natural

Be Brave

“Saturate your world with courage…”

Pictured: Hydrangea flowers (now everywhere and in all colours), an absolutely gorgeous umbrella (black on the outside, blue skies on the inside) gifted to me by Ashida sensei my hipster bear bell. Yes, BEAR bell. Because rainy season (very humid and often depressing) also means bear season. Bears have been spotted left, right and center around my rural Japanese village so we have all been given bear bells. I hold mine as I walk or place it in my trousers’ pocket. It is supposed to warn off the Pooh bears.
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There Is No Such Thing As Arrival

Slow slow, day by day.

If you’re wondering about the 8th picture, it is preparations for a temaki sushi dinner. Which is basically, hand-rolled sushi/make-your-own sushi. Sort of like Mexican taco-night but with small square-cut nori (seaweed) sheets.

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Laura’s Photos

As much as I’d like to think that I notice and appreciate the beauty of this place, and make the most of my life here, at times, I can forget. Seeing my village through the eyes of a newcomer makes me fall in love all over again. All photos taken by lovely Laura from Belgium (whom I’m hoping to visit during my Europe trip! And by that, I mean eat some waffles, fries and chocolate with).
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I’m Back!

Perhaps Alice
also felt
this freely trapped
and crowdedly alone
in wonderland.

The reason I write is to share my truth. It’s sort of like the philosophy for my blogging, if you will. So I will be honest with you. As I have been and I hope you know I have been through and through. Okay, here goes: leaving NZ a second time was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Period. I didn’t want to leave. NZ is so beautiful and my city, Christchurch is so nice. I wanted to stay in a place with family and friends, where I can drink the tap water and read the restaurant menus. Alas, I am back. Here by my own will (no one forced me). My main intention being that of growth. Growth as a person and as a writer. The former, I am certain has happened, for I am now Wonder Woman. I do everything here when I don’t speak the language. And I see snakes, many snakes everyday. As for the latter.. well, only time will tell. I watched a movie on the plane called 5 to 7 about a French woman having an affair and well, disregarding that, one of the character’s was an ambitious writer who SPOILER ALERT after countless unsuccessful attempts finally had something published for The New Yorker and then something else and something else and again and again…and yeah, I really hope that happens for me too, one day.

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A Healthier Potato Salad and Cheesecake

Both recipes inspired by Petite Kitchen 

Potato Salad:
3 large potatoes of choice
1 small-medium cucumber
2-3 medium gherkins/pickles (chopped small)
A handful of dried blackcurrants
1/2 cup of raw pistachios (chopped small)
A large handful of fresh mint (roughly chopped)
Juice of one lemon
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Pepper

Scrub potatoes well then cut in to small cubes. Place in a large saucepan, cover with salted water and bring to the boil. Then simmer, uncovered until just cooked. Be careful not to overcook!

When ready, strain potatoes and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, combine and toss all ingredients in a large bowl.

Cheesecake: 
6 free-range eggs
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 cup of mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup of honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup of almond meal/almond powder
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp vanilla essence

Topping:
Note: alternatively, you can use 100% store-bought fruit jam. 
1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup of water

Decoration:
Silvered almonds and flowers

Preheat oven to 180C

Grease a round cake tin then line with baking paper -grease that a little bit too.

Combine all cake ingredients in a food processor and blitz until combined. Since my blender couldn’t fit/handle all the ingredients at once, I managed this part by blending in batches at a time.

Pour batter into a cake tin and bake for about 45-50 min or until set. Note: batter will be very runny, this is normal.

Keep a good eye on the prize, if the top starts prematurely browning because your oven is shit like mine, use a sheet of tin foil to cover the top.

As your cake bakes, add all topping ingredients to a saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer until juicy and thick- set aside to cool.

Once both topping and cake have cooled, bring the two together in the most perfect union using the back of a tablespoon..

Decorate with silvered almonds and small flowers. Last but definitely not least, Instagram it.

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A big shout out to Daniel and Mariko for having me over, listening to all my Japan problems and giving me kind brotherly and sisterly advice and my tummy, vegetarian gyoza and perfectly cooked brown rice!

Healthy okara (soy pulp) and banana muffins.

Good morning!

(less)swollen-ankle girl here. I am slowly recovering! Thank, God.

Last week I baked muffins (yes, more muffins!) using my okara and banana cake, recipe (here) except muffanised. Luckily, they turned out well and, were the perfect size to carry around (in my handbag) in case of hunger pangs and/or sugar withdrawals! If you can get your hands on some okara please try these and let me know what you think! I hear okara is also great for vegan/vegetarian burgers – next on my list of things to try.

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Baby’s first sugar-free dairy-free and gluten-free birthday cake

3 large ripe bananas
3 free-range eggs (eggs are OK for ONE year old’s – Google said so)
1/3 cup melted extra virgin organic coconut oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (apparently honey isn’t OK for little monsters)
2 cups of spelt flour (you can also use buckwheat, rice or quinoa flour to become GF)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda

Frosting:
1 ripe avocado
1 large ripe banana
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
3 tbsp pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 180C

Mix all cake ingredients together by hand (first wet then dry then both together)

Pour batter into two small and round greased cake tins

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the fork comes out clean

Let cool COMPLETELY – I know this is impossible, you just wanna take the cake out, I know, I know but wait.

Once COOLED, straighten cakes by thinly slicing off cake domes

In a food processor or blender, mix all frosting ingredients together.

Slather some frosting in the middle then stack one cake on top of the other.

Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for; spread that frosting everywhere (top of cake, sides of cake, inside your mouth etc)

Decorate! I used flowers and silvered almonds. Note: if using nuts or dried fruit beware of choking hazards

Refrigerate for at least 30 min for the frosting to harden.

For the record, it was pure bliss watching Emma sample her first taste of “chocolate” she only ate a smidgen of the frosting and maybe a little mouthful of the actual cake cake from her papa’s plate but at least, her first birthday cake didn’t contain any unnatural additives. Moreover, the remaining guests, who, who-are-we-kidding the cake was for in the first place, highly approved and so did their diets.
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