Elder-flower Treats


Hello again …. I know it has been a long time since I last wrote.  Life has well and truly had me by the ‘short and curlies’ – as my Mum would say 😉 – and I’m only just starting to feel like I’m getting back on track.  At the start of October my Mum passed away, in her home just as she always wanted, and since then just getting through the basics of each day has been the focus.  Grief is a strange beast that is for sure!!


Mt Fyffe treating us to a surprise sprinkle of snow in Summer

Our plans needed to dramatically alter as a consequence of Mum’s death and though it was a shock to absorb all the changes it has also brought some unexpected pleasures.  Instead of still being in the North Island we are now back in the Kaikōura (South Island) and the way we have been welcomed back has been a real tonic for the soul.  Themselves have also been given opportunities to care for animals here, build with the Community shed and re-unit with friends through local groups while I have already been asked about running more Infant Massage courses … Yay!  Our arrival also coincided with the all the overgrown and wild Elderberry flowering which lead us to do a little experimenting.


Preparing the mixture

We don’t really get Elderberry growing as well in the North Island so while I had heard that you could turn the flowers into fritters I was yet to try it. After a bit of research on which parts actually are edible, themselves went on a huge flower forage and we began to create.  While pictures on most of the blogs for elderflower fritters make it look like you can eat the stems of the flowers in the recipe it is only the flowers that are safe as the stem, if too much is consumed, will create a bit of nausea.

The recipe I have below is pretty much our pikelet/pancake recipe (vegan style) with the flowers added in.  Using another recipe as a guideline for any other vital ingredients I may need we added a little bit of icing sugar however the pollen is super sweet so unless you have a very sweet tooth you probably won’t need to add it. We tried this recipe two different ways; doughnut style (spoonful dropped in hot oil) and pikelet style (spoonful dropped in hot pan). The doughnut style were definitely the favourite of themselves, evidence by the lack of photos as they scoffed them before I could clean up and get the camera! However I opted for the pikelet style as the repeat recipe  …. less greasy and less cleaning up too 🙂  Sorry if this is a little late for the elderberry flowers blooming in your neck of the woods but hopefully you can remember it for next year 🙂


Half way there

Elderberry treats

1 Cup GF flour (I used Edmonds ‘ready mix’)

1 Cup Rice milk or sim

1 Tb olive oil

1 Tb water

2 tsp baking powder

1 Tb icing sugar (optional)

1 cup of elderberry flowers (just the flower heads not the green stalks)

  • Mix everything until a smooth paste is achieved
  • Heat a pan then place spoonfuls into the hot pan.
  • Wait of the top of the pikelet to ‘bubble’ then flip to cook the underside.
  • Enjoy by themselves or with your favourite topping
  • If you want the doughnut style then drop small spoonfuls of the batter into hot oil and wait until they are golden before removing. Drain very well before eating … if people can wait that long 🙂

Until next time, when (fingers crossed) I’ll be sharing a Vegan/GF christmas Cake that I’m trying out, I hope this finds you surrounded by those you love and making the most of them.




Spring Clean


I don’t know if it because Spring has arrived or because being parked up in one spot gives you more time, maybe it was a little bit of practicing what I’m preaching.  Whatever the reason it has led to me doing a bit of a de-clutter online.


Connecting offline

My daughter was beginning a Cyber-safe badge through her online Guides yesterday and one of the first things they talked about was the importance of only being online friends with people you actually know.  Ahhh …… well ….. there is probably a bit of room for improvement there I thought as she questioned if I knew everyone I was ‘friends’ with on FB!

In fairness to myself, or at least in a bid for innocence ;), I have met at least 95% of my FB friends however there are a few people who friend requested me and when I saw they were friends of friends I accepted. The trouble is I did this on the assumption that they were actual face to face friends with my real life friends.  An old saying came to me ‘Those that assume make an ass out of you and me!!’. Without inquiring about their personal friendships I really didn’t know them, I didn’t know who their friends were or what they may do with the content I was sharing.

The other thing I had been noticing already was that I was being dragging into other people’s lives and dramas with each scroll I made, taking time away from my own life.  If they were people I held close fair enough you may say however these are people I have met once and hardly know, people I really don’t have a connection with aside from reading their FB posts and liking.  Instead of talking about our lives, our plans, our dramas,  I was beginning to talk more about their lives and issues.


So the challenge was on and last night I began my cull!  I deleted old e-mails left, right and centre.  I changed my settings.  I left groups which I never really participated in.  I unfriended people that I didn’t know personally or that I knew I won’t be inclined to contact (sometimes those FB posts give you a real insight to that person you thought was lovely) and others I just stopped following so I won’t see their posts in my feed so much.  I’m sure as you read this you can think of the FB friend who is constantly clogging your feed.  I’m hoping that in all this culling I will actually see the posts from friends and family that I haven’t seen for a long time.  I’m hoping that I can beat FB at its own game a little after all if I don’t have a multitude of ‘friends’ they will have to let me see the posts of those who are left … won’t they?  Time will tell I guess.

It is early days however already when I went to check my FB this morning I noticed that there was less clutter to hold me there. There were posts from people I care about and love, people that I connect with in different ways which meant that the posts only helped to deepened that connection.  I didn’t feel so caught up in it all and I could clearly see who would be next on my cull list.  Disconnection from all this overload has to be a good thing I’m thinking or maybe it will just be me enjoying some ignorant bliss. 😉

Hope this finds you with some space to yourselves and enjoying life.



Well … hello there


It has been a long time I know! Since I last wrote on here we have made our way from The Coromandel up through Auckland and into the far North to our current spot which is only an hour south from Cape Reinga (the top of NZ).


Cape Reinga Lighthouse

While I have been trying a few vegan and gluten free recipes ready for my next Infant Massage course in November I don’t have one to share tonight rather I thought I would give you a quick catch up of bus life. The days have been racing along as we have been catching up with friends and family, exploring new places, meeting new friends, trying new activities, adding to our bus family in the form of a wee pet mouse and making some decisions about our future.

Our decisions? We have decided to head back down to the other end of this island and set up a base for ourselves to travel from rather than our current free wheeling.  It will be two years since we headed out on our bus journey and while we’ll still be living in the bus we won’t be quite as transient 😉


On the road north

We are looking forward getting into a garden again and having somewhere that people can send mail directly to us!  We’re not sure what the future will bring … most likely more travels and adventures at some stage.

Until next time (with a recipe)  I hope you have a fabulous week enjoying the best bits and breathing deep through the rest 😉




Rainy day Gingernuts


It is a cold and rainy day here in the Coromandel and I really should be finishing an assignment for an online course I’m taking however my old friend procrastination seems to be visiting … again. So what better to do on a rainy day than bake something warm and then blog about it!


Parked up in a ‘Park over Property’ in Coromandel

These Gingernuts are super quick and easy to make along with being super healthy.  I originally got the recipe from a New Zealand blog called Isle of Flora and just changed the honey for maple syrup to create a vegan option for us.  I have also tried making them with Gluten free flour mix which creates a crunchier biscuit rather than the chewier ground almond versions.  Using the GF flour also requires a bit of water added to the mixture to make it the correct texture.  Themselves have also swapped out the ginger for some cocoa. The best thing about this recipe, aside from the fact that themselves love it, is that the dough can be eaten raw or cooked and it ticks all of our boxes on the bus. 😉


It was an effort to keep their hands of them long enough to take the photo I can tell you.

The original recipe says that it makes 8 biscuits however we usually get at least 16 and sometimes 20 out of it so obviously it is all about size.  Clearly, living on a bus and having a wee oven has influenced the size of my baking … I only wish it influenced our appetites for these yummy morsels too! The fact that they don’t expand on cooking does mean that you can pack them pretty close together on your tray which for us means one batch rather than two.


1 C ground almonds

2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 Tb black strap molasses

3 Tb maple syrup

  • Mix the almonds and ginger
  • Add the molasses and maple syrup then mix until the mixture forms a dough
  • Roll into small balls and place on tray
  • Flatten each ball with a fork (you may need to dip the fork in flour so it doesn’t stick)
  • Bake for 10-15 mins at 180C
  • Cool on the rack before devouring

Hope this finds you dry, content and enjoying the life you have.




Brave or Crazy?!


Many times on our travels as we talk to others about our life on the bus I have had people say to me, ‘ oh, I wish I was as brave as you’.  Others, I can see by the look in their eye, think we are completely off our rockers!  I’m pretty sure the ones who think we are a ‘few sandwiches short of a picnic’ are only curious to have a look so that they can go home, take stock of all the luxuries they won’t live without and congratulate themselves on not being as mental as us 😉


Visiting the longest place name in the world

I’m not sure if it is brave or crazy (though I’d probably verge on the latter) however I do know that throughout my life I have done this many times …. thought of something I wanted to do and then just got on with making it a reality.  Anything less would somehow feel like a watered down version of life.  Bad stuff can happen where ever you are; whether you stay at home or not, whether you take risks or not, whether you travel or stay put.  It is a fact of life that  things change and how we deal with those changes can make it a positive or negative experience.

One thing I do know about the life we are living now is that it is allowing our family to experience many more of the wonderful things that life and people have to offer.  It is certainly a great way to counterbalance all those negative stories in the papers, the ones that breed fear and uncertainty.  People, on the whole, are good and life is thriving all around us when we take time to look and listen.  Our children are seeing all the amazing things our country and people have to offer along with some of the issues which we don’t deal with and try to sweep under the carpet.


Ahuriri Estaury

My point?  That giving things a go is worth it.  Making your ideas a reality can be life changing either through you deciding to go ahead or realizing that ‘dream/goal/idea’ actually wasn’t for you after all. So go on … make the most of each day if only to put your toe in the water of possibilities.




Vegan Burgers


At the moment we are cruising down the the surf highway (45) around the back of Mt Taranaki.  It has been a fantastic trip with hardly any traffic, amazing scenery of surf, bush, farms, mountains all mixed together and some powerful history to find out about. It is certainly an amazing part of NZ and my highlight so far has been to finally get to Parihaka.  Since learning about the peaceful resistance to Colonial force, lead by Tohu Kākahi and Te Whiti o Rongomai, in my uni days I have been wanting to come an see it for myself.


Cape Egmont Lighthouse (with Mt Taranaki) near Parihaka

All this catching up with family, meeting with other road-schooling families (completely by accident), touring around visiting historic sites, having bonfires and enjoying the warm days that Taranaki have been providing has given me a bit of a hankering for burgers (probably as I watched others munching into bbq food) so finally tonight I got out our old favourite and got cracking.  There is nothing like burgers, salad and hedgehog potatoes with a view of the sea.


The sea out one side and the mighty Mt Taranaki out the other

These burgers are so easy and so yummy that even the carnivorous among us has been having second helpings!  I confess here and now that I can’t remember where I got the idea for these however I do know that I have ‘butchered’ the original so much that even they may not recognize it 😉  Until last year I had been just buying our vegan burgers until my sister asked how I made them and the guilt set in.  This recipe can be easily adapted to your liking by changing the beans you put in, using red onion instead of brown, adding spice, having beetroot instead of carrot or using ground nuts instead of flour to firm up the mixture … the possibilities to get your perfect recipe are endless!


Almost ready


Vegan Burgers

1/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup of water – to cook the quinoa in

1 onion

1 can of drained and rinsed beans – black, red kidney or whatever your favourite is

2 grated carrots  – small to med size

Veg stock powder – I use Massel


1/2 -3/4 cup GF flour – to firm up the mixture

  • Cook the quinoa in the water until almost all the water has gone then take off the heat, cover and put aside.
  • Finely dice onion and fry off until slightly clear.
  • Add grated carrot and beans to the onion and fry a bit longer before adding tamari and veg stock powder to taste.
  • Turn off heat and mash together until blended then add cooked quinoa and mix again.
  • Slowly add GF flour until the mixture is firm enough to form into patties.
  • Place in a frying pan and cook on each side to brown (see photo)
  • ENJOY in a bun, with some salad or whatever your favourite kai is

Hope this finds you smiling and spotting all the great things life has to offer.




Late Easter treat


Well I had intended posting this in time for you to try for Easter however then my youngest broke his wrist and we were out of coverage for three days as we travelled along the Forgotten Highway.  I figure that it is better late than never and since these are yum anytime it is worth sharing still 😉  In fact they have been made quite a few times since as an afternoon tea snack for the walking wounded among us.


Driving from Taumarunui to The Republic of Whangamomona

With Good Friday comes Hot Cross buns of course however since this is the first Easter we have Vegans in the house (bus) we had to put a bit of thought into the whole process. Thankfully themselves had a simple, yet effective, solution of adding some spices and raisins to our damper recipe to create our own Hot Cross buns.  I have to say that the cross side of things didn’t work out so well though as I was trying to be tricky and do icing sugar crosses – on the recommendation of a lovely Canuk I know 😉 – rather than my usual flour ones which ended in a sticky bun soaked mess rather than looking like a cross …. so I guess it is a case of less of the cross buns and more hot spiced buns really 😉


Good to go with a huge dollop of jam!

We have tried both Gluten and Gluten free versions, topped with jam and some vegan Dark Chocolate peanut butter we found, and both have been enjoyed. The GF version did need a flax egg (1 Tb ground linseed and 1.5 Tb cold water) along with bit of extra moisture, depending on which GF flour you use, to get the correct consistency however it is not too much more hassle.

Hot Spiced Buns – Vegan

1 3/4 Cup of plain flour ( or GF flour and see notes above)

1 tsp baking powder

1 Tb oil

3/4 cup of cold water

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup raisins (or other dried fruit if you like)

  • Mix all ingredients until they form a dough, add more flour and/or liquid as required.
  • Split the dough into 8 pieces and roll into bun shapes
  • Flour a tin and place the bun shapes in so that they are touching.
  • Bake at 200 C for 20 mins.
  • Remove from the oven and enjoy with jam 😉


Hope this finds you all happy, healthy and all in one piece 😉