Monday, January 30, 2012

Never the Faint Hearted

I have just finished reading this book.  It is titled Never the Faint Hearted - Charles Baker, Pioneer Missionary 1803-1875. A biography written from his journals and letters by Mary Baker.

Rev Charles Baker is my Great, Great, Great Grandfather on my Fathers' Mothers side (she was a Baker).
It tells of his life as a pioneering Missionary sent to New Zealand by the Church Missionary Society at his own request. Baker preached in the Bay of Islands from 1828 to 1843, the East Coast until 1857 and then Auckland and Tauranga.


Rev Charles Baker family

Charles Baker (born in Yorkshire in 1803) was trained in agricultural and industrial pursuits. 
Upon the death of his first wife, he entered the C.M.S. College at Islington. With the second Mrs. Baker, and the daughter of the first marriage, he landed at the Bay of Islands on 9 June, 1828. 
He was stationed first at Kerikeri and then at Paihia. 
In the temporary absence of the Rev. H. Williams he played a not unimportant part in making the arrangements ashore for the proclamation of British sovereignty over New Zealand. Lieutenant-Governor Hobson requested him to have copies printed of an invitation to the chiefs to meet him, and arranged with him to send messengers to deliver them. He also sought permission to use the church on the occasion of the reading of the official documents relating to his appointment, etc. 
On Christmas Day, 1835, Charles Darwin (the eminent naturalist) and Captain FitzRoy (of H.M.S. Beagle and, later, successor to Governor Hobson) attended a service conducted by Mr. Baker and made donations towards the cost of the historic church which was built at Paihia under his supervision and which is still standing. 
Mr. Baker was stationed at Waikare (1840–2), Tolaga Bay (1843–51) and Rangitukia (1854–7). 
Whilst he was at Tolaga Bay his family of nine was increased on 11 April, 1843, by the birth of a son, Henry Williams, who might have been the first white boy born at Uawa, and on 3 September, 1844, by the arrival of another daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth, who might have been the first white girl born there.
In 1860 Mr. Baker and the Rev. E. B. Clarke were stationed at Tauranga, but, in 1863, they had to leave when the natives began openly to sympathise with the Waikato rebels. 
Returning to Auckland, Mr. Baker paid regular visits to the stockades, the gaol, and the hospital and to the hulks on which rebel prisoners were being detained. 
He died on 15 February, 1875.

I have had this book for many years and it is signed by the author, Mary Baker, but I had not read it.
But after attending a workshop on early discipleship in New Zealand last year I was very interested to read about Rev Charles' story and the hardship he encountered. I was encouraged to read how accepting of the Christian faith the Maoris were and that Rev Charles learnt and was fluent enough to preach in the Maori language.

He had 12 children and nearly half died before he did. He suffered from rheumatism and it would appear he had a couple of strokes before he finally passed away,

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Good is God?

Philip Yancey has written many Christian books  to encourage and challenge you on your Christian walk. 
Philip Yancey

This book "What Good Is God?" is a collection of sermons he has used at different places around the world when asked to speak after or during some major devastating events. Each time he gives some insight as to the love and meaning of God in the situation and for those listening. He is challenged to bring the right message for those who are gathered to hear him.

Philip explains:

In this book I tackle perhaps the most basic faith question of all: What good is God?  It’s a universal question which I put to the test in ten places on four different continents.  Although the book addresses issues of faith, it does so in real-world settings, not abstractly.  In my travels I have found a deep longing in almost everyone: the desire for change, the hope that somehow God can wrest permanent good out of this flawed planet and us its flawed inhabitants.  Dare we entertain such a hope?  This book is my attempt to answer the question.  First, as a journalist, I search for a faith that matters.  Then the tables get turned and I’m the one who has to speak to an audience hungry for answers.  And now you, the readers, join that audience.

It is a book that can be picked up and put down and read just a chapter at a time as the stories are all individual in them selves.

I didn't find it a book that had me racing to read but it was of an encouragement

Plum Jam

Plum jam is one of the easiest jams to make. The only issue is to make it perfect you need to remove all the stones. Whether that be before you cook it or once the stones rise to the top during cooking, it really doesn’t matter. Even if you just leave them in there when you bottle it, they become like sweet little treats to suck on when you find them on your toast!

1kg plums
1kg sugar
250mls water
(Increase the whole ingredients for more plums)

Wash, halve and stone the plums.
Cook the plums and the water in a preserving pan on moderate heat for about half an hour until the skins are soft. Remove the stones as they rise to the top at this point if you haven’t before cooking or do not want to include then in the jam.
Stir in the warmed sugar and then boil briskly.
When the jam reaches setting point, pot up and seal.

Setting point is when a little jam taken from the mix is dropped onto a cool saucer and then when you run a finger through it the jam stays separated for a bit and/or the surface wrinkles slightly. Just make sure you don’t overcook or burn the jam while trying to reach this stage. Jams will continue to cook slightly in the jars and will then set so don’t worry too much about it being really thick when you test it.

I wash my jars and place them in a cool oven (about 110°C) while the jam is cooking. I put the sugar in at the same time so it is warmed before adding to the jam. This is so the jam doesn’t go too much off the boil when you add it to the fruit. I bring all the lids to the boil in a pot so they are sterilised.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mumsey’s Simple Plum Cake

This is a lovely cake to have warm as a desert, or for an afternoon tea. It is straightforward to make too.

2 ¼ cups self-raising flour
2 tsp mixed spice
125gr butter
2/3 cup soft brown sugar
Grated rind and juice of a medium lemon
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
6 ripe plums
8 tsp demerara (or raw) sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
Icing sugar to sprinkle

Sift the flour and spice into a mixing bowl.
Dice the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. I do this in my big food mixture which then makes it less messy on your hands but mixes everything together.
Stir in the brown sugar and rind form the lemon.
Beat in the eggs and milk slowly so it doesn’t splash up.
Spoon the mixture into a lined 20cm round cake tin.
Halve and stone the plums (Quarter them if they are big) and place on top of the cake.
Press them in lightly so half of the plum is into the cake.
Sprinkle the lemon juice over the cake surface.
Mix the demarara sugar and cinnamon together in a cup and then sprinkle over the cake. Don’t do this the other way round as the lemon juice helps the sugar mixture to stick to the cake and if you put the lemon juice on after the cinnamon will ‘run’ off.
Bake for 1 hour in a preheated 180°C oven or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out ‘clean’
Allow to cool for 10 minutes and carefully turn out onto a plate.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm with cream, yogurt or ice cream.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Plum Butter

Plum butter is a rich thick curd like preserve. Made with orange juice as well as water gives it a slightly sweeter flavour than jam. It also has skins and stones removed to give a smooth texture.

900gr red plum, (stones removed)
Grated rind and juice of 1 orange
150mls water
450g or sugar (or required amount)

Place the washed plums in a large heavy pot or preserving pan with the orange rind and juice and the water.
If you don't remove the stones they will be sieved out later. I don't remove my plum stones as the plums are small.
Bring to the boil, then cover with the lid and cook for 20-30 minutes on a gentle simmer until the plums are very soft.
Set aside to cool.
Press the mixture through a fine sieve (I do this over a large jug so I can measure how much there is)
Measure the purée and return to the clean pan adding 350gr (1 ¾ cups) of sugar for every 600mls (2 ½ cups) of purée.
Heat gently stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
When dissolved, increase the heat and boil for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, unitl the mixture holds its shape when spooned on to a cold plate.
Pur in to heated sterilzed jars.
Seal and label.
Store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 days before using to mature the flavour.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Glut of Plums

As it says we have had more than enough plums off our tree this year.
Jennifer picked bags of them before we went south thinking that there would be none left when we got back, as the birds love to feed on them.
They weren't really ripe then but they still could be made into jams etc.
I froze the ones she had picked for me and I will use at a later time.

How ever on our return the tree was still dripping in ripe plums and the ground beneath carpeted with the falls either from the wind or birds breaking them off.

So I have been busy preserving and making jams etc from them.

But still they are on the tree.
This morning I picked another 3 kilograms and will do some more preserved, as some years we can't get anything. Sometimes if there is a lot of rain in the warmer weather they seem to swell and burst.

I will leave the rest for the birds as they will eat and be merry (they are starting to ferment) and they actually clean them all up off the ground just leaving the stones behind.

So my next few posts will be of the recipes I have for plums!!

 Plum Sauce
 Plum Jam
 Plum Gumbo
 Plum Butter
 Plums Poached in Spiced Brandy
 Plum Chutney

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Time To Go Home

Saturday had arrived and after my walk along the beach we pack up the Isuzu and gave back the key for the cottage.

After a family bar-b-que with other guests from yesterdays wedding, we headed north again to catch the evening Blue Bridge ferry. Theresa and Steven were coming back to Picton with us but were catching the Inter Islander again and a much later sailing.

A few minutes drive north from Kaikoura you can stop on the road side and see a seal colony. They seemed so far away from the bank so Harry and I found a little path down to the rocks and with Harry watching to make sure none of them tried to attack I took some more photos.

Not such an easy task when all they wanted to do was sleep and not be disturbed!

View from the road bank

There are actually three in this shot

This one scratched its nose...

...had a stretch...
...then settled back down to sleep!

This one may have got up but then flopped back down

"OK... I'll pose"

As we were leaving the last one quickly got up and posed and I had to take the photo quickly before it settled down again, so its a little bit blurry.

Further north we stopped at a rest area for a comfort stop and Katrina checked out the odd colour of the water.

We arrived back in Picton and after a coffee with Theresa and Steven we said our little good-byes and with what we thought was plenty of time, we soon discovered there were already plenty of others lined up waiting to be able to drive on to the ferry.

While waiting I saw this sign and I suddenly realised why it was called the Blue Bridge.

Dah! The ferry service was like a bridge between the two Islands and because it was over the water it is blue!

So we boarded and this ship was 25 years newer than the other we had traveled down on so there were new places to explore.

I really wasn't quite sure if I would have wanted our vehicle out on the exposed deck like these ones because on a rough crossing there would be a lot of salted sea water splashing about. Ours was tucked away inside.

As we pulled away from the docks, Picton and so, the South Island our little holiday was coming to an end. It was after 7.00pm and although the sea was calmer it certainly wasn't very warm.

Harry spent some time up on the top outer deck and I stayed with him for awhile.

The wind was cold although not strong so I headed back down and inside to some window seats Katrina was saving for us. Harry soon joined us when it got dark as it was very cold like a winters day out into the Cook Strait.

Arriving late in Wellington we headed back up to my brother and sister-in-laws place for a good nights sleep.
Sunday morning was wet, windy and cold and a gentle reminder as to why we had moved north from Wellington some 27 years ago.

As we drove the last stretch of road coming into Tirau I couldn't help notice the lovely green of the countryside and felt such compassion for the farmers in the Marlborough Sounds.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Wedding in Kaikoura

Well the day had finally arrived. The reason we were in Kaikoura was for the wedding of my niece Rachel to her best friend of ten years Ken. They had met at university in Christchurch and often spent time in Kaikoura. As the lady at the bank told me many young people come and fall in love with Kaikoura
so have their wedding here.

The day didn't dawn very bright but as with all weddings nothing is going to stop it.
It was held in the grounds of the Dover Cottage on the clifftop garden overlooking the Kaikoura bay.

The Minister, Rev Margaret Schrader, a long time family friend, shared happily with my father, the grandfather of the bride, while we waited for the bride to arrive.

The groom, Ken, and his men also waited trying to be relaxed and not seem nervous.

Finally the bride, her father Peter and the bridesmaids arrived.

Rebekah, Rachel's sister, had come from Sweden to be one of the bridesmaids. A special something in itself as she doesn't get home to New Zealand very often.

And finally the bride and her father walked down the aisle to met her husband to be.

It was a special service where the bride and groom had both written their own vows.

The driftwood arch was made by the grooms family on the day.

Rings were exchanged and then ...

They were husband and wife.

The Unity Sand Ceremony

I had not seen this before but it is wonderful to watch.

After the exchange of rings, the officiant explains the meaning of the Unity Ceremony.

The sand is used to symbolize the uniting of the bride and groom. Their separate lives are symbolized by two vials of different coloured sand.  The Bride and Groom then come together, and pour into one vial, the two individual vials of sand. Their flowing together symbolizes the joining of the couple as they share their first experience of unity as husband and wife. The newly formed union is represented by the intertwined pattern of sand created by the couple. This symbol is then a keepsake of their wedding day.

Rachel had a jar of black sand from the beaches of New Plymouth and Ken had a vase of golden/white sand from the beaches at Gisborne. 

They took it in turns to pour a little of the sand from their own vase into the larger vase in the middle of the table.

As we watched we saw a pattern emerging as the layers grew.

The central vase will remain a cherished keepsake of their wedding day with its unique sand design.

All that was needed then, was the signing of the register and it was official.

And then finially the clouds lifted and the sun shone through.
The bridesmaids in blue
Close-up of the gown

Father and mother of the bride
XY Ford Falcon Stationwagon (the grooms)

The reception was held at the Kaikoura racecourse and the couple had spent months dreaming of what they wanted and then getting everything together to make a truly special beach themed room for us all.

The colours including the cake were all in the blue of the bridesmaids dresses, the white of the bride and the brown of the grooms suit.

For the wedding favour we each were given a wine glass to take home with their names, the date and place of their wedding.