Grandma’s Kitchen: Half a Modern

Block 4 Grandma's Kitchen QAL

Block 4 Half a Modern designed by Pat Sloan.

Pat talks about her half modern Grandma’s Kitchen – however neither of my grandma’s had very modern kitchens. At least when I first stayed with them back in the ’50’s. When they were much older and had changed houses they did have a fridge, electric stove etc.

My Nana T’s kitchen was at the back of a large wooden villa, facing South towards the Antarctic, so therefore away from the sun and facing cold winds. It was very cold in the winter and until the fire that heated the oven was going, it was shivery!  While I don’t remember exactly where, there would have been a safe to keep things cool as in those days just a few years off having a fridge.  When she moved to live near her daughter in later life she had a small kitchen with better mod cons.

My Nana C’s kitchen did have a refrigerator because when I lay in bed at night in a small room off the kitchen I was comforted by the humming of it. She moved at least four times before she came to live with my parents. Her kitchens were small but adequate and she produced some very yummy roast meals from them. Her gravy was superb.

And a modern tale

I don’t ever remember cooking with them, but as a very half modern aside, the other day I walked into one of my sister’s kitchens to find her with her three and a half year old grandson Max up on the bench and he was cutting out circles with a glass for little savouries for his sister’s birthday – the next day. Later I believe Anne put the beaten eggs into a teapot so that he could pour it over the mixture. I so hope he remembers his grandma’s kitchen in the future.

Grandma’s Kitchen:Block #3

Block #3 in the Grandma’s Kitchen QAL with Pat Sloan is called the Key Holder by Pat.  I do not remember either of my grandparents having a key holder. Neither set had cars, so no car keys. I am not sure if they locked doors, but if they did the key was most likely just kept in the door.  So instead I’ll just talk about Nana T for this block.

What I remember about her was that she was deaf. As a pre-schooler around 4 or 5 when I came down to the kitchen in her home,  in the morning she did not have her hearing aid in. She’d have her slippers and apron on, may even have been smoking a cigarette, but not reached getting those aids in. When I would ask her something she’d say in her gentle voice, “Just a moment dear, I haven’t got my hearing aid in”.

The key to being heard was those hearing aids. I remember the batteries, they were big and she kept them down her chest somewhere! Not quite sure how that worked!

The key holder quilt block

Grandma’s Kitchen: Vanilla Memories

Today I completed Block 2 of the Grandma’s Kitchen – named Sticky Buns by its designer Pat Sloan.  However my grandma’s never gave me sticky buns so I have called mine Vanilla memories. It wasn’t breakfast, but it was an early morning snack as we sat there. As a 3 or 4 year old I remember sitting on Nana C’s verandah on luggage waiting to catch a  steam train up to the farm in Fielding from where she lived in Te Moana Rd, Waikanae, .

Sitting beside me was my uncle, older than me by two years. We were sucking on vanilla milk ice blocks. I loved them and always remember that wonderful vanilla taste. No vanilla has ever tasted better.

Quilt Block from Grandma's Kitchen

Article Series: Gallery of Old Recipes

In previous posts I’ve shared about family and food in my introduction post – Article series: Family and Food . I’ve shared a recipe of Apple Shortcake that our extended family loves.

Now in this gallery of photos I am sharing a few recipes, from a book that an Aunty gathered up over the years.  She was my mother’s oldest sister, not that we knew that for many years, as she was a half sister, born before my grandmother married my grandfather. We all thought she was our great aunt! Those were the days.  It caused my grandmother to be ostracised from her German family, so we never knew them really. It was why my grandmother was adamant that we all stuck together as family. Continue reading

Article series: How to Make Apple Shortcake

It can be eaten as a desert with custard or ice-cream, or alone on a plate with a fork! It is best eaten the same day it is baked.

Prepare the Apples

cooking apples

I prefer to use Granny Smith apples, but any cooking apples in season will be fine. Peel and slice about four – maybe five, add a little water and put on the stove to cook.  They don’t need to cook fully, but it’s okay if they do.  You may add sugar to sweeten, but I no longer do, as we become more aware of too much sugar in our diets.  The shortcake provides the sweetness I believe. Set aside to cool.

Ingredients for the Shortcake

  • 4 oz of butter (125g)
  • 4 oz of sugar (125g)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz of flour (125g)
  • 4 oz of cornflour (125g)
  • 1 tsp of baking powder


  1. Cream the butter and sugar
  2. Add the egg and mix together
  3. Sift the flour, cornflour and baking powder in to the bowl
  4. Mix until it comes together, sometimes more flour needs to be added
  5. Tip out onto a tray that has been prepared with some baking paper that has been dusted with flour
  6. Roll out the dough till it is oval like and thin, but not too thin
  7. Draw a line down the middle as a mark
  8. Apples on shortcakeAdd the apples to the right hand side
  9. Lift the paper up and bring the left side of the dough to be on top
  10. Pinch together and cover up any weak spots, trim paper
  11. Place in oven that has been preheated to 350 Fahrenheit or about 180 Centigrade, it very much depends on your oven, I usually have to make mine slightly hotter
  12. Bake for about 30 minutes
  13. Place on a cooling rack, still on its tray. Cut immediately and leave to cool


When cool, arrange on serving platter and dust very lightly with icing sugar.

Cooked Apple Shortcake

A Video To Show the Whole Process

After making this batch of Apple Shortcake I shared some of it with two younger members of our family 14 month old Max and 2 year old Audrey had their first sampling!

Article Series: Family and Food

Article Series: Family and Food

Recently my niece was at my Dad’s home, and one of my sisters and I were helping her pick out a couple of mementos of my mother – her grandmother, who passed away about eighteen months ago.

She burst into tears as she went through the cookbooks and said, “I just want one that Nana cooked out of, that she used often”. My mother was a very good, economical cook, she had to be, cooking for twelve when we were young.

In later years whenever we joined together for family celebrations my mother would bring her cheesecake that we all loved and at Christmas she had a special touch for cooking the ham.

We all learned to cook growing up, we took our turn weighing in and helping with meals and keeping the tins full. Some of my sisters  have gone on to become very good cooks, branching out as food has changed over the years. Continue reading