My treasured Heirloom – Nanny’s Recipe Book
When I was a little girl, I grew up in a loving home with four siblings, a Mum and Dad who adored each other and a close knit family who all lived nearby.
After School each day, I would walk home with my brothers and older sister past my Granny’s place where we would all receive a warm hug and on special occasions, we would take turns to go to Granny’s home for lunch. It felt very special being the only one to dine with Granny that day.
Further up the street lived my Nanny and Granddad. Their great loves in life, apart from each other were going fishing in their little boat and gardening. I can still picture the path leading up to their house with the fragrant Boronia bushes and beautiful Magnolia tree. My Nanny was kind and gentle and an excellent cook.
Each afternoon, tired and hungry after a hard day of learning we would call in for afternoon tea. The table was always beautifully spread with a table cloth embroidered with a floral pattern and there was always a vase of freshly picked flowers that my Grandad would bring in from the garden.
Nanny would have baked one of our favourite treats. Nanny had interesting names for all of her cakes; Slugs, Hedgehogs and Butterfly Cakes were just some of them. I can still taste those delicious cakes!
When I was 19 years old, I left our dear little town to follow my dream of becoming a flight attendant and to live in Sydney. I kept in touch with my darling Nanny by sending Post Cards wherever I went. She kept them all.
I was on Holiday in England In 1975 and standing in a queue at Heathrow Airport, waiting to board my flight home to Australia when I remember getting an overwhelming feeling that I had to get home to Australia, urgently, to see my Nan. I sensed that she was very ill. I recall telling the traffic Officer at the check-in counter that I had to get home because my Nanny was sick. The whole flight I kept thinking that I had to see Nanny. As telecommunications were precarious back then, I had no way of finding out if my Nanny was indeed ill.
Sadly, my worst fears were realized when my Dad rang me the night I arrived back in Sydney to tell me that Nanny had died – at the very moment that I had the feeling I was losing her. I was devastated – I never did get to give her one last hug and to say good-bye.
Last year, when my Mum came to visit me here in the Whitsunday, she brought me Nanny’s Recipe book. I was overcome with emotion – it is such a precious gift.
I have now baked many of Nanny’s delicious cakes and each time I am preparing the Recipe, I can hear Nanny’s voice in my ear saying “Now, level that cup of sugar/flour with a knife. To have perfect results, you need to measure everything properly”. As I smell the cakes baking in the oven I get a warm and fuzzy feeling and wonderful memories of my time with Nanny and Granddad coming flooding back. And what does the end product taste like? Delicious!
Mum told me that Nanny’s Recipe book was written in 1934 so it is showing signs of being well loved, frequently used and aged – but to me it is a precious gift and I keep it in its own special box.
Next month, when we stage a Workshop at the Cannonvale Library, we are privileged to have by Skype our guest presenter, Rebecca Spano from the State Library of Queensland. Rebecca is the Senior Conservator and has offered to advise our participants on how to preserve their treasured Heirlooms. If any of our attendees needs to find out where to get their precious items conserved, I am sure Rebecca will be able to let them know.