Last weekend I took myself off to Mana Retreat in the Coromandel for a weekend yoga retreat. Mana is an idyllic little sanctuary nestled up on the hills, over looking the sea, just south of Coromandel Town. It is a beautiful spot, part of an 120 hectare farm, the retreat itself all made with natural timber to keep in tune with the surrounding environment.
After a busy month or two it was time for some relaxing & reviving so Friday afternoon I left the city & headed on a little road trip for the hills. I had been once before to Juliet Forch’s retreat, 3 years ago, oddly enough just after I started writing this blog & it was actually the subject of one of my very early posts, that & the delicious food we ate over the course of the weekend. They grow much of their own; so it is a feast of beautiful organic produce made up in to vibrant & delicious vegetarian meals. It was the same this weekend; so you you leave feeling, calm, relaxed, revived & very well nourished. For our yoga practices we were in the 156 square metre octagon that looks right out over Mana’s gardens & the ocean; really the perfect spot to get away from it all & just breath.
It was again an idyllic weekend away from it all. Meeting some lovely new people & catching up with a few familiar faces from my last trip to Mana. Juliet teaches yoga focussing on natural movement with close attention to alignment. This weekend was all about our poor, often neglected psoas muscle. We can’t see it as it is hidden away deep inside & we often can’t flex or release it even though it is so essential to out core being the only muscle that connects our spine to our legs; so this weekend was about giving it a little TLC & learning to release it. Hello constructive rest...I could stay there for quite some time, I may indeed have dosed off a couple of times I was so relaxed. Mana tends to have that effect on you. I am hoping I can retain the calmness with some regular visits down to Juliet’s studio in Papakura.
So there is the nurturing environment, the yoga & then there is the food! Ah the food...bright, fresh, vibrant salads, nourishing & tasty frittatas & polenta pies & dessert! Always a little room for dessert & the apple crumble was heavenly! Not too sweet & a wonderfully crunchy crumbly topping packed full of nuts.
A Mana Cookbook is currently a work in progress & in the meantime we a little mini book to keep us going. Sadly this bread is not the bread I gorged on over the weekend as that is a secret family recipe but it is a tasty little loaf. Light but satisfying, a good way to start the day.
Mana Retreat's Spelt & Millet Bread
Makes 2 small loaves
1 tbsp dried yeast
1/2 tsp runny honey
2 cups warm water
3 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1 cup white spelt flour
1 cup ground amaranth ( Huckleberry were out of ground amaranth so I used quinoa flour)
1 cup ground millet
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
*Spelt is an ancient form of wheat that is less refined than most, so it contains only a little gluten
Place the yeast, water & honey in a bowl & sit it in a warm place for 10 minutes or until it becomes frothy.
Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer with the dough hook attached. Add the wet ingredients to the dry & mix until all the ingredients come together & knead for 5 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth. If it is a little to dry add a little more water, if a little too wet just add a little bit more flour.
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover & leave to rise until it has doubled in size; an hour or so. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead again for a moment or 2 & then divide the dough in too.
Place the loaves in to 2 small, greased loaf tins & bake for 35-40 minutes in a 170C / 325F oven. The loaves are ready when you tap them & they sound hollow. Turn them out, wait a few minute of you can, slice & butter!
These are lovely little loaves, fair & golden the spelt flour make them a little light, the millet adding just a little texture & the quinoa an additional burst of ancient goodness. Hot with melted butter & a little raspberry jam they went down a treat with an afternoon cuppa.
If you like this you might like this Crusty White Bread
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