Flying – the literal kind.

I am flying again. More and more my life is reflecting that girl in the red coat with a string attached to a balloon.

Next is my favorite shot from San Antonio. Do the river walk at midnight!

Today I am off to Calgary. Eldest Son is taking me camping. I told him if I did not see a moose I wanted my money back.

I love flying. I love traveling. I love the beginning, middle and end of every journey. I do! I can write and read and disappear down into smelly humanity. But you all know that. And you probably know I do not particularly like camping but – am well.

I saw a man in the plane today reading a library book. You know the ones with the thick plastic covers. I thought I might have to kiss him. How grounded. To have a library book. For a library book one must have a local library. Which means he has a home. A person with a library must have a home.

On my first flight there were no dogs and no babies. I love dogs and babies but there is room to be grateful for their absence on the plane sometimes.

The food choices in Terminal B in Dallas Fort Worth airport are limited.

So I drank wine! You know when I first came to the US I thought this Friday’s restaurant ( Thank God It’s Friday or TGIF or Fridays – their branding is fluid) .. was only open on Friday!! I just could not get my head around it.

Have a gorgeous day/night! Evening. Morning!

The Fellowship is SO International!

And here is Third Son out fishing! Off the coast of Mexico. Yesterday! Apropos of nothing – except that incredible laughing smile! The Kiwi and the Sea.

It does not matter how long we are inland, when we get to the sea we just HOWL!!

Love Cecilia

Talking Words

I am traveling again. Today I am in Austin, Texas. Hot. Hot. Hot. Like my Dad I am no good in the heat. But I love cities.

Everyone needs variety so this morning we walked a trail through the Barton Creek Green Belt.

This particular trail (I call it a track) runs right under an overpass so it is a curious combination of edgy urban and nature walk. Vehicles roaring overhead as we negotiated the rocky tree lined path added an interesting dimension.

Americans call it hiking and I call it going for a walk. If it is a long walk I call it a tramp. Semantics. Right?

So we walked and chatted. I had read that it is easier to purge the body of toxins through sweat so we discussed sweat and wondered where the moisture has been before it is sweated out. Under our skin? Where under the skin. In the cells? And how did the toxins get there and what really is toxic. Who decided it was toxic. Then I thought about crying. Not because I needed a good cry but when you have a good cry where does all that salty water come from. Is it waiting in some hidden reservoir just in case you give in and indulge in a good sob. Do you mean sob or weep. No, I mean sob. Do tears go off? Oh, you mean off as in stale? Yes. Are your first tears stale? Then we had to dissect the word indulge. If we enjoy an indulgence how can we enjoy crying. And then we wondered about stale again and cycled back to sweat. Maybe the first of the sweat is stinky because it is stale – like stagnant water.

And by then we had wandered totally off the track. We were lost. So I wandered off some more to take photographs while the map was consulted.

We have to be careful when we communicate. Words are not mathematics – words are not pure like numbers, they can mean different things within different contexts and different cultures and are easily mis-interpreted. I say or write things but often my American friends are doing fast translation to make sure they understood me correctly. This morning I said I walk to stay fit. My American friend thought I meant I walked so I stayed looking good.

So, I amended this to “I walk to increase my fitness”.

But now I am wondering what other words or phrases I use that may be misunderstood. It is easy to be misunderstood in this age of tiny word bites. Tiny bites in our words.

Interesting right. I think we need to add a healthy dose of kindness before we interpret each other’s words. Listen with a smile and an open ear then ask questions to begin the conversation. Too often we just judge a word and assume we get it and forget the conversation.

Some words are perfectly clear though.

I hope you are all having a lovely Saturday!

Cecilia

The Irishman and The Silk Boxers

Apparently, Our Mum met The Irishman, who later told us the story of the silk boxers, in the hospital. The local hospital stood on the top of a steep hill capturing a vast panoramic view of the lagoon and the bay beyond. This day the bay shimmered like smashed chandeliers under a sun reserved only for a summer beach. Dad and us kids had left the house at the beach in our yellow VW Combi earlier that morning. We weaved around the beach roads then slowly drove up the almost vertical road to the hospital on the hill. My Dad was a marine engineer who did not believe in taxing a motor unduly, so we drove in a solemn fashion. Now we were parked in the hot carpark, waiting for Dad to come out of the hospital with Our Mum.  

Soon, Our Mum was pushed in a wheelchair through the doors, Dad trailing along behind with her bag.  There was a small melee as Mum was helped from the wheelchair just as The Irishman was discharged behind her. Her arm protecting her chest Mum straightened, turning as the Irishman rose from his wheelchair. We did not know he was The Irishman yet, but he was The Irishman from this day on. She reached to him for balance and he offered her his arm. We watched as he walked with her gently in our direction.  His free hand flashed in round arcs as he talked. His white shirt shone. He had a full head of dark shiny curls to his shoulders, as did my mother (neither of them had started chemo yet). Mum the languid green-eyed beauty. The laughing Irishman. I could not see our father – he walked behind them, but I am sure his balding head was shiny with beads of sweat; he never did well in the full sun.  

We gathered up The Littlies and stood by the van. The heat bouncing off the concrete carpark felt personal.  They were closer now and we could hear his Irish brogue. Our Mums soft response. The sun picked out the silver of his watch. We shuffled, looking around them to Dad for direction.  

I cannot remember our father helping us dress or anything like that – I know I must have pulled some old clothes on to The Littlies. There were three of them – this was not always an easy ask. Maybe I was in my worn out yellow flares with a halter top that my mother would never have let me wear if she had not been in hospital with the cancer.  We were probably fed. But we definitely looked like a bunch of skinny, hand-me-down, windy-haired beach kids.   I felt that – that day.

A beautiful dusty dark green car swung into the carpark and we saw the Irishman laugh out loud and wave to the car. We leaned into the sight. We saw a brief conversation between The Irishman and our father. Dad’s balding head shining, his pale legs sticking out from his brown Sunday shorts, Mum’s bag on the ends of his long arm. Our Mum looked across to us waiting by the van. Her blue summer dress swayed. Then we watched the Irishman hand our Mum into the passenger seat of the green car, gently shut the door, open the back door, snap his black dress trousers and step in. The door shut with a soft thud and the car purred like a long cat into a turn.  

We were silent. There were six of us kids so our silence was formidable.  Dad paused to let the car slide past then redirected himself to our van and his waiting children. The Jaguar passed us, Mum waving, mouthing through the closed window “See you at home”.  

“Mum said she can get into a car easier than the Combi.” He had no more words. He motioned to his chest, miming pain, grimacing really.  He tipped the bag into the back and rummaged for the keys.

So, we all climbed back up into our van, folded our long teenage legs into manageable formations, jammed the littlies into their seats and Dad drove home.  

Naturally Mum offered the Irishman a cup of tea in the cool front room with the big window that faced the sea and we were introduced. With silent deliberation I forgot his name immediately. I served the tea and scones I made for Mum’s homecoming. They knew each other well from the hospital and smiled about being ‘let out’ on the same day. The Irishman piled cream and jam onto his scone and launched into a story about travelling across Europe in a train. He told us that a man in the carriage in front of his threw out a brand-new pair of silk boxers every evening. Just tossed his underwear out the window.  The Irishman said he saw them flash past his window two evenings in a row before he started catching them. A good wash and they were good as new, he said. He laughed. Mum laughed with him which was something we had not little of lately. Her silent laugh.  

I watched without expression.  I found his stories dubious at best. There is no way a person can catch under-wear clean out of the air. I stomped out, relieved, when my Mum sent me to ready her bed.  She was wilting gracefully as I left. My mother collected people; I was not going to bother making friends with The Irishman.  

He died of his cancer before my mother died of hers, so I felt a bit bad about that later.  

Maybe that is why I have always remembered this story. As an apology.  

Cecilia

Is a Soft Skill a Soft Sell?

Resumes. CVs. Cover letters. Interview Preparation. I am working on all this exciting stuff before I launch myself into the pursuit of my next career. But I am perplexed by the requests for Soft Skills. For a resume I am required to name a couple of SOFT SKILLS. Soft Skills are described as “people skills, the mix of social and interpersonal skills, character traits, and professional attitudes that all jobs require

But these are my Best Skills. The people stuff. And they are NOT Soft!! I can happily work in a number of relevant programs but I certainly don’t consider that learning them was Hard. The hard part was engaging the program while having a real life anxious customer on the line. Though that was not hard after a while.

Turning a customer with a problem into a customer for life in three and a half minutes is certainly not a Soft Skill.

Is multi tasking really a Soft Skill? We do stuff like that every day. In a normal thirty seconds at work I would: Proofread a lot number (Can you double check this for me?) while answering a call ( My subscription needs to be cancelled; sure Valerie let’s see what we can do – can I put you on hold for a tic?) Just as a team member is lifting boxes at the door, catching your eye, her eyebrows raised – (This one or this one she gestures, laughing) . I tip my head in the direction of ‘this one’. I rise, the phone to my ear, send my latest copy in to be proofed, smack the photocopier back into life ( First rule of physics). Then wave to another team member ( Thank you – thumbs up, back shortly) Pick up the lap top and leave the room (OK Valerie, I am all yours – let’s look at your account).

And while I am writing this to you – I have a 5 year old at my elbow asking for more information on edible spoons – a discussion I mistakenly started at breakfast, (he won’t eat his toast but is beyond excited about eating the fork!)

Creative Thinking is a Soft Skill apparently but creative thinking is my BEST THING! In fact I have a lot of difficulty with un- creative thinking. How can THINKING be described as Soft.

My grandmother used to wear her silk knickers inside-out because she did not like the feel of the seams against her skin – that might be construed as Soft. Eating fresh baked bread and butter until you feel sick is Soft, (I am sitting quietly until I feel a little better). Having a spell check program check your spelling and grammar as you type is Soft. ( Though I am grateful). Spreadsheets soften my whole life into manageable line sized pieces. Spreadsheets are SOFT!! ( She says sulkily)

Stuff like multi tasking, attention to detail, digging into the minutiae of a task, language, communication, anticipating a problem and fixing it before the bosses even knew there was going to be a problem that would need fixing, leadership, smiling into the phone, negotiation, facilitation. Not Soft! I don’t care what the resume experts say. Not Soft.

You can learn a new program, you can find an online course for any one of them, we can all do an Aunty Google Search. But how does a person learn to lead. How can someone learn courage or inquisitiveness. We do not have detailed instructions on how to anticipate and solve a problem. I think I prefer the word talent. Because talents are not learned they are developed from experience – long experience coupled with innate ability. Thoughtful work. Talent.

And, by the way, now I have a 10 year old laying on my bed writing a story, from a prompt I wrote for her, about a girl called Plum who has a room full of spiders making webs that Plum then weaves into dresses. The 10 year old just introduced a basket of bread. She is developing a Soft Talent – story telling – one of the most important Soft Skills of all. Not SOFT!

No, Our Soft Skills are not a Soft Touch. We work damn Hard on them.

Now I want to know about your Soft Skills that are really Talents that need applause and prizes. Because The Fellowship does not take kindly to being called SOFT!

Have a lovely day now.

Cecilia

Join me on my instagram account cecilia_thekitchensgarden.

Or as Cecilia Gunther on LinkedIn

Job Hunting while Bread Baking

What’s not to like!

After gently un-threading my self and my profile but not my recipes – they are still there – from Janie’s Mill ( who will very generously keep my freezer stocked with flour – because I cannot do without my favorite flour). I spent a good week researching and thinking. I am not afraid of change! I have been doing it all my life!

Anyway thinking is massively under rated. Just sitting with nothing in your hands and ‘thinking’ is surprisingly useful. Of course after the thinking comes plotting and planning and drawing arrows all over poor defenseless, unsuspecting pieces of paper.

I have decided that I must have passion in my next work. (After all I am passionate about good food and helping people grow and cook. Food safety is important to me – a tomato from the garden, a little basil and a slice of bread is a meal!). I digress – I am hungry.

Anyway I also decided I also must work remotely with my mobile office set up. I am pretty tech savvy so that is not a problem.

And most importantly my work must make a difference in the world.

PASSION. REMOTE. MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Not too much to ask for, surely! Other than pay. That will be useful.

Now there are all kinds of #words that I feed into my searches, like #socialawareness #socialchange #environmentalchange #cleanwater #realfood #culturalidentity #climateawareness #climatechange #immigration. I want to get down in the trenches with start ups and non profits who really want to make a difference. And that takes a lot of research. Luckily I love research too.

But you have heard the saying ‘paralysis by analysis’. I cannot loose sight of my objective.

So no more stalling! This will be my last long career I think. And I want to make it count. Who says you can only have one?

Am I feeling a teensy bit of fear? Oh, yes! After all, in the thirty odd years of my work life I have never actually applied for a job! I just talk my way in the door of a job I want. But we all feel a bit scaredy sometimes – I think that’s human. I am working with it. Fear is a useful emotion- I bundle it in with promise and expectation and smile wrinkles.

You see, I know that all these companies have long notes ( or are they disclaimers) that they are equal opportunity employers. But I never went to university- my family could not afford it and anyway I was on baby number TWO by the time I was twenty. I have just crept over the 60 mark. I have been working for a while. And collecting gems of knowledge along the way – huge bags of knowledge. Just like you have. I have tons of knowledge stashed in my brain but it’s hard to prove it on paper without creating the longest resume in the history of resumes.

So, I walk every morning to feed my brain oxygen so I don’t forget all that stuff, until the heat drives me back in. I make long lists of companies to research, then I write cover letters and emails and apply every day. It is a full time job.

But I bake in between! I mean why not!? It has been over 104f every day for a week now and not even August. May as well bake before it gets too hot. Snort!

By the way I am still in California part time minding summer vacation littlies for my solo parent Dad. It is not Texas but it is a little bit hot.

Below is my recipe for two loaves of sourdough bread using the tangzhon method. This is the softest kid friendly bread ever. Third son has asked me to bake some for his friends so I know it has passed.

Use your favorite flour.

Basically make a roux ( tangzhon) with:

1/3 cup Janie’s Mill High Protein Bread Flour, 1 and 2/3 cup water. Your specs are 1 flour to 5 water. COOL. (very important)

ADD TO: 300g Sourdough Starter.

ADD TO: 700 g water

ADD TO: 10050g Janie’s Mill High Protein Bread Flour. 1 teaspoon Active Yeast.

18g salt – I freshly grind Sea Salt for my bread.

Then proceed the way you normally would. Mix well. Add a little flour if you need it. Stretch and Fold three times. Divide, shape and settle to proof. ( I have not tried proofing overnight in the fridge yet but if you do that, cut down on the starter). I am slowly cutting down on the yeast too to see how much I can get away with but I feel that the cooked flour needs a little additional help.

These loaves were ready to bake after four hours – see earlier words about the heat!!I baked as usual in Dutch Ovens.

Have a great day.

Here is the cutting video from Instagram. I love the sound! You know how much I HATE holes in bread – such a silly fashion – so this is the perfect loaf for me.

And now I am going to slice two fat slices, butter, tomato, pepper and freshly ground salt. Done.

Take care.

Cecilia

Join me on Instagram- cecilia_thekitchensgarden

Join me on LinkedIn- Cecilia Gunther.

Let me know if you know if a company that is actively working towards the betterment of the planet and her peoples. I will write and see if they need a hand!

Corn Fritters

My Mum used to make us corn fritters for lunch in the winter. She would use a can of Wattie’s whole corn. My Dad knew the Watties you know – I am not sure how he knew them being a man of the sea, and them owning big factories and all. They had huge stone lions on either side of the gate to their house up in the hills which, as a small child, I found deeply impressive.

Anyway the corn fritters Mum made were cooked on her griddle, huge and naturally we ate them with Wattie’s tomato sauce.

The recipe is pretty basic. I made these after my walk.

The suggested recipe I put on my Instagram account is what I did this morning. But the real recipe comes from the NZ Women’s Weekly – imagine a time when it was OK to name a magazine The Women’s Weekly.

Mum has the recipe in her old recipe book in such a truncated form I had to cook it before I could work out what the recipe was even for!

It is marvelous with fresh corn. I am so sorry to my NZ readers who have a bit of a wait before you get fresh corn. Here in California we have to go to the farmers market to get fresh organic corn – the kids call it Caterpillar Corn after we saw a caterpillar in the corn which led to a huge discussion about organic food and how a caterpillar is actually a good sign. John sent me a photo of the corn he is picking back on the farm which looked pretty damn good.

MUM’S CORN FRITTERS

1cup self raising flour, 1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 2 cups corn kernels, 4 shallots or 1/2 an onion chopped very finely.

Stir it up. Cook on your griddle. Eat outside under the big tree with Greek Yoghurt and Sweet chili sauce.

If you want to tart it up add a little feta and mint.

Naturally I used Janie’s Mill Black Emmer Flour and a teaspoon of Baking Powder because I would never in a million years buy self raising flour.

We made bread as well. Learning to stretch and fold with tiny hands.

Below we are riffing on a bubble bath – water play when you don’t have a pool.

Kids don’t care as long as it is cold. And I am just grateful that no one is peeing in our miniature pools!

Have a lovely day.

Cecilia

New Turns no Twists, yet.

Well, if you know me at all you will know that I can sometimes spin on a dime and change direction in a second. Living close to me can give a person whiplash. But life is like that, we keep moving and evolving and devolving and exploring and sometimes disappearing completely, only to reappear a few pounds heavier but in apparent good health, somewhere totally different.

Social media and to a large extent the blog world is for sharing but also for tracking, it enables us to keep tabs on each other ( I imagine a person with itchy sticky note tabs all over her body, each note with a name and a string attached). And sometimes this makes us dive for cover.

So for those of you who need an update on me: (and God knows I would not mind one myself)

I am back from my travels to New Zealand and Australia. Visiting my sons and my daughter and the children after this dreadful isolation period was a blessing to the spirit! It was a long visit and normalized again my relationships at home. I carried my Janies Mill work with me so I could continue my customer care remotely so it really was a busy time, which was great.

Obviously I have no problems living out of a suitcase though after twenty odd years of traveling I am still the worlds worst packer. I try so hard to pack light and punky and just end up without any of the clothes I really need.

Now me and my suitcase are parked again and I am staying with Third Son in California – he is having a few family troubles and needs his Mum. I will be dropping back out to the farm again soon to reconnect with Our John and The Matriarch then out to see Elder Son in Canada – he needs his Mum too. It does not matter how old we are sometimes we need our Mum.

Janie’s Mill and I have come to a gentle fork in the road and I am moving in a different direction from them now – all very amicable and civilized- but the other night (and my Mum has been dead since I was in my early 20’’s remember) I longed for her hand on my head. She always had such cooling hands. I just needed my Mum to tell me to stop moping, I made my decision now get on with it, to ‘buck up’ ( her favorite saying) and get busy again. She could not abide sulky children.

As to the farm. John is making hay and feeding up his two beef cows surrounded by a self propagating flock of badly behaved chickens. He has two of his adult children close by now so he has lots of help. Though the farm is dead quiet compared to what it was. He still collects restaurant scraps and Tima and Wai are still dining out on watermelon and tomatoes. But I have not been out there in almost four months. So my farm update is sketchy.

At some point soon I will need to get another job. Air fares are not getting any cheaper! Though my nomad nanny keyless lifestyle is quite cheap as long as I am not anywhere long enough to go shopping on Amazon.

Here is todays’s picture. We are a long way from the sea here in Visalia, California.

How about you all? I would love to hear from you!

Take care and talk soon. Talk now. I am so sorry to have been gone so long!

Cecilia

On the road again. Soon.

As you might know by now, a couple of days after I wrote my open Dear Jacinda letter to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the travel discussion went to chambers. And lo and behold the dates, for New Zealand citizens to be allowed to come home, with a 10 day self isolation period, have been announced.

March 13th we will be released into the race and as I have long been hoarding a ticket to New Zealand, booked for March 27th, fortune has smiled upon me.

I can now go to New Zealand – vaccinated, boosted, masked for travel, with my isolation booked in a tiny cottage in the middle of a field 20 minutes from Auckland airport and my two suitcases.

In response to my letter to the NZ PM I received two lovely letters from the PM’s office, written by one of her people. The second letter came after the changes were announced, thanking me again for my letter which she had obviously read. She included the updated links to all the pertinent information I need to know to bring me safely home and signed it with a welcome home.

For a Prime Minister to be influenced by one letter from one stranger is a foolish notion. But one more letter in a deluge of letters from New Zealand citizens stranded overseas? Maybe. Possibly. Especially when it behooves The Powers that Be to be magnanimous.

I think all I am saying is don’t let anyone tell you that you are wasting your time. Don’t let anyone tell you that your words are not important. Cast out anyone who laughs at your efforts. Research. Deliberate. Be objective in your consideration. Choose your moment. Speak from your subjective heart.

We are all snowflakes. All different. All special. All fleeting. Be brave.

Every one of those voices raised in unison is one voice. A multitude is a collection of individuals. I was one of those individuals. You are one of those individuals.

And I am proud that my voice was counted. And I am grateful for your support.

I feel a soft woman-strong unfurling in my belly. Even though it is still viciously cold I am coming up out of my huddle, straightening out, unbending – taller somehow. As the road rises up to meet me.

Have a lovely day!

Cecilia

Dear Jacinda,

I hope you don’t mind me calling you Jacinda even though we have not been introduced. I am Cecilia. One of your people who is stranded overseas. Firstly thank you for all your good work as our New Zealand Prime Minister. You have made us proud. So proud. And now I need to talk to you.

Please excuse me publishing my email to you on my little blog page. This email is from all of us you see. We are a quiet bunch and this letter is written quietly too. To you and any others you choose to read it.

I am writing to ask you to please find a way for us New Zealand mothers and grandmothers, stranded out here in the world, to come home. We have been packed and waiting quietly for a long, long time. We have not joined your lottery because we were trained to allow those less fortunate to go to the head of the line. We have not applied for exemptions because we are working women and we don’t want to add to the workload of an overloaded department. We are well aware of the threat of this virus and have applauded your work so far. We trust you and so we have been waiting for you to put out the call that we are welcome back.

You see, we were caught outside the gates foraging for our families when you closed them. We toughened up and hunkered down out here in the world and worked more and saved more- looking ahead to a time when we would be welcome back home. But it is too long now. We cannot keep this up much longer. I know we are New Zealand women and strong because of it. But please let us come home. The time has come. I will bring my work with me. I am financially independent. I have a good job that works well remotely. I will not cost you a cent. But us mothers and grandmothers – we need to come home now.

We have missed funerals and birthdays and weddings (sorry to hear you had to postpone your wedding but it was the right decision – hard ones often are). I was not there for my father when he needed care, then when Dad was dying I was on the phone with him – the phone – me in Illinois USA and he in Tauranga NZ – listening to his labored breathing and nonsense morphine induced mutterings – my hand over my mouth so he would not hear me cry out loud.

But more than daughters we are mothers. Mothers who are business women and professional women who have worked all our lives to provide for our families. Mothers. Grand-Mothers.

Someone here said to me once why are you so determined to be vaccinated and I said – they can chop my fingers off if it means I get back to my children. A little jab is nothing. It is sensible. I need to get on that plane.

We are so proud of your decisions – they are hard to make – I know. But we are becoming desperate to be allowed on the plane to bring us home. And you and your cabinet are the ones who can arrange this for us. You are the ones who decide if I can get on that plane. You can bring the mothers who are grandmothers home.

I am a sixth generation New Zealander and the keeper of the stories for my generation. My job is to teach the young ones the old stories.

Please help me to teach my grandchildren how to bake Rowena bread and make sausage rolls. To understand Sally Lunns. To tell them about the time I saw Dame Whina in a march and how Princess Margaret came to our school when I was in intermediate. How my father’s father, who fought in the trenches in World War One, was a builder contracted to help rebuild Napier after the 1931 earthquake. How he hated the old front gate, at the big beautiful beach house he bought in Westshore, so he drove his truck right through it, to the screaming delight of my father still in his short pants sitting next to him in the truck. How six years later my father’s father was called up for World War Two. How my mother’s father always jingled the coins in his woolen farmers trouser pocket, subconsciously checking they were still there, because he lost everything in the depression then clawed it all back by the 50’s but always held at the ready to lose it all again. That he was the one who taught us never to visit ‘with one arm as long as the other’. Even if it was an armload of firewood he always brought something.

How we would go to sleep in my grandmothers house in Kumara on the West Coast listening to the ring and whine of the gold dredge in the river – every window open to the night air.

How my great-great aunts house ( they were elderly triplets) on the East Coast, washed into the sea during a storm.

How my great grandmother who always wore black, would visit her children and grandchildren and clean their front steps every day.

How my great, great, great, grandfather came from a tiny town in Italy that only had 40 people in it.

You see, all of these are bedtime stories. And all us grandmothers have these stories to share. These are not for well lit whatsapp video calls or texts. I need to sit cross legged on the ends of my grandchildrens beds at bedtime and tell them about their old people. Tell them their family stories. We grannies need to come home. Please. I need your help. We need your help. All us New Zealand mothers and grandmothers need your help to come back to New Zealand. Soon.

And we have done everything right. We don’t go out. We don’t gather in large groups. We don’t shop or enjoy a glass of wine with friends. We don’t go to concerts or plays. We have not collected anything we cannot fit in our two suitcases. We are vaccinated and boosted. We wear our masks always and walk backwards as people talk to us, keeping our distance. While we are waiting for the all clear we are working and saving. We have pared ourselves right to the bone so we can move home the moment you call us. So we can move fast when we hear the gates have opened. We are the make-do, stop your whining, buck up, glass half full generation. Mothers and Grannies are fast and strong. We are resilient.

But we have been out here beyond the pale long enough. We feel banished and shut out and called unclean. We are being worn down by this waiting, this endless anticipation- soon, soon – it must be soon our daughters whisper to us on the phone – always the phone.

Because we are the fantails hurling ourselves again and again against the glass and our heads hurt and our wings are getting tattered and our children are becoming afraid that the window won’t open in time.

Please find a way to bring the mothers home. The grandmothers. The ones who were out in the world working when the shutters came down. I am afraid that you have forgotten us. That we have become collateral damage.

My children and I have my self isolation all planned. I believe 14 days is a good period to be sure I don’t bring anything nasty into the homes of my families. No mother would risk that. No grandma would. I have the isolation money saved and put aside. A plan in place ready to go.

Please help bring the grannies home. Please help us mothers come home. I know this is no small ask. But, please.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you so much.

Cecilia Buyswheeler-Gunther.

Dear Readers, if you got this far – please share on your SM platforms. I would love to reach as many of the mums and grandmothers as I can. I am sure I am not alone! Our PM will want to know how many of us there are.

Mid Winter and More Gnocchi

Some pictures today.

I need to get into the kitchen shortly and make the gnocchi recipe one last time. It is all about the method really. Then I will write it up and publish it on janiesmill.com – we are promoting Sifted Durum this week. It takes a lot of work to get a recipe right (and test until I can choose correct flour). Gnocchi is simple and forgiving and the Sifted Durum is perfect.

( You saw gnocchi shots Last week so we will wander about the farm while I tell you my tips as the recipe evolved. Recipe development takes ages!! and you have to come along for the ride with me). Let me know what you think.

Browned Butter Gnocchi with Sage and Crispy Potato Skins.

Serves Two.

Ingredients:

One cup of boiled and riced potato. One cup JM Sifted Durum Flour. One small egg. Pepper and Salt.

For the sauce: Sage One Tablespoon Salted Butter

Method:

Boil a big organic potato ( or two medium organic potatoes) in their jackets in salted water until soft.

Tip: Do not cut the potato into pieces. Boil whole with the skin on.

Tip: If you want to eat the potato skins make sure to buy organic potatoes. It is generally understood that chemicals ( and nutrients) reside just below the skin of root crops. I prefer the nutrition without the chemicals myself.

Drain and cool slightly then with two forks scrape the skin off. Lay the skin out on a paper towel and save.(optional).

Cool the potato a little more, uncovered so the steam evaporates off the potato, until warm enough to handle.

Push the potato through a ricer to collect one cup of potato.

Tip: if you don’t have a ricer push the potato through a colander.

One tablespoon at a time fork one cup of Sifted Durum into the cooled (not cold) riced potato.

Tip: Your objective is to coat each particle of riced potato with flour so use a fork to lightly toss the potato and flour together.

Add one small beaten egg to combine your potato dough into a ball. Pepper and salt to taste.

Tip: Do not over mix or over knead. Just mix to combine into a ball then press firmly into shape. Too much kneading and mixing will result in chewy gnocchi. We do not want chewy heavy gnocchi. We want gnocchi with a soft fluffy inside.

Sit the ball of dough covered with barely damp towel for no longer than 10 minutes.

While the dough rests: Place a pot of salted water onto the stove and bring the water to a rolling boil.

Place a flat heavy bottomed pan with melted butter beside it.

Place the serving plates in the oven to warm.

Divide the ball of gnocchi dough in half – leave one half covered. Don’t let the mixture dry out.

With the least amount of intervention possible roll the potato dough into a long sausage about 1/2 inch in diameter. Roll with floured hands on a floured surface. The dough will be delicate. With your fork: quickly cut and shape into even sized tiny pillows about 3/4 of an inch long. Again with the fork slightly mark one side of each gnocchi with ridges. Lay the gnocchi out on a baking sheet to wait.

Tip: Some cooks let them sit for an hour or so but I find that they keep that light fluffy interior if I cook them straight away.

Repeat with the second half of your mixture.

Cover with a barely damp kitchen towel.

If you are going to freeze half the gnocchi – this is the time to freeze them.

To create your dish:

Turn the salted water down to a high simmer.

Throw the potato skins into the sizzling salted butter. (Optional)

Boil a serving of gnocchi at a time for 1-2 minutes ( until they rise in the water) then with a slotted spoon scoop up the gnocchi and place them straight into the same pan as the potato skins. The water clinging to the gnocchi will sizzle, deglaze the pan and create its own minimal sauce, so don’t dry the gnocchi first. Sauté hot and fast. Toss in a couple of sage leaves. Brown slightly on each side. (about 20 – 30 seconds a side)

Serve immediately into a warmed bowl, pour over the hot butter and add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

My choice of sauce is always the thick browned butter with the crispy sage and crackling potato skins straight from the pan.

Or You can serve the gnocchi from the boiling water straight to the warm serving bowl and top with a fresh pesto or light tomato sauce of your choice.

Tip. You can double the potato and the flour but increase the egg portion with caution. One and a half cups of flour and potato still only needs one egg.

For those of you who did not see the finished product last week. Here is a sneak peek.

And there you have it. How on earth I condense all that into a coherent recipe I have no idea!

Have a lovely day!

Cecilia

We may rise up to almost freezing today and there might be a bit of snow about. A good day to be in the kitchen!

PS – if you make the gnocchi and have Instagram or Facebook – tag me or link me so I can come and have a look. You are my recipe testers after all!