A life inspired by my grandmothers

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Lemon Shortbread

I love Shortbread, in all its forms.  I started to bake it when  I was about 13 for my father as he loved it so much, then it was plain shortbread, now I have a tendency to add other flavours, such as this one with lemons or sometimes in summer I like to add English lavender flower seeds, or sometimes I like to add ground coffee.


Lemons are very plentiful at the moment and my little lemon tree is groaning with the weight of the fruit so I am finding ways to use them in all my cooking.

Lemon Shortbread


  • 200 gm (7oz)butter,
  • ½ cup(4oz) castor sugar,
  • grated rind of 1 lemon (NB lime is nice too, or a mix.)
  • 2 cups (8oz) plain flour sifted,
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut.


Spring flowers

My spring garden

Beat butter and castor sugar and rind till light, Work in flour and coconut, but not over work!  Roll out to 1cm (¼ inch) thick and cut into shapes of your fancy. 
Bake 20 minutes at 160 degrees Celsius , cool on tray.



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Fritters have always been part of our family’s diet.  When Mum got out the chopping board and the remains of the Sunday Roast we knew it was fritter night.  If there was no roast left it was usually vegetables in the fritters, mostly corn, but on frigal nights probably before pay day, it could have simply been potatoes and parsley.
Yesterday I was out in the garden doing my daily check up, when I noticed that the coriander was starting to go to seed, there was still lots of healthy growth, so I picked a handful and brought it in.  I didn’t fancy a curry, but I suddenly remembered Mum using parsley a lot, why not coriander.  They were delish!

Image Take your favourite fritter batter or follow this one.


  • 125g (4oz) s/r flour or plain flour and add 1tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg beaten
  • pinch salt
  • milk
  • handful coriander or a mix of parsley and coriander



Put flour salt and egg in bowl and add a bit of milk, beat till smooth and add herbs. Now add more milk till it is dropping consistency, (the amount depends on how much moisture is on the herbs after washing and drying).

Heat some oil or butter in fry pan (I use a mix as Then the temp doesn’t get too hot.  Add tablespoons of batter and fry till bubbles appear.

Flip them over and cook til the bottoms are brown. Place on oven proof plate and put in a low oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.  Makes 10.

Serve with a side salad of choice.
Next time I make these I might add some corn and perhaps a pinch of cumin and coriander powder or just curry powder.  The variations are limitless.


Anyways, a marvellous way to use up a gut of herbs.

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Gugelhopf Kiwi Style


Gugelhopf Cake

This cake is Alice’s version of her German mother-in-law’s recipe.  My great grandmother originally used yeast and sultanas and currants.  Over the years the fruit varied but a favourite variation was prunes or prunes and dried apricots.  Today, Ive used my favourite, prunes and apricots.


  • 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup chopped pitted prunes
  • cold tea or water
  • 170 grams butter
  • 170 grams sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 225 grams flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 125ml runny yoghurt or milk.


Cover the dried fruit with the cold tea or water leave for a few hours. Drain.
Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy, add eggs  and beat till well mixed if it curdles dont worry. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and yoghurt or milk.  Using yoghurt makes the cake moist.  Finally add the drained fruit.
Mix separately 110 grams brown sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and 1tsp cinnamon.  Place a third of the cake mix in greased 25cm ring tin or Kugelhopf tin,  sprinkle with a third of sugar mix and repeat twice.  Bake  at 170 C for 45 – 60 mins (I find it takes 60 minutes in my Kugelhopf tin) or until a skewer comes out clean.

This cake can be eaten plain or for special ocasions a lemon icing drizzled over it is scrumpious!

Gugelhopf is sometimes called Kugelhopf depends where you are from.  It is originally from the Alsace area but many European countries have a version.  It also can be sweet or savoury. I have made the yeasted version and it is very nice but like a lot of yeast cakes it has to be eaten on the day.  The version above stays moist for quite a while.

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Eltham Slice

Eltham Slice holds a special place in my memories, it was a friend’s grandmother who introduced me to it.  When I was 10 or 11, I went to stay with a family friend on a farm near Eltham in Taranaki for the holidays.  When I went home,  I demanded my Mum make two dishes!  One was this slice,  I don’t know what it is really called but our family called it Eltham slice, we spent quite a bit of time visiting my friend’s grandmother who lived in Eltham and we watched her bake everyday and she always gave us a little package of these slices to take home, but we would stop at the overbridge, get off our bikes and sit down and scoff the lot!  It was the other recipe that make me change from just eating to thinking about how food is cooked.  It was baked apples!  I told my Mum that Carol’s Grans baked apples were much better and please could she cook them that way.  The awakening of a cook?


  • 100 grams (4oz) butter
  • 3/4 cup (6oz) sugar
  • 1tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup (4oz) flour (all-purpose)
  • 4tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 cup desicated coconut
  • 1 cup mixed fruit

Oven 160 C
Line a swallow baking tin (12×8 inches) with baking paper.  Melt butter, sugar and golden syrup and cool, add vanilla and beaten egg.  Beat well, sift flour and baking powder and stir into wet mix with the coconut and mixed fruit.   Spread into tin and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  Stand in tin for 10 minutes.  The slices can then be coated with just icing sugar or you can add a sour cream icing as shown in photo. Slice into bars.

Sour Cream Icing.

Take 1 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar), sift and add sour cream till it is the consistency you desire.  If using  spread on cake and sprinkle heavily with coconut.

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Comfort Food


Flowers from my garden that brighten up a dull day

This week is all about comfort food, great for those days that are damp and dark, or just those busy days when you want to get something ready without too much fuss, but feel sustained.  I know that both my grandmothers cooked these dishes, perhaps without my tweaks.  I was looking at my pile of winter squashes – pumpkins here in NZ and I realised that I had better start using them before they started to spoil.  So I chose the biggest pumpkin, an Italian heirloom variety I obtained from Kings Seeds.  Its flesh is sweet as and nice and dense. 

ImageAs it is raining and miserable outside so I decided to make soup.  To make the meal more special I am going to share a pudding that my Grandmother Phylis always made.  Very yummy and slightly decadent, just the job for a dark day, well any day!

Spicy Pumpkin Soup


This is a variation of the classic Kiwi soup that all New Zealanders are weaned on!  I suppose every family has their variation.  In our family there was always bacon or ham and it was left chunky rather than purreed.  Our family always had a dash of cream or milk added at serving, but that is purely a personal preference.  The spices are my generation’s addition, our grandparents would never have added spices, maybe parsley that’s about it.
800 gm small pumpkin, squash or butternut approx peeled. (TIP put pieces of pumpkin in the microwave for a minute or two and it is so much easier to peel).
200 gm potato peeled.
1 onion sliced.
Half leek sliced.
2 rashers of smoky middle bacon cut into pieces.
Clove garlic crushed.
Vegetable stock cube crumbled, or your favourite stock.
Half teaspoon cumin and 2 teaspoons coriander both ground.
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of milk or cream (optional)
Chilly flakes or grated cheese for garnish

Fry onion and leek in tablespoon of oil, add garlic, then add spices and fry for a minute or so.  Add diced bacon.  Chop pumpkin and potato into small chunks add to pan, stir and then add stock cube and cover with water.
Cook at a slow simmer for twenty minutes, do not overcook as you want the pieces of pumpkin to stay whole.
Thats it.  You can add cream, or a sprinkling of chilly flakes or some grated cheese.
Have with chunky home made bread.

Chocolate and Banana Bread Pudding

ImageThis is the deluxe version!  I loved it whenever Grannie (Phylis) would start gathering all the stale bread and reached into her stash of chocolate.  It meant yummy Posh Bread and Butter Pudding as we called it.  Sometimes, it had banana in it sometimes not. 
These days whenever I want a chocolate fix and and need good ole comfort food, this recipe is what I turn to,  Hardly any work and ready in no time!
It is great as it can be translated into a massive dish for lots of people or a dish for one greedy person or two more restrained diners.  I have given amounts for 2 people (for every two people increase accordingly).
Ingredients – 2 servings
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tbsp sugar
as many choc bits (buttons)
 you can handle
1 small banana (optional)
marg or butter to spread on bread
3 slices stale bread, approx I sometimes use a stale large burger roll, whatever needs using up.  The amount of bread determines how custardy it is.
Beat egg and sugar together and add milk.
Butter bread with choice of spread, (Butter makes the top crunchier)
Put a layer in a greased dish, sprinkle some chocolate bits and slices of banana if using on the bread.  Add the eggy mixture to the level of the layer and then add another layer of bread chocolate etc. Then some more of the egg mix.  Try and do no more than three layers, it would be better to use a shallower dish if you need more layers.  Finally, sprinkle some extra sugar over the top and a few more chocolate bits.  At this stage I usually start heating the oven up as the pudding is better if the bread can absorb some of the egg mix before baking,  but if you are in a hurry it can go into an already heated oven without any serious damage to the finished dish!
Bake in at 160 C for 30 minutes or till well risen and gold and set.