HOME feeds the soul

The Northern Advocate - - Food Bite Recipe - Colleen Thorpe

Through test­ing times Am­ber Rose has al­ways re­lied on her love of nour­ish­ing food and daily rit­u­als to bring her a sense of calm and peace. They are her com­pass. She’s also re­lied on a big dose of self-care.

Am­ber hails from pi­o­neer­ing or­ganic stock, her mother is Kay Bax­ter, the her­itage gar­dener who es­tab­lished the Koanga In­sti­tute; and it shows in her new book Wild

De­li­cious. At the very heart of this book is place and iden­tity — a sense of what it means to be home.

What in­spired you to write this book?

This book was in­spired by my sto­ries, sto­ries from my child­hood, my trav­els and com­ing home. Grow­ing up in my mother’s gar­den has in­flu­enced so much of what I do as an adult and the style of food that I cook. This book con­tains many of those sto­ries and the hon­est whole­some food of my child­hood, with my wild de­li­cious twists of course.

What is your phi­los­o­phy on food?

You know that old say­ing “you are what you eat”? . . . well I take it one step fur­ther . . . You are what you are eat­ing is eat­ing . . . Food is essen­tially in­for­ma­tion to the body, if the food you are eat­ing is fac­tory raised meat fed on highly toxic GM grains and corn and chem­i­cal laden ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied veges, or worse, highly pro­cessed food, then that is not giv­ing your body good clean in­struc­tions to keep it healthy and disease free. We need to be eat­ing nat­u­ral foods raised the old fash­ioned way, spray free veg­gies and pas­ture raised an­i­mals. I be­lieve in more nu­tri­tious foods and less pro­cessed foods. I try to keep my fam­i­lies daily plates filled with nat­u­ral sea­sonal foods, healthy fats in­clud­ing but­ter and whole milk and yo­ghurt, pro­bi­otic rich fer­mented foods such as sauer­kraut and wild or pas­ture raised meat and fish.

Through your trav­els what coun­try and what dish stands out the most?

Wow that’s a tough ques­tion . . . it’s so hard to say . . .

I re­ally loved

In­dia, I love the flavour­some cur­ries, fresh herbs and the fer­mented breads and sauces they make. How­ever, I also re­ally loved France and Italy, the beau­ti­ful fresh fruit and veg­etable mar­kets and the way they dis­play things, you eat with your eye first of course.

Would you call your­self a hunter gath­erer?

Yes for sure. I am al­ways on the look out for food and I love gath­er­ing food from the wild. Noth­ing pleases me more than pick­ing wild black­ber­ries af­ter a swim in the creek on a sum­mer day. Or gath­er­ing wild mush­rooms or herbs, shell­fish and game.

What is the best thing about liv­ing up north?

I love liv­ing by the coast. I can hear the waves crash­ing at high tide on a still night from my house steps. Af­ter liv­ing in the mad chaos of Lon­don for nearly 16 years I wanted to come home and have a more nat­u­ral and slower pace of life.

Who/what led you to your love of food?

It’s re­ally in my blood . . . my fa­ther was a chef and my mother was an in­cred­i­ble gar­dener/farmer who grew and made literally ev­ery­thing. Grow­ing up, ev­ery­thing we ate was ei­ther grown or made by my mum. So much of what I’ve done with my cook­ing and how and why I cook has been in­spired by how I grew up.

What was the first thing you re­mem­ber cook­ing?

I think it was prob­a­bly pan­cakes and pikelets. I used to make big plates of pikelets and take them down to mum’s nurs­ery work­ers with pots of home­made jam and but­ter. They were so good and some­times I still make them for my kids’ af­ter­noon teas.

What did you used to have on your school sand­wiches?

I used to be so em­bar­rassed by my school lunches, I never wanted to open my lunch­box in front of the other kids. Mum made us all these great big hunky sand­wiches made from her home­made sour­dough bread, home grown let­tuces, cheese and cold meats. They tasted so good but they looked so dif­fer­ent to ev­ery­one else’s neatly cut white bread jam sand­wiches that I would get so em­bar­rassed! Now I’m so glad my mum had the courage and the knowl­edge to do what she did be­cause it’s given me so much to draw from in my life.

Tell us 5 in­gre­di­ents you couldn’t go with­out . . .

Pure nat­u­ral sea salt: it’s es­sen­tial for tasty and healthy life (it’s the pro­cessed iodised salt that you’ve got to watch out for, not the nat­u­ral stuff) Cold pressed olive oil, I can literally drink the stuff.

But­ter, cul­tured is my fav but any good but­ter will do. Av­o­ca­dos, I can eat them all day ev­ery day, in all dif­fer­ent ways . . . Home made cake . . . not strictly an “in­gre­di­ent” but cer­tainly an in­gre­di­ent for a won­der­ful life :)!

Tell us three things about your­self that would sur­prise:

I can speak some Man­darin, I learnt it when I lived in Main­land China for a year.

I’ve been an ac­tress in Chi­nese soap op­eras. Just for fun.

I was once one of the three fastest cross coun­try run­ners in New Zealand . . . as a teenager.

Am­ber Rose, au­thor of WildDe­li­cious.

Wild De­li­cious, by Am­ber Rose, Pen­guin Ran­domHouse, $55

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