Do it your­self food

The softer and squishier it gets, the bet­ter it is.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS KRISTINA JENSEN

Why you want this food to be gooey

There is a reg­u­lar gath­er­ing out here in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds that I re­ally try my hard­est to at­tend. The monthly meet­ing of the Kenepuru Branch of Ru­ral Women NZ is about 20 women, many with farm­ing in their back­grounds.

The def­i­ni­tion of a ru­ral woman has changed over the past 20 years. Our group in­cludes women who are elec­tron­ics and IT spe­cial­ists, teach­ers, writ­ers, an ex­di­a­mond ap­praiser from Lon­don, mus­sel farm­ers, mas­sage ther­a­pists, while some have hol­i­day homes here and only come to a few meet­ings a year.

I grew up on dairy farms in the Waikato and north­ern King Coun­try so con­sider my­self to be a ru­ral woman at heart, even though I have lived in both ur­ban and ru­ral en­vi­ron­ments over the past 30 years.

My mother wasn't a mem­ber. If I had asked her why not, she prob­a­bly would have said she didn't have time. But I find it is an ab­so­lute joy to get to­gether with these women and def­i­nitely worth the time and ef­fort.

Our iso­la­tion makes the meet­ings all the more im­por­tant in terms of sup­port and com­pan­ion­ship. Mem­bers have to drive an hour-plus to at­tend in some cases. In the past, many of the meet­ings in the Sounds were held in the lo­cal halls and women would boat in from the var­i­ous bays to spend the day to­gether dis­cussing is­sues af­fect­ing their fam­i­lies, farms and coun­try.

One of the big at­trac­tions has al­ways been the food. I may be open­ing a can of worms here, mainly be­cause the last thing that Ru­ral Women NZ wants to be known for is tea and scones, but hon­estly, our pot-luck lunches are fab­u­lous. We all bring a plate to share and in do­ing so, share recipes, healthy tips on eat­ing, get to try un­usual ex­otic, gluten-free or veg­e­tar­ian foods, and in­dulge in the odd bit of cake.

This is where my recipe for this month comes in. I de­cided at our March meet­ing, held at our place in Clova Bay (where we live as care-tak­ers of a prop­erty) to make my persimmon cake for the ladies and see what they thought of it.

Per­sim­mons have to be the jewel in the crown as far as fruit goes for me. In early win­ter the trees are a de­light to see, beau­ti­ful, golden-or­ange globes hang­ing on bare branches. It makes me won­der if this was per­haps where the myth­i­cal sto­ries of the golden ap­ple came from.

I adore them and go to great lengths to pro­cure some each year. I have a lit­tle sup­ply route that re­quires me to sched­ule in a trip into the big wide world – 'I'm go­ing out' as we say here in the Sounds – and I have made good friends with three landown­ers in the Motueka area who have fine spec­i­mens of persimmon trees. These trees produce gen­er­ous crops ev­ery year, and these peo­ple have al­ways been equally gen­er­ous in al­low­ing me to help my­self. Visit us in July and you will see per­sim­mons lin­ing the win­dow sills, gen­tly ripen­ing into the 'goo' stage. Once gooey, I will start whizzing t them up to freeze so that I al­ways have persimmon 'goo' on hand.

I have met many peo­ple w who say 'yuck' if I men­tion t that I've been eat­ing per­sim­mons. This is be­cause they have prob­a­bly tried to eat one when it was still hard. Most per­sim­mons grown in New Zealand are the Asian or Ja­panese type ( Diospy­ros kaki) and these come in astrin­gent and non-astrin­gent va­ri­eties. The astrin­gent ones are quite mouth­puck­er­ing, to say the least. In fact, the name persimmon is de­rived from putchamin, pasimian or pes­samin, words from an Al­go­nquian lan­guage of the east­ern USA which means 'a dry fruit'.

My ad­vice is to be pa­tient. Let a persimmon get soft, squishy, gooey.

Ev­ery­one in the group loved the cake!

The last thing they want to be known for is tea and scones.

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