Markets: Cambridge 18th & Hamilton 19th May

What a wonderful blue dome day it is this Monday 13th May as I write this sitting on my window seat in the sun. Yesterday, Mother’s Day, was equally stunning in the Waikato once the fog burned off and there were plenty of mothers and their grateful families enjoying the atmosphere of the market. Although I did notice that it was a bit of a slow start so one can only imagine the mothers being allowed a sleep in and a brekkie in bed before heading off to the market. I was given a lovely bunch of flowers (from Cardalue Nurseries) from my grateful son (!) and treated to a nice lunch of market produce (Salmon, pate, breads, tomatoes and cheese) finishing off with a selection of the best Mavis and Co had on offer – gluten free cinnamon and pistachio swirls and mini donuts – so bad yet so good.
Couldn’t resist this photo taken last Sunday at the Hamilton Market. The young lad was struggling under the weight of a huge pumpkin but was managing heroicly. I suspect that pumpkin was going to end up in some gorgeous tagine or soup.
After the chill of the clear autumn morning last Saturday I had a craving for carrot, pumpkin and coriander soup with a chilli hit. So I bought an enormous bunch of ‘coriander’ from Ian Kerr the lettuce man and when I got home I dug up the few remaining carrots from my now rather tatty looking vege garden and set to work making a heartwarming soup. Trust my luck. A taste test proved that the enormous bunch of herbs weren’t coriander at all but Italian flat leafed parley which looks very similar to the untrained eye. Not to be daunted I chopped up enormous amounts of onions, pumpkins, carrots and Pink Fir Apple potatoes from Catos and created a delicious carrot and parsley soup. I threw in some dried coriander which I happened to have and while it was nothing like the fresh stuff, the end product was pleasantly palatable especially when served with some freshly pan fried Scottish Tattie Scones which I just happened to have on hand – not surprisingly since I make lots of them every week for homesick scots and clued up kiwis.

Tattie Scones (from Celtic Cuisine) are a very old peasant food – simple and satisfying. In the rustic stone crofts of the Hebrides during the bitter Scottish winters when little was available to eat, the woman of the house would extend the left over mashed potatoes with flour, butter and milk and fry up the resulting triangular cakes on the griddle suspended over the open peat fire. Traditionally tattie scones were reheated in the hot fat which is released from frying bacon rashers so they become crispy and salty themselves. Served with a couple of fried eggs, some grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, this pleasant peasant food becomes the food of the gods or at least the brunch of the Lower Victoria Street Set. However by using the best eggs, tomatoes, bacon and Tattie Scones from the market you can have a gorgeous Sunday Brunch for the whole family at a fraction of the café price. Resistance is futile.
Lania Pohio was telling me all about her latest products and got me all excited about the prospect of a sore throat free winter simply by using her Country Gold’s Manuka 12+ SMF (Special Manuka Factor) honey lozenges with propolis. She has had some great results with satisfied customers returning for more time and time again. She also introduced me to her food technologist son’s latest invention : honey electrolyte gel bars – these are incredible for high performance athletes or those who take sports or marathons to the next level. The honey gel bars deliver sustained energy and a balance of minerals and electrolytes in a honey flavoured dense gel which is very palatable indeed. I tried some but I doubt if I personally would ever get to the next level of sporting achievement now that I am, ahem, past a certain age. Nonetheless, the market attracts many health conscious high achievers especially in Cambridge with the rowers and equestrians and the trialtheletes and hill walkers so if you are in this admirable category you might be interested in this completely new take on consentrated energy food bars. I understand that a certain important black clad sports team might be giving them a go shortly…..
Both Roy and Southern Bell are selling enormous fragrant feijoas right now.Did you know that you can scoop the flesh out of ripe feijoas and freeze them down using snap lock sandwich bags? Keep them flat so you can stack them up in your freezer and because this makes them thin and flat, the pulp thaws quickly or you can just bash off a frozen corner with a meat tenderiser if you just want a little feijoa scent in your smoothie throughout the winter months. The same goes for passionfruit. I have employed this freezing technique with the leftover passionfruit I had and now my freezer is filled with neat flat portions of frozen pulp which I am currently turning into Passionfruit Curd. This is the same recipe as Lemon Honey but uses sieved passionfruit pulp instead of lemons. Since Feijoas are in season, I decided to include them in my latest batch of apple turnovers and the result was stunning. I want to do the same with Quinces and even Persimmons as I expect both would complement apples very well in a crusty pie or a crumble.
And talking about apples and by default pears, we have Comice Pears from ‘Top Pears’ owner Phil Platje along with Newstead Gold and Granny Smiths from Mike Rose’s Devine Fruits all on the same stall these days. Why? Well Phil works part time as a fruit tree manager for young Mike who is now a family man with two children and another one on the way. Mike has decided that Sundays are family days and Phil has kindly stepped in and is now managing both his own pear stall and Mike’s apple stall on Sundays at Hamilton. So you can stock up with the best quality locally grown fruit without having to move very far.

Enough yakking from me. Come down to the market again this weekend or give it a first time try if you are a newbie, and have a relaxing look around and a chat with the stall holders, grab a hot chocolate and a Cornish pasty and treat yourself to a well earned comfort food break. Remember, you should feel justly proud that you are supporting your local community and keeping your money circulating right here in the Waikato region. Thanks everyone. We wouldn’t be here without you, our lovely customers.

Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine.