Tag Archives: fruit cake


After several days of procrastination,  my ‘apology’ for a real Christmas cake is finally in the oven, baking gently and moderately. That done, I can now take time to celebrate my mother’s homecoming from hospital which happened this past Saturday morning. And what a cause for celebration that is. The past few weeks have been full of pain and struggle but, at last, thanks to the loving care of my sister and brother, she is home again; home to convalesce.

To convalesce ; to recover health and strength gradually after sickness or weakness; to spend time healing; to grow strong….no busying and  bending to a hospital routine; no poking and prodding and monitoring and measuring; no scrutiny from doctors and students and x-ray machines; only rest, deep rest,

How to rest and recuperate

How to rest and recuperate

food that pleases, gentle movement, and time, to heal the pain and weariness ; that is ‘to convalesce’, from latin, valeo, be well.

Convalescence, a forgotten way of life, perhaps, in a world that constantly sells us the idea  of eternal wellness and vigour  and exhorts us to either be healthy or healthier; that urges us to grasp ease without acknowledging dis-ease; that disallows our physical and spiritual need for times of frailty, by plying us with pills and potions and remedies for a  rapid ‘cure’.

In older times, when illness, and home-based care of it, were more commonplace, recipe  and household books often had sections  with special dishes for invalids or occupants of the sick room. It’s hard to imagine someone like Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay producing a  best seller containing  recipes for the ‘InValid’, but our best-selling New Zealand   Edmonds Cookery Book used to offer helpful hints like this…

Needing validation; here's a hint.

Needing validation; here’s a hint.

And our famous  Nurse Maude, founder of our community nursing service, suggested, in her book, oatmeal drinks and gruel for the patient’s sustenance.

I am not sure how well I would do on Nurse Maude’s diet but  I would love a tray, such as this one,  to arrive, in the early light,  at my place of convalescence. Fresh flowers from the morning garden, blackcurrants from the home bush, creamy yogurt and strawberries, to nourish the body, and  blessings and calm to nurture  the soul.

A tray for being well

A tray for being well

What more could a patient ask for..oh, just one thing….a moment of grace read to me from one of the most beautifully photographed books of my  childhood world,  A Child’s Grace by  Constance Bannister.

Grace of a Child

Grace of a Child

Amen. Amen.

© silkannthreades


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 😦

© silkannthreades

In whom we trust…..

In my last post, but one, called Short Stories, I promised to provide recipes for the featured spicy lentil soup and easy fruit and nut cake.  I dealt with the soup in my previous post, so now it is the turn of the cake. Whilst the soup recipe had its genesis in my trusty Edmonds Cookery Book, the fruit cake recipe comes from another trusted and reliable source of everyday cooking wisdom in New Zealand; Dame Alison Holst. ( http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/new-years-honours/4504137/Dame-Alison-Holst-Queen-of-the-cookbook/ ) A food writer and television chef ( and oh so much more, in my opinion ) she produced the first of her many cookbooks in 1966. Today, there are approximately  four million of her books in print.   Again, like the Edmonds Cookery Book, that would equate to about one Alison Holst cookbook for every person in New Zealand!

The fruit cake recipe is from ‘Very Easy Vegetarian Cookbook” by Alison and Simon Holst, first published in 1998 by New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd P1020775The recipes that Alison and her son Simon present are meticulously tested and are fail safe.  They are utterly reliable and delicious, easy to prepare, and I haven’t met one yet that I didn’t like.

The ingredients for Easy Fruit and Nut cakeIngredientsThe method (with apologies for the poor photos)  and the final result.

Dame Alison, who was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011, graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Home Science and was a lecturer in Home Science before she began her present career. Over the years, as well as cook and write, she has raised over $4 million for charities.  She is a ‘star’ in New Zealand and held in such high esteem that, one year, it was  rumoured that she was to be appointed as our next Governor General. She was not, but, this year, she was placed 4th on the annual Reader’s Digest  most trusted people list. (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1306/S00264/new-zealands-most-trusted-in-2013-revealed.htm)

At the top of the most trusted list is  Sir John Kirwan, former All Black, coach, and depression awareness spokesperson and advocate.  Next comes Willie Apiata, soldier and Victoria Cross winner and, in third place, is  Richie McCaw.  He was the All Black captain who brought home the all important Rugby World Cup in 2011!  At the time, he was akin to the saviour of the nation.  The current Governor General holds the position of the 8th most trusted person in New Zealand, well behind Dame Alison, the cook.

Now, the most trusted list is  not something I take very seriously but I do find it interesting. And it’s fun to compare our list with the Reader’s Digest list for America where the top positions of trust seem to be held by actors and news anchors.( http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/readers-digest-announces-100-most-trusted-people-in-america-206435821.html)  In both countries, politicians occupy lowly places on the list, which makes me wonder, at least in the case of our country, why we vote for them at all,  if we don’t trust them!  In fact, it seems quite nonsensical.

Perhaps we would be  better off if we simply voted, via the likes of Reader’s Digest, for John, Willie, Richie and Alison to lead the country. Under the guidance of these multi talented individuals,  we would most likely be a fitter, healthier country. Alison would see we were well nourished, John would guide us mentally and physically, and Willie and Richie would  help us maintain the  team spirit  to fight the good fight for the nation’s wealth and prosperity. Indeed, with these four trusted leaders in charge,  the governing of our country could become efficient and economical and ‘common sensical’, just like one of Alison’s good, wholesome, everyday recipes. With our improved health and nutrition and fitness, the Ministry of Health would have very little to do; as would the Transport  MInistry, because, with our new-found energy,  we would all be able to walk so much further and faster than we do now. Alison, with her teaching skills and home science degree, could organise the education and budgetary needs of the country; Willie could take care of security and defence, with a little policing thrown in; and Richie, being a lad of the land, could take over all matters agricultural. Lots of politicians and massive Government bureaucracies would be surplus to requirements. What a saving; there would be enough money freed up to provide everyone with a living wage, and a lot else besides.

Joking aside, Sir John, Dame Alison, Willie Apiata and Richie McCaw, and many others at the top of the list, are wonderful examples of fine citizenship. We are lucky to have them. They make a fine mix.

Enjoy your cake.

Photos from these sources:





© silkannthreades

Short Stories



viewed from my window.


Soup of Substance of Substance and Sustenance, Lentils and Spice.

CakeNutty Fruit Cakeeasily made with Fruit and Nuts.

Rain, Soup, Cake; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Like the soup is sticking to my ribs 🙂

Footnote: Recipes for soup and cake in my next post.

© silkannthreades