This is what I could see from the window when the sun came up this morning.
No sun and no land. All white. But more on that later. First we need to discuss Christmas. As you know I am from New Zealand. Christmas in New Zealand means cold ham, cold roast beef, salads, huge bowls of leafy greens, maybe some roast potatoes and roast kumara. Beetroot jelly. Salmon Mousse. That kind of thing. Every family has a different tradition. My mother was not a traditional kind of person.
I honestly cannot remember a recurring menu. Every year was something different. But never heavy because it was summer and we lived by the beach. And you cannot swim on a full stomach you see. We had to wait an hour after eating to go back to the beach. It was torture. So, though we would have sat down to a lunch at the big table with the good cutlery it would not have been very formal. Funny how I can not remember many Christmas dinners. Mum was sick such a long time I suppose. I remember the food from when she was younger and baked a lot. But she became sick when I was a teenager, so I did most of the cooking after that and neither my father nor my mother had family that came on Christmas day so we were free to have any kind of Christmas food she liked I suppose. Christmas for us was less about the food and more about the beach and new books.
She always made a Christmas cake (too late for me to start one now, it needs to sit for at least a month if not longer,) plum duff (same problem) and trifle, meringues and whipped cream. I can make those.
You do realise that you will have to wear a sunhat don’t you, I said to The Matriarch. This will be a New Zealand dinner. We will be pretending it is summer. Beautiful pacific salads, cold meats and off to the beach in the afternoon! Then our friend Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said I hope you are making a Trifle. Well, I know a challenge when I see one.
Double hit on the trifle!
My Mother’s Trifle was a layered dessert of sponge soaked in sherry, (though when it was made for kids there was no sherry and the sponge was soaked in raspberry jelly instead), custard, fruit, blackcurrant jelly (my mother made tree-tomato jelly!) and whipped cream. So, firstly I need to have a sponge. No it is not called a sponge cake, it is called Sponge. Less of the cake and more of the spongy air. But a sponge takes practice.
So yesterday I dug about in my oldest recipe book and found my old sponge recipe (I won first prize at Napier Intermediate for my sponge when I was 12) but it was about five lines in a weird kind of shorthand that I have long since forgotton, I wonder if Beatrix Potter had the same problem. So I looked it up on the interwebs and mixed and matched and came up with this for you.
Celi’s Sponge from School.
(For the ingredient amounts I referred to this recipe plus the method is very close to what we were taught at school, with pictures as well, so do follow it if you are unfamiliar with how to make a NZ sponge.)
Measure everything carefully.
Beat the egg yolks in a different bowl to the egg whites. If the egg white even smells a yolk it will not whip up fluffilly. (is that a word?)
When you add sugar to the whisked egg whites, go slow, hum to yourself, enjoy.
Sift the flour and cornflour twice, from a height so it drifts down. Then when you add it to the egg mixture, shake it in through a sifter again, little by little, folding it in with a spatula as you go. No machines from now on! Start humming again.
If you have not made a mess you are doing it wrong!
And back to our snow pictures. We had a lovely lot of snow, maybe even four inches, I never can work it out. I had to get out early and take these fast.
Before this guy started plowing the snow out of the way. What is it with men and snow?. It is no sooner settled on to the ground that they are itching to go out and shovel and push and blow and bucket it out of the way.
Mama was fine last night and so I have left her with the others with access to the outside. Kupa was better yesterday too. I am beginning to think that he does not do well in the cold. But he won’t stay in the warm corners either. Everyone does better when it is a little warmer.
Have a lovely day.
Your friend on the farm,