Waiting for rain, Highway 22, Waikato, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2020
“Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships!” — Ansel Adams
It’s Saturday evening and we’re driving through drought-struck farmland in the north-west Waikato. Rain clouds have flirted shamelessly with the skyline all day, but the land remains parched and disappointed.
Rounding a corner, we see a distant hill quite dramatically lit by low sunshine breaking through the clouds. It’s beautiful and stark and emphasizes how dry the land has become.
T stops the car. I hop out and wade through long, brittle grass. As I’m fiddling with the camera, a police car stops to check that we’re ok and that the car hasn’t broken down on this very quiet stretch of road. T assures him we’re fine and I wave my camera ineffectually to establish my bona fide. He nods and zooms off — possibly a tad faster than might be strictly legal. But I suppose there have to be some compensations for patrolling country roads on a Saturday night.
When we finally get home (after quite a few more photo stops), I download the images. “Cop-stop hill” is too dark and doesn’t have the contrast I remember, but the bones of the shot are good and all the pixels I need are there, just waiting to be tweaked.
The cold has lingered longer than expected, so despite putting in the hard yards reading recipe books and magazines, I wasn’t up to baking for our afternoon tea.
Instead, I nipped out and bought some raw chocolate peppermint slice. Dairy and gluten-free, it’s made with nuts and coconut oil and cacao, with a little coconut sugar for sweetness.
A bit creamy, quite minty and delicious, it’s kind on my recovering immune system. And did I mention it’s delicious?
I’ve been thinking a lot about my eating habitsstyle preferences lately. I know friends and family would like me to just “come out” as a vegetarian, or a vegan, or gluten-free, dairy-free — a label they could get their heads around. But the truth is; apart from baked beans, cooked avocado (yes, I’ve actually been served that), pizza with sweetcorn and/or pineapple, and anything swimming in salad cream — I’ll eat pretty much anything.
And if someone else has cooked it for me, I’ll say thank you and find something — however small — that I can truthfully praise.
I’m trying to find a way to explain that my food preference are really a food philosophy. I want to “do good”; for my physical and mental health, for my bank balance, for small businesses, and for the environment. That means I eat home-grown where I can, buy as much as possible from local, preferably organic growers, avoid foods and manufacturers I believe to be harmful or unethical … and a bunch more considerations I won’t bore you with but which make trips to the supermarket time-consuming, frustrating and really difficult without my strong glasses to read the small print.
I know that’s a roundabout way of selling you on the raw vegan mint slice, but it really is delicious.
And the drinks …
Despite the dry weather, my herb garden is thriving, so I’ve harvested some mint and lemon balm to brew our cuppa. There’s raw honey from my friend Duncan’s bees to sweeten it, and some local lemons if you’d like to add a slice.
But if you’d prefer, I can make you some builders’ tea (old-school with milk and sugar if that takes your fancy). Or there’s some Sencha green tea if you’d like something lighter that’s not mint! Both of these come from my local tea shop.
So pull up a chair and let’s put the world to rights over afternoon tea.
I was so pleased to get positive feedback on my last tea party, that I’m going to continue to post once a month — mid-week, mid-month probably — at least for the rest of 2020.
I’d love to read your thoughts on the food, the drinks, whatever I’m rambling about. A few words about what you’re doing/reading/making. What’s making you happy or pissing you off? Your comments make blogging so much more interesting.
And if you’d like to contribute a post of your own — great. Maybe a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it, A recipe?
I’ll update each of my posts with a ping-back to everyone’s in the same way as I do with The Changing Seasons.
#virtualteaparty2020 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)
I’d love to be part of a global rolling tea party. Hopefully a few of you would too.