Busy bees

We are so lucky here in New Zealand with our fabulous and extraordinary flora and fauna. About 80% of our flora is unique to us; One of these being the manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium). It is an evergreen which blooms in summer and bees absolutely love them. Over the years manuka honey has become very popular at home and abroad for it anti bacterial properties, as well as for its distinctive taste. The dark brown to dark cream honey has a slightly bitter, mineral herby flavor.  In supporting the body’s natural health and well being it is often used to improve skin conditions. Historically the Maori used the essential oil and manuka honey in traditional remedies.  Looking through Pinterest I found lots of sites with wonderful things to make with manuka honey from tasty recipes to cough syrups, making that one this week for my neighbour and her nasty cough.

Manuka honey blosson and  bee perfect combination for the organic manuka honey
Manuka honey blossom

Alongside my cough syrup I am making jam and using my favourite fruit of all time, of course it’s the kiwi, apart from its delicious taste and texture our favourite fruit has many health giving properties. This particular recipe using apples as the pectin; made it once before and it was delicious.  Follow the link and have a go yourself you won’t be disappointed.

kiwi jam
Kiwi Jam

Cultural influences.

The food here in  New Zealand reflects our diverse cultural heritage. The first being the Maori influence. Coming from Polynesia they brought with them a variety of plants including the sweet potato (kūmara) still used today. Modern cooks normally use a combination of cooking styles but you would still find a Hangi – an earth oven, at a gathering. The food is cooked by steam whilst under the ground. An excellent guide to making one you can find here. The British brought additional foods to the Islands including pork and potato. The potato proving very popular as it yields were higher than the traditional kūmara and tolerated the cooler temperatures of South Island. A popular recipe using potatoes is rewena paraoa, well worth the effort to make.  A boil up is another Maori meal that is popular today using indigenous and introduced foods with British style cooking methods; you boil root vegetables with pork. A lovely recipe for this can be found here. There has long been an argument with Australia over ownership of the Pavlova – in my mind and every other Kiwi it is ours of course. Named after the famous ballerina Anna Pavlov everybody knows what a Pavlova is –a delicate crispy meringue with a soft centre made into a ring and filled with fruit and cream. This is my favourite recipe for Pavlova.

Pavlova filled with cream and fresh kiwi and raspberries
Maori potato bread delicious with soup
Maori potato bread-rewena paraoa