Monday, May 24, 2010

Modesty & Humble Pie

I admire modesty. My mother has modeled it to me (without even realising it) and the older I get the more I appreciate it. Recently we spent a night with my parents. For dessert my Mum whipped up an apple pie - from scratch that is - she made her own pastry. I watched as she did the deed - impressed with her skill and the apparent ease with which the whole deal came together. But hey the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I tell you what this 'humble apple pie' was just gorgeous - the pastry so light and 'melt in your mouth' - a delightful end to a family meal shared together!! I think there is something really special about ya Mum's home cooking even long after you have left home and cooked for years for your own little family!

I think the character trait of modesty is a bit like my Mum's apple pie - it takes years of pastry making experience to make beautiful, light pastry like my Mum makes and so it takes time and practice to develop this godly quality of modesty. An apple pie is a humble, ordinary dessert - not flashy - just like modesty - a subtle, unsung character quality rarely celebrated but when you experience it or come across it it is a beautiful thing to behold! A valuable and rare treasure in a world that constantly tells us to 'put ourselves out there' and 'you deserve it' etc.

I am glad my Mum is a modest person and has set a great example for the girls in our family to follow. I also love her apple pie and hope that with time and practice I might be able to make apple pie like her one day too!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mellow Yellow

Yellow is a colour I appreciate but never wear. I doesn't suit me so well. A pale, banana yellow without much warmth is OK like the 'shift frock' that I wore and loved when I was about 10 years old. It was embroidered over it's full length in silky thread. I think I liked it cause it was a bit grown-up.
I really like this yellow bach we saw near Houhora when we were holidaying up north. I like the way they have modernized it and yet at the same time maintained something of it's old-school, classic kiwi-bach look.
There is no other colour quite like yellow - bananas, banana bike lollies, sunshine., sweetcorn... Back in the days when pink was for girls and blue was for boys, yellow was considered a 'safe' colour to knit for an expected baby because you wouldn't know if it was going to be a boy or a girl. Of course these days those things don't matter at all.

Yellow is cheery, heartwarming and bright. I like this yellow tea pot from my Nana's precious, old tea set. I like yellow sunflowers - partly because they always remind me of my special Fiji friend - Keresi.

Today I'm feeling all mellow and appreciating yellow....
What yellow things do you like?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Can't Resist!

If I am in a second hand shop I simply can't resist grabbing any old books I see - you know the 'classics' - titles we all know from 'back in the days'. I do fancy myself reading some of the titles to our grandkids one day and expect that they will be extra special because they are from another time with loads of charm and brilliant with extensive vocabulary. We shall see - however meantime I just like them because they are old and precious and delicately constructed with old style illustrations - and they remind me of books that were sat on our bookshelves when I was a child.

The other thing I like to do is to borrow old books from our local Library - often they have to search for them on the National Library web and bring them in from afar. Like one I am reading at the moment - 'Greenbanks' by Dorothy Whipple. The first edition was published in 1932! I first read of Dorothy Whipple's books on Jane Brocket's website YARNSTORM. One thing's for sure - they are rich with vocabulary and the character development is fabulous! She is an author with a real insight into people and how they think and behave. Last night I laughed out loud as I read her book! People are so interesting - and people who observe people and express that in an amusing way are even MORE interesting!

When we were on holiday up in Northland I did my usual scavenge in local second hand shops and was rewarded with a dear little Oxford illustrated Bible - hardly used which is normally a good thing when you are talking second hand but in this case it made me feel a little sad. A shame that some of the best stuff ever written has not been devoured by the previous owner! Maybe something like this - 'immaculate condition, one careful lady owner, kept on the shelf for special occasions only'.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feijoas & Faithful Friends

My friend's handwriting is very distinctive. It hasn't changed much since we were at school together. When I see her hand-written recipe for Feijoa Cake it reminds me of a long and faithfully kept friendship. One that has a history (we met when we were 6 years old) and one that has weathered lots of ups and downs and still remains comfortable and solid.

Other friendships are short and sweet - only for a season. Just like Feijoa's - here for a short time, usually in great abundance and then gone again. I like to make the most of them while they're around. They are yum in porridge, in a smoothie or just eaten 'a la naturale' scooped out with a spoon! Since they coincide with Passion-fruit I like to put that in the icing. It's a great combination for a seasonal delight! The wee tea-tray-cloth has been hand embroidered by my Mum!

Bronny's Feijoa Cake

175 gms butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs (size 7)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 & 1/4 cups coconut
6 large feijoas mashed

Lightly grease 23 cm cake tin. Preheat oven 180 deg C.
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time. Sift flour with baking powder and fold in alternatively with milk. Fold in feijoas and coconut. Pour into prepared tin. Bake 45 - 50 minutes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fabulous Figs

While away on holiday we had a night with some good friends which was a fabulous finale to our Northland sojourn! One of their boys whipped up a delicious dessert - fried custard - dusted in icing sugar which we ate in a communal fashion as each new batch came off the pan. It's a real blessing to have friends who are food and coffee freaks!
Then they us told about the local figs and gave us one of their recently preserved beauties to sample - VERY tasty!!!! Sweet and rich and textural... mmm. They kindly gave us a jar to take home. We enjoyed sharing it with our kids at family dinner - one fig teetering atop a scoop of French Vanilla ice-cream was a dreamy end to our meal! Some clearly found it more dreamy than others!

While with our friends on the farm we were treated to a trip on the four-wheeler farm bike down the farm to the Fig trees.. the heritage trees are positively ANCIENT, gnarly, old specimens dating back to the days of the early European settlers. Possibly part of the first trades between Maori and the early European's. They are well established at the base of a historical Maori Pa site. We navigated our way around two beefy, beasties grazing nearby and VERY hot electric fences to pick some fresh figs to take home and have a go at preserving our own.

My Darling Man also gently lifted a couple of seedlings hoping to get them to grow in our part of the world... share the heritage fruit tree love! So far they are looking perky enough but we will have to look out for them when the frosts come along!

Annabel Langbein's Preserved Figs.

For 6 kg figs.
In a large pot, heat together - 1 1/2 litres water, 3 kg sugar, 300 mls malt vinegar, 100gms sliced, preserved ginger (crystallized) and three lemons halved and thinly sliced. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add figs and simmer gently for 2 hrs. Bottle in sterilized jars.
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