Serving up a treat

21:26, Jul 03 2012
Nicky Cameron-Dunn
Berry yummy: Nicky Cameron-Dunn's blueberry muffins.

After 18 years of teaching at Fairhall School, Nicky Cameron-Dunn is looking forward to a new challenge, but still enjoying the rural Marlborough life.

Originally from Canterbury, Nicky was sent to Marlborough for her first job, assigned to a teaching position at Mayfield School, where she taught for three years and fell in love with the Marlborough outdoors, the climate and the people.

That feeling was enhanced when she moved to teach at Fairhall in 1994, where she said she found a home as well as a job.

"I enjoy teaching in rural schools.

"The children are a bit more grounded, in touch with the environment and things around them and you feel you're working in a community rather than a school.

"Here you get to know parents as friends and you get invited out."


Even when she took time out around the birth of her two children she was quickly back teaching part time and both her children went to the school.

She loved the challenge of helping students set goals and achieve and she enjoyed meeting past pupils and seeing what had happened in their lives, she said.

After 18 years at Fairhall, Nicky said she was ready for a new challenge and is hoping to learn new ways of teaching, while still enjoying the rural community when she starts at Tua Marina School in two weeks.

Outside of the classroom she is well known for her running and has completed 17 marathons, but Nicky said her other hobby was cooking and especially baking, which she does just about every two days. The attraction of cooking was about being healthy, providing her family with a balanced diet and knowing where their food came from, she said.

"I'm not too fussy, but I'm reasonably careful on things like buying free range eggs, knowing the origin of food and freshness."

However, she does enjoy baking treats, entertaining and seeing other people enjoy her food.

"I really enjoy cooking for other people. It's a great feeling and it's nice when they say it tastes good. Every cook always wants to know people are happy eating their food."

Nicky grew up on a farm and said she was always surrounded by good cooks and bakers, especially her mother and grandmother, who got her in the kitchen when she was young and instilled a love of making her own food.

She does not experiment much and mostly sticks to her favourite dishes such as curries, but she does adapt recipes to suit.

"I don't sift things or stuff like that, they just go in the bowl. It's time management, but I never really have kitchen disasters."

Teaching children to cook was important, she said, and she worries that she needs to teach her own children more cooking before they leave home.

"I think it's important to teach children. It [cooking] is a bit of a lost art, a lot of people just buy things, but it's also cheaper to make your own."

However, she is planning to keep her cooking lessons in the family, not at school.

"I think it's definitely a parents' job to teach their children to cook. At the moment, schools are expected to do a lot of work that parents should be doing."

Carrot cake

2 cups wholemeal flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

A pinch of cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

3/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1 1/2 cups grated carrot

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sultanas

Icing 1/4 cup cream cheese 2 tbsp butter1 cup sugar grated lemon rind

For the cake sift (or just put) the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large mixing bowl.

Add pineapple, carrot, eggs, sugar and oil and beat well. Stir in sultanas.

Spoon into a well-greased cake tin and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes.

For the icing, beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and mix in the icing sugar and lemon rind until smooth, then spread generously on top.

Blueberry muffins

2 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar

100g butter

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 to 1 1/2 cups blueberries

1 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon – mix

Mix dry ingredients.

Melt butter, add milk and egg and mix well.

Add dry ingredients and blueberries. Fold together (don't overmix).

Put into 12 greased muffin tins.

Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon.

Bake at 220C for about 15mins.

The Marlborough Express