Yasmine Ganley lives on the West Coast of New Zealand’s North Island in the area of Titirangi: home of black sand beaches, hippies and fast drivers. Windows down and radio cutting in and out like light through the trees, I’m driving over to Yasmine’s to get a taste of life in paradise: we’re going to make a meal from her garden.
Steaming streets wind deep into the green, the smell of burning rubber and honey comes in hot winds. I’m late, and I’m lost. I crunch apprehensively down a gravel driveway where fluorescent kids wetsuits hang over plastic chairs, stale and sun-faded. Wrong house. When I do arrive in the right place, I wonder why I was rushing. It is so still out here, as if time is tip-toeing around, smelling the Manuka.
Yas lives with her man in a black wooden cottage with an open door. They just moved in, and somehow their hand-me-down furniture all matches, right down to the mustard colored bean bag. I take that as a good omen.
I don’t know who drew this, but I like it. (It feels very Marni, no?)
Yasmine: Oh, I drew this! Ha! I decided to start painting, not for any reason other than to practice something hands-on that also pulled me away from the computer for a while. I love the meditative aspect of painting. The brush is crazy hard to control, but I’m not painting for anyone else, it’s an activity for my eyes only.
The backyard is big enough to build another property on, or in Yasmine’s case, a studio for her to work in. She tells me how they’re clearing out the yard, pointing out all the non-native trees they’ve cut down. (How do people know how to do things like clear yards, casually landscaping in their spare time?)
I walk around pretending I’m in Jurassic Park.
Yasmine’s veggie patch sprawls across the grass underneath her deck, and she tells me they have plans for more. As she pulls out weeds and checks on her produce, I think of the doomed seed packets in the depths of my pantry I bought from Wholefoods 3 years ago.
Yasmine: I always thought that I would be the gardener of the house, but Matt has really taken to the role. He loves experimenting with seedlings and geeking out on fertiliser blends. My role has instead become ‘the harvester’. I like to pick and eat the tomatoes in the late afternoon after they’ve been soaking in the sun all day, you can taste the warmth, they’re extra juicy and delicious. Our spaghetti bolognese has stepped up another level. My dad would be proud.
I pick as many tomatoes as I can hold.
Yasmine: We inherited these tomato seedlings from a friend who received them from a local heritage seed grower. I can’t tell you how many tomatoes I’ve given away to friends and family. These plants just keep giving. We’ve got a few different varieties; Pollicino, Sunny Boy, Roma, and Pink Panther. We recently made them into a few bottles of tomato sauce for gifts.
I pull a beet (or a beetroot) from the cool soil and Yas grins like a proud mother. Apparently this is a big one.
Yasmine: These were baby beets! And yes you pulled a biggie! I think that one may have been left a wee while…
While Yasmine collects the zucchini I pick the herbs: rosemary, basil, parsley and lemon thyme.
Yasmine: These are the last of the zucchinis. We’re going to pull them out and plant Chinese broccoli, kale, sweet peas and red onion in their place.
We pile our plants and veggies onto the kitchen bench and realize we already had cherry tomatoes. Oh well. I try and do something cute with the spring onion, but that doesn’t work out.
Yas fries up some haloumi to go with our salad, and we take turns chopping. I like how her outfit matches the neo-70s vibe of her house. Yas, you are killing it in those Levi’s.
I grab tahini and homemade kimchi from the fridge which I pile on in innappropriate amounts after this photo was taken. We decide we should be wellness bloggers. Because the name Nourishing Bowl been bashed to a kale-coffin death, we decide to call our creation the Bush Bowl* instead.
When I leave, an old man is walking down the street carrying apples in his shirt. I say to have a good day, and he smiles and says, it’s almost over.
*In the motherland, we refer to our native trees and forests as The Bush.
Bush Bowl Recipe
Yasmine: I really like the idea of eating from a plate that is rainbow-coloured. This dish blends as many on-hand vegetables you have in the fridge, alongside gut-loving goodies such as kimchi. The recipe is very loose, you can add or exchange out any ingredients to suit your liking.
Ribboned or spiralled zucchini and carrots (usually one per person is enough)
Steamed and grated cauliflower
Shredded red cabbage (so good for you!)
Freshly chopped capsicum, red onion, fresh tomatoes
Sliced and grilled haloumi cheese
Lightly toast a combination of sunflower and pumpkin seeds with a little oil, fresh herbs and chilli to garnish. Oh, and a sprinkling of goat’s milk feta too, if you like!
Photography by Yasmine Ganley & Amy Woodside