Friday, April 25, 2014


25th April is the day we remember those who gave their lives in war.  Ninety nine years ago the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps fought for freedom at Gallipoli; many lost their lives; many came home changed men. 
World War 11 [1939 - 1945] followed, more death and despair, the Korean War [1950 - 1953], the Vietnam War 1962 - 1975], and now the Afghanistan conflict [2001 - ] continue to take the lives of young men, leaving widows and fatherless children to lead some semblance of a normal life.  Some, too many, who come home are so seriously affected they can no longer face life; truly a great sadness.
Women left at home attempt to bring some normality to their loved ones serving abroad, and  in World War 1 a recipe for a 'good keeper' sweet treat was concocted.  The result ... Anzac biscuits, that are a firm favourite with the home-maker who bakes not only around ANZAC Day, but throughout the year.
Not having an oven I buy biscuits.  Last year ANZAC biscuits were sold in a tin; and this year I found two different tins full of these chewy biscuits in the supermarket.  I bought one which will be used as is it's last year companion, as a storage container for sweet treats.
ANZAC biscuits
120 g butter
1 tblsp golden syrup
1 cup desiccated coconut
pinch salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
2 tblsp boiling water
Sift flour and salt.  Melt butter and golden syrup on stove, dissolve baking soda in boiling water.  Mix all ingredients together, roll into balls and place on tray lined with baking paper leaving room to spread.  Bake in moderate oven 350° F 15 minutes or until golden.  Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


We often hear it said 'He is a person of letters' meaning he is of an intellectual persuasion. 
But ... there are those other people of letters who literally write letters regularly, to family, to friends, to acquaintances, letters of complaint, thank you letters, and letters of apology.  To me folk who put pen to paper, or in the modern idiom, fingers on keyboard and print out [which is eminently more readable in many cases] are the true people of letters.
Sadly people of letters are becoming a rarer breed.  Although the Internet offers several ways of communication much is fly-by-night; fluffy and following the thoughts of the millions of that moment.  Some, thankfully, is interesting and well worth sitting down to read and appreciate.
As a child I liked to write letters; more importantly I loved to receive letters, and it soon became evident that to receive a letter one had to first write one, or at least reply.  Aunts and Uncles became my main targets as they were as thrilled to receive my scribbles as I was to receive their replies.    Thus a lifetime of letter writing was nurtured.
When my parents departed this world I took it upon myself to become the 'family correspondent'; after all my only brother had left pen and paper behind upon completing his school days, though [said in a whisper] when he was courting he did write letters.  Those letters were composed at the kitchen table with a lot of input from myself and our parents.  To this day I am sure the recipient was not aware of how public his letters were. 
Elderly relatives died and my list of correspondents faltered.
Then I discovered pen-pals!  People from across the ocean wishing to correspond with folk of like minds.  By this stage a portable typewriter became my main tool of keeping in touch, and on a Saturday afternoon with the children either in bed, or at the swimming pool, and husband occupied in his shed, or in the garden, the kitchen table took on the appearance of an office.  The number of pen-pals altered as other activities captured their attention more than writing. 
Many of those letters had small booklets enclosed and these little treasures held the names and addresses of other pen-pals wanting to increase their circle of friends.  Fun!  Did I want a pal in this particular country or would I prefer one there?  All the time the cost of stamps was kept forefront; after all the grocery money had to be adjusted to fit in overseas postage.
Letters passed to and fro; photos of children; snippets of a life lived in another country added to the tapestry of my life.
Time marches on; the Internet arrived, and slowly, one by one many of those letter writers fell by the wayside and emails were exchanged.  Emails that were jokes, or fripperies; not letters that could be read and re-read.
But, some of us keep up the old tradition of letter writing [or letter typing and printing out, complete with photos] and today I have just written two such letters.  Page upon page of what I hope the recipient at the other end will find interesting. 
I do wonder how, in say 100 years, people will communicate?  Will mail be delivered into mailboxes?  Will pen and paper, or typewriter and printer be  normal, or will everyone send a text ... minus the vowels?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Old is new is old

Most mornings I read the free on-line headlines in the newspaper that was once my daily newspaper, The Otago Daily Times, as I like to keep up with what is happening 'at home'.
This morning's smaller headline spread a smile on my face.  From the article I gleaned that knitting is making a comeback in Otago where I hasten to add, wool is the most suitable fibre for winter wear.  In my 'mother' days I knitted; kept five children in knitted jerseys, and when the need arose knitted for myself and my husband.  Knitting was what I did at night with one eye on the television; knitting occupied any spare moment during the day, and a wool shop was a goldmine. 
Upon my departure to Australia and needing to keep the number of 'things' I brought with me, taking into account where I might live and how much space I may have, and just how much of my decades of accumulation were important enough to transport. High on the list, in fact very high on my list, were knitting needles. 
 Over the years my collection of knitting needles had grown ... bamboo ones [wasn't too keen on them as the action of knitting split the bamboo leaving me feeling as though I had swallowed a fly]; plastic needles that bent like palm trees in a storm, steel needles that pierced the eardrums as they click-clacked against each other.  My Mother did not like knitting, though she did through necessity; her reason being the click clack, click clack.  My favourite needles were, and still are, plastic coated steel lined.  Soft gentle click clacking, and they come in pretty colours.
I have a collection of knitting wool that needs getting into ... unfortunately the temperature in Australia is much warmer than South Otago and the need for woollen garments less.  I do still knit, mainly for new arrivals though a cardigan half completed in a bag will be finished and worn ... next year perhaps?
 The newspaper article reminded me of the hours I had spent knitting as I pondered upon the thought that knitting is almost a pastime of the past.  Perhaps knitting will show a resurgence, and once again women will pick up the needles, knit something they can wear, and feel rather pleased with the result.
Oh ... it isn't just women who knit.  My bachelor uncle who was a keen cricketer and bowler [indoor and out] knitted jumpers for the cooler days when he played sport.  It was he who showed me a great way to cast on, a method I use to this day.

Deep down I hope knitting, and other skills from last century, will once again be taken up, and fashion is once again dictated by those who put time and effort and their own particular stamp on a design.