Ghosts In My Kitchen

“If God had intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.”
~ Linda Henley

 

I made soup yesterday.

It was a simple soup. A humble soup.

It needed to be. I was so sore. So tired. Fevered. But dinner had to be made, and I wasn’t going to eat junk. Or toast again.

I wanted soup.

My hands were automatic. They cut vegetables. They stirred. They lifted the spoon to my mouth so I could taste the seasoning.

A pinch of this.

A sprinkle of that.

Then all left to simmer for a few hours while I lay down to rest again.

Suddenly I was transported back to Nana’s kitchen. This was her recipe. I made it with her so many times. It was nothing that could be written down. Only instructions that could be remembered. That were passed from her mother’s hands to her hands. And then to mine.

Where had it come from before that?

My great-great grandmother, probably.

I found such comfort in that idea. All of those caring hands, all of that wisdom passed one to another in the practical ways of true nurture. I could feel Nana’s hands guiding mine as though I were a tiny child again, back in the days when I would stand on an upturned crate to reach her kitchen bench.

I felt wrapped in the blanket of my Nana’s love. I tasted love in every spoonful of soup.

It restored me to myself, somehow.

And then I slept, long and well.

That kind of food has its own kind of healing magic.

homemade soup

Nana’s Passionfruit Slice Recipe

2013-04-29 19.31.42

“Cooking is not about being the best or most perfect cook, but rather it is about sharing the table with family and friends.”  ~ Skye Gyngell, My Favorite Ingredients

This is an old recipe that my Nana copied out from her friend Dulcie, after a successful ‘War Wives Luncheon’ during World War Two. At least that was the memorable annotation she jotted at the bottom of the piece of paper the recipe is written on.  As a child I would ask Nana over and over to tell me about that Luncheon in Sydney, and she would remind me how hard it was to make tasty food with all of the rationing and restrictions. Dulcie’s slice had been a real winner.

As a child I painstakingly copied the same recipe into the Family Recipe Book.  Each time I make this I think of my Nana and her friends, sitting drinking cups of tea, eating slice and chatting during the long days of the War, with the rations and limitations and hardships.

There’s a lot of comfort to be had in a cup of tea and a slice.

tea in front of the fire

Base Ingredients:

1 x cup of self raising flour (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1 x cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup of  sugar, 1/2 cup (4 oz or 125 grams) melted butter, finely grated zest of one lemon.

*Note –  If you’re gluten intolerant, this works fine with a commercial gluten-free flour mix.

Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a 28cm x 18cm (7 inch by 11 inch) slice tin with some baking paper.

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then mix through the melted butter.  The mixture should be moist and crumbly.

Press the base into the tin, being careful not to press down too heavily. (If you compact the base too much it becomes very hard to cut after it has cooked.)

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden.

Remove from oven and cool completely. (This step is essential!)

2013-04-29 10.57.57

Topping:

1 x 395g can of sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice, pulp of 3 passionfruit.

Heat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit), and then just before you pop the slice back in, knock the temperature back to 140 degrees for your fan forced oven or equivalent.

passfruits

Whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice and passionfruit pulp together.  The mixture will thicken from the acidity of the lemon juice. At this stage you should taste it… (Okay, I made that bit up, but who can resist?)

Pour the passionfruit topping over the biscuit base and smooth over until you have a good coverage.

2013-04-29 15.07.03

Bake in the slow oven for twenty minutes. The topping should be firm to your touch, and pale golden.

Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in refrigerator in a hot climate, or if you are not eating this all in one day.  To serve, cut into small squares.

2013-04-29 19.30.57

Easy Lemon Slice Recipe

2013-04-16 15.30.59

“There are times when wisdom cannot be found in the chambers of parliament or the halls of academia but at the unpretentious setting of the kitchen table.” 
~ E.A. Bucchianeri

As promised, here is the first recipe in my ‘Slice Extravaganza’ series – the brainchild of my mother, who must be acknowledge for her great generosity in lending me the Family Recipe Book from which this recipe is taken. Thanks, Mum!

This is a delightful slice – a crispy, crunchy but delicate base with a tangy lemon topping.  Perfect with a morning coffee or an afternoon cup of tea.

It’s also a confidence-building recipe for kitchen beginners and young cooks.

Base Ingredients:

1 x cup of self raising flour (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1 x cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup of lightly packed soft brown sugar, 1/2 cup (4 oz or 125 grams) melted butter

*Note – for vegans, use a vegetable butter substitute.  If you’re gluten intolerant, this works fine with a commercial gluten-free flour mix.

Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Line a 28cm x 18cm (9 inch by 13 inch) slice tin with some baking paper.

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then mix through the melted butter.  The mixture should be moist and crumbly.

base mixture

Press the mixture lightly into the tin. DO NOT PRESS DOWN HEAVILY!

base pressed into tin

Place your slice into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the top is a nice golden brown colour.

Lemon Icing Ingredients: (Frosting for you USA folk!)

1 and 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar mixture (confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar),1 x tablespoon of soft butter, finely grated zest of one lemon, 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.  Additional coconut to sprinkle on top. (Shredded coconut is lovely for this!)

Method:

Mix the ingredients together with enough of the lemon juice to make a smooth, creamy consistency.

Spread the icing mixture over the slice while it is still warm. Sprinkle coconut over the warm icing and leave to cool in tin. DO resist cutting before it cools, or you will end up with a crumbly mess!

Dollop of icing

2013-04-16 14.14.20

Cut into squares to serve, and store in an airtight container.  I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s delicious!

ready to eat baking

Getting My Hands on My Inheritance!

2013-03-18 09.22.47

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

In a quiet corner of an organic cafe somewhere in Brisbane yesterday, history was made.

My mother (that’s her hands in the top of the picture above – like me she’s quite camera shy!) finally lent me the precious Family Recipe Book. Several times she stated in front of my sister and I (quite loudly I might add…) that it was only a loan, to facilitate the idea she had for a post for my blog based upon the comfort to be had by making and eating slices.

And in the grandest of gestures she actually let me take the tatty old exercise book – stuffed full of hand-written recipes, magazine clippings and scribblings on the backs of envelopes – home to the farm with me so that I may transcribe the wisdoms within its pages into a book of my own.

2013-03-18 09.18.09

I was made to promise, PROMISE, that I wouldn’t share some of the most secret recipes with you, my Bloggerverse friends. And I wouldn’t, Mum, honest.  Not with my grandmother peering down from Heaven in her imperious way. Goodness, some things – like the Heavenly Tart Recipe – are sacred.

But I am excited.  There is so much good stuff between the pages of this book that I’ve grown up with and added to over the past few decades.  My family history, and my inheritance, is the stories and recipes and memories contained here.

I look forward to sharing some of my family’s legacy with you.  And I’ll start later this week with a post dedicated to Slices, for my Mum, whose idea it was.  Just so we are clear about that…

It was Mum’s idea!  Did everyone get that? Good.

2012-02-09 10.30.39

2012-02-09 10.30.332012-04-22 11.29.01-1

2012-02-09 10.30.15