These muffins have been made for decades when I come back to my family home at Kina Peninsula, on the coast west of Nelson. Always for morning tea at 10am, it just seems to work with a cup of coffee, chatting and watching the tide rise or fall.

Our property is just two acres but it’s absolutely bountiful in every season thanks to the clever planting of fruit trees by my parents over a period of 25 years or more. As well as this, Dad’s vegetable garden is a triumph all year round and a treasure trove for me to plunder and cook with every time I’m here.

This time, I’ve arrived in mid December and it’s all bursting with expectant summer goodness.

Red currants gleam like jewels, the winter rhubarb needs harvesting and the strawberries are still producing.

As I arrived, the first plum tree’s crop ripened up and although we have to fight the birds for them, there are still enough to go round.

Citrus is the hero of today’s muffins though.  There are a few trees heavy with orange and yellow fruit, hanging like Christmas decorations amongst the dark green foliage. My favourite for eating fresh are the sweet grapefruit. The lemons to me are essential for life and the rich tangelos and mandarins are perfect garden snacks.

This is a very basic, pretty healthy recipe that I adapt however I like. Sometimes I make them gluten free, sugar free, dairy free. Here I’ve kept it standard and just added the fruit I have to hand. The chocolate is pure indulgence and so good!


2 cups of wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
¾ teaspoon of aluminium free baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
Pinch of sea salt
¼ - ½ cup of raw sugar (optional)
1 cup of coarse coconut
2 cups of assorted fruit, chopped:
1 -2 apples – diced
2 apricots - chopped
2 tangelos – sliced finely, skin and all
Zest of one lemon
½ cup of dark/raw chocolate buttons
1 cup of milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (can use butter or omit altogether)
½ teaspoon of pure vanilla


Turn oven to 220C.
Grease a 12 hole, medium muffin tin with coconut oil.
Cut up the fruit. Whisk together milk, egg, cinnamon, vanilla. Add to fruit.
Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine.
Pour in the milk fruit mix and stir gently until just combined.
Spoon into the muffin tins.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until golden and springy.
Remove from tins and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with a freshly brewed coffee, in our case this morning - or cold, with a cuppa or a cool drink.

RECIPE - Nicola's Vegie-Juice-Pulp Cake

Looking at the bright green, dry solids left after my vegie juice today got me thinking. Not liking to waste a thing, I put together a cake that used up the leftovers in a very delicious way as it turned out. It's not a super health cake, just a type of variation on a traditional carrot cake. The walnuts are just pressed onto the raw batter before baking so take on a nice toasted taste. Icing is optional.
The finished cake was a bit of an alarming shade of green but don't be put off by that.

Walnuts collected this winter

2 cups of vegetable juice pulp (instead of throwing it away)
Mine today was:
Silverbeet, beetroot tops, parsley, mint, 1 carrot, broccoli leaves
1 orange or a couple of tangelos, finely sliced, skin and all
150ml light oil or coconut oil
2  organic, free range eggs
2/3 cup fine dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup of coarse coconut
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon of aluminium-free baking soda
Pinch sea salt
Handful of coarsely chopped walnuts

Icing (Optional)

Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons of organic coconut oil or butter
¾ - 1 cup icing sugar
(Could also use some cream cheese)

Pre-heat oven to 170C.
Grease a  20cm spring form tin with coconut oil or butter, line with baking paper.
Beat oil, eggs and sugar until pale and thick.
Add vegetable pulp and orange, mix well.
Add dry ingredients and mix gently until combined. Add ¼ - ½ cup of water if the mix is to dry. Should be a wet-ish batter.
Put mixture into the prepared tin.
Scatter walnuts on top, press gently into the mixture.
Bake at 170C for ¾ - 1 hour, until it springs back to the touch.
Cool on a wire rack completely before icing. The icing may go liquid in the heat because of the coconut oil so keep in the fridge in that case.
Fresh from the oven - Green glory!
A Special Feijoa Gift
The humble feijoa holds a special spot in my heart. I love their pleasantly gritty inside texture and a spicy, intoxicating aromatic taste.  We have two trees at my family home back in New Zealand and for me a trip there in feijoa season is heaven. I eat as many of them as possible during their  precious season in the crisp days of Autumn.
This year, far from the family feijoa tree, a surprise turned up on my desk - A beautiful feijoa, delivered secretly to my desk by a knowing soul with Kiwi links. What a delight.
Here it is - First photographed, then eaten with devout reverence, it was undoubtedly a well loved little fruit.
Thank you feijoa angel.
Simple market salad
Another trip to the buzzing Bondi Farmers Market on a Saturday morning in Sydney, Australia.
Smiling faces of my favourite growers, Hapi and Cathy who come in laden with the best variety of vegetables and herbs ever, including some interesting ones to try such as sorrel, nettles, purslane, chickory, dandelion and more. Hapi and Cathy are always happy to help with ideas for cooking and encourage us all to try something new.
Home I go with a basket heavy with organic goodness, most of it green, a dozen farm eggs nestle at the bottom too. This is the ideal time to put together a true market lunch using what is local, seasonal and fresh. The "template" that I use is based on building up from the greens and leaves, adding in perhaps some more raw or cooked vegetables, then adding some proteins of choice. The end result is always delicious and because it's using the produce of the day, always hits the spot for satisfying, good food.

Today's Market Lunch
Sorrel leaves - a lovely fresh, lemony, tangy taste
Chickory - bitter and beautiful!
Avocado - buttery and wonderful
Fried boudin noir (black pudding) - salty & tasty
A soft poached egg - organic and free range
Shaved pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice
Organic extra virgin olive oil
A few dobs of my friend Noni's homemade kumquat chutney with pine nuts and almonds.

I just put all the ingredients together in a bowl except for the egg, boudin noir and chutney - these I added on the top when I put it onto my plate.
Super easy, super delicious.

Serves 1 - Adjust for as many as you're cooking for.

Tastes GOOD!
As summer moves to winter....

Take some salad leaves, fresh and crisp, add chopped mint and coriander, season with salt, pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
Now comes the lusciousness...
Add some tender, melting, slow cooked osso buco meat - just warm, not hot. Scatter over some shaved pecorino for salty sharpness and serve.
This tastes amazing - crispy greens and succulent meat.
A winner! x
A rug, a basket of delicious food to graze on, a location and someone to share it with...a simple recipe for a picnic.

How infinite in possibility is the picnic. How splendid in diversity, how wondrous in the simplicity of its pleasures.

Limit not by season, place, climate nor company - expand and celebrate!

Look out for more picnic prose...After all, picnics are truly Globally Local masterpieces.

Vive la picnic!
It's not pretty but damn it's good - Fresh, crisp, luscious. At Bondi Farmers' Market, my favourite produce is the farm grown, love fuelled vegetables from Hapi and Cathy. Oh and they're organic too.

So, this salad is:
Spring onion
Cucumber - a short, thick green variety that tastes amazing
Steamed and refreshed rainbow chard and kale
Marinated goats cheese
Shaved Italian pecorino
Soft boiled organic egg
Salt pepper
Organic olive oil
Lemon juice

Oh and essential for me - a serve of homemade, organic sauerkraut - red cabbage in this case.

I often build up a salad like this and either enjoy as is, or add one of these:
Prosciutto - San Daniele
Crisp pancetta
Fresh grilled sardines
Fried slices of boudin noir

Have it with some toasted sour dough or sprouted bread if you're extra hungry too.

So simply chopped and put together, this is a beautiful lunch with endless variations.

Sante! To health and happiness.
Grilled fresh sardines - these have been de-headed and tailed and preference is for heads and tails on - they grill up crisply, full of flavour and make me think of summer in the Mediterranean.

My penchant for meals of greens and protein is well represented here.
Simple, fast and tastes great:

- Fresh sardines - grill until crispy
- Fresh, finely chopped mint, parsley and
- Sliced kohl rabi
- Sliced red onion
- Well cooked organic Brussels sprouts
- Shaved pecorino or Parmigiano
- Organic extra virgin olive oil
- Salt, pepper, lemon juice or balsamic

Chop the herbs, toss together into the serving bowls, scatter over Brussels, kohl rabi, red onionsi and cheese. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, squeeze over a little lemon, or a splash of balsamic, add salt and freshly ground pepper. Top with sizzling sardines - beautiful! Healthy too.

Breakfast. I love this meal.... From the most delicate of morsels, to offerings for only the hungry and the brave.
This one is definitely at the robust end of the scale.

A trip home to Nelson, NZ, always brings out the call of the wild food plate, catching, gathering, cooking on fires... Grrrr!
My brother set off in the dead of night to spear some flounder in the estuary, (with enthusiastic encouragement from those preferring to stay in the warm).
"Flounder for breakfast!" We called after him, "...and eggs!" We cried, getting ahead of ourselves further in the heat of anticipation. "And we'll have it with black beer and rye toast!" Someone added in pre-emptive triumph.

The next morning sure enough there were three glistening, fresh flounder sitting in the fridge.
The cook up began, glorious smells filled the kitchen and all hands were on deck to pull the feast together - fuelled with plenty of fresh ground coffee.

The Plate:

- Fresh caught flounder panfried in butter
- Home made grainy bread,
toasted golden, with butter
- A soft poached, organic, local egg
- Glass of Stoke Black beer

Ooo yeah! Wild food.

Suggested improvements - Cook outside in nature, on a fire. Ultimate!

Drinks Note:
The stout is thick, black, locally brewed, organic beer - Stoke, from McCashin's Brewery.
Feel free to have coffee or tea as well or instead but trust me, black beer 100% rocks this breakfast!
Soda bread is a great standby when you want something hot from the oven, home made and fast - no proving, kneading etc that you have with yeast or sourdough breads (they need to be honoured with time to make - which I also love).

Today for an Easter breakfast (read between lines...excuse for chocolate and treats and lots of coffee), we had some quick little soda bread hot crossed buns, lashings of fresh butter, buckets of coffee, an egg or two - and fresh apples and figs from the trees....just for the balance!