Those words remind me so much of my Nana, Joyce Harrison born in 1922 she lived through too many "stormy" times. Not least did she relay the stories about how lucky she felt to bake, as during the depression she was denied of that pleasure due to the shortage of ingredients. I reflect on our impatience these days as I hear her voice sharing how hard it was to wait five years for her fiancee, Dudley and my Poppa to come home so they could get married. They were engaged prior to WWII, it was a long and patient wait for true love.
She used to refer to me as her "Wee Mandy" and would have tins filled with baking in her well stocked pantry. My favourites were her sultana cake and Chinese chew. She'd be offended if you didn't have at least three treats with your cup of tea and on finishing one treat she would immediately swoop encouraging you "go on have another one." The delight on her face was worth the over indulgence. Here's her favourite shortbread recipe from the Edmonds cookbook.
I am reflecting on the slower pace of life as a child on the farm in the 60's and 70's, self isolation feels familiar. We went to town once a week, on the shingle road, usually on a Friday. The local was initially Methven where the local grocer Tommy Owers greeted us with a smile, in his white smock jacket and black rimmed glasses, a story or update on the local gossip and a little treat like an aniseed ball. He'd pack paper bags with our basic grocery items. Our other delight and source of products was the arrival of the "Transport Truck" that stopped by us on its way up the Rakaia Gorge to more remote high country farms. One memory that sits with me was the arrival of a very treasured present, in a Ballantynes box - a Bunnykins cup, bowl and plate.
I've had a lot of intentions beyond working full time on a $110 million fundraising project for Auckland City Mission. I bought a variety of Kings Seeds a long time ago, some have expired, I did have the foresight before lockdown to get to our only garden centre on the island, to secure some seed mix. I attended a "How to Grow Vege's" workshop at our local Nourish Gardens two years ago and haven't deployed those skills until now, Christy suggested we use Vermiculite and I bought some of that, so I was set. I've planted the above the ground veggie seeds as recommended in the video here by - Claire Mummery from Grow Inspired . She's a character, I like her a lot - it's like being in the garden with your mad Aunty.
The farmer is of course in the South Island, goodness knows when I will see him in person next. He is safe at his home on a small farm and has strict instructions not to go anywhere from his daughter. I have set him up on Facebook Video Messenger and we've had a couple of whiskeys this week. My brother Hamish and his wife Vicki, and their fast growing up sons, Jared and Lachie (Happy Birthday Lachie, I can't believe you are 20) are checking in to get him groceries, at a distance. I'm so very grateful. They are pig farmers at Le Mee Farms, they've got huge challenges ahead of them as the abattoirs are not working to full capacity. They supply up to 200 pigs a week to the New Zealand market and are needing to hold pigs, they always work hard but have had extra work to do at this time. There has been some indication that independent butchers will open to process some pigs, but they are so devastated that we continue to import pork. Buy local has never, ever been so important.
Another intention has been to reduce plastic use, and I made my first order from Plastic Free Pantry. It was amazing, the delivery arrives in jars, easy to wash with hot, soapy water in these times. I emptied them into my own containers and I will send them back for my deposit on the jars next week. I can highly recommend the Hokey Pokey and they even had flour!! I've always been a baker but it seems to be a new discovery for a lot of people, the shelves are empty of flour and icing sugar up here at the moment. Did I say - buy local, it has never ever been so important!
That's it from Mee this week, my first blog from a moment in history. The first week in isolation from a farmer's daughter living on Waiheke Island, missing those mountains but very grateful to be marooned on a beautiful island. I hope you enjoyed your cuppa.