03 September, 2013


I rang Mum and Dad on Sunday for Father's Day (we have a different date in Australia to some other countries). It was good to connect with them both. They've got Skype working well now and we can use the video feed, which makes a conversation all that much easier, especially when I have three boys racing around here.

My recipe book.
One of the things I asked Mum about was a recipe. You see before I set up home on my own at age 21, I spent some summer hours typing up recipes of our family that were favourites and that I wanted to take with me. Nearly 20 years later I still have those pages. They've been incorporated into a different folder and many other recipes have been added to them, but the "oldies" are still there.

I get a lot of joy from this. It is amazing to cook food for my kids that was cooked for me as a child. To bake recipes that I cut my teeth on as a cook under my mum's tutelage is awesome.

Our conversation on Sunday was about a recipe that she has marked as "Wendy's favourite". I baked it on Saturday for the first time in a long time. There was a problem with not enough icing, so I wanted to check with Mum that I didn't have a typo there. She went and found her recipe and found she'd amended the recipe (just like I do, I know a recipe's well loved if I have writing all over it) to fix the icing problem.

The recipe in question:
Fruity Fudge Fingers (recipe below)
I believe she loved the connection too, going back to those days of working together in the kitchen, her teaching me all sorts of tricks and tips in the kitchen. I can see that parenting never ends, but the days when your children ask you for help or advice become thin on the ground. Me asking for her help on Sunday was a source of pleasure for us both.

Food is so much more than nutrition. It is a way of connecting. As a family, we've got a number of (pretty easy) recipes that I make often. They've become a part of our family culture and are part of what defines "home" for us. I love teaching my kids how to cook. I went one step further this summer and gave my eldest son Tuesday dinner to make. He wasn't up to choosing what he wanted to make, so in consultation with him, I added the one of our regular meals to the weekly schedule. Then I tried to keep out of the kitchen, but staying nearby on the computer to answer questions.

And so on, the chain continues. Creating a family culture and passing portions of it on. Our family is quite different to the family I grew up in. We eat different food in a different country. We have boys, not girls. Yet, there is that thread of connection. Every time I'm working in the kitchen, I have with my the skills and knowledge that was (at least partially) given to my by my Mum in her kitchen.

One of the sad things I realise as I've gotten to know missionaries better is that most of us don't have the closeness of relationship with our birth families that we wished for. There are various reasons and everyone has their own story, still the residual sadness is there. Perhaps if we'd stayed in our home countries it would have been different, but probably there would still be sadness at things not working out like the "fairytale" we dream of.

The fact of the matter is, we're not physically there. We're not there for the stuff of family culture building: like birthdays, Father's Day, wedding, funerals. We're not there for the ordinary and the extraordinary. And because we're not there, our relationships with our families develop along different lines, so that when we are there, we don't fit snuggly into family culture. Our visit is like a blip on the graph of normality.

I'm thankful, though, for good memories. I'm thankful for threads of connection like my cookbook and the recipes I make from it. I'm thankful for those good conversations, for technology like Skype that allows me to capture a time when they and I are almost in the same space. I'm thankful for a family who loves me, even though I'm not there. And most of all I'm thankful for a Heavenly Father who is always in the same space as me.

Fruit Fudge Fingers (non bake recipe, perfect for summer)
230g plain biscuits (like Marie)—crushed
115g margarine
1 cup/200g sultanas*
1/2 cup/115g sugar (can be less)
1 egg (slightly beaten)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

2/3 cup/150g icing sugar (powdered sugar)
2 tablespoons/40g butter
2 tablespoons/25g cocoa

  1. Place margarine, sultanas, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil slowly.
  2. Take from the heat. Allow to cool a little.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, blending well.
  4. Add biscuit crumbs and mixture together.
  5. Press into a greased tin (approximately 25x30cm) using a fork.
  6. Cool in fridge.
  7. Ice.
  8. Cut into fingers and store in the fridge.
*As usual, my recipes are in Australian measurements, where cups equal 250ml and tablespoons equal 20ml.


taylorcrowson said...

I was expecting the * to explain what sultanas are.

Wendy said...

Ah, I forgot that Americans don't know about the superior sultana. It is a special type of raisin. Much tastier. I made this with raisins on Saturday and it doesn't taste as good because the raisins are too dry and get stuck in your teeth. Mum suggested that you could substitute nuts or other dried fruit in there also.

-J said...

Wendy, this is beautiful writing! You communicated so clearly what I have felt at various times. And the recipe sounds like one I'd like to try. I have never had sultanas, but I wonder if simmering raisins would make them plump and juicy enough to be a better fill-in. (I have a family cookie recipe that calls for simmering raisins.) Thanks for sharing your heart - and drawing me in!