Serving up family secrets

MATTHEW DALLAS
Last updated 09:51 13/11/2012
13-KPN-treasured
Matthew Dallas
TREASURED TREATS: Recipes passed down through the generations make up From Grey to Gourmet, a recipe book by residents and staff at Summerset at Aotea retirement village. Clockwise from front right, Pam Schermers, Val Carr, John Naylor, Margaret Hobbs and Cafe supervisor Susanne Boest.

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A recipe book conceived by residents and staff at a Porirua retirement village is as much about family history as it is food.

From Grey to Gourmet was launched at Summerset at Aotea on Saturday, a collection of 100 recipes, many having been closely-guarded family secrets and each revealing a crumb or two of personal history.

The book came about after cafe supervisor Susanne Boest decided all the old family recipes discussed or attempted at the retirement village's cooking classes needed to be documented and kept alive.

Cakes and slices dominate the book - many rarely seen in 21st Century coffee shops - but there are also soups and main dishes.

Each recipe bears a personal touch, be it a childhood memory of the dish or an old photograph.

Resident John Naylor contributed ginger parkin, a sweet, thick slice. Back in England he says it was often gobbled around the bonfire on Guy Fawke's Night.

Margaret Selby-Bennett's family recipe for a simple chocolate slice recounts the days of wood-fuelled ovens, and there is also a shortcake recipe from the 1800s.

"Most of the recipes have some sort of story with them," Ms Boest said.

A lot of the Summerset residents are English or European, bringing a range of cultural flavours and traditions to the book, she said, and all the recipes were tried and tasted.

"There was something missing in one of the cobblers."

Extending the family feel to the project, Ms Boest's daughter typed up all the recipes and scanned the photographs, while resident Margaret Hobbs, who contributed the recipe for her mother's date scones, did the layout on her computer.

Fellow resident Bob Burns came up with the catchy title. His reward? Being the cover model. Alan Wickens contributed photographs of local scenery and Dorothy Shea wrote a poem, Happy Cooking!, which has been printed at the front of the book.

Thirty-three cakes and slices from From Grey to Gourmet were baked for Saturday's launch, with many residents' family members helping out.

Five-hundred copies have been printed at $20 each and all have been pre-sold, with a contribution of the profit going to Arthritis New Zealand. Ms Boest said a second printing was expected and anyone interested in a copy should contact Summerset at Aotea. A copy signed by every person who contributed a recipe is to be auctioned at a later date.

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