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Interview: Nadia Key talks about Collectively Homegrown

Nadia Key is one half of a mother and daughter duo that owns the social enterprise Husk and Honey, a fair-trade marketplace selling ethically and sustainably sourced home, living and gift products.

Recently, Elke and Nadia also opened a physical space in Waipu called the Cove Collective – a shared space showcasing curated pieces from both New Zealand and global makers, with a focus on women-made, ethically sourced and environmentally friendly products.

Both Elke and Nadia love to cook, spending lots of time in the kitchen together cooking for friends and whānau. Nadia talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about Collectively Homegrown.

Collectively Homegrown is a nonprofit cookbook, compiled by myself (Nadia) and my Mum (Elke), with 100% of profits made from the sales donated towards Women's Refuge NZ. Over the last two years Collectively Homegrown has been our passion project, as we have personally worked on each aspect - from collecting/creating & testing the recipes, to the photography & artwork that has gone into the final book. Collectively homegrown is more than just a cook book.. It’s a tribute to & celebration of the melting pot of culture and cuisine in Aotearoa, a treasure trove of recipes, from nostalgic treats like Nana’s cookies to modern twists on your favourite dishes. (We hope) this very special cookbook will sit on the kitchen shelf of many Kiwi homes, dog ears and all, for years to come.

What inspired you to create this book?

It was one of those ideas I (Nadia) had in the middle of the night. I had seen similar projects overseas and also always loved the fundraising books put together with family recipes for schools etc. When I mentioned it to my Mum (Elke) - she was on board right away; we both love spending time in the kitchen. Mum was a wedding caterer for over 10 years, and well, was a wedding caterer for over 10 years and well I just love food - so this project felt right to both of us. Food brings people together; it's something we can all share and connect over and to both Mum and I, it seemed like the perfect way to do something we love (cook).. whilst also supporting a charity that is very close to our hearts. The Women's Refuge NZ. The work they do in Aotearoa is so undeniably important, and we are big believers that every little bit helps - so creating a book that New Zealanders can purchase, enjoy and share... whilst also giving back - seemed like a win-win to us.

What was your routine or process when creating the recipes and the photographs?

When it came to compiling a cookbook - we really had no idea! So there was a bit of research and learning involved (and a lot of mistakes!). After collecting the recipes from our lovely contributors and spending time in the kitchen perfecting/creating a few ourselves.. we headed into a test kitchen for just over a week and spent hours trying each recipe out and making little changes here and there to ensure each recipe translated well. Sustainability was a huge value for this project so food wastage was not an option - which is why all photography was also completed during the testing process, once a recipe was cooked / baked up to perfection we would style it, take a few hundred photos and then either enjoy it as our own lunch or take the leftovers home for the family to enjoy for dinner. All we can say is we ate very well during this time! The next few months involved hours at my computer editing each photo and narrowing down which made the final cut for the book!

If a soundtrack were made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

The first song that comes to mind is Jack Johnsons 'Home'. We wanted the book to have a homely feel, to celebrate garden-to-table cuisine and encourage cooking together with your family, friends and community.

Who is this cookbook for? What do you think home cooks will enjoy the most about Collectively Homegrown?

This cookbook is for everyone - that was the goal! We tried to keep the home cook in mind when choosing and creating recipes - Recipes for dinners spent with loved ones round the table, shared lunch treats, brunch with Nana. Collectively Homegrown is tradition, it’s Whānau. The book has been artfully divided into six chapters, each thoughtfully designed to appeal to various readers and home cooks. Starting with 'The Gardener' and 'The Forager', these chapters pay homage to plant-based and vegetable-centric recipes, showcasing the abundance of nature's offerings. Transitioning to 'The Fisherman' and 'The Butcher', the focus shifts to sustainably farmed or caught meat and fish as the key components in enticing dishes. Finally, we have 'The Baker' and 'The Raw Kitchen', which present a delightful assortment of sweet treats suitable for the entire family. We also made sure to have recipes that catered to differing skill levels, from simple and easy faves, to those for the more adventurous cooks... so there really is something for every home cook!

If you had to choose three favourite recipes, what would they be, and why are they your favourites?

This is definitely a hard one, and probably impossible to answer! We were spoilt by the recipes our contributors shared and the book really is a celebration of Aotearoa's diverse cuisine! As we head into the warmer season one of my recent go to recipes has been 'Frigane Paprike na Slatu' (Fried Pepper Salad) by Helena Nuić, this recipe is not hard but sure to wow your guests - I use it on my platters as the marinated peppers go great with cheese and crackers! We also have a super tasty recipe by Nadia Lim for her insanely good 'Pad Thai'! This really does taste like its straight from your local takeaway (just a tad fresher and lighter) and is so easy to make! If I had to pick one more.. I have really enjoyed learning to make 'Parāoa Parai' (Fry Bread), Aroha from Maimoa Creative has shared a great recipe and these make for a special morning or afternoon tea treat! But if I am honest, Mum and I have been making all the recipes on repeat - I will often get a photo or two on messenger on a Friday evening of the 'Collectively Homegrown - Feast' that Mum has cooked up for her dinner guests!

What did you enjoy the most about creating Collectively Homegrown?

I'd say 2 things! First of all being able to work with and meet a bunch of awesome individuals who helped us bring this book to fruition, from all the talented contributors, to the team working behind the scenes on the production of the book. We had many kind individuals lend their time, skill, expertise, patience and ear to us during this time!

Second... Working together with my Mum, Elke, to put it together! We both feel so lucky to be able to work together and this project was no exception! Weaving together the pages of Collectively Homegrown, testing the recipes, and making the big decisions (whilst definitely stressful at times), was one of the most rewarding experiences and it was really cool to be able to share the journey with each other! As well as a community project and nonprofit cookbook - Collectively Homegrown also feels like a really special Mother & Daughter book that can be shared and passed down for generations to come!

All the profits go to charity. Can you tell us more about the charity you are supporting?

Collectively Homegrown is proudly supporting the incredible Women's Refuge and the meaningful work they do in the community. Sadly, New Zealand has the highest rates of family violence in the developed world, with 1 in 3 women experiencing violence at some point in their lives. When factoring in emotional abuse, that number changes to 1 in 2. The Women's Refuge is New Zealand’s largest nation-wide organisation that supports women and children experiencing family violence, assisting round 50,000 women and children each year, through providing safe accommodation, counselling, legal and financial assistance, essential items like food and clothing, and much more. The refuge recognises the collective generosity of our wider New Zealand community, as a huge support towards helping them provide the level of shelter, safety and care to women, children and whānau, that they so desperately need and deserve... The work they do is so important and it really is an honour for us to be able to work with the Women's Refuge NZ and to support their efforts coming up to the Holiday Season.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

We had an awesome weekend over the 3rd - 5th of November. The book was officially launched on Friday the 3rd and we celebrated with a launch party at the Ari room with friends, whānau and some of the contributors, which was super special! Then on Sunday the 5th we held a morning tea at the beautiful Lamplight Bookstore (where our book is also stocked). It was a very wholesome weekend and it was nice to finally get the book out into the community - we have recieved super positive feedback which has been really nice.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

Probably A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, it took me a while to read as it was quite an emotional rollercoaster and I needed to take a break now and then, but it was an incredible story!

What’s next on the agenda for you?

Christmas is just around the corner - a busy time for retailers like us. Our business Husk and Honey has a store in Waipu called the Cove Collective - This space was designed by us as a Collaborative, Women Led, Sustainable and Fair Trade store space, sharing a range of products from our brand, and other brands that are both NZ made or curated and coursed ethically. So we will be busy up there, hopefully being able to share Collectively Homegrown with all the passes by over summer! There may also be another book in the works... but we won't say anything more just yet!


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