“Do you want to be on top or me on top?”

A Corona Chronicle

Please dont self isolate from me
Because of things we disagree
For its only through your eyes I see
The true person in me

“Do you want to be on top or me on top?”

When you say that, you bring light back into my world. I dont care about the global instability nor the economic and financial crisis. But the insecurity about when we will feel each other again – instead of feeling feelings of concern and despair – is devastating. I want to feel your lips with my lips. I want to caress your upperarm nonchalantly with my fingers. I want our stomachs to touch. A breast pressed against your chest. Your arms around my shoulders. One hand stroking my lower back lightly.

When I write these words, it’s as if none of this will ever be felt again by you and me. The reptilian brain (lizard brain) doesnt know about logic, Corona and planning the future. It knows about thirst, sexuality, territoriality and habits. My old mammal brain triggers emotions when my loved ones are not around, to care for. The conscious neocortex is conveniently shoved to the back burner. Do you think you know why you cry, crave or remain abstinent? Stop thinking. Because you don’t.

The world is about distance now. Jamiroquai’s virtual reality plays in the background. My emotions are triggered. I want to share them. I want to lead us back to when we caressed each other. Re-live the memory of my hair brushing against your cheek. I want us to feel love. Nurture, nutrition, basic instincts and satisfaction without the fear.

Date balls dedicated to you, my love, further then the eye can see.

metric

300 gram dates

I prefer deglet noir. The ones I use in this recipe come from Algeria, imported in Europe through Marseille. The other side of the Mediterranean captured in these dates, is an important ingredient.

50 grams Goji berries

The ones I use are organic and sourced by our local supermarket. Usually I prefer to use them un-soaked. Because of their almost crunchiness. But the dates today are quite dry. So I soak the berries.

50 ml tea for soaking the Goji berries

I use an infusion of Hibiscus flower. Which is a bit tart. Giving depth to the sweetness of the berries. Please feel free to use any kind of tea/infusion. The Hibiscus flower I found in the cupboard is a relic from a special trip to Egypt. The world as it was before that trip never returned. During the trip my mother exchanged this world for a place in eternity. Fortunately all moments in time are eternal. She isn’t far. Food needs love, emotions and stories. Just like we do.

Mineral salt, a generous pinch

2 tablespoons Sesame paste/tahini

Any kind.

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

If you own a coffee bean grinder, grind the seeds to meal and longer till it forms a paste almost like peanut butter. If you don’t own a coffee bean grinder, use the seeds whole.

Mix all ingredients. Form a dough. Shape ping pong sized balls with your hands. When the dough is sticky, moisten your hands each time before you roll a ball.

Stay healthy. Be well.

Living the Dream

Tasman, South Island, New Zealand
Brown trout on Landcruiser JFK 1973 with slide on camper
Best fish curry ever

It’s January 2020. We are off the grid, without a shower nor a toilet. He caught a fish. Hunting, as a man. I turned it into nutrition, as a woman.

He caught the brown trout ‘blind casting’. It means you don’t spot a fish and then cast , (throw your line to catch it). But you throw your line seemingly blind, waiting for random chance to bestow you. Catching fish while casting blind in most rivers around the world is quite exceptional. You actually got to read the water and know very well and through experience, where fish like to hang out, casting your line patiently, again and again. If you are lucky you harvest your prey. The nymph disappears, the line tightens, the fish is hooked. A victorious feeling is eased down as the complicated game starts to get the fish into the net. The fish has to swim into it. No pulling, no tearing. This time we take the fish home to cook and eat from it for five days. All other fish that are caught during a month cruising around Tasman in New Zealand are released back into the water. It’s a sport. But sometimes it’s real life. And that time is now. It’s beautiful. And the beautiful brown trout is turned into the best fish curry ever.

2 cups water
1 garlic glove chopped
1/2 thumb ginger chopped
1 fresh turmeric pinky finger, peeled, not chopped (!)
1 dried Chipotle chili or 1/2 tsp ground Chipotle chili
1 stick cinnamon or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tomato, quartered, take seeds out, chop finely, slice remaining flesh
250 grams or 2 cups pumpkin, diced

Additionally you will need:

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 an eggplant

oil for frying

2 stalks spring onion

1 small trout, brown, rainbow or salmon trout. Cleaned and head removed, skin on

1 avocado

Bring the curry ingredients (first list) to the boil together. Close curry pot with lid. Simmer for 20 minutes or till pumpkin is tender

Separately in frying pan roast 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds. When they start popping (out of the pan) add 1/2 cup desiccated coconut. Dry roast during 2 minutes more (no oil) until coco meal turns brown. This happens suddenly and rapidly. Pay attention! This is the pumpkin version of the Indonesian peanut/coconut sprinkle named seroendeng. Transfer into a plate to stop it from cooking further. Keep till you start serving.

Separately dice 1/2 eggplant in same size dice as pumpkin. Poor generous oil in a frying pan. Brown the eggplant. Lower the heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes or until eggplant is really tender, soft and shiny. Add generous oil as you go to prevent it from getting dry. The eggplant will becomes a glazen kind of buttery soft.

Chop 1 spring onion.

When pumpkin is tender, add 1/2 can of coconut milk to the curry pot. Turn heath up. Take lid off. Reduce a bit. During the remaining time it takes to bake the fish.

Now take 1 small trout, clean and head removed. Fry in a little bit of oil on a full flame until skin almost burns. Take out. Peel flesh from the skin. Inside the flesh is still moist, just cooked through.


Put the deskinned trout in a shallow dish. Scoop pumpkin curry on top of it. Add buttery soft slow fried cubes of egg plant, diced fresh avocado and chopped raw spring onion. Garnish generously with the pumpkin seed / desiccated coconut ‘seroendeng’.

Wangapeka Lam & Wangapeka Date Balls

Food named after the geographical location where it is created: Wangapeka Valley, South Island, New Zealand. Where there’s mountains of love, rivers of milk and honey, purple flowered thyme and succulent lam. I haven’t come across anything more stunning, ever.

We’ve parked the 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser with on top of her our little mobile home at the side of the Wangapeka River. This spot is designed for fishermen and other real basic off the grid happy campers. There’s one toilet and a money box where you put in NZ$ 6 per person to camp overnight. We are at a place called Siberia Flat at the last day of the year 2019. The sun is shining. The river flows. The birds chirp. We make love. Interrupted by making lam and date balls. I’ve discovered that the soft sound of a strong monotonous flow of a river makes a deeper impact on both the spiritual and the physical body then sea waves breaking up and down a shore. It’s healing like a magical forest and empowering like climbing a mountain top. Riptide I’ve experienced as a mantra, pacifying and hypnotizing both the spiritual and the physical body. But here water seems to flow relentlessly; straight down from the eternal source of harmony.

A conjunction of purple flowered thyme, orange citrus zest, Mexican smoked chipotle pepper, simple ground black pepper and mineral salt is rubbed in the lam with oil and mixed into chopped dates for the balls. It breaths the Wangapeka Valley: silent, lush, wild and harmonious.

Place 500 grams of lam chops in a container. Poor 1/3 cup of olive oil over them. Pluck 20 fresh thyme sprigs. Zest 1 orange, clementine or grapefruit. Add 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub all of this into the meat. Cover the container. Place in fridge for 2 days. When you’re ready, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or non stick frying pan or whatever your preferred pan is, on a high flame. Place the chops in the hot oil. Fry 3 min on each side. Lower the heat. Fry for another 2 to 3 minutes. Take out. With half a glass of wine or beer rinse out the marinate-container and poor the contents in the pan. Bring it to a steaming sizzle and poor over the lam chops.

The date balls are served afterwards, with cheese. Or the next day as healthy snack food.

200 grams pitted ‘normal’ dates. That’s to say, the non Medjool ones. Because the latter are a bit too sweet and sticky, I prefer the more caramel flavored and sturdy ones for my date balls. Chop the dates roughly with a sharp knife. Put in a large bowl.
Add:
3 generous table spoons of tahini
3 generous table spoons desiccated coconut
Leaves and flowers of 20 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 tea spoon ground chipotle pepper or 1 dried chipotle chopped finely
zest of 1 orange, clementine or grapefruit
1/2 teaspoon mineral salt
50 grams pumpkin seeds

Mix well with bare hands. Take a ping pong ball sized scoop in your left hand, form a ball. If the mixture is too dry to form a ball, add some squeezed orange juice or water. Roll the ball between the palms of both hands. If you like you can put the ball in a little Chinese bowl or low teacup filled with desiccated coconut or sesame seeds, to swirl it around until it’s fully covered and decorated. When all balls are done, place them in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.
Keeps a couple of weeks in an airtight container in fridge or freezer and can be taken non cooled on a day trip.

With lots of love from Wangapeka

Chipotle

It’s cold in the Ryan Air plane. Or am I just tired? Today’s Ryan Air experience is very good. I’ve been dreading flying with them to the extend that I simply no longer booked Ryan Air flights. Since complaining is an easy thing to do I find it fair to vent about the opposite; about my pleasure flying with Ryan Air. Everything leading to the take off from Malta airport towards East Midlands near Nottingham has been smooth and easy. The crew is friendly. They make jokes. Maybe, arriving at the airport two and a half hours in advance instead of all stressed out and just in time, pays off. But it’s not all. I genuinely feel well attended to.

Other then cold I am tired. Not sure how long we will fly for. Not long. I long to sleep. Two nights without the love of my love after several wonderful weeks with him accumulated in a lot of restless waking time the past forty eight hours. My eyes are falling close while I am waiting for the trolley and stewardesses to come by to be served a warm drink. I stir up, press the assistance button and ask for a tea. ‘We haven’t even started the service yet miss. Don’t worry, we will be with you shortly’. I sink back into the dark blue seat.

The tiredness replaces nervousness. Since the moment I woke up sometime but not a lot after 4 am this morning, I’ve felt tense. I pack a special Ryan-Air-cabin-allowed-hand-luggage blue shoulder bag. The regulations became stricter again. I bought the cabin bag specifically for Ryan Air. We jokingly call it our Pan Am bag. It looks like it’s specially designed to fit an American stewardess from the eighties: Barbie perfect. I fancy my tea is not far away while recounting this morning. My boarding pass still had to be printed at the stationery store which fortunately opens it’s doors very early. The weather in Middle England is checked by my ten year old daughter reading it out to me. It will rain for sure. As I am writing now I regret not having taken my pink plastic rain boots after all. I prepare porridge and freshly pressed orange juice for my ten year old. I hesitate between my Japenese long down filled winter coat and a sheeps skin bodywarmer with seperately Brian’s North Face rain coat. ‘Darling can you mail my boarding pass to the print shop please?’. ‘Mum, we have to leave in fifteen minutes’. ‘Yes darling. I quickly shower. You rinse your bowl and your glass when you’re done please’. ‘Mum, where is my lunchbox?’. ‘Thank you for getting my bag, take away cup and keys darling’. ‘Did you bring a jacket darling?’. After uttering all these words which surely are uttered in millions of house holds each and every morning again, we manage to get out of the house. The sun shines bright. First week of December. I will miss Gozo. Why have I got trouble leaving? I am very much looking forward to seeing them again. The couple from Middle England who invited me to come to them, to discuss the future. There’s no pressure. I am not expected to do anything. There’s no such thing as doing it right or wrong, failing or succeeding. Why am I nervous then?

Will I find my way into the woods of Robin Hood and the birth place of Shakespeare? Or is it all just an illusion? The date balls I’ve brought on the journey are as fully flavoured and spiced as the unknown territories I am about to explore.

For Chipotle date balls:

4 cups of dried dates, preferably not medjool, pitted and chopped 
1/2 cup sunflowerseed
1 dried, smoked chipotle pepper, the size of your pinky finger approximately, chopped finely
1 small raw beetroot, grated
2 tablespoons tahini
Generous pinch of mineral salt
1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest / shavings of the skin of approx. 1 lemon 

For coating: 

1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds, in a little coffee cup or a small Chinese rice bowl

To assemble: 

A large bowl or a shallow soup plate filled with luke warm water to rinse your hands while rolling the date balls. If you keep your hands moist the dough won’t stick to your skin. 

Preparation:

With your hands mix all ingredients for the date balls together. Make a dough as if you’re making bread or pizza. Rinse off your hands. Pluck a ping pong ball sized portion with your left hand, place in right hand palm, shape the dough within your handpalm into a ball, roll it between both your handpalms, pressing gently. When the ball is round enough place it in the coffee cup or small Chinese bowl with sesame seeds and toss the ball around for as long as it takes to evenly coat it with the seeds. Place the ball in a storage container and repeat.