On the 9th February 1949 my grandmother Ngaire wrote in her journal.
‘Another very hot day. There was a sharp earthquake at 5.30 am and Mt Ngaurohe is in eruption. I bottled plums and made jam, and went to choir practice in the evening.’
Ngaire and my my grandfather Gerald lived on an orchard on the outskirts of Christchurch, and it was nearing the end of the stone fruit season. There would have been rows of bottled fruit on the kitchen bench waiting to be put away and maybe a cake cooling on a rack.
Sixty-four years later Christchurch has been changed forever and Ngaire’s red recipe book sits on my kitchen bench here in Melbourne. I’ve taken up bottling and jam making, and am slowly making my way through all the puddings, cakes, biscuits, slices and ‘savoury dishes.’ I’m also working my way through her journals. She wrote every day from January 1st 1948 until the late 1980s, leaving a detailed account of her domestic life — what she cooked, cleaned and made —along with bits of gossip, endless speculation about my mother Caroline’s love interests, and many, many descriptions of weddings. Marriage and food were Ngaire’s consuming passions.
I haven’t got anyone to marry off (well, a 16 year old daughter but I don’t think she’d be very cooperative), so am sticking with the food. I also have a 13 year old son with an extraordinary capacity for puddings, so cooking is quite gratifying. I plan to share some of Ngaire’s journal entries along with her recipies and hope you enjoy them. I’d love to hear what you think.
PS Thank you to my lovely photographer friend Gena Ferguson for the photo. Gena’s based in Melbourne and, little plug, her mobile is 0418 530 124.