Friday 31 January 2014

a fond farewell

 the five days at Titirangi have slipped by in the twinkling of a twinkling
and all too quickly we found ourselves gathering on the morning of the last day

my students wrapped their bundles
we lit the cauldron [one match, no paper, honour satisfied]
 and then we made gumbo

willing assistants helped chop vegetables
while i stirred the roux [cornmeal with peanut oil and some butter because butter makes it better and only butter butters] until it was a bit darker than the colour of my skin

i slung in some previously toasted spices [a cajun mix, some ground pimiento, a little extra sweet paprika] followed closely by the trinity [finely diced green peppers, celery and onion]
but after that we deviated from the traditional ingredients

adding kumara [we are in Aotearoa after all], pumpkin and sweetcorn

the gumbo sulked quietly on the stove for a few hours
while we stoked the fire
and mumbled a few quiet blessings

then i headed back to the kitchen to prepare some "green stuff"
a garnish [again not quite traditional] composed of finely chopped spinach, parsley, chives, lemon rind and a squoze of same. i simply didn't have time to prep the other necessary accompaniments [rice and potato salad]
nonetheless our gumbo was damned fine stuff sir and a nice flavour contrast to the super healthy boot camp soup we had yesterday [a lentil, leek and ginger brew]
 just as well that soup was a light one...yesterday Renee brought in a cake made by her partner 
that was so squishy and delicious it was difficult to decide whether to eat it or rub it on.
after lunch we extracted the bundles from the cauldron
 and headed down to Otitori Bay to open them up
much to the bemusement of summer beach-goers

the results were glorious
 and for the record
Manukau Harbour mud makes very good marks on cloth
[i tried it on my nightie!]
what i would really like to try 
is magic dust.
sadly they were fresh out of it at the market.
so tomorrow i fly home, a little sad to leave Aotearoa
i like it here very much
i have been told that it's time to grease up the sewing machines
and get back to the coal face
of the very first shipment that my new stockist Gilda's took,
everything bar one dress sold before it hit the shopfloor
which is rather exciting

and besides,
i have an exhibition in New Orleans coming up...
but i do wish Ananda lived closer
i'd love to photograph more things on her!

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Titirangi tidbits

every morning i walk to class past a beautiful magnolia
today there were bees queued up around the block
waiting to feast on the flowers [it's clearly the coolest bee cafe around]
 when i arrive i read this
[i think the bees have read it too]
in the evenings i take a walk somewhere
preferably barefoot [no snakes, remember?]
we've been making zero-waste dresses
to have something substantial on which to practice bundling
before we dye the celebration dresses
here they are, immaculate [ie spot free]
but that will change
 we spend some time talking about how pots might influence colour
and then
on the first day everybody fended for themselves at lunchtime
but i was missing the convivial sharing of food
[we don't have a Chloe or a Violette here, i may have mentioned this before]
so on the second day
everybody brought in the vegetable of their choice
[and some folks also brought bread and delicious plums]
we cooked a splendid soup in the lovely pot that Renee brought
and then today
from the leftover vegetables
i made a curry while the class was busily sewing
we had it with a "deconstructed" beetroot raita
and it was jolly good, though i say it myself
we are having lentil soup

Friday 24 January 2014

dear Viola

dear Viola von Hohenzollern

in case you were watching from your island yesterday
and wondering what on earth was going on
let me explain.

a group of fabulous women spent five days working together in a beautiful garden, being fed simply wonderful food, sewing zero-waste nightgowns [some of which are seeing daylight instead] and celebration dresses, making string and writing poetic words about how a dress should make you feel

on the last day, they came to Cable Bay
to unbundle their handsewn, bio-regionally dyed dresses
and to celebrate the joy of being together
- you may have heard a lot of laughter
and a bit of splashing.

the pictures below will explain all.

i am the lucky soul who was tending the cauldrons.
if you ever feel inclined to have an artist reside on your island for a while, to make you something beautiful using the plants and the wool that grow there, do let me know. i'd be delighted.