Taking Care of Details

My horoscope says that I must pay attention to detail today because that will get me further than being slapdash. And I must not rush. Fine by me; the ‘must not rush’ bit. I am all for the relaxed life. Besides, I am not sure where I am supposed to be going , in such a hurry, anyway, especially as  I am still in my very old house clothes. Slapdash is a little more difficult  to avoid since I have already slap-dashed the kitchen with my cake-making efforts. However, if I have followed the recipe carefully, and  in detail, all should be well. ( So, take that, horoscope!)

I have been making Canadian War Cake

Canadian War Cake

Canadian War Cake

which is a variant of Boiled Fruit Cake or Great Depression Cake;

Great Depression Cake

Great Depression Cake

that is, a cake which is usually eggless, butterless and milkless and relatively easy to make when  money or ingredients are scarce. The recipe I am using is from a reproduction copy (complete with reproduced  age-old stains)  of   “Nurse Maude’s Household Book”. The original book was published at the beginning  of the 20th Century to raise money for the our local District Nursing Association and was sold for one shilling.

Nurse Maude's Household Book

Nurse Maude’s Household Book

The reproduction copy that I own was also sold as a fundraiser (cost $10.00)P1030372 for the  Nurse Maude Organisation which  continues to provide home nursing care and hospice/palliative care for our community. Nurse Maude has provided services to our city and surrounding areas for 115 years, and it all started with one Sibylla Emily Maude ,

Nurse Maude Herself

Nurse Maude Herself

born in Christchurch 11 August 1862. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2m42/maude-sibylla-emily

“Emily Sibylla Maude was a pioneer in nursing, dedicating her life to serving the needs of the poor. Her death, in Christchurch on July 12 1935, marked the beginning of the first and most recognised, district nursing scheme in New Zealand. The eldest of 8 children, Nurse Maude was born in Christchurch in St Peter’s Parish on August 11 1862.

Her interest in nursing began as a hospital visitor and in 1889 she went to England to train at Middlesex Hospital as a paying Lady Probationer.

In November 1892 she set sail for home and started work as Matron of Christchurch Hospital, but in October of 1896, seeing the increasing need of the community, she took her nursing to the streets of Christchurch to nurse and care for the poor. Within her first year, Nurse Maude had made more than 1,000 visits on foot, firmly establishing the first district nursing service in New Zealand as an integral part of the community.”

My grandmothers were great admirers of Nurse Maude. Her funeral was a huge event and many hundreds turned up  to honour her.  I think my grandmother and my mother were amongst the hundreds  who went  to pay their respects.

I am also a  great admirer of the Nurse Maude organisation, in its modern manifestation.   In years past, I have been very grateful for their home nursing services. And, nowadays, I often buy goods from their Shops and, from time to time, their frozen meals are my life savers.  Fortunately, on this warm spring afternoon, all I really need from Nurse Maude is a slice of her War Cake; the recipe for which she guarantees is reliable.

Small details:  Nurse Maude is referred to as Sibylla Emily Maude and sometimes Emily Sibylla in the articles I have researched! Oh,and I wish she had a recipe for hayfever. The warm spring afternoon is playing havoc with my allergies 😦

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84 thoughts on “Taking Care of Details

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  3. violetski

    Sorry for your allergy and hope you do not suffer too much !
    I have a friend who has terrible allergy and this recipe is perfect for her . I defently make one for her 😃
    Thank you for sharing 😃❤️

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I try not to sneeze on the keyboard, but, my goodness, the keyboards and computer screens get dirty, don’t they? As for my mobile phone, the screen is always covered in my own sticky fingerprints ,no matter how often I clean it!

      Reply
  4. Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

    I do hope your allergies let up! I know what it’s like to have seasonal allergies – it’s not fun at all! Makes it difficult to get outdoors and into the garden.

    Very interesting history of Nurse Maude and the cake recipe…you always have such fascinating posts! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Allergies are less bothersome, at the moment, thank you, but they really do mess with my interest in being outdoors. Nurse Maude is a big part of our community health story in Christchurch. I am sure there were counterparts in other countries doing equally wonderful work.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      This recipe is rather plain but there are lots of other boiled fruit cake recipes, which are probably more interesting. I felt that this one relied too much on a lot of sugar for its flavour. I didn’t have any lard, I must admit, so I used coconut oil 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the history with the cake, or is it cake with history :)?

      Reply
  5. pleisbilongtumi

    My Doctor told me that Hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis, there are two types: seasonal, occurring only at certain seasons in which certain plants pollinated, and perennial, in which occur throughout the year.

    People with hay fever (perennial) usually allergic to one or more allergens in the house too. These include spices powders, house dust, or feathers, all may be found in pillows, linens, carpeting, or drapes. Another common allergen is a fungus, usually found in damp areas such as bathrooms and the basement (basement).

    Have you ever thought that it could be from the ingredient of the cake you made? or other things when you cook them? So try to be away from the kitchen for a or two months times and you eat at restaurants every day!… what do you think of that? 😀

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I think that’s a wonderful idea! Stay out of the kitchen for 2 months. Actually, on the day that I had so much hayfever, there were people here cleaning the windows and that meant all the drapes were disturbed. I was wondering if the disturbance of the drapes was part of the problem. And yes sometimes flour does make me sneeze. Help! I am allergic to my house and my kitchen. I must need a vacation!

      Reply
  6. lagottocattleya

    Interesting cake and troublesome hayfever. Here I believe people use some pill for it, antihistamin, and it helps. I guess you have them over there as well. Difficult times it is when it hits. Many of my students suffer from it and sometimes they even cannot go to school at all. hopefully you will feel better during summer!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, antihistamines! I am full of them! However, things are not so bad today. I can understand why some students would have to stay at home. Some days, if my hayfever is really bad, all I can do is lie down and try to relax till it passes!

      Reply
  7. Just Add Attitude

    I love boiled fruit cakes as they are so easy to make. This recipe reminds me how much I take for granted in terms of the availability of ingredients for cooking and that it wasn’t always thus or indeed still isn’t in many parts of the world. 😉

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, it relates to a time of “less”. It’s interesting to look at older recipe books and compare them to our present day ones, where we are so extravagant with ingredients. I have an old and new version of a NZ recipe book, called Edmonds. A sponge pudding in the old version is made with a small amount of butter. In the new version the same pudding is made with a huge amount of butter! Ditto with eggs and sugar with some of the other recipes. Do you often make boiled fruit cake?

      Reply
      1. Just Add Attitude

        No, I don’t make boiled fruit cakes often, mainly because I have a tendency to gobble far too many slices of them when they are temptingly to hand – much to the detriment of my waistline. 😉

        Reply
  8. realruth

    I didn’t buy the Household book, but I did buy a quantity of the accompanying tea towels, which made good gifts for people we visited on our recent trip to England.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It’s strange but I have no recollection of seeing the teatowels when I was in the Nurse Maude shop. I must look for them next time I am there. They would make great gifts; even for myself 🙂

      Reply
  9. tiny lessons blog

    The war cake looks like it could feed an army! You are such a good researcher, it’s always a great read. I’m too familiar with both spring and fall allergies, but living in Florida now has helped a little bit (compared to in D.C. where I was a regular mess). I hope yours clears up soon!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I have had more than 24 hours without a sneeze, so I am feeling better. Just have hayfever brain fog as a reminder that the pollens are still around. Yes, I think old time recipes had to fed an army, or at least a very large family 🙂

      Reply
  10. Sheryl

    This reminds me that I have an old family recipe for Boiled Fruit cake that my maternal grandmother (not the one in the blog) used to make. She lived about 4 hours away from my family, and when she came to visit she often brought a Boiled Fruit Cake. I’m going to have to make that recipe and see if the cake is as good as I remember.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I expect it will be. Old family recipes usually stand the test of time. I would love to know more about it and how it compares with Canadian War Cake and Great Depression Cake. There are so many variations.

      Reply
  11. mmmarzipan

    Hope you’re allergies clear up! Nurse Maude sounds like an amazing woman… and lived the kind of life that makes me think I do far too little to make the world a better place! Love the sound of that cake too! 😀

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am feeling much better thank you. Hope it stays this way. I think Nurse Maude would say you were doing exactly the best thing to make the world a better place by creating a healthy home with well cared for children. But, yes, her energy and determination were amazing. I think the cake could be made gluten free but I am not sure how you would deal with the huge quantities of sugar; perhaps apple puree? I didn’t actually have lard, so I used coconut oil.

      Reply
      1. mmmarzipan

        Good, good! 🙂 And thank you! 🙂
        Coconut oil would be perfect, I imagine. Perhaps the sugar could be replaced by a mix of birch sugar and coconut palm sugar to make it refined-sugar free without changing the texture/density too much? Coconut flour could work with apple puree for a gf version as it’s very thirsty flour… but it would take some experimenting/tweaking, I think. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I don’t think I have seen coconut flour here. My sister has a friend whose toddler has been diagnosed as allergic to gluten, dairy and sugar. I suggested that she check out your blog for some gf ideas. I don’t know if she has, but I was trying to reassure her that there are alternatives and healthy ones too.

  12. ordinarygood

    District nurses are such a boon in the community but the service here has had so many budget cuts and staff are demoralised but they continue to care and treat.
    Women in Nurse Maude’s day were always serious looking in photos which made them look stern but compassion obviously ran deep for Sibylla Emily or Emily S.
    BTW Jazz would like to know more about your feline friend looking ready in his bow-tie for a drink and a slice of cake.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Nurse Maude did try to go north a few years ago but I am not sure how that worked out. The organisation survives on donations mostly, I think, and they are very good with their fundraising; always seem to have lots of innovative ideas. Yes, the photos of that era are noticeable for their lack of smiles! Ah, I wondered who would notice my feline friend! She is my little Egyptian Cat Goddess Bastet. I gave her a gold ribbon one year and there it has stayed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastet District nurses, like Nurse Maude embody the spirit of Bastet, nurturing but also protective and determined.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I thought a Goddess and a cat, so important to a household, needed a golden ribbon. Apparently, in ancient Egypt, cats were worthy of such honours 🙂

        2. ordinarygood

          Jazz constantly reminds me that cats were worshipped in Egypt and that needs to be adhered to in this household:-) He says “hold the ribbon styling” though;-)

  13. Clanmother

    I am so excited to learn about Canadian War Cake! When I googled the name, I found that everyone seems to know something about it. You’re right – it was also named Depression Cake.

    Bless Nurse Maude. I read that she walked miles every day, burdened by pans for cooking, cleaning and washing. Her patients did not possess these items. These are the stories that nourish my being. Looking back gives me the courage to move forward, to walk in footsteps of women like Nurse Maude, to create and forge linkages that bring people together to build a community.

    A wonderful life-affirming post –

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Nurse Maude’s spirit lives on in the community today. We see her nurses in their little cars (!) travelling about the city all the time. They are very visible and very welcome wherever they go. Isn’t it fun that she wanted the mothers of the day to know how to cook basic nutritional food for their families and that included Canadian War Cake. I am still wondering why Canada made this cake so well known? In other things Canadian; I see your Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature! And this week, a futurist (From the University of Toronto) will be speaking in Christchurch about future thinking and planning. Job title; Futurist. Isn’t that grand? Nurse Maude was a bit of a futurist in her own way.

      Reply
      1. Clanmother

        I met a futurist a few years back – they have an inborn sense of what is required to take into the future. Perhaps we all have the ability, but simply put it off to the side thinking that is a trivial thought. It it the futurists that act on their knowledge that fascinate me. I can’t even begin to imagine lugging Nurse Maude’s pots and pans. My great-grandmother was a midwife. I would love to know her stories, but alas they are kept safely hidden in the folds of history – a clear reminder that we must continue to blog!!!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I, like many people, struggle to even concentrate on the present moment, so I am very appreciative of people who can think and act in futuristic ways. Yes, I wonder what wisdom and stories your great grandmother may have stored in her knowledge kit. 🙂

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Ute made me laugh in her comment when she talked about a ‘less’ cake. It is funny to think about how much ‘less’ you can put in a cake and still call it a cake.

      Reply
  14. Forest So Green

    I am very happy that you posted this historic recipe. I can imagine there were many versions of these cakes during the Depression. I hope your allergies improve soon.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you. I am feeling okay, so far, this morning. I think there are lots of versions of this recipe, with many families having their own well-loved versions of it.

      Reply
  15. Vickie Lester

    Fie on allergies and huzzah for fruitcake! I wish I had a slice right now, and remind me to send you my recipe for Christmas, but you have to make it soon so it can age and mellow…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, fie on allergies. Fingers crossed, I haven’t nose-dripped yet this morning. I like cakes that age and mellow…….have you made yours yet; for Christmas, I mean? Vickie Lester’s editor please help me out with that last sentence 😀

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Well, the recipe in the link looks very fine. And I can make a smaller quantity too which suits my little household. Love the story that goes with the cake. Please do send your refined recipe. I am always searching for the perfect fruit cake recipe; this may be it 🙂

  16. Joanne Jamis Cain

    Lovely story and good lookin’ cake! Nurse Maude sounds like she was one heck of a nurse! And my allergies are bad too, only we are dealing with goldenrod and falling leaves here in Northeast US.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      We will hold our tissues gently to our noses and sneeze together in sympathy. We will be careful not to sneeze on each other, of course. Nurse Maude would not approve!!!! I remember having trouble with allergies during fall in the US. Interestingly ,no mention is made of hayfever or allergies in Nurse Maude’s book. Seemingly they were not a problem.

      Reply
  17. Mrs. P

    I have to admit, I was dreaming about you last night, reflecting on the care you take in all of your posts. How carefully you research and arrange and compliment the post with beautiful pictures. I thought of you as the Martha Stewart of New Zealand, without the pretentiousness. I’m not like that at all and I do admire that quality in you.

    And here you go again, another beautifully complete post…and now I know what depression cake is, I’d always heard about it and wondered about it but never bothered to look it up or heavens, to actually make one! Kudos to you!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, I wish I could share some cake with you. I am ‘tickled pink” by the Martha Stewart reference but, really, she is the Queen of organised thought and living. She probably wouldn’t hire me to clean even one of her kitchen cupboards 😦 I try my best to arrange the posts carefully, and with different layers, so that readers can take as much, or as little out of them, as they have time for. Thanks for thinking of me :). I love happy good thoughts. I’ll send some back to you right now.

      Reply
  18. lizzierosejewellery

    Looks like a cake even I can make! I like the sound of the next one on the list – ‘A good plain cake’, you don’t find many of them these days! Nurse Maude looks a formidable character, but obviously a Christchurch icon, I’m glad she’s being remembered.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I think Nurse Maude was formidable! But kind too and much loved it seems. Yes, I am wondering about making the Good Plain Cake. If I do, I will post the recipe.

      Reply
  19. coulda shoulda woulda

    Tell me honestly how it tastes. Is it a “make do” cake taste as well? The name doesn’t really sell it although if you served me a slice with the whole story i would at least try a slice. Hope the hayfever is manageable!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The recipes and ideas in the Nurse Maude Book are all designed to help the housewife and mother lead a better and healthier life within a simple budget. One section of recipes also shows the cost of the recipe. For example to make a dinner of Roast Rabbit cost 10 pennies at the time of publication. Thanks for your sympathy re my hayfever 🙂

      Reply
      1. Virginia Duran

        So it also included prices? I think that would be useful for our current times since this crisis is affecting a lot of families, me included. And staying healthy is really important. I really hope your allergies stop soon, it’s horrible to be sick all day!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, a few prices. And I was really interested in some of the old recipes for healthy drinks made from oatmeal and barley. Wonder if they would fix allergies? Probably not!

  20. mixedupmeme

    Very interesting about Nurse Maude. Great gal! I like simple cakes that take little work. I make a loaf carrot and pineapple cake. It comes out good even if I am slapdash in my measurements.
    The cedar fever will soon be starting where I live. For years I was not bothered by it. Then one fall it attacked and is waiting for me every year. 😦

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s funny about your measurements because the Nurse Maude book is full of measurements and she instructs the reader to be precise; must be her nursing background. Cedar time sounds nasty. I really don’t know what it is that is upsetting me.

      Reply
      1. mixedupmeme

        My husband prepares many dishes his mother prepared. He does them by memory and never measures anything. They involve a lot of cutting of onions, green peppers, tomatoes etc. He just mixes until they seem right to him and they always come out delicious! But when he goes 😦 the dishes will be lost too.
        I should stay in the kitchen watching. But somehow when he cooks, it is best I just go elsewhere. I do return to help with the washing up. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Oh no; save the dishes! But how? Secret hidden camera?. Wouldn’t really make much difference I suppose because those recipes are done by sight and sound and taste. You have to grow up with them to know how to get them just right. Enjoy, enjoy, whilst the going is good!

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I used to make a boiled fruit cake quite often but I haven’t done so in years. It’s amazing how inventive people can be with only a few ingredients.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A quick look at Wiki showed that this type of cake was actually made as far back as the American Civil War. I don’t know why this particular recipe was known as the Canadian War Cake. More investigation required!

      Reply
  21. utesmile

    It looks rather delicious even thoug it is all …less of our normal cakes. Perfect really for people wiht all these allergies for those ingredients.
    I hope do not suffer too much with hayfever it is not pleasant! All the best!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Ute; the hayfever has just got worse and worse, so I am hoping it will ease soon. So tiresome! At least my nose wasn’t dripping at the time I made the cake!!! That might have been awkward.

      Reply

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