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Speaker: Dancing with Dingoes, Part II

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  • Ross Mason,

    In the case of cake, less is always less.

    Yes it is. Especially when the knife slips when you get to cut and your sister gets to choose!

    goodeye at xtra

    Wot? You have a bad eye? You're not from Canterbury!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1496 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    There's only 3 kinds of cake I care about:

    1: my mother Mary's trifle (which incorporates her excellent sponge:)
    2:my sister Kate's simnel cake (which she makes about once a decade, and
    3:a truly great Black Forest gateau - which my mother & self trolled round the world for, a couple of decades ago (we never found one that surpassed the James Cook Hotel (Wellington) circa 1978...)

    Other than that - dont care for cake at all.

    But loved the one-legged Aborignal boy & his laughter!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    In 1993 we were in Hampstead, and there was a little cake shop that made an amazing cake called a Lareaux [sp], which was layers of chocolate, almond spongy bit and various other thin layers of flavour, imbibed in some liqueur, which we never quite worked out. We have hunted high and low for something similar, and while Voilà in Sandringham does a number of nice French style cakes, this one was unique. We asked for the recipe at the time, which was received with a hearty laugh and 'Monsieur, that is a secret!'

    Apparently, according to Google, still a very well kept one, but then I could just be spelling it wrong.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Islander,

    Oh, I am so with you. I LOVE trifle. My grandma used to make it every Christmas for our family gathering. It combines all my very favourite things. Custard, cream, tipsy fruit, and CAKE. Fabulous.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    My grandma used to make it for every family gathering, Christmas or not.

    One year she didn't and made something else instead. Fortunately she was gently shown the error of her ways, and never made that mistake again.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2396 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    No class at all, I was practically feral as a child – didn’t come out of the trees until I was fourteen – but plenty of Alice in Wonderland, now that you mention it. I have a pair of antique glass jelly moulds – rabbits – and make fresh fruit jelly – wonderful jelly and Cold Shape recipes in the NZ Colonial Cookery book.

    I find 1950s NZ baking recipes pretty dreadful to be quite honest – there was still a lot of rationing (as NZ was still “England’s Pantry”) so most baked things are gritty, over-sweet, full of dessicated coconut. There were so many things I find essential for cooking that seemed non-existent. I first moved here 22 years ago, and it was hard to find things like cardamom, rose water, good quality cinnamon, cloves, mace or ginger. If you bought any spices, whole grains, seeds or nuts, they were invariably stale beyond use.

    Of course all that’s changed now – but it’s easy to forget how unvaried and stale the food was in NZ not long ago – and this extended to the supermarket shelves. It could be a struggle to find fresh garlic or any kind of lettuce other than iceberg back then.

    Conversely, the NZ cookbook from 1903 has much more complex and varied recipes, and uses a wider range of ingredients. There are ice cream recipes (frozen custard actually, as you make a creme Anglais with your egg yolks) that use 1 quart of sieved berries to 1 pint of cream. That’s my kind of ice cream.

    Jackie – there are so many trifle recipes in the 1903 book you would not believe it – one that uses macaroons on the bottom, 3 egg sponge in the middle and meringues on top (custard, brandy, berries and cream in varying layers). And that is only one of so many different variations on trifle.

    My trifle (the Christmas one anyway) has a vanilla sponge, brandy, ny fresh raspberries as well as sieved, slightly thickened raspberry coulis, a whole egg & skim milk vanilla custard (as opposed to an egg yolk and cream custard) and a yoghurt cream of my own invention. It’s much less rich. I do a banana cream pie that is also much less rich than the original version.

    Interesting about the sweetness and North American cookery. I’ve googled up a few recipes, such as boston baked beans, and included molasses, as required, but found it too sweet. I suspect that I’m one of those people who much prefer savoury.

    I prefer savory food too, come to think of it – but I do love to bake. Cooking and baking are entirely different things. And North American baking has a tradition of using far more fruit, buttermilk, yoghurt, grains and just calling on a far more varied history than English baking, which NZ baking seemed to be – and a ration-induced state of that, too, when I first got here. . It was sad. Bread was a horrible, squashy white thing. Pizza was scone dough with Watties spagetti spinkled with white sugar. Salad was iceberg lettuce with condensed milk. Shudder.

    The Boston Baked Beans you describe are more or less the homemade version of pork and beans Watties sells in a can – and a serving of that has about 30gm of sugar, I believe – very high in sugar – but the real dish is actually French – and is an old standard Haricot Bean and Pork Cassolet. As the French writer Colette once said to Proust when they were both in their teens: “my soul is full of haricot beans and little strips of bacon." The French recipe uses very little sugar, and is at least 400 years old. With haricot beans I prefer a Greek recipe, Fasolatha, which is vegetarian and the recipe is thousands of years old. But if I am making a French cassolet, I invariably make a beef version (which used 1/2 tsp sugar and a good shot of brandy) and takes just hours. We are hardly ever hungry enough for that kind of food these days – that is food for skiiers.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to Islander,

    But loved the one-legged Aborignal boy & his laughter!

    Islander: So did I :) Thank you
    I should have read and responded to this yesterday or earlier today, very sorry for being a lazy so and so. My limp excuse is that we have a fourth teen coming to stay (from Brisbane) tomorrow and a political meeting tonight that I have to go to but would really rather not. Whenever I have something odious to deal with in the pm, the am is invariably spent sweating on the thought of the pm. Used to happen a lot when I was waitressing at night. The whole day would be wasted on worry. And usually one is asked to bring a plate of food. Well, one feels obliged to offer and the offer is invariably taken up. So onion and coriander curry balls with yoghurt and cucumber dip it is. But they don't make themselves.
    Too bad though, I'm having a swim first. It's just so darned hot here in Auckland today! M (the OH) takes the boys to jump off the jetty into Lake Pupuke. I would go too, and do go mostly in Jan and Feb when it's hotter still, but it's becoming more and more of an effort to strip off and tog up.
    But we're near to the beach, so even if the salt water dries out my hair to resemble seaweed fossil, there's nothing like the beach in NZ! The Aussie beaches are too samey, there's very little variation on pristine. I prefer the variation.
    And give me the Pohutakawa over the gum any day. I think the two, distinctively native trees of each country work extremely well for a human or cultural metaphorical comparison between OZ and NZ.
    Sorry for going on. Thanks again for your response. Others seem to like the Aboriginal boy too. He is about 65% 'real'. Much like the rest of us, I suppose.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Andy Warhol was reputedly that way too, though his ideas on cake-making were pretty primitive. Somewhere among his more twee musings he described taking two slices of bread and a piece of chocolate. You placed the “candy” on the bread, then the other slice on top, “and that would be cake”.

    Well, sandwich springs to mind as an alternative to 'cake' to describe Warhol's creation.
    I don't know, I am beginning to think that men really don't get cake. Exception of you Joe, naturally.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Yes it is. Especially when the knife slips when you get to cut and your sister gets to choose!

    Ross: It is a cruel blow indeed for a girl to have a cake addiction and an older brother

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to sally jones,

    M (the OH) takes the boys to jump off the jetty into Lake Pupuke.

    I was brought up in Rangitira Ave in Takkers. At the back of us was Smales quarry land, which comprised the backyards of all the houses on our side of the street. From the back gate, it was a hop skip and jump down through the Crumps to the lake, where we spent many hours. We swam in our swimming pool, but the lake was the site of much eel catching, and wading around, and we even had a pet Muscovy duck that lived on a weeny island between us and the rowing club.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to dyan campbell,

    I have a pair of antique glass jelly moulds – rabbits –

    Real glass ones!
    How those rabbit moulds brightened my golden childhood, even if they were only cheap aluminium knock-offs. Even blancmange* was a treat when it was rabbit-shaped. Our guinea pigs were taught to cease their clamor and "assume the position", crouching expectantly in the pose inspired by the rabbit moulds, before they were fed.

    *There was a woman at Takaka back in the mid-20th century who became something of a tourist attraction by spoon-feeding the local eels. She made quantities of blancmange especially for that purpose. While I'm sure that making the stuff can be raised to a high art, to me it will always be eel food.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3506 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to sally jones,

    I don't know, I am beginning to think that men really don't get cake. Exception of you Joe, naturally.

    Best you be extending that exception before I'm forced to whip out my Blueberry Sour Cream Cake (once blueberry season is in full swing of course - frozen doesn't compare to fresh).

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 841 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    Best you be extending that exception before I’m forced to whip out my Blueberry Sour Cream Cake

    I think in a population of three or four billion we can allow two exceptions.
    But whip away anyhay. Nothing like berry and cream; fresh, of course.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones,

    I was brought up in Rangitira Ave in Takkers. At the back of us was Smales quarry land

    Jackie: Is that quarry the site of the Smales Farm development next to Westlake Girls? When I first moved into the area there used to be cows grazing the grass there and now there are now corporate execs grazing the carpet. Big changes in ten, twelve years? Doesn't seem like much longer than that.

    Did you swim in the lake? Most people think it's grubby from the ducks or dangerous with the weeds reaching up to pull you down like in Harry Potter. We've been swimming there every summer for ten years or so. It's so deep, weeds are certainly not an issue. Where they do grow around the edges it's shallow enough for most children to stand. A guy and a beer bottle did drown off our jetty a couple of years back. But you can't blame the lake for that.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    While I’m sure that making the stuff can be raised to a high art, to me it will always be eel food.

    Joe, it's funny you should mention the eel because you look a bit like an eel. If an eel and a giraffe mated they might produce you. It would be strange if one offspring inherited the giraffe's height and the other the eel's. Have you any offspring? Are they particularly good swimmers?
    Meanwhile, I know nothing about blancmange. I like the word and try to introduce it into as many culinary conversations as possible but other than that, my life tends to carry on without any reference to the comings and goings of blancmange at all.
    Although now that I think of it there is that famous literary blancmange in KM's Daughters of the Late Colonel. It gets a terrible state of the jitters in the presence of the two daughters arguing with the maid (I think). That was a very funny blancmange, if it was blancmange.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to sally jones,

    If an eel and a giraffe mated they might produce you.

    It’s the Groke. There’s even a mug now, but still no blancmange mould as far as I’m aware.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3506 posts Report Reply

  • sally jones, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    It’s the Groke.

    So it is Joe. Nothing at all like a giraffe/eel cross. More penguin and toad. But she is a she. Et tu?

    Auckland • Since Sep 2010 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to sally jones,

    that was Smale's land, Sally, but the quarry was actually across Taharoto Rd on the other side. They owned all that land between there, and the Rowing Club. There was an old quarry too off to the side of the rowing club that was filled with water. Old cars and all sorts down there, so we were never allowed to swim down there. We did used to swim in the lake, but more out in the middle. Away from nipping eels and choking weeds.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Here's where I was brought up. If you zoom in, there's a tract of land between Northcote Rd and Rangitira Ave. That was Smale's.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to sally jones,

    But she is a she. Et tu?

    Externally, definitely not.

    Jackie:

    we even had a pet Muscovy duck

    Mine was only half Muscovy, half regular duck. He gave voice with a sort of hissy quack. Like a mule he was sadly sterile, which was why we got him for free. Lived with us for years until he perished of old age. Given to chasing cats and my younger siblings.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3506 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Although now that I think of it there is that famous literary blancmange in KM’s Daughters of the Late Colonel. It gets a terrible state of the jitters in the presence of the two daughters arguing with the maid

    Yes, I remember that blancmange, quivering. But the sisters weren't arguing with Kate, they were old tabbies terrified of Kate the bad tempered young maid, afraid to ask for jam. Or tea. Or hot water. Fear of Kate looms large in the story, considering she is help, and their father just died.

    There are very famous literary meringues in that story as well. My sister Shirl & I used to sit and read it to each other howling with laughter. Poor Cyril, desperate to escape a conversation with his grandfather, Colonel Pinner always used to reduce us to hysterics.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Real glass ones!
    How those rabbit moulds brightened my golden childhood, even if they were only cheap aluminium knock-offs. Even blancmange* was a treat when it was rabbit-shaped. Our guinea pigs were taught to cease their clamor and “assume the position”, crouching expectantly in the pose inspired by the rabbit moulds, before they were fed.

    I had wanted them for years, having seen the jellies they make in The Innocents the wonderful 1961 adaptation of The Turn of the Screw. I’d been searching for literally years, and then I found first one at an antique shop (and paid I forget what, but more than I wanted to) and promptly found the matching one only days later in a junk shop for $3.00.

    But kids’ reaction to the jellies they make are rapturous, and the heads are always eaten last and with many expressions of regret. Remorse even.

    How did you train your guinea pigs to do anything? The guinea pig I knew didn’t do much except go into hysterics of joy if given Romaine (Cos) lettuce. She would sit and chew stolidly through all sorts of things, but only Romaine lettuce sent her into “whoop whoop” hysterics. Joe, your menagerie sounds like my house when I was a kid. My Mum always used to tell us we couldn’t bring home every animal we found, but she turned out to be wrong.

    Blancmange – Cold Shape – everyone likes it better when they call it Panna Cotta.

    Islander – I’ve never made Simmel Cake, but sure enough, the Colonial Cookery book has a recipe – it sounds delicious a pale fruitcake with a thin layer of jam under the marzipan topping. Lovely. If we ever meet and I have enough notice, I will try my hand at one for you.

    My friend Aja’s Mum, who was Latvian but grew up in Germany (and saw Adolph Hitler speak, when she was 8) made the very best Black Forest Gateau I have ever… she even made her own preserved cherries, which had to be of a specific subspecies of some variety…. Aja’s Mum’s cake was the stuff of legendI have the recipe somewhere but have never attempted it.

    The slightly strange textured almond cake someone described may be either a crepe cake or a choux pastry cake – you can combine either of those with layers of sponge cake and and/or combination of: custard/mousse/ganache/creme fraiche/cream cheese/fresh marzipan (wonderful just made) to great effect.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I MAKE MY OWN VANILLA.

    I should share the recipe here - and I was driven to this because good vanilla is sooo expensive - you take a bottle of vodka (or bourbon or other spirits if you wish) and put split vanilla pods in it. That's it - (I put about 6 or 8 - split up the sides). Replace cap. Wait.

    Six or eight weeks will go by and the vodka will only be pale amber, and you'll think you've wasted both vodka and vanilla pods. Wait another 3 months, voila, it finally starts to turn dark (it never goes quite as dark as the store-bought stuff) but it makes the best vanilla you've ever tasted. You can decant it by the small bottle full, and top it up with more vodka. I usually get 2 bottles of spirits worth of vanilla out of 6 - 8 pods.

    The vanilla pods, after spending a year or more in vodka can either be used as if they had never been used or just chucked into granulated sugar and sealed for a few weeks to make vanilla sugar.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to dyan campbell,

    How did you train your guinea pigs to do anything?

    As the family doctor noted one day while paying his respects to the g. pigs on his way out, "When you're that little, you just have to eat." Especially when you're the world's smallest grazing animal and you're about 40% stomach. Such a configuration means that any intellectual development must be food-related, but once the smart one got it, the others quickly picked up the trick.

    They're no intellectual giants, but in my humble experience their emotions are pretty much the same as ours. I've heard plenty about how tasty they are, but having known a few personally, I'll happily pass.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3506 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I loved our Muscovy duck - we didn't take her home with us. We'd just go and visit her every day and spend time with her. I don't even remember her name, and I can't even remember whether she just wandered off one day, or died. Horrendous human I am.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

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