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Author: Tracey Edwardes

Quintessential quiche

Quiche, whether served hot or room temperature, is a versatile vessel for abundant autumnal fillings. Packed for a picnic, prepared for a party or famished family, local seasonal ingredients come alive when encased in a flaky or buttery shell.



With origins in Germany and France, it’s the Kiwi-as ingredients that have revitalised the classic quiche. Think a juxtaposition of at least three, for texture and taste, with these autumnal pairing partners.

Butternut pumpkin, sage or fennel, with roasted pinenuts or hazelnuts, are synonymous with falling leaves.

Ripened pears are eagerly awaited this time of year. A local blue cheese becomes their ultimate bed partner atop pastry sheets and toasted walnuts complete the romance.

Whether you call them zucchini or courgettes, they make a fine filler in an autumn quiche. Mild in taste, yet adding zing with the likes of feta, mint, parmesan, and sweet little cherry tomatoes.

Autumn hails the arrival of foraged fungi, whether plucked from the woodlands, farmers markets or local deli.

Mealy field mushrooms, Italian porcini, paler-fleshed delicate oyster mushrooms, and meaty shiitake all add their magic.

Quiches are a wonderful way to sneak in the health benefits of April’s flourishing super greens, such as kale, parsley or even nasturtium leaves.

And laden with the piquancy of local cheeses, they will rival the South of France – banishing any preconception of eggy blandness. Even the burgeoning vegan versions are divine.

Go generous on fillings and flavours. Aotearoa’s autumn harvest is abundant. And thanks to the inspirations of our artisan foodies, a quiche is an epicurean open book to go wild with.


In dogs we trust

The bond between human and dog is unmatched. And when a dog’s role is to help their person, intriguing tales are to be told. Love for animals was Sue Allison’s inspiration to write the book Friends Indeed: Assist Dogs and Their People. However, it was the human connections that captured her heart.



The 63-year-old Christchurch journalist and freelance writer lives on a lifestyle block in North Canterbury where she and her husband have raised four children as well as a menagerie of animals. “It’s a city girl’s dream,” she says. “So writing about animals as well is nirvana!”

Sue has written two children’s books and recently Secrets of Small Gardens published by New Holland, who was keen to publish her next inspiration.

“I have a background in anthropology. I’m not a newshound but I love writing, especially about humans and animals,” says Sue, who chose to write about dogs helping people in a health-related capacity such as sight, hearing and mobility impairment. She travelled around the country interviewing people with assistance dogs.

“Everyone had a story. I thought it would be a hard job choosing which ones to include in the book but everyone I talked to is in it.”

There are 41 chapters, each about a person, a dog, and their bond. The profiles include Cantabrians with heart-warming twists to the waggly, often hilarious, tales.

“People loved telling me the naughty things their ‘goofy’ dogs did when off duty. These are serious stories but there’s plenty of light heartedness.”

Errol from Christchurch certainly attracts children’s attention with a teddy bear riding the back of his guide dog, Prince. When Christchurch musician John Hore got his first guide dog, Brindy, in place of a cane, he felt like he was flying.


The Carnahan family’s life changed when Lady walked through the door to help their son with autism. Young Juno’s reading flourished when she joined the New Brighton library’s Reading to Dogs programme, because “The dog doesn’t notice when I get a word wrong.”

As an animal lover, Sue secretly feared the dogs would have a limited life. “But it was quite the opposite. They have 24/7 company, their own person, and a job. That’s a pretty perfect life for a dog. These dogs are so eager to help their people, and the trainers harness that desire.”

While labradors leap to mind as the most common assistance dogs, there is a growing diversity of breeds. With their amazing sense of smell, spaniels make excellent diabetic detection dogs, while small breeds are perfect for the elderly and there is a move towards dogs such as poodles which don’t shed hair.

Strong and amiable, golden retrievers are great for mobility assistance.

While most assist dogs undergo rigorous training and are bred for their jobs, several dogs in the book are rescue dogs, including three saved from death row at the pound.

“The dogs do so much more than their official roles,” says Sue. “For people with special needs, their dogs are a visible sign of often an invisible disability.

They are also often a portal to more kindness, bringing out the best in everyone and acting as social conduits for people who can feel quite isolated.

These dogs, and their people, are all heroes.”


Christmas makes scents

It’s that extra sensory month when taste buds rejoice in the season, eyes are bedazzled with tinsel-adorned trademarks, and ears are jiggle-belling to the jolliest day of the year. Our sense of smell too is in festive frenzy. Sniffing seasonal reminders will awaken happy memories and raise our spirits – this Christmas especially.



Christmas lilies give a room, an instant Kiwi-Christmas smell. Flowering on cue in December, with blooms held high in snowy white, the pretty scent wafts headily through the air.

Mysterious Frankincense and Myrrh both have origins from three very wise men. These therapeutic essential oils added to diffusers or even bath water, create a very mesmerising merry mood.

Sprinkle cinnamon, anise, ginger, cardamom and allspice, and try the traditional orange poked-with-cloves for Santa-scented decorations. Whiffs of brandy and rum are a big yuletide nod.

The most magical Christmas scent of all is the smell of a real pine Christmas tree. Pine essential oil does the trick too. With antiseptic, and healing benefits, pine also invigorates the mind.

Coconut oil, sea salt and sand, and a sizzling BBQ combined with these more clichéd Northern Hemisphere Christmas scents, is a joyous olfactory overload that we cannot overdo!


Holistic, healthy Hanmer

Simply escaping from the craziness of the city is holistically beneficial for us, so Hanmer must be a wellness bundle with bells on! Even driving through serene Waipara valley, on route to the heavenly haven, renews and relaxes all the senses.


We can’t take a pilgrimage to famed spa sanctuaries of the world just now, but Hanmer offers very comparable health and happiness benefits to lure us – world class in fact.

It’s the alpine air, therapeutic hot springs, peace and a woodland abundance of exotic trees such as Norwegian Spruce and black pine.

Simply breathing in that Christmas-like scent is beneficial. Add a spa treatment or therapeutic massage to unwind the stress clock, then nourish with healthy local cuisine.

Back to Roman times people bathed in mineral-rich thermal waters for wellness.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is born from rainwater seeped deep into the mountain rock, and drawn up to create rich therapeutic mineral pools. A soak will soothe aching bones and many an ailment.

The slightly higher altitude of 358m encourages beneficial deep breathing of fresh alpine air for those who stroll or cycle through this North Canterbury hot spot.

It has also been smoking and vaping-free since 2018.

Whether you’re heading for an overnight (or multiple) or a day trip – a soujourn to Hanmer could be the holistic, healthy escape you need to see out the year, or in the new one.


Something new…

As the world transforms, wedding trends in 2021 are taking on a dramatic new life, seizing every precious opportunity to tie the knot and live it up in the moment with loved ones.


From flowing frocks to modern and edgy pant suits, no one look is dominant for the new year. UK’s Hitched has us drooling over dramatic necklines and backs, embellished sleeves, big bows, sequins, and modern lace. Flattering, fun jumpsuits and pantsuits in slender silhouettes, and mini-dresses or suits add statement. Equally, demure, simple flowy gowns are romantically 2021.

Pastel pinks and blues sparkling with iridescent romance are representing true love for the new decade, cites Harper’s Bazaar. However, equally it’s the go for gothic with dramatic depth and attitude. The solitaires, three stones, and halos are back – but as a different dazzler with changed-up settings. Also, chunky solid settings are boldly carrying precious rocks.

Small and special has superseded large and lavish due to tightening budgets, travel restrictions and precautionary measures for any alert-level surprises. This only means more quality time with guests, less stress, easier arrangements, and adventurous, quirky location choices perfectly suited to a more tight-knit party.

Wedding videos that capture the whole day and thereafter – as well as live streaming. Relaxed photography and drone shots capture those magical impromptu moments and nuances before, during and after. A bit of creativity and imagination, and it’s just like being present for far away whanau and friends.

We’re not skimping on the flora. Trails of flowers and greenery from the ceilings, floating whimsically across tables to the floor, through to the still-popular living-wall trend. Conversely, the bouquet is shrinking in size, but easier to hold for the photos, showing off the bride’s silhouette instead. Flowers in her hair is 2021’s natural beauty.

Mini mouthfuls from a macaron tower, in wedding-theme hues, and other individual, portion-sized, while-you-mingle desserts are it. For colourful cakes, faves like chocolate are beating traditional fruit cake. Adorn with floral, whether real or sugar. Classic kiwi comfort foods such as cheese boards and decadent local fare is the new flexible feast.


Taking a bite out of summer

Snacking is so summer, as we amp up the socialising, dash to our outdoor passions and host pre-Christmas catch ups.


Invent healthy homemade ice-blocks with yoghurt or blended or squeezed summer berries, mint, lime or ginger – not just for kids. Pieces of fruit, like watermelon and strawberries, quenches straight from the freezer. And ice-cream with a sugar-free base of blended banana is a sinless snack.

Petite pieces of filo pie power-packed with greens, or French-style tarts, think asparagus with goat’s cheese, are delish room temperature. Tabbouleh is summer in a take-out container. Flexible recipe versions include bulgur wheat, lemon, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomato and
olive oil.

Prepare a summer scene with fruit platters of eye-catching dragon fruit, mango, persimmons and medjool dates, with dipping-pots of Greek and coconut yoghurts with zest, mint, ginger and honey. Spike melons and pineapples with a favourite tipple and sprinkle pistachios and pomegranate seeds.

Wheels of cucumbers are refreshing vessels under a herby cream-cheese with smoked salmon, or a juicy prawn. Fill crunchy celery pieces with nut butters and soft cheeses. Chickory and curvy lettuce leaves make boats for morsels of creamy-dressed cold meat, seafood, peppers and herbs.


Slip, slop, slap and reap the rewards

Modern day facial sunscreens are not only for avoiding sunburn and long term skin damage. They brighten and enhance complexion, nourish and protect against aging and melanoma, and give a gorgeous silky coverage – a priceless beauty package.



Facial sunscreens are not created equally to the potent-smelling, greasy sunscreen you may be used to lathering on at the beach.

These are non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and are designed specifically for face, neck and décolletage – which are all vulnerable to UV damage, even in winter.

Many modern formulas do more than just protect from those harmful rays. Some have brightness boosters, for the latest glow-on look, and some are even packed with antioxidants like plant extracts and vitamins to simultaneously nourish the skin.

Ranges without harsh chemical formulations are blossoming on the beauty shelves, too, using zinc or titanium oxide mineral bases.

Sinking in softly without residue, today’s skin protectors have a luscious scent – especially if you adore tropical or floral fragrances, or even fragrance-free.

We are over strong chemical whiffs of sunscreen of old.


Cocktails & canapes for race day

With a decadent tipple in one hand, and a mouth-watering titbit in the other, our taste buds are racing to celebrate Cup Week. Putting on a perfect soiree is all in the creativity, so here is Metropol’s inspiration for cocktails and canapes to carry you through pre- and post-races celebrations.

Mini whitebait patties with a squeeze of lemon will barely last two minutes on the platter. Asparagus is spring in a spear. Serve into bite-sized sandwich rolls, adorn an aioli-smeared canapé, or bake into baby quiches.

Add colour, such as showy peppery nasturtium flowers and other edible petals. Microgreens are little health bombs that pile up in their greenest finery. Slithers of red pepper, threads of saffron, jewel-like pomegranate seeds, all flaunt finesse.

A cliché of posh nosh is smoked salmon, hot or cold smoked, it’s an intense little morsel. With capers, dill, wakame or wasabi aioli upon homemade blinis or pikelets, they send taste-buds to the finish line. Add caviar or truffle flakes to up the stakes.

From artisan vegan salamis to rich cashew nut patés, plant-world cuisine is glamming it. Splash out on lovingly crafted delicious vegan cheeses upon vegan crackers. Fill spring rolls with colours of the rainbow, and use rich mouth-filling aubergines in dips.

An aesthetically pleasing platter is never out of place – and often disappears at race pace. Combine seasonal fruits and veges, with your favourite cheeses, olives, dips, crackers and fresh bread to create a Pinterest-worthy spread.

Go mad with frivolously fruity concoctions – just omit the alcohol for a virgin variety of the spiked alternative. For a virgin mojito, muddle sparkling water, lime juice, sugar or honey syrup, and dress up with fresh mint and cucumber.

Buy a bottle of hand-crafted gin to show off a classic cocktail. Try a French 75, martini, or a sloe gin fizz and decide a winner. Support the spirit of locally made tipples from vodkas to whiskys and dress them up cocktail style, with a glamorous garnish.

Pretty and effervescent best-dressed ladies, get creative with easy cocktails of the bubbly kind. Enhance the elegance of fine fizz with springtime splashes such as elderflower liquor, or for a classic Champagne Royale add crème de cassis.


All a-skew

Colourful, sizzling, tasty skewers. As the weather warms up, so do our backyard barbecues. These simple and fun crowd pleasers set the chef’s creativity on fire – and everyone can pitch in with the preparation.


MEATY MOUTHFULS: Pairing up bite-sized morsels with their likely partners always wins. Chicken and red pepper, lamb and onion, pork and pineapple, beef and mushroom. However, marinades are the success secret, helping meat char less, tenderise, and doubling as basters for a gorgeous glaze. To sizzle up this timeless trend, plate up with a flurry of fresh herbs or microgreens, and dollops of artisan dipping sauces.

A STRING OF SEAFOOD: The smoky flavour achieved when barbecuing kaimoana is a warm weather favourite, and seafood addicts will appreciate the simplicity of four fat, juicy scallops in a row on a bamboo or metal skewer, or garlic butterflied tiger prawns – perfect with a glaze and lively salad. To stretch out these delicacies, thread skewers with pineapple, peppers and red onions and pop a cherry tomato on each end.

GIVE VEGES A GRILLING: Add crunchy rainbows of veges to your repertoire. From red, green, orange and yellow capsicums to cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, corn and onions. Top with tasty sauces like a lemon herb drizzle or tzatziki. Firm tofu packs a protein punch, soaking up seasonings and marinades. Try different mushroom varieties, such as oyster, for textured intensity, or the mouth-filling decadence of halloumi.

SWEET STICKS: The BBQ needn’t power down at dessert time. Firm fruits caramelise beautifully on the grill, from peaches, apricots and nectarines to exotic mango. Decorated with edible flowers, and pots of melted chocolate, yoghurt or whipped cream for dunking, or drizzle a lime and ginger marinade for a piquant zing. Add some sticky marshmallows for the kids, or, pair with a balsamic drizzle to keep things interesting.

She had a dream

Sometimes all it takes is perfect timing to bring your best achievement into the limelight.



When she was 20, local Christchurch musician Steffany Beck won a grant with the foundation Rise NZ, to record her song I Have a Dream. Now at 30 she has just commercially released her favourite original to the world.

“The lyrics are about what the world would look and feel like if everyone accepted each other for who they are, allowing people to just follow and live their dreams,” she says.

At the time, the inspiring indie pop-rock song was recorded professionally with a full band, released on the Rise website and showcased on the Erin Simpson Show, but that was the limits to the song’s publicity.

“Only my friends and family really knew it existed back then – there was no opportunity for it to go anywhere,” Steffany explains.

“However, a teenager did recognise me in the mall and said it completely inspired her. That really meant a lot; creating your community and connecting with them is what inspires me the most. It’s who you do it for.”

The song title was inspired by Martin Luther King’s famous 1963 quote when he called to end racism in the United States.

It was watching videos of his speeches that the American-born songstress got inspiration to write and headline the song.

“Coincidentally this even has relevance with what’s been going on recently,” she says of the lyrics which she hopes will inspire others to be more accepting.

“Helping people is all I have ever wanted to do.”

When it comes to inspiration, it was in fact her own song that inspired Steffany to write and record her EP Blue Eyed Girl last year.

“This February I realised this song (I Have a Dream) was actually the prologue to my EP – the reason. My gut instinct told me I had to now share it with the world.”

When the original was released, Steffany was a budding artist but decided to learn the marketing side of things and be her own manager to get her music out there.

“That’s what many musicians are doing now,” she says. “There are so many platforms you can put your music on that weren’t there 10 years ago.”

Instead, Steffany arranged interviews on radio stations, TV segments, even for a music magazine in India! “The whole world is my platform,” she says.

Over the last decade the songstress has been reinventing herself and counts being chosen for a song-writing workshop weekend with Kiwi icon Bic Runga as one of her professional highlights.

The brunette Stephanie from the original YouTube video of I Have a Dream has now become a more talented and very blonde, Steffany.

“I changed my name spelling as there were so many other Stephanie Becks. You need to be easy to find,” she says.

Steffany’s working week is busy as a full-time Health and Safety Manager at Contract Construction, a career she adores.

Lockdown gave her the chance to let herself relax a little and get the re-release of her original I Have a Dream organised.

“I really want to inspire people. Especially now with everything in crazy chaos, you still owe it to yourself to live your own dream.”

Her original song is now up on Spotify, iTunes, apple music, Sound Cloud and Facebook and the latest video went live on YouTube on 15 July.


Song Spotify/ iTunes/ Apple Music

Music video

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