Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Untouchable Girls

Linda and Jools Topp, Cathedral Square, Christchurch
Today, I found myself taking in the atmosphere in Cathedral Square where the World Buskers Festival brought cheer to the earthquake-ravaged city. Of course I had to come in to witness The Topp Twins doing what they do best - entertaining. These girls are part of my personal (and political) history, growing up in Aotearoa NZ.
And I have something in common with Jools.
It seems that their documentary Untouchable Girls has become NZ's top documentary film, grossing $2million at the box office.
Though they didn't sing many songs, Linda and Jools managed to demonstrate the essence of great busking (and great performance), spontaneity and interaction with the audience.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blueberry Bliss

blueberry fields forever
Yes indeed it was bliss as I gobbled my way through handfuls of delicious fresh blueberries at Halswell, near Christchurch. It's the height of the blueberry season here and the weather has been kind. This is a bumper crop and the people at Blueberry Bliss, this family-owned "pick-your-own" farm, do not spray the berries. Maybe one day they will also stop spraying the grass too.

Meanwhile, I managed to bring a 1.5kg bucket of berries back with me (minus the ones I munched on in the car on the way back). This will make for great eating over the next couple of days, and Elvi promises we will be going back there before I leave Christchurch.

Some Nutritional Facts About Blueberries
Blueberries are high in Vitamin C . A single 100g serving contains 9.7mg, 20% of the recommended daily requirement. They provide us with many essential minerals including manganese which plays an important role in bone development and metabolism of macronutrients.

100gms of Blueberries contain:
Vitamin C19.9mgms
*this information, courtesy of NZ Blueberry Growers Association

All of this goodness can have the following effect:
•    beneficial in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke
•    useful in treating and preventing urinary tract infection
•    a protectant against the damaging effects of free radicals
•    beneficial in helping treat some cancers
•    helpful in reversing the effects of age related deterioration

berries in abundance at Blueberry Bliss farm
Blueberries: origin and uses

The humble blueberry is a native of North America and captured in American culture as blueberry pie. In pre-colonial times it was the native american indians who gathered blueberries for food. Their folklore explains how the blossom end of each berry, the calyx, forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star. Elders of the tribe would tell of how the Great Spirit sent "star berries" to relieve children's hunger during a famine. Parts of the blueberry plant were also used as medicine and the juice was used for dyes.

Today, America produces about 90% of the world's blueberries. This includes a wild-harvested variety local to Nova Scotia. As a food, they are eaten fresh, frozen, canned, juiced, and used in muffins, pancakes, sauces, cakes, salads, smoothies. sorbets. My favourite way of eating them is fresh. But i also enjoy them in a banana-berry smoothie (fresh or frozen).

Blueberry Production

Blueberries are a member of the plant family, Vaccinium along with 450 other species of plants. Included amongst these are the bilberry, cranberry and many other esoteric varieties of berries not often seen in commercial production.

Blueberries grown commercially fall into three main groups:
a) northern highbush: this is the variety most often found in Australia and New Zealand production. It grows up to 1.5m high.
b) southern rabbiteye: named thus because the calyx of the berry resembles the eye of the rabbit. Most common in southern USA.
c) lowbush or "wild blueberry": cold-hardy dwarf bushes surviving in the wild as far north as Arctic North America.

Eating more than i picked!
A bucket of beautiful berries to take home.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

What Am I Eating in Aotearoa

Here i am, back in the home country, Aotearoa NZ - land of the long white cloud. So my raw vegan friends who live in sub-tropical climes are always interested in what there is to eat in a temperate climate. Lots! But it helps if you can grow it yourself, as prices are high and this is a small country. Organic food and locally grown food is not always readily available in the quantities and variety that we are used to in Australia.
Fruit from Pikos Wholefoods in Christchurch
My first day here and i head down to Pikos Wholefoods to find out what fruit they have on offer. Fairtrade bananas from Ecuador at $5 kg, dates from Tunisia at $17 kg and locally grown heirloom tomatoes & courgettes (zucchinis). The apricots and avocado are also local, though from further afield.
This is my food supply for the next two days. Fortunately Elvi has lettuce growing in her garden, so this afternoon I whipped up a delicious salad with freshly picked cos and fancy lettuce from the garden. I included the courgettes, tomato, kiwifruit and a little avocado which i bought from Pikos.
heirloom tomatoes grown locally
Courgette, tomato, avo, kiwifruit & lettuce