Happy Birthday Caroline

From Ngaire’s journal, 4th February

My mother Caroline with her father Gerald and Grandfather Henry Mottram(top left), with Ngaire (top right) and celebrating her birthday with friends at the orchard (second from left, back row).

Carol’s 11th birthday.  A party was out of the question on account of the Infantile Paralysis epidemic.

Caroline’s 18th birthday. We gave her a Glory Box.

Carol’s 21st birthday. We were busy all day preparing for the party. Phyllis came in the morning and I don’t know what we would have done without her help. She made the fruit punch and the fruit salad and did other things.
Cain’s caterers did the supper which included sandwiches, savouries, cakes and Pavlovas, and it was delicious.


Mottram family party, 1950s

Mottram family party, 1950s

Happy Birthday Mum!

For those of you with a crowd to entertain, here are Ngaire’s quantities for Fruit Punch.
Keep in mind that these quantities are based on very lady-like 30z servings — she may have used Champagne saucers or even small tea cups.

Ngaire’s Fruit Punch for a party

Number of servings*:




Cold tea

8 cups

4 cups

2 cups


900 gms

450 gms

225 gms

Pineapple juice

4 cups

2 cups

1 cup

Lemon juice

4 cups

2 cups

1 cup

Orange juice

4 cups

2 cups

1 cup

Grapefruit juice

4 cups

2 cups

1 cup

Lemons for garnish




Also need mint for garnish.
*Based on delicate 3 oz (85 ml) servings.

On the Sauce

From Ngaire’s journal, 13th April 1955
This afternoon I drove Carol to Kaiapoi and we bought 10 dozen small bottles of soft drink for the dance next Saturday week.  They are 6/- per dozen less 3/- when the empties are returned. I went to Choir Practice this evening.”

Morning tea Stafford Orchard 1965

Morning tea Stafford Orchard 1965

I remember going to the Kaiapoi lemonade works with my grandparents as a child; on visits to Christchurch it was one of the first stops.  ‘Fizzy drinks’ were a special treat in our house, so being allowed to select a mixed dozen was beyond exciting.
I still associate lemonade with morning tea at the orchard, sitting outside the packing shed in the sun, or on the front veranda of the house.

Bottles of sauceIf lemonade still came in glass bottles I could have used them for the sauce we made today. My thirteen year old has been wanting to make sauce ever since we stayed with our friends Ashley and Chris in Canberra last year. They make a fabulous batch every year, and the bottle we brought home with us lasted no time at all.

Sauce making


There are two recipes for tomato sauce in Ngaire’s book – one from Mrs Shasky (a neighbour in Prestons Road), and the other from Auntie Phyllis.  We went with Auntie Phyllis of course, but I reduced the amount of vinegar and added  garlic and ginger root as recommended by Mrs Shasky. Max chopped all the tomatoes,  operated the Mouli and tasted the brew at very regular intervals!

We were a bit worried about the acidity at one point but, thanks to some quick Googling, managed to correct it by adding a grated carrot and baking soda. We’re very chuffed with the result – what’s the point in homemade if you can’t brag about it.

Tomato Sauce (Auntie Phyllis with a little help from Mrs Shasky)

12 lbs (5.4 kg) tomatoes, 6 big onions, 6 big apples, 3 lbs sugar (1.4 kg), 4 oz (115 gms)  salt, pickling spices (tied in netting), 1/4 gallon malt vinegar (1100 mls), 1 large carrot (grated) 4 cloves garlic, large piece of ginger root, 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour, 1 heaped tablespoon curry powder.

Tomato sauce recipesPeel and core the apples then roughly chop along with the tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger. Put in a large saucepan with the pickling spices, sugar, salt and vinegar (reserve about 1/2 cup for later).  Boil for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring from time to time. Add the grated carrot towards the end of the cooking time.

To thicken, make a paste with the cornflour, curry powder and reserved vinegar. Mix in some of the hot liquid then gradually stir the mixture into the sauce.  Bring back to the boil, stirring constantly.  Turn off and allow to cool.

When cool, put through a Mouli and bottle.

Note: If you’re concerned about the acidity, adding Baking Soda will help.  Add 1 teaspoon at a time, checking the taste as you go. Boiling the mixture for too long will increase the acidity.

Another note: I’m wondering if the works at Kaiapoi was Alexander and Co. Would love to hear from someone on this. M

Over the Edge

Letter from Ngaire on board RMS Rangitane II en route to England, 4th June 1958
As you know, we are not very narrow-minded, but the drinking on this ship is over the edge.’

It’s true: Ngaire wasn’t very narrow-minded, but she did have very firm ideas, particularly in regard to how people ought to behave. I’m not sure what prompted this particular observation but perhaps, as a teetotalling Methodist lady, she was beginning to find all the dinners, parties and pirates a bit too much…

31st May
This evening was the Fancy Dress ball. I went with a group of seven ‘girls’ who were captured by a pirate, the pirate being a Mr. Clinton who has a black bushy beard turning grey.’

While Ngaire didn’t drink, she did like to Do Things Properly, which must be why she had this clipping in her recipe book.

I’ve had cider on my mind today. Not how to serve it (in any sort of pretty glass I think or, if someone insisted on giving you one for your 21st, a hideous pewter mug) but how to make it.

Mum and Dad have picked the rest of a bumper crop of Fuji apples at their farm but unfortunately they’ve been affected by Black Spot this year (the apples, not my parents as far as I know). We’ll still stew and freeze some, but there’ll be a lot left over so tomorrow I’m going out in search of a cider press.

All advice on cider-making gratefully received!

(Postcard from the Rangitane found at ssmaritime.com)