other around and scream at the top of their lungs. So in an effort to maintain my own sanity, I have written about 8 blog entries ahead of time, here’s one of them. It is inspired by the cross I bear of sitting in the mall all day, wanting to be in front of the fire at home with a cup of tea and a book while a storm rages outside but instead facing the reality of being assaulted from all sides by the smell of the foodcourt, sound of overeager Christmas songs on the PA (it’s 361 days away retailers, get over it) and hordes of people wanting to know where the toilet is.

Pineapple and mint tea
After trying and being converted by mint and pineapple tea in Australia, plain old mint tea no longer seems as good. I was disappointed to realise the company who makes it ( don’t ship to NZ, so I decided to make my own!

Pick your own mint, wash it, dry it thoroughly with paper towels then leave in your oven on the lowest temperature possible for a couple of hours until dried OR buy some dried mint
Mix mint at a 2:1 ratio with freeze-dried pineapple powder
Store in an airtight container (or else the pineapple will get damp – I keep mine inside a resealable bag which is in turn kept inside a preserving jar)

If you haven’t heard of freeze-dried fruits before, you should give them a go even if just for novelty’s sake, NZ company Fresh As has an awesome range.

Tropical chai tea
I would love to give you a recipe for this but to be totally honest I made it up as I went along based on what spices were in my cupboard. I can tell you that the ‘tropical’ part of the name comes from the fair amount of flaked coconut that I included. If I were forced to give a recipe I would probably say you can’t go much wrong with the below:

50% black tea
30% dried coconut flakes
20% of the following spices (equal amounts of each): cardamom seeds, crushed cinnamon, crushed star anise, crushed peppercorns, crushed allspice
The glory of this formula is it allows you to make as little as one cup of tea or as much as you could possibly want to give away as gifts. Once you’ve mixed everything together and it smells like it could taste alright (if you mistake 50% black tea for 50% crushed peppercorns or some equally horrible mistake your nose should tell you), the best test is to brew some up and give it a taste. Once satisfactory, store in airtight jars.



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Christmas time, beer and thyme (mustard): A very effortful Christmas

‘I left a something in your freezer as a thank you.’ Strange phrasing but exciting nonetheless, I love surprises! What could it be? Organic-dairy-free-fat free, exotically flavoured icecream from a similarly food-obsessed person? A pack of pies and bag of chips from someone who understands my tastes aren’t as complex as people think?Then I looked in the freezer, rechecked the text and everything suddenly clicked into place. Not a ‘something’, a ‘salmon’. I left a salmon in your freezer as a thank you. And there it was, a whole (minus the head) salmon, wrapped in newspaper.After not living in New Zealand for 2 years, it is easy to forget that in some places it would not be considered unusual to go to work for the day, leaving your house unlocked for someone you barely know to come and pick something up they left in your car, only to come home to all your personal belongings still in place and a freshly caught fish in the freezer.

After months of shuffling it round the freezer to make space for litres of vege stock, multiple ice cube trays and many frozen pies, the salmon’s time finally came on Christmas day. I would give you the recipe but like a good daughter I gave it to my Mum she cooked it up. But it doesn’t matter anyway because this post isn’t really about the salmon, it’s actually a vehicle for me to brag about my food exploits this Christmas. In the coming weeks expect recipes for some or all of the following

Christmas presents:
Vanilla essence
Candied Kumquats (
Pineapple and mint tea
Gingerbread syrup (
Honey curry mustard and Beer thyme mustard (
Tropical chai tea
Raspberry jam
Pickled beets
Vanilla bean and espresso muesli (
BBQ Sauce
Lemon and Sage Curd
Lemon, fennel and chili salt

On the day:
Coconut and white chocolate pannacotta (with Agar instead of gelatine)
Chocolate peanut butter clusters (
Coffee biscuits with pumpkin butter ( butter/#.Uq5vPyfLIf4)
Raspberry jam and cream cheese danishes (
Brie with rosemary roasted cherries (
Cheese balls (

The links above are for recipes I used without making any changes. Recipes for the others to come soon

And here’s a photo of the salmon for good measure:


Laughing Stock: Homemade Vege Stock

Saturday was a very hard day for me. I got sent home from work after 2 hours because I am sick but my boss said he’d pay me for the whole day. At the local market I bought the first gooseberries, nectarines, peaches, cherries and raspberries of the season (literally – I was the first person at the market). I also bought goats cheese, beetroot dip, fresh bagels, yams, jersey benne potatoes and other tasty things and for the first time had enough money left over to buy some awesome pastries. “What are you talking about? Sounds like a great day!” you say? NOT IF YOU ARE SO SICK YOU HAVE LOST ALL SENSE OF TASTE.

That’s right, due to some unusual flaw in my DNA or immune system or somewhere in there, every time I get a cold, no matter how minor, I lose my sense of taste for a few days. I have never met anyone else who shares this evolutionary blip and so feel safe in saying that few people could understand the misery of indefinite taste-loss.

With an unexpected day off but not able to engage in my favourite past-time (eating for pleasure), I decided to cook something that I don’t need to use right now (so therefore won’t feel like I’m missing out that I can’t eat it immediately) but will be very useful in future.

Vege Stock  (inspired by my all time favourite blog, Vegetarian Ventures
I used scraps or whole of the following:
Bok Choy
Peppers (Red and Green)
Homegrown thyme, bay, oregano, rosemary, parsley and chives
I also included some chipotle and granny smith apple

Save up vege scraps (or use fresh if you want) until you have about 4 cups worth
Put scraps in a large saucepan and cover with water
Bring to the boil then simmer for an hour
Remove from heat, let cool, then store in the fridge (for up to 5 days) or freezer (freeze in ice cube trays) for a couple of months.

If you are not making your own vege stock (as I wasn’t till last week), get on it. It is so easy and fast. There are no extra costs involved if you keep a bag in the freezer and add scraps that amount naturally while cooking (onions skins, garlic tops and tails, celery leaves etc.) or whole vegetables that you’ve left a bit long and are looking too dodgy to eat. Pretty much anything can go in, just avoid anything floury (like kumara and potato).

Most importantly, it tastes so much better than the over-priced liquid or powdered stock you find at the supermarket. I don’t know about you but I don’t trust something that claims to be made from fresh vegetables but can sit unrefrigerated on a shelf for months or years and still be within its expiry date.

UPDATE: If you live in Christchurch you will be able to buy this in the new year from Harris & Turners, Lyttelton

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