Friday, September 28, 2012


 "With some produce - think kiwifruit - it's a well-accepted habit to discard the skin. With others - carrots and potatoes are prime examples - you can definitely eat the outer layer but many of us take the peeler to them anyway. However, research shows that, for the sake of your health, eating fruit and vegetables whole wherever possible is a smart move. 'Take apples', says accredited practicing dietician Alison Graham. 'Like many types of fruit and vegetable, the skin is where a lot of the nutrients are most concentrated so eating the whole fruit is definitely best'."
 Karen Fittall : "Peel Appeal". New Zealand Good Health magazine August 2012
  SAUTE BOK CHOY  (Just over 25 mins to prepare and cook)
Serves 5 adults.
The nutritional benefits of the combined ingredients in this dish provide a rich source of Vitamin C and K, selenium, potassium, manganese and B complex vitamins.
Health benefits from these ingredients include reducing blood pressure and heart disease, cholesterol levels, nausea and lowering the risk of infections, migraine and diarrhea. The ingredients of this dish will also assist in digestion, cancer prevention, good bone and nerve health and hair and skin growth.
My recipe is based on the Australian Women's Weekly "Stirfry Choy Sum" recipe in the book "Vegie Stars"
My recipe is HOT in flavour, but if you prefer a milder dish just reduce the ginger and chili quantity by half and the garlic to 2 cloves. I'm sure you will find the taste perfect for an average palette.
2 Onions
3 packets of Bok Choy (6 'bunches')
a generous slurp of Olive Oil
2 Red Chillies
3 Garlic Cloves
5cm Root Ginger
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon
300g Cashew nuts
2  2/3 cups Rice
1. Put Garlic cloves into a mortar and pestle and give them 2 - 3 hits to split their skin. Now they can quickly be peeled.
2. Wash chillies and slice green top off. Slice through the middle lengthwise and remove the seeds. Tear into pieces and add to the mortar and pestle along with the piece of ginger and garlic and smash it all up until they are pulverized. The aroma from this is DELICIOUS. You can get your kids to do the muscle work here but warn them that all 3 ingredients have juice and as they smash them the juice can easily squirt into their eye and it will sting!!
3. Peel and slice the onions.
4. Put a generous slurp of oil into a large frypan set at a low heat. Add the onions and put on the lid to let cook until you finish the next step.
5. Pull all the leaves off the Bok Choy and wash in the sink. I tear the leaves lengthwise irregularly - you can use a knife to slice them if you prefer.

6. Remove the zest of 1/2 - a whole Lemon. I used 1/2 of a Lemon.
7. Add the Lemon zest and the chili, garlic and ginger mix to the onions in the frypan. Cook for 1 min with lid on.
8. Add Bok Choy and with tongs keep moving the leaves around in the pan so all ingredients are mixed together. Lid on and cook 1 min.
9. Add Soy Sauce and Lemon juice and again use tongs to move the mixture around. Lid on and let cook 2 min.
10. Add Cashew nuts and mix through using tongs. Lid on and leave for 1 - 2 mins.
Serve straight away with cooked Rice.
 KIWIFRUIT CRUNCH   (30 - 35 mins to prepare and cook)
Serves 5 + adults.
In this recipe I am NOT "discarding the skin" of the kiwifruit, which makes it quicker to prepare and once cooked the texture and taste is great. 
Nutritional benefits. Green and gold Kiwifruit are the most nutrient-dense of all fruits. The ingredients in this dessert offer great stores of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, manganese, fibre, calcium and iron.
The benefits to health that these ingredients give, include maintaining a strong immune system, assisting in digestion, the prevention of bowel cancer, heart disease, asthma and encouraging good healthy skin. The ingredients also help maintain weight control, lower cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, are an energy provider and help reduce anxiety.
12 Gold Kiwifruit
1/4 cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 - 1 zest of Lemon 
1 juice of Lemon 
1/2 cup Coconut
1  2/3 cups Oats
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
150ml Cream
1. Measure the oats, Coconut, Sesame Seeds and 1/4 cup Sugar into a bowl for the crumble topping over the fruit.
2. Wash the Lemon and remove the zest with a zester and add to the bowl.
3. Use your hands to knead the ingredients together.
4. Butter a large flan dish (I used a 28cm flan dish)
5. Wash the Kiwifruit and then slice up (DON'T peel) arranging in the flan dish. It doesn't matter if your Kiwifruit is a little soft.
6. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp Sugar over the Kiwifruit.
7. Squeeze juice of a Lemon over the top.
8. Put crumble topping over the Kiwifruit.
9. Bake 15 - 20 mins at 180*C fan oven.
10. Serve with liberal pourings of Cream.
TOTAL COST OF THIS MEAL TO FEED 5 ADULTS = $19.11NZ. All ingredients were bought at Pak'n Save Albany, Auckland New Zealand, Wednesday September 26, 2012, EXCEPT for the Bok Choy which was bought at New World Albany, Auckland New Zealand, Thursday September 27 2012.
I have not included the cost of "a generous slurp of Olive Oil", 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce, 1/4 cup Sugar and 1 Tbsp Sugar.
While preparing the meal I found these fascinating artsy images to enjoy. Look out for yours as you prepare your meal.
 THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~  happy cooking.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


This is the third post in the series "A CASE FOR READING..." and is written by Johanna Cettina.

"Growing up in a home where books were readily available and reading was encouraged, I always had my nose in a book. Naturally, as my reading tastes developed and my desire for more challenging and exciting stories grew, I turned to the classics. Well I remember shivering with fear as Jane walked with candle in hand through the dark and mysterious halls of Thornfield in Jane Eyre. Laughter escaped my lips as I pored over the illustrations of Mr. Bingley’s unusual attire in Pride and Prejudice, and I puzzled over the complexities of nineteenth century social conventions. As a student reading Thomas Hardy for the first time, I was filled with indignation at society’s treatment of the ill fated Tess in Tess of the d’Urbervilles.

Over the years in search of something to read which both stimulates and
engages the whole mind, I have returned to these now familiar pages again and again. Each time I make new and exciting discoveries, uncovering layers and depths which I had not seen before.
So why do the classics have such lasting appeal? Why are they a ‘must’
The classics have stood the test of time because they are some of the best literature ever produced by some of the greatest writers we have ever had. Their endurance is a testimony of their artistic merit and place within the greater literary tradition. The classics have appealed to people across the ages because their stories and characters are timeless as they deal with universal themes- ideas which we in the 21st century can identify with and see in our own society too.

The classics also portray human nature at its worst and its very best. We meet characters ruled by pride, greed, ambition and selfishness and in them we see mirrors of ourselves. We are also inspired by characters that stand up for the oppressed, fight against injustice and do what is morally right. The classics offer us a host of such individuals.
Admittedly, for some, picking up a classic to read can seem a daunting task at first because of the language. It can feel as if you have stepped into a completely different world. However, if you persevere, you will be enriched by the experience. Your grasp of language will expand and you will have an abundance of ways to express your thoughts and feelings.
For the reader who has never read a classic I would recommend one of the following: A Christmas Carol and A Tale od Two Cities by Charles Dickens; Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Happy reading!"

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ you could have another trip to your local library to borrow one of the classics. If you live near a second hand bookshop you are bound to find plenty of classics for sale at very reasonable prices.

Friday, September 14, 2012


This is the second post in the series "A Case for Reading...."
"As a girl I hardly ever read. I got through English at high school with my gorgeous sister, Jules, reading my novels and plays, then in her flamboyant manner talking me through each equipping me with quotes and all that was needed to get through the system and into arts school.
When I became a mum and began teaching my children I read, often for the first time, poetry, plays, classics and fiction, history, biographies, books on science, sport, travel and the arts, and I found I really enjoyed it.
1. The first is because art is everywhere. It's seen in a sunrise, the arrangement of food on a plate, design  or layout of a room, the cut and make of a jacket, a magnificent garden, a tattoo design on flesh, a fruit and vegetable display, a fancy hairstyle or an exotically made-up face... Art is not confined to the art gallery. 
To live life oblivious to art seems as crazy as eating food without tasting it.
In my late teens I first read "Hidden Art" by Edith Schaeffer, which speaks of this view point, that art is everywhere and can be found in everyday areas of life.
2. The second reason is because art shows us how other people live. When I was at school one of my art teachers, who was a dragon, regularly referred to Kenneth Clark's book, "Civilisation ". She would hold the volume in her hands as she walked, reading and then talking to us in an animated fashion as though she had suddenly come alive. Decades later I bought the "Civilisation" series when they came out on DVD and now understand what a treasure my education was under Miss White. Lord Clark's book "Civilisation", traces the rise and fall of European civilisations through looking at the art each created. Art through history gave the true story of people's lives.
3. The third reason we should read books in the arts is because art shows us other people's perspective and experiences of life.
Through art, an artist shares with the world how they feel, what they see and think. 
In the well known painting "The Cry" or "The Scream", Edvard Munch clearly shares with us the tension, anguish and extreme loneliness and isolation he felt. The colours, lines, composition and subject are simply tools to express a sound. We see the sound which directs us explicitly to the emotions he sort to communicate. 
You may say, this is all fine, but I know what art I like and frankly I don't need to look at let alone read about art I dislike. Justin Paton in his humorous/serious book "How to Look at a Painting", suggests we look at as many paintings as we can and collect up an "image bank" of "remembered paintings". I agree and think the more art we see and read about by artists with different perspectives and life experiences to our own, the wider our compassion and understanding of people and life becomes. Paton says, "At any one time, the amount of average or downright wretched art exceeds the other kind by an alarming ratio. If an artwork's giving you nothing, there's no shame in turning your back. Remember, though, that if you don't occasionally wade through art's lows, you're hardly qualified to register the highs."
4. The fourth reason is because art is inspirational. Edith Schaeffer in "Hidden Art" says, "One area of art inspires another area of art, but also one person's experience of art stimulates another person and brings about growth in understanding, sensitivity and appreciation. One active artist gives courage and incentive, and germinates ideas in others for producing more art. Hence a poor, humble or unknown artist might easily provide the spark which kindles the fire of a great artist." 
I find this stimulation all the time. My mind is set off with ideas to write about, craft projects to start or I get a general feeling of being 'fed'. Then I feel as Edith says, "satisfied and fulfilled".
Two artistically inspirational books which had this effect for me, were, Victoria Finlay's "COLOUR, Travels Through the Paintbox" and "BURIED TREASURE, Travels Through the Jewel Box".
5. The last reason I think it is important people read books in the arts is because "Great art changes you". This quote said by art commentator, Sister Wendy Beckett, who is well worth reading or watching on DVD. Here's a link if you wish to read about her.
Sister Wendy's full quote is "The experiential test of whether art is great or good, or minor or abysmal is the effect it has on your own senses of the world and of yourself. Great art changes you."
If we adopt Sister Wendy's method of spending a prolonged time looking at a painting, she says we gradually see things we didn't find at first. This time slowed thinking and pondering can often bring change to how we view the world or see ourselves."
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ inquire at your library if they have or can get in for you, Sister Wendy's DVD series or Kenneth Clark's (more suitable for teenagers and adults), or borrow one of Victoria Finley's books to be taken on an exotic, fantastic journey to places, people and cultures that will inspire.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


This is the first in a series of posts to encourage adults and families to take up the challenge and read books from a wide range of genres.
The idea came from an article by Virginia Woolf, "Why Do We Need to Read?"Part 1 and "Why Do We Need to Read?"Part 2, where she suggested reading from many areas and disciplines to give our mind plenty of material to work with.
Today we live in a world of absurdity in relation to reading the written word. On one hand there are people that are besotted with spending hours each day reading material which expresses the tiniest feelings and fancies  through digital media. On another, we are presented with an avalanche of technical data or 'terms and conditions' that we are supposed to read before we can place our short comment or buy a ticket on many online sites. And then there is the concerning statistics to do with the level of reading competency, not only of children but also adults throughout the world today.
However many people remain passionate about reading books, and my hope in this series is that these posts will have an effect on our attitude to reading, bringing a balance and an influence of 'normality' to the communities in which we live.
The question - "What life changing book have you read?" was put to Sir John Kirwan. Here is his reply ~
"I read constantly. Books are my soul food and one of my tools for getting away. I remember going on tour with (former All Black coach) Wayne Smith and I'd never read a book before. He said, "JK, it's time you read a book." So he gave me THE PALADIN, about Winston Churchill's personal spy. I read it in a day and I've never stopped reading since. It changed my life. I don't know what I'd do without books. I have and iPad but I've gone back to that touchy feel y thing of books. I like that. When I buy  a book, I write the date and what's happening right then, what I'm feeling or what's happening. So there are these books in my library with notes on the inside, like, 'Got contract to coach Japan.' "
From NZ Herald Thursday July 19 2012. Twelve Questions section.
What a great story of an immediate change and wholehearted commitment to reading books! 
 * If you are not a reader or always read the same sort of books, start by choosing a new area that is attractive to you. 
 * Ask friends what they like to read and which books in particular they have enjoyed. 
 * Your local library probably has tons of books you would enjoy but have no idea exist. So go for an hour to browse the shelves or ask a librarian which books they would recommend in a particular area.
 * A trip to a bookshop to wander and browse can be helpful, even to watch what other people are picking up/buying.
 * Some online bookstores and reality bookshops have a Top 10 or Most Popular list. This may be a good place to start to broaden out your reading diet, but I am loathed to suggest following such lists, as reading like our taste for food or music, is individual, and it's important to develop our own senses in what to read next. 
 * Many newspapers and publications review an assortment of books.
 * Like John Kirwan, some people love reading books to remove themselves from their present circumstances, and have, as my husband calls it, a holiday. 
 * Others, again like John Kirwan, find reading gives them "soul food", feeding their heart and mind, connecting with who they are. 
 * The need to stay up to date with current thoughts or information is another reason people read books.
 * To satisfy one's curiosity or inquisitiveness often causes people to get reading.
 * Whatever your reason is to choose to read a particular book, a book  must stimulate thought or imagination and feed your mind. It may make you laugh or cry, or bring a wonderful new dimension to leisure and relaxation as John Kirwan found.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ go for a trip to the library to borrow some books from sections of the library you have not borrowed from before.