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.
We grew a love tomato.
Shaped like a heart; passionate red and sweet like romance.

....Ain't nature just grand?

Send this to your lover.
Or to your tomato lover.
There's something so special about cooking food from the wild.
We are lucky enough to be given wild venison, pork and goat sometimes. It's a real privilege to cook it and deserves the utmost respect, I believe.
Here I decided to slow roast a beautiful shoulder of goat, with autumn fruits - figs, rhubarb and quinces, straight from the tree and this season's garlic in whole bulbs.
Fragrant, sweet, tender, succulence!

Served with steamed greens from the garden and smashed potatoes laced with butter, salt and pepper.

Place: Nelson, New Zealand
The simple pleasure of a picnic...
Definitely on my top 10 foodie favourites.
I love the fact that picnics are unlimited in their potential, their diversity - from simple to opulent; from a lone beauty of one with food, to a sexy rug for two, a bunch of friends and family, or a big community gathering - all are delightful in their ways - unified by the outdoors and eating and drinking.

Seasons offer the opportunity to enjoy mummy nature's time by fitting in with her temperature and mood.

Here we enjoyed a simple early autumn picnic for morning tea break on a firewood chopping day.
Fruit from the trees, organic muffins to munch on and a flask of the best black tea, with milk from its little bottle. Reviving, relaxing, convivial, the warmth of the sun cutting through the crisp air of the changing season.

Place: Nelson, New Zealand
Warm from the summer sun, fragrant like memories, sexy, delicate, luscious, richly red, shaped like hearts.
Raspberries - I love you to infinity

Place: My parents' garden, Nelson, New Zealand