tripping over food

A few years ago, a friend gave us a (please note the singular form) shark’s fin melon. Also known as Cucurbita ficifolia, fig-leaf gourd, Malabar gourd, pie melon and Thai marrow.

We must admit to not eating it. Instead, it sat rather sadly in the laundry until we threw it into the compost. There it lingered for well over a year until earthworks moved the compost pile – and a mound of the surrounding soil – to the top of the paddock closest to the house. Over the summer, that patch of living ground was entirely ignored – we didn’t water it, no food, no attention – but when Autumn 2018 rolled around we discovered a bounty of 40ish melons.

After being harvested, the majority of those 40ish melons sat on the deck on the cottage, where Adam and I spent 8 months while the big house was renovated. One by one, as they began to decompose, I tossed them onto the bank. Side note, I remain faintly concerned that Adam’s Mum and Dad (Pam and Brett), who now live in the cottage, will wake up one day to discover pie melons trying to get into their house.

And so Autumn 2019 rolls around and it would appear that we missed a few of those indomitable melons in last year’s harvest. Wandering down amongst a sea of large cucurbit leaves we literally tripped over them…Easily 120, likely more, to be honest we lost count.

A friend sold a few at the local farmers market but most have been consumed by friends’ very large pet pigs, just up the road. Although, this time, we did eat a few ourselves but somewhat unfortunately the harvest coincided with our experimenting with a very low carb way of eating, and low carb they are not! Still, this land seems determined to grow gloriously abundant free food for us, so we will continue to let them do their in the paddock and hedge rows.

There were 80ish in this pile
Friends harvesting melons for their pigs!
They’re amazing, really, they store for up to 7 years, and the seeds are rich in fat and protein. In Africa they eat the leaves and make alcohol from the fruit, in Asia and Europe, the flesh is baked and in Central America, the flesh is turned into a kind of confectionery.

so here we are

I (Tink) have been meaning to post regularly here for ages. Ages. But I keep getting stuck writing an update, trying to summarise what we’ve been up to for the last few years. I don’t like having our life at Peka Peka shared solely on Instagram and Facebook (as convenient as it is) so I’ve decided to start again here, with a few words, and a few photos each day. And in the the meantime, what have we been up too? Well, we built a cottage (or more accurately our wonderful team of architects and builders did), moved into it while the big house was renovated, moved back into the big house, Adam’s Mum and Dad moved up from Blenheim and into the cottage and gradually, with the earthworks complete, we’ve been chipping away at the garden. We’ve also dipped our feet into the waters of running workshops here and at some stage in the next year or so, we’ll turn our attention to the 10 acres of paddock running across the hill.

DragonKnows. Twice a year, the sun sets just in front of the Dragon’s nose and we celebrate.
Dog noses.
Vege beds.
After the renovation, so much light and space.
Adam
First test of the new, fat tyre, e bike in the paddocks.
As my understanding of the importance of soil health grows, so does my appreciation of rocks. Essentially, I’m increasingly curious about ‘life’ beneath our feet. On this note, I have a favourite rock (about the size of a sheep) in our south facing paddock and as coincidence would have it, our neighbour Jeff is a geologist. He tells me that it’s “Wellington Greywacke (German for grey rock). This is a nonspecific terrane term for a mass of jumbled geology but this area is mostly what is called the Rakaia Terrane … late Triassic to early Jurassic 230 to 180 million years old. It was formed on the continental slope if Gondwanaland (the original southern Super continent) probably off the coast of what is now Australia. Greywacke is notoriously hard to date with any accuracy. Gondwana started breaking up about 85 million years Uplift along the NZ spine has elevated it and at some stage our rocks have tumbled down (maybe earthquake maybe flood) and left to us mere humans to trip over.” Cool huh?
The boys.
Planting out the little old fashioned yellow banksia grown from a cutting from the rose which clambered up a trellis at my old family home.
Keto fudge – food is medicine here and we’re constantly exploring.
12 baby avocado trees, of 9 varieties, are growing.
Brassicas doing their thing.
This, this is – as Adam says – farkin delicious. Cherimoya. The texture is a somewhere between a melon, avocado and icecream. The flavour is complex, it begins with a kick of toffee, followed by guava, then something a little more tart, maybe strawberry. Just the right amount of funk. It reminds me of the Just Juice I used to drink as a kid which had – I think? – guava and passionfruit in it. But this is the wild crafted, grown up version. I spend a great deal of time trying to create deliciousness in the kitchen but right now, I’m hanging up my apron and bowing down to Nature. Fortunately, it would seem we can grow cherimoya here. We’ve already planted the seeds from last night’s fruit. Fingers crossed.
A mighty cabbage.
Full moon set.

What is Interbeing?

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the pre-fix “inter” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be. If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too.


When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist. Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is here and mind is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here- time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat.


Everything coexists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to be inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper, is because everything else is. Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper elements.” And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without “non-paper elements” like mind, logger, sunshine, and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as his sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.

Thích Nhất Hạnh, excerpt from Teach Breathe Learn by Meena Srinivasan 

A yellow kind of nourishment

The nourishment is yellow at Peka Peka today. The full moon glowed a soft yellow as it set over the water. There are bees, of the honey and bumble kind, rocking their yellow stripes as they stagger out of pumpkin flowers covered in golden pollen. I’m waiting for friends to arrive for lunch, after spending the last hour or so leisurely cooking dhal, delighting in the heady fragrance of freshly toasted and ground coriander seeds. 

Surviving the Future

Last weekend ten people (grown ups and  small people) sat around the large table in the kitchen at Peka Peka Hill and shared three whole organic chickens.  Andre the black cat, who is neither restrained nor svelte, was intensely interested. He seemed to be trying his very best to communicate that surviving his future entirely depended on getting his paws on some of that chicken.

Speaking of surviving the future you may have noticed on the home page that our dream is to create a small regenerative farm up here on Peka Peka Hill and to that end we continue to accumulate quite the reading pile. Actually, it’s more like a reading table these days and the below is a photo of just one of the piles on said table.

A lovely review

We’ve had our first Airbnb review. It is in German, so thank you to Google Translate for the slightly-clunky-but-you-should-get-the-drift translation.

From the first moment, this beautiful old cottage with its natural herbal and vegetable garden on the hillside fascinated us, and we immediately felt so comfortable that we would have stayed much longer: the smell, the peace and the wonderful wide view The Tasman Lake with Kapiti Island, the sunsets … Tink is here to realize a self-catering space and makes this place already, together with Adam, to something very special! The spacious guest room is cozy and very stylish. You can stay there undisturbed on the beautiful terrace and enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine or join Adam and Tink, where you can cook in the large cozy living room not only delicious but also very interesting and inspiring conversations with them can lead. Tink’s knowledge about a healthy, organic diet also allows her to accompany her guests and spoils her with a healthy and delicious breakfast !! One of our most beautiful Air B’n B stays with wonderful hosts, highly recommended!!

And for those of you who speak German…

Vom ersten Moment an hat uns dieses wunderschöne alte Häuschen mit seinem naturbelassenem Kräuter-und Gemüsegarten am Berghang fasziniert, und wir fühlten uns sofort so wohl, dass wir noch viel länger hätten bleiben wollen: Der Duft, die Ruhe, der herrliche weite Ausblick auf die Tasman See mit Kapiti Island, die Sonnenuntergänge… Tink ist dabei, sich hier einen Selbstversorgertraum zu verwirklichen und macht diesen Ort schon jetzt,gemeinsam mit Adam, zu etwas ganz Besonderem! Der großzügige Gästetrakt ist urgemütlich und sehr stilvoll eingerichtet. Man kann sich dort ungestört auf der schönen Terrasse aufhalten und bei einem Glas Wein den Sonnenuntergang genießen oder aber man gesellt sich zu Adam und Tink, wo man in der großen gemütlichen Wohnküche nicht nur herrlich kochen kann, sondern auch sehr interessante und inspirierende Gespräche mit ihnen führen kann. Tinks Kenntnis rund um eine gesunde, biologische Ernährung lässt sie auch ihren Gästen zukommen und verwöhnt sie mit einem gesunden und sehr leckeren Frühstück!! Einer unserer schönsten Air B’n B Aufenthalte mit ganz wunderbaren Gastgebern, sehr empfehlenswert!!

Airbnb, so far, so good.

I (Tink) have been a bit slack about posting here, having been (she says sighing) distracted by Facebook, but one of my resolutions for 2017 is to spend more time on this blog. With some regularity we have people tell us how much they love seeing what we’re doing at Peka Peka so my intention is to post here more often. Warts and all.

January 7 ~ We’ve just waved farewell to our second Airbnb guests and so far, opening our house on Peka Peka hill to strangers, has been a lovely experience. We put the room up on Airbnb the weekend before the Kaikoura earthquake and had been feeling a bit glum because of the total lack of response over the last couple of months. Then last week, in the middle of celebrating our first wedding anniversary with friends, we received two booking requests – the first, from a lovely young couple from Brussels who stayed with us for just one night on their way to the South Island and the second from a German mum and her 16 year old (NZ exchange student) daughter who stayed with us for three nights. Adam and I shared meals and good conversations with both sets of guests and while this might sound a little bit Hallmark, I honestly feel that my life is richer for both meetings. I’m well aware that we’ve only hosted four people and that luck might have a great deal to do with the people we’ve hosted, but so far so good.

P.S. Have a look at our Airbnb listing.

Pawpaw at Peka Peka

We’re growing Mountain Pawpaw (Vasconcellea pubescens) at Peka Peka and while the fruit are still little, the fragrance of the many tiny green flowers is glorious. We have our fingers crossed that these gems will ripen into 10-12cm fruit laden with papain (digestive enzymes) and tasting of pineapple and pawpaw.

Speaking of glorious fragrance, the mighty San Pedro is still flowering. While blooming for just a few days, they smell of feijoa and frangipani. One of my enduring memories of Peka Peka is being tucked up inside during a howling February southerly and the dissonance of San Pedro’s tropical fragrance pervading a cold house. I’d picked all the flowers as they don’t do well in the rain.

So, now I know why it pays to wait until figs are properly ripe. If you imagine the taste of dried fig but with more caramel and utterly succulent, then you’re getting close. I’m not doing it justice. D.H. Lawrence does an infinitely better job with this poem.

The proper way to eat a fig, in society,
Is to split it in four, holding it by the stump,
And open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied, heavy-petalled four-petalled flower.

Then you throw away the skin
Which is just like a four-sepalled calyx,
After you have taken off the blossom, with your lips.

But the vulgar way
Is just to put your mouth to the crack, and take out the flesh in one bite.

Every fruit has its secret.

Breakfast of Growers

Fresh fig and lemon verbena tea.

A breakfast not so much of champions, but growers. At least we’re learning to grow.

The fig possibly could have been even MORE delicious if I’d left it on the tree for a few more days… But I just. Couldn’t. Wait. I rationalised my decision to pick it on the basis that the birds might get it (although fortunately, touch wood, they’ve shown no sign of getting at this particular tree) or that it might fall of the tree and get smushed. So, in all it’s luscious sweetness, we ate it.

Postscript. Lunch. A single ugly strawberry, foraged by Adam. First one we’ve managed to get before the birds (who are most definitely enjoying the strawberries), he says it tastes like his grandfathers strawberries in California.