Getting better with gifts

Today I delivered my first home-made Christmas gift; to the staff at the  veterinary practice who take care of Jack (and me) throughout the year, and have done so for all six years of Jack’s little  life.

So what, you may ask? Well, the ‘so what’ is that this is the first time, since the earthquakes, that I have had the energy, and the inclination, to make Christmas gifts for some of the many people in the  community who take good care of us throughout the year.

Although I had ‘ energy and inclination’ the baking process didn’t go as smoothly as I thought it would, because I foolishly chose to make a pre-earthquake Christmas favourite, raspberry and blueberry friands. It’s an  easy recipe, in normal circumstances,  but I didn’t expect that, half way through the mixing of the ingredients, I would burst in to tears, overwhelmed by memories of happier times   associated with these rich buttery delights. Never the less, I persevered and I was very pleased with the results and very pleased, too, that, after 3 years of non-friand-making,  I hadn’t lost my friand skills 🙂

What say you? Take a look….

Raspberry Friands

Raspberry and Blueberry Friands

The recipe I used (slightly modified by the addition of blueberries)

Raspberry Friands

Raspberry Friands

comes from Jo Seagar Cooks, published in 2006 by Random House.

Jo Seagar Cooks

Jo Seagar Cooks

Jo Seagar  is a New Zealand cooking personality who has a cookery school and cafe not far from Christchurch, in  Oxford , Canterbury. She is well known for her ‘easy peasy’ recipes and her  cooking motto, ‘ minimum effort for maximum effect’.  I like her style 🙂 !

And I particularly like these bright, forthright  words of hers from the introduction to her recipe book : ” I want you to put the flowers back on the table, think of the hen that laid your egg, and remember your mother and put on your apron – it’s not demeaning, it’s there to keep your clothes clean.”

I don’t think she is the sort to cry in to her friand batter ( I actually didn’t let tears drop in to the mixture, in case you are worrying about hygiene 😉 ) but one never knows; we all have our moments.

Here are a few more of mine; my better moments.

© silkannthreades

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80 thoughts on “Getting better with gifts

  1. Su Leslie

    Growing up in Auckland I’d never heard of friands; they didn’t appear in cafes here until about 7-8 years ago. I lived in the UK during the 90s and don’t remember ever having them or seeing them on a cafe menu either. So a mystery!!! I’m pleased for you that you were able to finish your baking; that must have been so difficult. But such a lovely thing to do and such an important symbol to affirm your community.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I can’t remember exactly when or where I tasted my first friands but they certainly weren’t part of my early years in New Zealand.Those were the days of slices and queen cakes and kisses and narry a muffin, let alone a friand in sight.

      Reply
      1. Su Leslie

        Queen cakes! It’s a long time since I heard those words. Now cupcakes have become “the new black” and the elaborate concoctions you see in cafés make the queen cakes we baked as kids seem a bit tame. I’m still a Lamington girl at heart.

        Reply
  2. womanseyeview

    I meant to do more than just like this way back when…electronic hugs to you and what can be bad with baking your way through tough memories. Here’s looking forward to a great 2014!

    Reply
  3. Clanmother

    I had to look up the definition of “Friand” This is straight from Wikipedia! “The friand is a small French cake, often mistaken for a pastry. It is popular in Australia and New Zealand. It is usually made with almond flour and egg whites. It typically has additional flavorings such as coconut, chocolate, fruit, and nuts.” Now I AM curious. With France as the place of origin – how did it make the journey to your side of the world. Hmmmm.

    Today, I went to the bookstore that Dad loved so much. We would meet for coffee and talk about philosophy, religion, science, history, etc. It has been 2 years since Dad passed; this will be the third Christmas without him. Today, when I went through the doors, there was that pang of loss over the happy times we shared, followed closely thereafter by the profound knowledge that we continue…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I ,too, am curious to know how this French cake became so popular in this part of the world. We do have some history of French settlement in New Zealand but did the early settlers make them??? Friands were not part of my youth in New Zealand. They entered my life only a decade or so ago, so ,perhaps, it is something our young ones brought back from their travels in Europe. Mysteries….?
      I hear your loss; it is as profound as the knowledge that we continue.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Very yummy, they are. It intrigues me that friands are not that well-known to many of my followers. Intrigues me to the extent that I wonder if they are known by another name in other countries. Maybe almond tarts or almond cakes? Something like that.

      Reply
  4. Letizia

    Such beautiful friands (I too love how spell-check keeps wanting to change this to “friends”- so perfect). I love the added touch of the stars. I think the tears would have added just that extra bit of love (although that did make me think of “Like Water for Chocolate”- did you ever read that book or see the movie? One of the characters weeps into the dish – I can’t remember what it was- and when everyone eats it, they all start to cry!).

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      No I haven’t seen that but that is such a wonderful thought that tears in the batter could provoke tears in the consumers. And there are tears of joy, sorrow, relief, happiness, laughter…so interesting how useful tears are 🙂

      Reply
  5. KerryCan

    Never having experienced an earthquake, it’s hard to imagine what you have been through. We had a flood here a few years ago–a slow, relentless flood–that meant we had to go to a motel for 6 weeks, while our house sat in water. Right before we had to leave, I had made brownies, with crystallized ginger and chunks of dark chocolate. I remember they were wonderful but have not made them since. Maybe, now that I know you’ve gone back to friands, I can go back to the brownies. And I should take them to our vet, because she took in, and cared for, our cats while we were in the motel.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      How awful to have your house sitting in water for so long. Not good for one’s house or one’s nerves. I am assuming that you were able to repair the house and that is where you still live? Mmmmm….. perhaps it is time to make those brownies again. They sound absolutely delicious and I am sure your vet would love them. I know I would :); ginger and chocolate being two of my most favourite things.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, you must treasure your vet greatly. I think it’s extraordinary how they treat and understand all kinds of animals without being able to ask their patients “what is wrong? how do you feel? etc ” Imagine if we went to our doctors and just sat there sad and wordless, and the doctor had to figure out what was wrong with us!

      Reply
  6. Just Add Attitude

    Mmmm, these look lovely. But I am sorry to hear about the tears as you were overwhelmed by memories of happier times. I know it’s such a total platitude but sometimes I think a good cry does us good. Take care.

    Reply
  7. jaggh53163

    Gallivanta – The Friands sound delightfully light and delicious. I usually don’t bake (I live by myself) but these would make a nice hostess gift during the Christ mas holiday. I’ll have to give them a try and let you know how they come out !!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I wonder if they have another name for them in the US. They are a popular item in cafes here and the recipe can be easily adapted to make them gluten free; another reason for their popularity.

      Reply
  8. Forest So Green

    You really know how to create a beautiful gift and I guess you have a nice collection of cookbooks. I really like cookbooks and I used to give them as wedding gifts, Annie

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Annie, I was at the bookshop today and I couldn’t believe how many cookbooks were for sale. It made my collection of old, well-used cookbooks look pathetic. I do not need any more but I can imagine that one of those books would be a welcome gift for any newly married couple. The books all look so beautiful.

      Reply
  9. tiny lessons blog

    So nice of you to make a gift to the vet’s office! And you have definitely not lost your skills in friand making (I had to write the word 3 times because it always came out as friend making, but that’s true of you as well 🙂 I would love to have one right now!

    Reply
  10. Heather in Arles

    It is hard when the things that we should do to get better seem out of reach, isn’t it? We have had a hard year and I was amazed to find myself not at all into Christmas this year–very odd for me! But it just felt like too much…Well, I got an email of encouragement from a friend this morning and so was able to finally decorate the tree that had been sitting bare for days. It did help and now I have a sweet tree to look –plus the reminder that friendship made it happen!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That’s lovely that a friend’s email support led to Christmas tree decoration, although I did think your little tree, all unadorned, sounded very sweet. I often struggle with Christmas celebrations, for many reasons, but one of them is the all “too much” reason. There have been times when I wished it would vanish from the calendar 😦 I will not have a Christmas Tree this year but there may be a few decorations in the house ; possibly. I have ideas but maybe insufficient time.

      Reply
  11. lensandpensbysally

    I was touched by your willingness to share your deep emotions. You’re so fortunate to have such a strong community that shores each of you as you support them. Your homemade gifts are the best kind: from your hand and heart. Lovely, lovely post.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Sally. There are a lot of people I would like to thank and I am not sure that I will manage to thank them all by Christmas time. Never mind, a gift is always appreciated at any time of the year 🙂

      Reply
  12. Mrs. P

    Oh, those look so delicious! You did very well with adding the flowers. Jo Seager will be quite proud of you…just don’t mention the tears.

    I made gifts this year as well, though not food…but one was very food related! 🙂 I just felt in the mood to make it a little more personal this year.

    Reply
  13. YellowCable

    I am not sure how better they were but I think your skill is preserved 🙂 They look good and I like the icing star on top (is it?). It is a nice touch.

    Do you need care from the veterinary place too ? 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It is an icing sugar star. I was trying out some cake stencils and I decided the star would be best for Christmas. And, sometimes, if Jack is sick , which is rarely, I do need lots of moral support from the clinic 🙂 🙂 They are very kind and reassuring.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      They did seem pleased 🙂 and surprised. I have just attempted to use all the leftover egg yolks in a baked custard; not a great success. I probably should have made lemon curd instead. Never mind, the friands were great.

      Reply
  14. Mike Howe

    They look delicious, you should cry around, but not in, the batter more often if they are anything to go by 😉 Hope you’re feeling better and I’m sure the Christmas gift was much appreciated

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      You have a good point Mike; perhaps a little emotion helps the cooking process. Gordon Ramsay swears and yells; I just blubber but the end result is great, either way 🙂

      Reply
  15. utesmile

    It looks beautiful also the way you present them. The surgery people surely will appreciate your efforts. I have never heard of friands, ( too difficult for me). The season I think makes us so emotional, I have these moments too lately!
    Glad you had enough to sample your baking, I can smell them from here 🙂 Sending a warm hug over!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The vet ate two of them immediately. It just so happened that I arrived during their afternoon tea break! Christmas can be an emotional time; I am sure everyone of us has a reason to shed a few tears during this season. Hugs to you, too.

      Reply
  16. Tracy Rhynas

    I like the attitude and motto of your Jo Seagar, she sounds eminently sensible. I hope your friands will be back next year and those thereafter. The raspberries in the middle do make them sound particularly delicious!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, I like ‘easy peasy’ and friands are easy to make, although I didn’t know that till I saw the recipe in Jo’s book in 2006. Usually I would have my own raspberries to put in the friands but my raspberry cane died awhile back and the new one isn’t bearing fruit yet. So this time I used frozen raspberries.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      She is a treasure. You must miss her! She has a new book out but I haven’t had a chance to look at it yet. I am very fond of her 2006 book but still haven’t cooked/baked my way through all of that yet.

      Reply
  17. Juliet

    Good on you, for doing this. Such actions are signs of recovery and we never expect recovery to be perfect, or to be achieved all in one leap. Step by step, tears this year, smiles next year. The friands look beautiful (my spell-check keeps trying to convert this to ‘friends’). Friendly friands; I’m sure they will be much appreciated. Home-made gifts are the most loving of all.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I like that..tears this year, smiles next year… thank you and yes, my spell checker thought friands should be friends too …and why not have friendly friands ? :).

      Reply

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