Rousing Rotorua, NZ by da-AL

We landed at Auckland Airport early, rented a car — and learned how to drive on the ‘wrong’ (har-har-har) side of the road. A quick look around and lunch later, we headed south for Rotorua.

Rotorua is lovely, including its historic district.

Breath in! That rousing scent, which is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e (even where no water is visible), is that of healing minerals permeating the air! In unscientific terms, New Zealand is the result of volcanic activity. Hence, the region teams with gurgling springs from where steam plumes and billows. Some are pleasingly warm to soak one’s body in, others are hot enough to cook in.

During the late 1800s, officials saw tourism money in those spas. They erected buildings, planted gardens, smoothed out sports greens, and more — all with the intent of creating a resort destination.

Here’s the historic district built in the late 1800s/early 1900s, which still attracts busloads of visitors…

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Part of the historic area pays respect to the indigenous Māori (who, by the way, fought valiantly in World War II)…

Elsewhere in Rotorua is a marae, a Māori meeting grounds complex set within a residential neighborhood. If you ever find yourself at one, remember that visitors must be formally invited inside.

A Māori meeting house in Rotorua.

Rotorua’s current mayor is Steve Chadwick, a long-time politician born Stephanie Anne Frizzell, was into her 60s when she was elected into office.

Who are the indigenous people where you live?

Easy! Yummy! Healthy! Brown Rice Corn Island with Seafood by K. Parsi

Healthy eating is fun with recipes that don’t require a lot of skill and time, yet can even wow guests. Famed chef Jacques Pépin inspired my husband to create this one…

Brown Rice and Corn Island with Seafood Stuffing
Healthy cooking can be simple.

Brown Rice and Corn Island with Seafood Stuffing

(serves about 8)

Read this recipe all the way through before you shop for ingredients and cook. It involves four cooking steps: a) rice, b) seafood, c) sauce, and d) plating.

Step A: Rice

1 medium diced onion

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 head (about 5 cloves) of diced garlic

3 cups brown rice

1 bunch (about 1 1/2 cup) chopped green onions

1 cup corn kernels

3 cups water

3 cups fish or chicken broth

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon saffron

1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Monterey Jack)

In a 5-quart pot, sauté onion in olive oil until lightly browned.

Add garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes.

Add brown rice and sauté until rice is covered with oil.

Add green onions to rice mixture, and sauté for another two minutes.

Add corn, water, broth, salt, pepper, and saffron.

Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring to avoid a crust forming on the bottom.

Reduce heat to simmer, add cheese, and cook for half an hour, or until rice softens.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Step B: Seafood Stuffing

1 medium julienned onion

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 head (about 5 cloves) of diced garlic

2 pounds mixed seafood (e.g., shrimp, calamari, and scallops)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon turmeric powder

1 cup white cooking wine

Using a medium saucepan, sauté onion in coconut oil, until lightly browned.

Add garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add seafood and sauté for 5 minutes. Add cooking wine, salt, pepper, and turmeric, and cook for five more minutes on medium heat.

Remove the seafood mixture with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Seafood will be used during plating, in Step D. Set aside juice for use in the sauce, which you’ll make next, during Step C.

Step C: Mushroom Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup white flour

6 cups milk

6 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In the same saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in flour, stirring quickly to avoid lumps.

Whisk in milk.

Add mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil.

Take off heat and set aside for plating.

Tip: If you get flour lumps, you can put the mixture in a blender before adding the mushrooms.

Step D: Plating

Parsley or chives for garnish

Butter the sides of a bowl.

Add a few spoonfuls of rice mixture to fill about 1/3 of the bowl.

Press rice down into the sides, creating a cavity in the middle of the bowl.

Fill to 3/4 full with seafood.

Cover with more rice, and gently pack it down.

Place a plate over the bowl, and flip them quickly, to get the rice onto the plate. Carefully unmold the rice by removing the bowl.

If your guests are not ready, you can place all the dishes in a 180-degree oven to keep them warm. Dishes may be kept there for up to half an hour. Any longer and the food will start to get too dry.

When ready to serve, gently spoon sauce around the ‘rice island.’

Garnish with parsley or chives.

Tip: If you have enough bowls, you can leave them over the rice plates until you’re ready to add the sauce around.

Enjoy!

Easy! Yummy! Healthy! Veggie Black-Eyed Pea Appetizer Recipe by Khashayar Parsi

How do you make staying healthy easy? Focusing on what’s good to eat (rather than what isn’t) helps me. So does collecting wholesome recipes that are simple and delicious.

My husband welcomes challenges, nutritious cooking included. Here’s a favorite dish he’s come with that family and guests love…

vegetarian cooking
Hungry for something wonderful?

Veggie Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer

Ingredients

1 medium onion

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 zucchini

1 head garlic

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas

1 cup dried maitake mushrooms

1/2 cup walnuts

1/4 cup cheddar cheese

4 cups water

1/2 cup white rice

salt and pepper to taste

olives

crackers

Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer garnished with olives
Olives brighten up Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer

Instructions

  1. Coarsely chop onion.
  2. In a medium sized pot, sauté in coconut oil until golden.
  3. Coarsely dice zucchini.
  4. Add zucchini to onions and sauté another five minutes on medium heat.
  5. Mince garlic.
  6. Add garlic to the pot with turmeric and sauté two minutes.
  7. Add black-eyed peas, mushrooms, walnuts, rice, cheese, and water. Bring to boil.
  8. Lower heat to medium and simmer for half an hour.
  9. Once fully cooked, coarsely grind with an immersion blender (which is a little easier to control) or mixer. Tip: if mixture overcooks and becomes too dry to blend, add water 1/4 cup at a time until it can be emulsified without becoming watery.
  10. Let cool.
  11. Spoon into large bowl.
  12. Garnish with Olives.
  13. Serve with crackers.
Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer is tasty on wholewheat crackers.
Vegetarian Black-Eyed Peas Appetizer is tasty on wholewheat crackers.

Serves 8-10 people.

Guest Blog Post: Six Warm Piglets by Cecilia Mary Gunther

photo of piglets feeding

Warning: reality check, then Cuteness Overload! It’s not for nothing that the human star of the glorious pig movie, “Babe,” went vegetarian…

thekitchensgarden

If you were hanging out in the Kitchen’s Garden Lounge of Comments yesterday you would have read that a piglet was lost in that first cold night.  I found him dead on Poppy’s side of their quarters.  Being the Lady Pig Farmer is not always easy. All our focus these first few days is keeping the babies safe and well fed. This task feels mutually exclusive at times.

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Guest Blog Post: American Grocery List by Elan Mudrow

1930s or so black & white photo of young woman typing
From Elan’s ‘about’ page.

Tired of taking food too seriously? Let blogger Elan Mudrow help…

Guest Blog Post: Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins by Roijoyeux

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffins by Roijoyeux
Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Muffin by Roijoyeux

Most of the week, fellow blogger Roijoyeux blogs on heroic people bullied for being gay or bisexual. Sundays he reserves to torture us with photos and recipes from his latest mouthwatering healthy/delicious yummy. Another awesomeness about his site is that if you don’t read French, he’s installed a google translate widget…

Roijoyeux

Pour mon cher ami Tauche et son mari, je réalise presque chaque semaine des gâteaux à la fois sains et gourmands et j’ai décidé de vous faire profiter, joyeux visiteurs, de mes plus belles réussites…

Cette semaine, j’ai eu envie de tester la recette de muffins aux pépites de chocolat inscrite au dos des paquets de pépites de chocolat “Vahiné”, en l’adaptant pour mes amis; Tauche souhaitait un gâteau à la banane, il me restait un sachet de noisettes en poudre, voici donc les :

Ingrédients : (pour 9 muffins de diamètre 6 cm)

  • 125 g de farine de riz + 50 g de farine de sarrasin + 75 g de poudre de noisettes (au lieu de 250 g de farine)
  • 1/2 c à c bicarbonate (au lieu de 1 sachet de levure chimique)
  • 2 pincées de sel
  • 100 g de pépites de chocolat
  • 1 oeuf
  • 105 g de muscovado…

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Eggplant Roll Ups Recipe by Khashayar Parsi

Platter of eggplant rollups with yogurt dip.
Photos by da-AL

Happiness for the eyes and tummy is a platter of these easy and dramatic healthy veggie bites …

Eggplants – 2 large

Olive oil – 4 tablespoons

Soy sauce – 4 tablespoons

Persian cucumbers – 6 small

Carrots – 2 large

Walnuts – 1/4 cup

Yogurt – 2 cups

Slice each eggplant lengthwise to about 3/8” to 1/2” (or 6 to 8 slices).

Spread half the olive oil in a large oven pan over its entire surface.

Place the eggplant slices in the pan and bake in 400°F oven for 20 minutes. Turn them over and bake them for another 20 minutes or until browned on both sides, using the remaining olive oil.

Remove them from the oven and sprinkle the soy sauce evenly over the eggplants.

Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Julienned cucumbers and carrots with roasted eggplant slice.
Ready to roll!

Meanwhile, julienne the cucumbers and carrots, and divide them evenly per eggplant slices.

For each eggplant, place the julienned pieces on one end and roll the piece tightly.

Eggplant rollup before it's been cut in half.
Eggplant rollup before it’s been cut in half.

Cut each roll in half and stand each half on its flat side.

Sprinkle with ground walnuts and serve with yogurt.

Eggplant rollups cut in half.
As adorable as they are yummy!