Food, Feelers, and Fantasy

rweissmugshotThis website is an odd mix of my interests as a writer, entomologist, naturalist, gardener, and educator. You’ll find blog posts about rural New Zealand life, links to my books, and some of my favourite recipes. Feel free to explore, drop me a line, and sign up for my e-mail list.

A Bite of Summer for the (winter) Solstice

I’ve been celebrating the winter solstice in little ways all week–candles at dinner, an extra log on the fire, sunny-coloured food on dark plates…Yesterday I pulled out the last of the blackcurrants to make blackcurrant tarts for dessert.

I’d been saving them for a special occasion, and I thought the solstice was an appropriate one, since the blackcurrants were picked and frozen around the summer solstice.

Biting into one was like biting into a piece of summer–bright and sharp.

In case you missed my blackcurrant pie recipe from 2015, check it out here. It is incredibly simple, and oh-so good! In summer, it goes particularly well with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. In winter, I recommend a cup of strong coffee, some whipped cream, and a crackling fire.


Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year dawned as it should,
Night wrapped its cold wet embrace
over Earth,
reluctant to let go.


Cloud and Fog conspired
with Night,
spread out
between Sun and Earth,
a blindfold to Sun’s brilliance.

What will you give us, Sun?
What will you give us to go away?

Sun lit Fog to blinding yellow.

I will give you Fire

Fog swirled and churned.
Wisps curled into eddies,
turned pink and gold.

I am beautiful!

Enraptured, Fog did not see
He was being consumed.
Sun turned her eyes to cloud.

The same for you?

Cloud bowed and parted.
Day began at last.

Darkness Rises

Photo: Egres73, Wikimedia Commons

Darkness does not fall.
Instead, rises
from shadows grown long
in the evening sun.
Landscape darkens
before sky.
Dark fills up the hollows,
the valleys,
the chook house,
(where birds rustle their feathers
to let the dark settle in close).
Finally, deep night
Not too deep–
I can still see the stars.

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

I love burgers made from all sorts of things. At this time of year, most of our burgers are bean based, and most are made up as I go, with whatever’s in the house.

Bean burgers require some thinking ahead, but this recipe makes enough that it’s worth the extra work.

2 cups dry black beans
1 cup quinoa
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 carrot
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
handful fresh cilantro
2 eggs

Boil the beans ahead of time in plenty of water until soft. Drain and mash cooked beans in a large bowl (I use a potato masher for this). Cook the quinoa in 2 cups of water until the water is absorbed (10-15 minutes). Finely chop the onion and garlic. Sauté them in 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil until the onion is translucent. Grate the carrot.

Add all ingredients except the eggs to the mashed beans and stir to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the eggs and mix thoroughly.

Form into patties and place on a well oiled baking tray. Bake at 210°C (400°F) for about 25 minutes, flipping the burgers after 15 minutes.

Makes about 18 burgers. Freeze the leftovers for quick mid-week meals.

The Season for Food Porn

A spread of summer vegetables ready for grilling.

I roasted the last of the summer’s potatoes last week, and finished off the carrots over the weekend. The corn I froze in March and April is already a memory, as are the cherries, apples and blackcurrants.

We’re getting to the boring time of year, when our vegetable options are limited, and we eat a lot of beans. It’s not a problem, but it means it’s a great time to enjoy food porn. Here are just a few of my favourites.

Waffles smothered in strawberries

Roast summer veggies

Soy, parmesan-crusted zucchini sticks, watermelon, and breadsticks dipped in a rich tomato sauce.

Tomatoes ripe and flavourful

Apricot upside down cake

Homemade strawberry ice cream