366 days of gratitude


Many years ago Alison Holst was advising her radio audience on introducing children to new tastes.

She explained it could take several tries before an unfamiliar flavour found favour with young and not so young taste buds and if you, and they persevered with small samples they’d almost always grow to like them.

She added there were some tastes some people would never come to accept and with a smile in her voice said broccoli was one of those.

I knew what she was talking about. There are some things I’m not going to bother trying to like – oysters for instance. There’s no point wasting on me what is an expensive delicacy for aficionados.

Broccoli on the other hand is a vegetable I learned to like – steamed until it’s al dente and bright green.

Tonight as I wait for dinner to cook I”m grateful for having learned to like broccoli.



Quote of the day


I have always found food and cooking to be wonderfully interesting work and an absorbing hobby, exciting to explore in my own kitchen, and very satisfying to share with others. . .  Dame Alison Holst in the introduction to The Ultimate Collection.


The tatty cover reflects the amount of use the book gets.

This quote was chosen with sadness at the news Alison is suffering from dementia.

Jam weather


Wild weekend weather has brought out my inner domestic:










The jam was made to Alison Holst’s recipe:

Equal weights of fruit and sugar.

Bring fruit to the boil.

Add sugar and stir.

Boil 3 minutes, stirring off and on.

Pour into heated jars.

The biscuits are what my mother called Bo Peeps and her grandchildren call Grandma’s Jam Biscuits:

25og (8oz) butter                     160g (6oz) sugar

1 egg                                       360g (14oz) flour

4 tsp baking powder               1 tsp golden syrup or 1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter & sugar, add egg & syrup or vanilla if using and beat well.

Add flour & baking powder & beat until mixed.

Roll teaspoons of mixture into balls, place on baking tray leaving enough room for them to spread a wee bit.

Make thumb print in centre and fill dent with jam.

Cook moderate oven (180ish?) for about 15 minutes until lightly golden.

Yesterday’s buns . . .


. . .  have been eaten.

All that’s left is this photo:hot x bunsI used an Alison Holst recipe – it was easy to follow and the results were delicious, light and spicy.We shared them with Argentinean visitors who’d never tasted hot cross buns before which makes me wonder if they’re of British or Northern European origin?

Six cakes . . .


. . .  and counting.

Just to show there’s more to my life than politics and blogging, this is the result of something else I’ve been doing in the last few days:


Four cakes were baked over the weekend, another two  on Monday.

Three were given away yesterday, a fourth today and the remaining two have my brother’s name on them so guess what I’ll be doing this weekend too.

They’re Cathedral Window cakes for which I use Alison Holst’s recipe.

Alison Holst’s Complete Cooking Class


Several of the 60 or so recipe books which crowd the shelf in my kitchen are Alison Holst’s.

From the small paper back one for using food processors – a birthday gift nearly three decades ago when kitchen whizzes were new – to the large, hard back Ultimate Collection.

Then there’s her Complete Cooking Class. It’s full of reliable, easy to follow recipes with ingredients which are usually on hand or easy to find.

The tatty cover is testament to the amount of use it gets.

dairy 10007

Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Kaitangata Twitch by Margaret Mahy.

Post 29 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

book month logo green

Scroggin Biscuits



200g butter                      1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar            1 large egg

1/4 cup milk                       1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla            1 cup flour

3 cups rolled oats              1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use hazelnuts)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds      1/2 cup chppoed chocolate

Melt butter.

Stir in sugars and egg.

Dissolve baking soda in milk and add with vanilla.

Add flour, oats berries, nuts, seeds & chocolate.

Put teaspoons of mixture onto baking tray – not too lcose because they spread.

Bake about 10 minutes at 180 C or until golden.

cheese rolls 001


This recipe is my adaptaion of one from my mother. I thought it was one of Alison Holst’s but she gave a  a different recipe  for Scroggin Biscuits on National Radio.

Delia’s NZ lamb promotion prompts storm in roasting pan


British culinary queen Delia Smith is advertising New Zealand lamb on her website: 

New Zealand Lamb is produced in lush pasturelands, where plentiful native grasses, fresh air and unlimited sunshine – over 2000 hours per year – all combine to give New Zealand Lamb great flavour and eating quality. The mild temperate climate also means that livestock can remain outside all year round, feeding on grass pasture without the need for nutrient supplements and, as there’s plenty of space for the animals to roam, they are essentially free range.

Nzlogo4 V Low Res And, naturally, there’s a link between what the sheep eat and the quality of their meat: it’s no surprise that feeding on juicy, nutrient-rich grass makes for meat that is also juicy and packed with flavour and nutritional value.

That sounds good to me but Delia’s getting a roasting from British farmers who reckon she should be promoting their lamb.

One concerned website reader, Lewis Palframan, said: ‘I’m gobsmacked and disappointed.

‘In the age of food miles and carbon footprints – not to mention the need for supporting British farming – what on earth is wrong with our own lamb?’

A spoksman for the National Farmers’ Union said: ‘British lamb is produced to some of the highest welfare standards possible and envied around the world for its quality.

‘We would urge consumers to buy British lamb, local if possible, and look out for the Red Tractor logo and quality standard mark.’

Delia received a CBE for her services to the British food industry. Her promotion of New Zealand lamb would be a bit like Alison Holst telling us to buy imported meat with but of course she wouldn’t do that when our lamb really is the best baa  bar none 🙂

Blokes’ birthdays


Some people have a gift for giving – coming up with original ideas which thrill the recipient.

Alas, I’m not one of those and while I don’t find it easy to come up with the perfect present for the females in my life, it’s even more difficult to find the right thing for the males.

However, a few years ago I was making cakes for a raffle shortly before my older brother’s birthday which reminded me he loves fruit cakes so I made an extra couple for him. They were greeted enthusiastically and that’s what I’ve fallen back on ever since.

I use Alison Holst’s recipe for Cathedral Window Cake, which is mostly dried fruit and nuts held together with a little batter.

The recipe specifies the fruit and nuts but it doesn’t really matter what you use – I usually replace the cherries with cranberries, some of the other nuts with hazlenuts and sometimes add ginger.

The recipe says use one 20cm ring tin but I find the mixture fits in to two tins that size.

When I put them in the oven I put a sheet of lunch paper on top and then newspaper for the first hour or so to allow the inside to cook without the fruit and nuts on top getting overbrowned.

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