musings about family…

so today i worked from home. i love working from home when i get the chance; things usually take me half the time as they would at work, the phone rarely goes, and i get to skip out and do some of the boring chores that you hate to waste your weekend with.

today i was working on a grant application that is due in soon, and a new workload model for next year. both tasks which require quiet and time to concentrate – perfect for an at home day. i have to admit that the reason my calendar was free was that i was originally meant to be on leave today, but you can’t win them all!

so on went a few rounds of laundry, and into the oven went some pumpkin and beetroot to prepare for this week’s meals. i also had some extra persimmons so i thought i would have another go at this fabulous persimmon pudding recipe – if only christmas time was now, it would be a great substitute for the traditional christmas pud.

and while my kitchen aid was busy mixing away, i had some time to mull over a few things. when my mum passed away she decided – as someone who loved presents and having the last word – to leave us all a little money to buy something with. my special requests, nothing specific that she wanted – she just wanted us to buy something a little special. i used my money to buy my kitchen aid – tangerine, of course. and i’ve used it so much since, making sausages, and learning how to bake cakes and breads.

i wonder sometimes if it was something my mum would have thought of buying me or whether she would have thought it was too practical?… when she was younger she was always baking – probably more a matter of necessity rather than true pleasure. with a house full of kids, mum’s cakes were always appreciated and requested for special and not-so-special days. but more recently mum had really stopped baking and, well, cooking, in general. with only two in the house, i guess it didn’t seem worth it. so those old recipes and baking skills were rarely dusted off for another go.

as i use my kitchen aid now, i wonder whether my mum would have taken a new interest as i rediscovered some of the classics that she had made? i wonder whether she had a traditional christmas pudding recipe tucked away somewhere, not used from years of legacy puds? i wonder whether she too tried to make bread – and what happened with the experiments. i can almost see her now, marvelling over my very simple achievements – as she was still want to do…

i have to admit to feeling a little like i have lost so many of my family traditions before i even knew them. with my mum and grandmother passing so close together, and my mum passing so quickly and at such a young age. i never had a chance to host a family christmas, be criticised (!) and learn their recipes. i guess i will have to invent new traditions now…

4 Responses to “musings about family…”
  1. Emily Putnam says:

    Hi Katrina

    Food is a great way to remember people. I always think of my Grandma when I make trifle. Although I never got her particular recipe, her trifle was memorable for the potency of about half of it… She had a sloping bench and the liquor (sherry of course) always seeped into one side more than the other – now that was the side to eat! When she asked us what we wanted her to leave us, I requested some recipes – sadly I was too late and she wasn’t well enough by then to record them. C’est la vie.

    I’m sure your mum would have appreciated your puchase of the Kitchenaid… it will last a long time and you’ll continue to create, share and celebrate occassions with it.

    Emily Putnam

    • Lovely thoughts, Emily. Food, and sharing food, is such a special way of creating memories, and you are right – every time I use the kitchenaid I remember my mum, and family events, which were always filled with too much food!

  2. Julie Kerry says:

    Hey Kate – I can remember when I was a kid helping Mum with some baking – scones, rock buns – even butter cookies one time. For the most part I remember this as a fun time and I really learnt a lot – Mum was more of an intuitive cook – mostly I learnt about the feel of things – like the right consistency of the scone dough. I also remember learning her shortcrust pastry and then one time when she made pasties – getting the old hand crank out to mince the meat and the veggies. I also remember that she used to make a fabulous lemon-meringue pie. There were a few times when things didn’t work out that were difficult because Mum could get frustrated with this. I don’t think we ever had any true Christmas traditions. Most of the Christmases I think of as a kid, we always had roast pork with crackling as that was Dad’s favorite and then we started to order rotisserie chickens to go alongside but that changed as time went on. I have Mum’s scone recipe and Grandma’s boiled fruitcake recipe. I may even have a few others. Next time we get together, lets make them!!

    • That’s such a great idea! I remember many weekend mornings when Mum would be baking away, making angel cakes, and other treats. It would be nice to get together and bake a few classic dishes that we used to have as children. I might ask some of our other relatives if they have some of Grandma’s recipes as well, as those would be great. And one year, when you are here, we should even try to get some of Nick’s family’s traditional US recipes and have a go at those 🙂

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