We came across Poppy Kural's artwork at a local art gallery, Yeah Nice, here in Byron Bay. It's hard to comprehend the level of detail in each of her hand woven pieces, it's not lost on us the time & energy it must take to create them so beautifully. Cooking is another form of art for Poppy, she cooks with love and you can really tell it brings her joy to cook nourishing food for her daughter Etta, her friends and family. Thank you to Poppy for taking the time out to chat to us, and for sharing some gorgeous recipes xx.
How does the act of creating relate to your personality and who you are? Did you dream of becoming and artist as a child?
I feel like for me, life in general is all about creating - little moments, food, art, spaces in our home, ideas etc. Since having Etta, there has been a lot less physical creativity, however I think in other ways I’ve created more than ever. I used to attach who I was onto what I was creating and how much I was creating - in terms of art pieces, now my focus is more on who I am creating and how we can do that together as a family. When I was younger I used to dream about being a florist or making perfume. I was obsessed with flowers and used to think i’d make perfume inspired by all my favourite ones. But that slowly shifted and evolved into making art - which has a similar essence in a sense.
What elements do you absolutely need in your environment in order to get your creative juices flowing? Have you found this challenging since becoming a mother?
A clean and neat space. Not too much else. I’d love my own studio or a bigger kitchen one day. But for now, as long as my space is tidy that will do! Obviously this can be challenging with a toddler hanging around your feet, but luckily my daughter also likes a clean space. I’ve trained her well.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a doula, did you have a doula supporting you through your birth journey?
When my sister had her daughter 9 years ago, we were both in NYC - she was living there and I was visiting.
I spent a lot of time with her while she was pregnant, researching and helping her prepare for her birth - she used to call me her ‘doula’. Around the same time a close friend, Lizzy started practicing as a doula.
So the term was floating around a lot. I always knew Lizzy would be my doula when the time came for me to have a baby. Lizzy supported my partner and I throughout my pregnancy, birth and after. It was then that I realised what an incredibly important role a doula plays in the birth process, for both the birth person and their partner. I have always had a deep interest in birth and still do, even more so after having given birth. I also believe in the importance of postpartum doulas and how crucial nourishing the mother post birth is.
Lizzy has since started a course in shamanic doula training. I am about 6 months through the 10 month program and am loving it.
How do you foster creativity in your gorgeous little daughter Etta?
She is a very aware 3 year old. She picks up on every little thing around her, so I try and focus on that and let her explore whatever it is that has caught her attention. Sometimes we do craft together - she is loving painting at the moment. Her aunty is a ceramist and they have art days in her studio, working with clay which she finds very exciting. My partner is a furniture maker and I weave, both from home as we currently don’t have studio spaces - this can be challenging but I love how immersed Etta is in our daily makings - it’s a normal part of life for her.
What inspired your passion of food, and what does food mean to you?
My family were very health conscious growing up and always making delicious food. My brother lived in India and studied Ayurvedic medicine. I am a lot younger than him and remember being fascinated by the way he would cook and eat, I think that had a big influence. I was sick when I was younger and I became very interested in healing foods. That was about 14 years ago and since then I have had a big passion in using food as medicine, nourishing myself and my family with food makes me happy, especially since becoming a mother.
My daughter has some food allergies, so that’s made cooking slightly more challenging and stressful, however it’s pretty cool to see her heal and thrive off the foods I prepare for her.
We’ve heard whispers of an organic family friendly recipe book, can you please give us some sneak peaks into this? Tell us a bit about what we can look forward to?
Ahh yes. I have long wanted to write a cookbook. During the first lockdown we had in 2020 I started a family friendly cookbook. We were living in Tasmania at the time and I wrote it from there. However, during this time my daughter developed several food allergies which really shifted the way we cook and what I feed her, so I lost a bit of momentum with the book. I would love to finish it this year and change a few things - the ethos is still the same - organic, whole foods for the whole family, however it will be a lot less nut focused.
Three of Poppy's lovely recipes for kids (and you)
This is one of our favourite dishes and a good way to get lots of greens into kids.
1 tablespoon ghee
1 cup soaked rice (white or brown)
3 bunches of english spinach (approx 3 cups)
1 cup shiitake mushrooms
2 garlic cloves crushed
500 mls chicken broth
200 mls filter water
1 lemon juiced
salt and pepper
Soak the rice for 8 hrs in filtered water and pinch of salt. I usually soak this in the morning so it’s ready by dinner time.
Wash the spinach and place into a blender with a splash of water. Blend until all the spinach is blended together. It will be quite runny depending on how much water you’ve added.
In a large pot, heat the ghee and sauté the leek, garlic and mushrooms.
Next rinse the rice throughly and add to the pot, mixing through with the leek, garlic and mushrooms. Before the rice starts to stick to the pot add the chicken broth and stir.
Once the rice is stirred through add the spinach.
Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and leave to simmer with the lid on for about 20 mins. or until the liquid is absorbed. Cook for 40 mins if using brown rice. Check to see if more water/ broth needs to be added if cooking for longer.
Once ready, add salt and pepper and a big squeeze of lemon.
We sometimes add a dollop of organic cream and mix through once it’s cook or add a sprinkle of nori flakes - depending on what were feeling!
Easy Sardine Pasta
We have this dish quite often for lunch. It’s so easy and quick and Etta loves it!
1 table spoon of ghee
1 red onion diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 can of ‘Fish Forever’ sardines
1 jar of 375gms “Good Sugo” - I usually make my own but came across this Sugo and love it. It is all organic with no addatives. Good for when you need to make something quickly.
100 mls of chicken/ beef broth
1 tea spoon dulse flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 handfull of ripped basil leaves
300 grams gluten free pasta - we use ‘Green Olive Organics” penne.
Serves 2 + kid
Boil the pasta in a saucepan.
while the pasta is cooking, sauté the onion and garlic in a small pan in the ghee until soft.
Add the dulse flakes and sardines to the onion and garlic. With a fork crush the sardines so the bones break up and mix through.
Next add the sugo sauce and broth along with the basil leaves.
Leave to simmer until the pasta is ready.
Add the sauce to the pasta and add salt and pepper.
We add some lemon juice, butter and more basil leaves!
Serves 2 + kid
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen banana
2 broth cubes or plain ice cubes
1/2 cup milk of choice
2 mint leaves
1 tablespoon collagen
blend all together until mixed through. Should end up like an ice cream consistency.
How do you get Etta involved in the kitchen?
We have a small herb garden in our apartment block. I like to show Etta how to use the herbs in the garden to add to our food. We have lots of mint and nasturtiums at the moment so we’ve been adding them to smoothies and salads. I wish she’d cook more with me, but at the moment she prefer to eat the end result.
What has motherhood taught you so far?
That you are constantly learning, changing your views and evolving. Every stage and age reveals something which you learn from. There is no one way to do something, but the way you choose which is the right way for your family is by listening to your gut. Patience is another one, going with the flow and rhythm of your child and letting them lead the way.
Tell us about mealtimes in your household: who does the cooking, and what are your little ones favourite meals? is Etta a fussy eater or does the foodie vibe run deep in her and adventure prevail?
We always sit together for dinner. Breakfast and lunch are a bit more fluid as we're often out and about. We try to eat outside as much as possible. We have a little outdoor area at home, so we often take our breakfast there and sit on the grass. It’s a nice way to start the day. Etta is generally a good eater, she goes through phases though. She will always eat meat and veg - chops and green beans are her favourite. I make porridge in the morning with ghee and banana and her new thing she says is that she only wants “white porridge with honey” which mean no banana or “bits” in it and lots of honey! That to me is her being extremely fussy. But then she will request beet kvass and sardines and I think okay, maybe she isn’t a fussy eater after all. She eats lots of fruit and veg throughout the day - we always have a lunch box in tow.
For you, happiness is?
When my family is healthy; eating delicious food, and all together. Oh and a cold crisp sunny day - I am a much happier person in cooler weather.