I’m a great believer of everything happens for a reason and the past few weeks have been ultimate proof of that. Fortunately and somewhat unfortunately, I’ve run into everyone from old friends to ex boyfriends in the most unexpected spaces and I’m putting it all down to a greater power.
For my birthday this year I ventured down south to get my tarot cards read. It’s something I try to do annually as a bit of fun, but I find it helps to re- centre my goals and outlook for the coming year. Just in case it’s the same deal as birthday candles, I’m not going to divulge the juicy details but I will say there was a strong presence, of another family presence, interwoven into the reading.
Coming from a family of strong women I’ve always liked to think we have some of our ancestors guiding us through life’s ups and downs. It’s such a comforting thought that these incredible people are with us in spirit; however you like to interpret it.
So I’m throwing myself into an ancestry treasure hunt to try and piece together the clues to discover more about this beautiful presence around me.
Instead of hitting the history books, I’m hitting the cook books – in particular the Ardlethan Red Cross Catering Book, 1955. I seem to think they’re the same thing, really.
I love the idea that everyone in the community had a recipe they were known for which was officially published each year, their signature dish. Only Mrs Brown down the road could make the prized pikelets and in my great grandmother’s case, it seemed she had quite the knack for lamingtons.
I didn’t have the pleasure of getting to know this amazing lady. Although she lived past the ripe age of 100, our family didn’t live close and she passed away before I was old enough to take an active interest. From what I know, she was a gutsy, graceful, courageous woman who my dad was extremely close to. She also had a passion for AFL, the Sydney Swans to be specific.
She also ate ice cream for breakfast, because why not?
I was terrified at attempting this recipe. I’m not someone who can follow a recipe precisely, and sponge cake is one of those things you need to take care in. My track record so far of sponges have been pancake, eggy, dense creations, not fluffy and light.
And the time. I wonder what they did in those 15 minutes of mindless egg beating without Pinterest to assume them?
Probably brushed three children’s hair, put on a slow roast, kissed their husbands goodbye and dialled the switch to gossip on the phone to Mrs Brown. And maybe pester her for her pikelet recipe.
A country woman is not without courage, so I rolled up my sleeves, turned up the Sydney Swans game and gave it my best shot.
They actually turned out. Maybe this beautiful presence is her? Or maybe, I’ve conquered my fear of sponge cake.
Either way, I’m feeling pretty blessed to be part of this family.
(I was left to fend for myself for the icing recipe. She probably had a secret one squirreled away from Mrs Smith down the road. I personally decided to consult my friend Mrs Woman’s Weekly.)