Tag Archives: recipes

Enough’s as good as a feast

After last week’s indulgent  Chess Pie, ‘the cupboard was bare’; or so I thought.

But I was wrong.

Whilst there was no cake,

there was cobbler; a beautiful blueberry one.

Old fashioned Blueberry Cobbler

Old fashioned Blueberry Cobbler

And though no bread could be found, there were biscuits    scones; the rustic, girdle kind.

Rustic girdle scones

Rustic, girdle scones

So from no-thing much, I cobbled together more than enough,

and enough is as good as a feast.

Tuck in.

Enjoy. We did.

Thanks to Sheryl, from A Hundred Years Ago, for the old-fashioned cobbler recipe, and for reminding me of the versatility of a basic dough.

 

And who wants to lick the spoon clean?

Lick the spoon clean, please. Waste not, want not. :)

Lick the spoon clean, please. Waste not, want not. 🙂

© silkannthreades

 

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Southern Delights

Nau mai, haere mai ki te whare o Silkannthreades!  Welcome, welcome to the home of Silkannthreades, in the South Island of Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand . ~

 

Southern Delight…NO!

 

Southern Delight ……YES!

 

The weather has been grim; southerly blasts sweeping up from Antarctica, trying their best to put us in a state of deep freeze. Fortunately, when one’s own south turns bleak, there is always another south to be found.

Case in point is this piece of the southern USA ~ the Chess Pie; not exactly found, but certainly a new discovery for me. I was alerted to its existence by Linda at  The Task at Hand when we were discussing different types of traditional pies.  And, oh my, is this pie good!  I loved making it. I loved eating it!

Here’s one way to make it.

I am fascinated by traditional recipes, so I don’t mind occasionally indulging in copious amounts of sugar and other naughties in the interest of research. However, if you feel a need to cleanse your palate after visually digesting my Chess Pie, I would suggest a visit to Miss Marzipan, who is embracing what may become a new tradition; that of sugar-free living.

I don’t know if Miss Marzipan lives in the south of her current land but she has connections to South Australia, so I am counting her in on my list of Southern Delights. Interestingly, the I Quit Sugar programme she is following is the brain child of Sarah Wilson , another Southerner, who lives in Sydney, Australia. Sarah’s  book I Quit Sugar won the  2014 Australian Book Industry Awards Illustrated Book of the Year which must, surely, qualify it as a Southern Delight, too.

What I also find delightful ( in a chuckling, ex-sugar-mill-town-kid, sort of way ) about Sarah’s success is that she lives in a big, sugar-producing country. Sugar is Australia’s second biggest export crop after wheat, and brings in a total annual revenue of $A 2 billion. I am trying to imagine what we, in New Zealand, would do if one of our number set about an “I Quit Dairy” movement. The scandal might be so great that the author would need to voluntarily deport his/her person to Australia. New Zealand, mainly through Fonterra,  supplies about 30% of the world’s milk exports, with revenue in the billions; closer to 20 than 2.

A delightful, fun fact to show how seriously we take our dairy industry: this little land in the south once had a Margarine Act, which meant no margarine was sold in public in New Zealand from 1908 to 1974. Butter ruled. Margarine  could only be obtained  on a doctor’s prescription, and only if the doctor considered it vital to the patient’s health and well-being.

Haere ra!  Goodbye from here. That’s enough sweet nothings about milk, clouds, and points south.

PS ( Post Sugar) 🙂  For those readers who are unable to eat sugar or don’t wish to, please enjoy the posts of my most southerly Southern Delight, Pauline, The Contented Crafter. She is loving her I Quit Sugar world.

© silkannthreades

Recorded Time

In my previous post, but one, I mentioned that  Sheri de Grom had nominated me to join the Travel Blog. One of the questions she asked me to consider, in relation to the nomination, was this:

“What am I working on at the moment?”

The short answer to that is, nothing much; except what is coming to life, right now, as my fingers touch the keyboard.

I am, however, reading; reading  memoirs,

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

Memoirs of Cairo and Christchurch

and preparing, in my thoughts and heart, a small post to add to my private, family history blog. Perhaps, in a few days hence, the time will be right to commit thoughts to virtual paper. I hope so, for otherwise I will be in danger of forgetting the stories that came to me whilst I sat with the old ones. As  Kerry reminded us the other day;  ‘Write it down, label your family treasures, be a record keeper. Do it now.’

And it is precisely because some people take serious note of advice such as Kerry’s that I am now enjoying two memoirs, written about vastly different countries, by vastly different authors, but having, in common, all the intricacies, complexity and vibrancy of family and family relationships.

The first memoir is Apricots on the Nile, A Memoir with Recipes, by Colette Rossant.

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Apricots on the Nile by Colette Rossant

Colette Rossant’s memoir includes the years she spent, as a child, in the care of her wealthy grandparents and their large extended family, in their mansion in Garden City, Cairo. Although the Egyptian reminiscences relate mainly to the period from  1937 to  1947, the timelessness of Cairo and the equal timelessness of family events  ( deaths, births, weddings, picnics, holidays,  guests, gossip and weddings ) meant that my own experience of Cairo life, in the late 1990s, came flowing through me, again, deep and rich as the Nile itself.

Closer to home, is the memoir Eventful Years, by Sir Ernest Andrews, my great great uncle.

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Eventful Years by Sir Ernest Andrews

Sir Ernest, or Uncle Ernie, as my mother called him, was a Christchurch City Councillor for thirty-two years, and nine of those years he served as Mayor of Christchurch. He began his Council service in 1918 and retired in 1950. During his time in local politics, he witnessed the 1918 Flu Epidemic, the Great Depression, the 1931 Napier Earthquake, the Second World War and the Ballantynes’ fire . Eventful Years covers all these events and more, but what is not specifically mentioned is that, during his tenure as Mayor, he lived  in his daughter and son-in-law’s modest, two bedroom home, with their four children and my mother. Quite a houseful! But my mother loved living in that vibrant,  occasionally  rambunctious, household of young and not so young; helping with the little ones whilst their mother acted as Mayoress for the widowed Sir Ernest.   My mother was still living there when she married; her wedding photos were taken in the beautiful garden of that compact home,

My mother in her happy place.

My mother in her happy place.

her wedding reception was held there, and, even after her marriage, she returned to stay with the family, until my father’s family moved to Christchurch, and she was able to move in  with her husband and her in-laws.  Thus it was in Christchurch in those years. Though very much smaller in scale and wealth, not so very different to a similar period in a large, lively family in Cairo, at least as far as familial ties, and caring and sharing,  were concerned. ( I doubt, however, that my staunch Methodist relatives indulged in poker parties as  the Palacci family  did! 🙂 ).

“So, as I end this stage of the family history, sketchy as of necessity it has had to be, I again place on record what I owe to a long list of brave and honourable forbears, and especially to the example and influence of a good father and a gracious mother.” (Eventful Years, Chapter X )

I would also place on record that the last time I looked, more than a year ago, this special house in our family history was still standing but it was in an area badly affected by the 2010/2011 earthquakes.  I do not know if it remains today.

And, in case you are wondering, this is not the story I am planning for my family history blog. I have quite another in mind. This one is at the periphery of that one to come.

And, again, in case you are wondering why I removed the dust jackets of the memoirs, it is to acknowledge the importance of recording the outer and the inner, the cover and the contents, as can be seen in  The Art of the Dust Jacket;  the latest exhibition organised by our City Council funded Art Gallery in our City Council funded Central Library. ( Can I hear Uncle Ernie’s approval of these initiatives? He was not only a councillor but a  writer, an educator, a printer and a publisher.)

Finally,  for not much reason at all….save that  it is lovely, and is the result of our City Council’s long-standing support of public gardens… a  winter camellia at Mona Vale.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother's happy places.

Like a wedding dress; a camellia at Mona Vale, another of my mother’s happy places.

© silkannthreades


Apple pie and the longest night

June 21st;  the winter solstice; the longest night of the year.

The sun will set tonight at 5.01pm and not rise again till 8.03 am. A long, dark night is ahead. Harsh winter days are ahead, too, but, after this solstice, this time of standing still, the days will lighten and lengthen and provide promises of the warmth to come.

I have been quiet; gathering in the sunshine (when it appears); thinking and reflecting; allocating my physical and mental resources, carefully and sparingly.  I have been reading your blogs, as and when possible, enjoying your stories, your creativity, your company. You filter through my screen, reach out with your words and images, and become the surround sound, the presence, of my silent space, until the phone rings, or the doorbell trills, and my real-time world reminds me where I am.

Where I am….in a kitchen, looking at dishes, waiting on the sunlit bench, to be sent to the dishwasher.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

Dishes standing still, waiting to be washed.

In a kitchen, looking at the dishes, but sensing the sweetly fragrant camellias, at my back, on the sunlit table.

Yet, I am not entirely present, in this kitchen, for at the edges of my mind, I am dwelling in the time of my elders, seated at small kitchen tables, near old coal ranges, delighting in warm winter puddings, or bowls of hot porridge. And I am chuckling that this little girl, my mother’s big sister,

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

Best Apple Pie Maker in New Zealand

grew up to be the winner of a National Apple Pie competition in New Zealand, in the 1950s.  ( Yes, cooking competitions existed before  Masterchef) Who would have guessed it?  She was a star in the making.

My aunt is NOT in this photo but these people are the placegetters in the 1959 Apple Pie Competition. ( The photo of my aunt with her prize-winning pie is lying somewhere deep, and presently undiscoverable, in family files, read junk piles! )

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

Best Apple Pies in New Zealand 1959 Placegetters in apple pie baking contest, holding their winning pies. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1959/2616-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30664376

The darkness is coming; the sun is edging westward in the sky. Is it time to stop the memory clock and make a pie, perhaps?

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE - (Te Ao Hou - No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Winter Puddings for 1957 or 2014 Maori Affairs Department. APPLE PIE – (Te Ao Hou – No. 18 May 1957). Ref: Mao18TeA. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/199657

Or should I light a candle, take up the aged photo albums, and dwell a little longer with the old ones?

The blessings of the Solstices, the still time, to you all.

© silkannthreades

 

“It’s In His Kiss” in my kitchen

Life has been a bit complicated lately. Almost, but not quite, as complicated as life for my*namesake protagonist, Anne, of It’s In His Kiss by Vickie Lester.

It's In His Kiss  (copyrighted image)

It’s In His Kiss
(copyrighted image)

So, like Anne, unable to find  answers to many of my worries, puzzles and questions, I resorted to kitchen therapy….yesterday.

“Anne found her comfort zone in her pajamas, sitting in her **father’s
kitchen watching him make dinner, which on this evening was chopped
grapefruit and oranges and mango, pancakes, and sausage.”

Now, although my Dad is a great cook, being far distant from me, across the Tasman Sea, I, comfortable in my pajamas, had to make my own comfort food… banana, bran and chocolate chip muffins. Not that my Dad would have offered  muffins as comfort food. He would have made a substantial roast dinner. But, hey, we do what we can. And, then, I made a feijoa and  apple crumble.

The feijoas,

remember these,

Feijoas (Pineapple Guavas) 2014 Harvest

Feijoas (Pineapple Guavas) 2014 Harvest

gave a nice sharpness to the sweet apple, and the rich buttery crumble topping.

Comfort Crumble in the Kitchen

Comfort Crumble in the Kitchen

Baking done, I am back to reading  “It’s In His Kiss”; where Anne has been up the creek canyon ( i.e. Beachwood Canyon…it’s real, even if the plot is imaginary ) without a paddle, but with a very fine Ferrari instead. And she has just been given the keys to a very fine house (people in Hollywood are so randomly generous… or are they? The Ferrari already seems like a double edged sword. ) Will the keys open any useful doors?  Will they bring answers or more questions? As Ms Lester says in her book blurb……“Anne Brown must find where the truth lies. Truth. Lies.”  Where does the truth lie? Six feet under? Is there truth in the lies? Does the truth lie? Is there any truth at all?

If you can’t wait to find out,  It’s In His Kiss  is available now at an Amazon near you. Oh, and have a muffin….

Muffins for Sustenance

Muffins for Sustenance

.. for sustenance. It’s In His Kiss is a high energy murder mystery ( with food scenes that will make you hungry…for more ). 😉

* Anne is only my “namesake’ protagonist because I imagine it so. She’s a wonderful character but was not written for me, or about me, or because of me. Just wanted to make that CLEAR.

** Anne’s practical, “business-as-usual”, loving father is Bob; Manny’s  the uncle. So far, Manny seems a trust-worthy guy, except when he’s behind the wheel.

© silkannthreades

Rubens and the Quince..a Retrospective

There are some images which, once imaged on one’s inner eyeball, are almost impossible to erase.  Rather like the earworm, but with eyes.

Take this, for example, which I stumbled upon whilst looking for ways to prepare quince.

“I love the quince’s shape, its generous curves and bulges. It is a voluptuous, even magnificent fruit to look at, like a Rubens bottom.”(Nigel Slater)

Why, yes, Nigel Slater, why yes, I now see that it does, but, sadly, this revelation means  I will never be able to look at a quince in the face again, and certainly not with a straight face, on my own visage. If you would like to see the connection between quinces and Rubens, gaze on these beauties that my forager friend brought me, a few weeks back,

Quinces, faire  and fulsome

Quinces, faire and fulsome, with bay and pear and lemon

Quince, faire and rubenesque

Quince, faire and rubenesque

and, then, check out  the works of Sir Peter Paul Rubens.

Not withstanding the mirthful imagery, Mr Slater did provide an excellent recipe for cooking quinces, first by poaching, then by baking them to persimmon-toned, bejewelled  tenderness. The fresh, delicate, faintly rose like perfume of the quinces filled the kitchen during the slow cooking process. And it made me think how this aroma, so rare for me, and many other modern house-persons,  was, once, long ago, a  more common scent in New Zealand homes.

Poached and baked quinces in Haddon Hall bowl

Poached and baked quinces in  Haddon Hall bowl

 For, even as early as 1820,  the plans for the Kerikeri mission station garden in the North Island of New Zealand contained quince trees.   I wonder if the rubenesque appearance of the fruit crossed the mission’s collective eye . Perhaps they were more interested, as most early settlers were, in the basic food value, rather than the aesthetics, of their garden produce.

George Butler Earp, who wrote  Hand-book for Intending Emigrants to the Southern Settlements of New Zealand, (1851) 3rd ed, W S Orr, London, said of New Zealand gardens  (in 1852) that ” no English garden, however expensively kept up, can for a moment vie with the beauty of a cottagers’ garden in New Zealand in the beauty of its shrubs, to say nothing of the vines, melons, Cape gooseberries, peaches, all English and many tropical fruits, which will grow anywhere in the greatest luxuriance.” (Source: Cottage Gardening in New Zealand by Christine Dann)

I think that Mr Earp’s enthusiastic  ‘anywhere’ may be an overstatement, but, in the beginning  years, settlers had little choice but to make their gardens grow, wherever they found themselves. It was a matter of survival. However, once the  northern hemisphere newcomers had worked hard, and worked out the upside-down growing seasons in  New Zealand, and understood  what grew well, and what didn’t, on their patch of soil, they would have had sufficient fruit to make the jellies and jams and pastes  that they remembered from the old country. (Imagine the excitement of writing home to Mother that you had made your first batch of quince jelly with fruit from your own garden 😉 )

And, if harvests were good, there may have been enough surplus fruit to make  taffety tarts, quince pyes, or apple and quince shortcake.  Or other such scrumptious treats, filled with memories of absent mothers and grandmothers and lands left behind.

Apple shortcake, minus the quince, was a favourite of my young days. For me, it holds the essence of good meals, in the kitchen, and a long tradition of excellence in family baking.   I don’t know if my/our recipe dates back to earlier generations but both my grandmother and great-grandmother were skilled producers of food for the table and pantry. They may well have made shortcake.

Great grandmother circa 1927 working hard on the farm.

Great grandmother circa 1927 working hard on the Harewood farm. I don’t know if she cooked or grew rubenesque quinces but she made a fine parsnip wine, or so I am told.

And, finally, a little more nonsense about the quince…..to counter balance the visual earworm of a Rubens’  posterior, however beautiful it may be.

© silkannthreades

Praise Be

The  swan plant I ordered to replenish my monarch caterpillars’ food supply came yesterday, just in the nick of time. It has been planted,

Praise be for more food

Praise be for more food

and my remaining caterpillars are now busily chomping on their fresh greens. Hopefully, the caterpillars will  have enough food to take them through their fifth  instar and into their chrysalis stage.  Most of them look big enough to be close to their final and complete metamorphosis.

Is this the 5th instar?

Is this the 5th instar?

Whilst the caterpillars are nourishing their bodies in preparation for change, I thought we might do the same. Would you care to indulge?…..

in a taste of the last of summer in this delicious, spicy rhubarb cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

Spicy Rhubarb Cake

or, perhaps, in a little something that speaks of cooler mornings and the colder days to come; a gingerbread cake.

Joy of Baking; Gingerbread Cake

Joy of Baking; Gingerbread Cake

But, if you are wanting a lighter indulgence, may I suggest a serving of the apple, instead of the cake.  Again there are two choices; Cherry Gala apples lightly cooked with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of sugar and a handful of rose petals;

or Royal Gala and Eve  apples , sautéed gently in a sliver of butter and a sprinkle of sugar.

Mmmmm…How was that? Delectable? Are you feeling suitably indulged and ever so glad that we are not limited to one food type like the monarch caterpillar; that we are able to experience so many taste sensations; that we have such variety in our menus.

Praise be to the  butterflies  and bees that make that possible.

~

At 12.51pm today we marked the  third anniversary of the  February 22nd earthquake. At the memorial service in the Botanic Gardens, the Mayor said “Let us unite as we did after the earthquakes. For those of us who have been able to move on, let us reach out to those who are still struggling. .. For those who cannot move on, please do not be afraid to ask for our help… We can get through this together.”

In caterpillar terms, ( because I have this essential life form so much on my mind 😉 ) most of us have made it through the first instar; some of us are almost ready to be butterflies; indeed, may already be  flying freely. Some of us, such as myself, are still  ambling along in the third instar. But there’s no rush. With nourishment and nurture, we will, eventually, be transformed.

( I think I will make a good  butterfly, don’t you?  🙂   Better keep my feet clean, though. Butterflies taste through their ‘feet’! )

© silkannthreades