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I have always enjoyed cooking and some of my fondest memories involve the preparation or enjoyment of food.  (The same cannot be said for the cleaning of dishes however - or the scrubbing of ovens for that matter!)

As a small child I would sit on the kitchen bench issuing Apuci (my father) with instructions for as long as his patience lasted.  As I grew older he attempted to impart some of his culinary skills upon me - yet another test of his patience - arming me with the 'basics' and setting the foundations to try new recipes.

It is altogether possible that I was born to be a chef - evidenced by my fascination for what was happening in the kitchen and the endless hours I spent 'cooking' sand and water concoctions in my mother's pots and pans.  However, I can safely say that my waistline is eternally greatful I didn't follow that particular calling.

Growing up, the preparation, sharing and enjoyment of meals held a great importance to my family.  Unfortunately, due to the long hours my father worked and my sporting commitments, it was very rare to have the four of us share a week-day meal. 

However, the weekends were a completely different kettle of fish.  Saturday nights were either spent entertaining, visiting friends and relatives, or simply enjoying a meal that took many, many hours to prepare. 

Sunday lunch was always a two course meal - often shared with friends of my brother and I - generally comprising of soup followed by crumbed chicken or pork schnitzel.


As I entered my teens I taught myself how to make home-made pizza from scratch - a rather ambitious task taking three hours to complete from start to finish - and not long after acquiring this skill pizza and movie nights with friends became my Saturday night staple.

But those Sunday family lunches - perpared lovingly by my parents whilst music echoed around the house - remained in place throughout my adolescence, teenage years and well into adulthood.  No matter our ages; the family, friends and partners that came and went; the eventual divorce of my parents and my marriage changing our family dynamics; these shared meals were always filled with highly entertaining stories from times gone by that crossed all cultural and language barriers.  We learned so much about my father and our ancestors from his tales - not too dissimilar to the way in which the Maori have shared their stories and legends with their offspring to impart history and knowledge in future generations.

I miss Apuci's story-telling and really wish that his tales were recorded in some more permanent fashion than in my sketchy memory.  However, whilst I spend many hours blogging and recording my own thoughts and memoir, I am also tring to share the pleasure of story-telling and engaging in enriching conversations over long leisurely meals with my daughter.

Unfortunately, in the busyness of our lives - with school, work, travel, music and dance commitments - time pressures and geographical separation prevents our family from indulging in such shared meals. Clock-watching, rushing form place to place and utter exhaustion turn meals into a chore and without military planning result in reaching for takeaways.

However, when these factors are removed, cooking continues to provide a tremendous source of enjoyment in which I take great pride.  I just love every aspect of cooking for others - from the planning to the shopping, the preparation to the serving and of course the sharing!  I am blessed with the most wonderful entertainer's kitchen - complete with an exansive granite bench top where guests can perch on bar stools and enjoy a glass of their prefered beverage whilst I add the final touches to our meal.  We then move to the dining room or out onto the deck during the warm summer months where one-by-one I reveal the delicacies I have prepared.  Food is always in abundance (my parents taught me it is better to have too much than not enough) and with zero time pressure our guests are able to savour every mouthful whilst enjoying great conversations and sharing many laughs along the way.