Grandmas Christmas Pud

It is time to make the Christmas pudding. Out comes Grannies recipe, the only one I ever use.

As I will be house sitting in Qld over Christmas I will not have my pudding bowl. That is why I am going to change the cooking format.

This year, I am going to try something different. Instead of a big pudding, I am going to make mini puddings and I will cook them in the pie maker.

I think the mini puds will be a hit with the family.

Time for a test run .

After checking that I had all the ingredients required, I set about making the pudding mixture. It is well worth soaking the fruit in brandy or whisky for a few days. This gives a richer flavour to the pudding.

After the preliminaries, I made the mixture and set out to test if it would work in a pie maker. I used the kogan pie maker as it is about the right size for individual Christmas Puds.

Placing a nice amount in the pie well, I closed the lid, turned it on, and waited around 12 minutes.

Beautiful. Perfect little puddings. Very easy, no mess and ideal for doing on a hot day as the pie maker does not make the kitchen steamy.

Granted, the puds look a little different to a steamed pud, but, they are oh so delicious and moist.

Serve with brandy butter, cream or custard or all three. 

I can now give all of my friends, who live alone, a nice little Christmas Pudding.

Recipe for Grandmas’ Christmas 


1/4 c

shortening or lard

1 c


3 c

soft bread crumbs

1 tsp

baking powder

1 tsp


1/4 tsp


1/2 tsp


1/4 tsp


1/4 tsp



beaten eggs

3/4 c

scalded milk

2 Tbsp

chopped orange peel

2 Tbsp

chopped lemon peel

1 1/2 c


1/4 c


1/4 c

chopped figs

1/2 c

nuts, cut in pieces


Cream shortening and sugar together. Add bread crumbs, baking powder, salt, and spices.

Add eggs and mix thoroughly. Add milk. Add orange and lemon peel and remaining ingredients and beat thoroughly.

Fill greased pudding mold 3/4 full. Cover tightly with foil and steam 4 hours. A large dutch oven with a rack in the bottom works well for this. Boiling water should come halfway up sides. Make sure lid fits tightly to hold in steam. Replenish water as needed.

This is the original recipe.

For the pie maker, just fill the wells and cook 12 minutes from a cold start.


Foods of the 1960’s

The 1960’s, food trends.

Who could  forget the arrival, in the 60’s, of French Onion Dip?

I certainly can’t. It seemed quite a weird thing to me and my undiscovered pallet.

Who would have thought, cream mixed with a packet of dry French Onion Soup, could taste so good.

I was raised in the country so my knowledge of anything remotely different to meat and 3 veg was quite limited. Almost retarded I would say.

As well as the abovementioned dip, there were many other delicacies to be found. 

Chicken A La King, very French sounding to me, even though I had never known a French person, it still sounded French.

To my way of thinking, chicken was done in the oven, whole chook, stuffed and roasted. Simple.

Not chicken a la king though. It was cut into pieces, onions, carrots and peas added and then served swimming in a white sauce.

I had only had white sauce on corned meat so the thought of chicken swimming in it made me a little apprehensive to try it. I eventually gave it a go and it became a favourite dish of mine. Still is.

Another French sounding dish was Fondue. 

Fondue parties were the thing to have. All very swish sounding. If you did not buy a fondue set, life was just not worth living. I do not think it very healthy though, numerous people dip their food into a smouldering pot of white cheese sauce. Double dipping at times, ughh.

I loved the melted chocolate fondue. I would take my own little bowl and put some chocolate in it so I avoided the double dipped messy main pot.

Asparagus rolled in slices of white buttered bread was a popular appetizer. Tinned asparagus, not fresh. I never took to tinned asparagus, also avoided the popular shrimp cocktails of that era.

 Celery stuffed with cream cheese or peanut butter was always a hit, as where cherry tomatoes. I had only ever seen large tomatoes.

Beef Bourguignon, a fancy name for a beef  stew cooked in a dish in the oven, was quite tasty. Another french dish. Casserole was a new word added to my vocabulary.

Desserts of fruit set in gelatine were a big hit. Any kind of fruit, set in any flavour jelly. My favourite was green jelly with pears and topped with cream.yum.

A new type of cake emerged as well. A chocolate fudge cake cooked in a bundt pan. This was a round pan with a hole in the middle. This particular cake won the Pilsbury baking competition in the 1960’s. Not sure what year, but it was called a Tunnel Fudge Cake.

Very fancy indeed.

Yes, the 60’s certainly opened my eyes to a gourmet range of foods.

Each decade  thereafter only got better.

Pie Maker Stuff

Stuff for your pie maker.

Just browsing the internet today and came across a new site/shop. 

Pie Maker Stuff, it is called. Why did I not think of doing something like this?

The person who started this site is heading towards millionairedom.

Anything with the word “piemaker”  is the go right now. 

The pie maker frenzy from last year is still in full swing.

I have to admit, I have made several things other than pies in my resurrected  35 year old pie maker.

This pie maker, the one which sat sadly in my back shed for more than 30 years, has been given a new life.

It has been given many tasks, quite different from the task it was originally bought to do.

It has performed admirably and never once has it let me down.

It may only have 2 pie wells, but that is sufficient for my needs as there is only 1 of me to cook for. 

Getting back to the Pie Stuff site though, on further examination I found that one can buy silicone spatulas, wire cooling racks, pastry cutters, dough hooks, silicone mats on which to sit your trusty pie maker,bamboo skewers to help remove the pie/ cake/scone/tart/quiche/pudding etc once it is cooked, recipe books, all things pie rolling pins of various sizes, containers in which to store your pies and left over pastry and oh, the list goes on. Thinking, who has left over pastry? I don’t, I eat any small bits raw, just like I did when I was a kid.

Maybe I am missing something, but pretty sure all these particular kitchen aids were available pre pie maker frenzy days. 

Put the word pie maker  in front of anything and you will be guaranteed a quick sale

. In fact, your products will be sold out in no time at all and people will be lamenting the fact that they have to wait months for the site to restock all these wonderful things.

Maybe a look in K Mart or any store that stocks kitchen aids would have the exact same things probably at a less expensive cost to boot.

Almost every store has pie makers now. All manner of pie makers. Sausage roll makers as well and ones that make diamond shaped pies.

The stores are smart though. They just get enough in to whet the appetite of the throngs of pie maker addicts. The stores sell out quickly and then take some months to replenish their stock. Very clever thinking, this way there will always be a demand.

No doubt the person who started the Stuff for Pies site is going to do very well financially.

I just wish I had thought of it before now.

Birds of a feather

I was sitting out the back feeding some left over mince to the Magpies, Kookas and Butcher Birds and thought  that this could make a good blog.

The Magpies nest every spring in one of my gum trees. They do not attack me, but if a stranger comes along all hell breaks loose. The good old maggies are better than a savage dog in terms of guarding my home.

Kookas nest down in the forest, across the road from home. They come up each evening for a laugh and feed.

 The Butchers live in the tall gum trees surrounding my house. They wake me each morning with their beautiful songs. Whilst the butcher birds are somewhat aggressive to the little finches and wrens, I still love them for their beautiful voices.

Rosellas come in for a dip under the sprinkler. There are around seven or eight of them. Each year one pair  nest in a hollow brick on my shed wall. 

I do not feed the rosellas, but have many fruit trees where they help themselves .

There are two types of Rosella that visit, the Eastern Rosella and the Green Rosella. 

Grass parrots, Mallee Ringnecks and Budgies also fly in.

The magpies  love to have a bath and happily bathe under the sprinkler alongside the rosellas.

The butcher birds whilst quite aggressive towards the little wrens and finches 

 back off very quickly at the sight of Nigel No Friends Bin Chicken.

All feathers quickly fly when Nigel No friends  comes into the yard looking for a feed.

I do not feed Nigel, but he eats up the little bugs who fly up out of the wet lawn. I can live with one Nigel, after all, he eats bugs.Any more would be too much to cope with as Ibis are messy birds.

Today I thought the magpies were well mannered,they came in, several at a time,and waited their turn for a feed..When one of their babies appeared and the parent bird attacked it.

I yelled..”.that’s your kid you nasty mother.” .It fluffed right up like it was going to sing…instead it pooped on the pavers and flew away.

The Kookaburras are super friendly. Some of them take the food from my hand. Others are a little more wary.

There are many feathered friends entertaining me each day. 

Little Blue Wrens sing loudly in the bushes outside my kitchen window. Blue Cheeked Honeyeaters suck the nectar from the bottlebrush and other native flowers and a pair of Pardalots make their nest in my raised garden bed.

Pigeons, Willy Wagtails and more also nest around my garden.

I get such joy in the company of all these birds. The world would be very quiet without them.

Dog friendly Motels, the search

The search for Dog friendly motels.

Years ago, there were no motels where one could take Fido the family pet.

On a recent trip from Victoria to Queensland I needed to find motels that were dog friendly. This proved to be quite a task, but eventually I had it sorted.

Usually I travel with a caravan so there is no need to worry about where to stop for the night.

Caravan Parks are usually pet friendly as long as one has ones’ own van, the pet is kept on a lead and the usual pick up the pets mess applies.  Not many Caravan Parks allow pets in their on site cabins, even if the pet has his own sleeping arrangement in the back of a ute. They do not trust that the person/s renting the cabin, will comply with the rules and keep the said pet outside.

I guess a small number of  cabin renters disobeyed the rules and spoilt it for those who do do the right thing.

Getting back to the Motel side of things now and my search started.

As I only travel 300 to 400 k’s a day it was difficult to find pet friendly accommodation in the towns I normally stay overnight in.

I googled pet friendly motels, then started my journey.

First stop was West Wyalong, NSW. Out of around 20 motels only one was pet friendly. It was also very cheap. Cheaper in fact than a Van Park Cabin. 

I wondered what it might be like. Would it be run down, dirty, or without air con? Time would tell. 

It was perfect!  A lovely old woman greeted me and told me she had already put the air conditioner on for me as it was 43C outside.

The room was lovely and clean. There was a nice rug for the dog to lay on and a bowl for his water.

The woman told me about a little grassy block.out the back where I could walk the dog.

First night was a success.

The next port of call was Coonabarabran NSW. This one was not so cheap but once again it had all the comforts required. A rug provided  for puppy to sleep on, dishes for his food and water and plenty of room to walk him.

Bonus was room service pizza at night. It was delicious.

Final overnighter was at Dalby, Qld.

A bargain price which included an all you can eat buffet for breakfast. The room was great. It had an awesome air con which was good because by now it was 45C. Dog and I lounged under the aircon all night.

Whilst the route I took added a few more kilometres of travelling to my journey, it was worth it, because of the excellent accommodation that was provided for the dog as well as myself.

I may well take another road back home and see what other Motels are providing for mans’ best friend.

Multi cultural family

My multicultural Family.

 I can , in all honesty, claim to have a truly multicultural family. As well as multicultural, I think my 4 siblings and I could rival the late Elizabeth Taylor in the race to see how many divorces and  marriages we have had.

There have been 3 Australians, 1 Greek, 2 Africans, 1 Austrian, 1 Samoan, 1 Italian, 1 Dutch,1  Danish and 2 Englishmen in our past and present partners.

Our children have added a few more cultures with Melanesian, French, German, Swedish ,Norwegian, as well as more Italians, Indian Slovakian and English.

To date there have been no Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese or Americans, although I was briefly engaged to an American who was ,I think ,related to Donald Trump, possibly his twin. For this reason I decided the union would not last. And quickly ended the union. 

Catering for unexpected guests is a challenge.

This is a regular occurence when one has many different cultures incorporated into ones family.

Usually  I will prepare mega amounts of food just in case.

More likely than not one of the children, their partner or parents in law will text and ask if is ok for great aunt Sally and her cousin  twice removed, plus , their children to come over for dinner .

My own immediate family is just that. A mish mash of various  ethnicities.

I never know just how many might turn up on any given occasion.

At each family gathering I try to do at least one or two dishes that are relevant to  each group.

The Samoan contingent love Raw Fish, Taro and Paulisami as well as mega amounts of any type of meat. This lot always operate on “Island time”

This Island time is very flexible and usually ends up with them arriving at least   2 hours later than anyone else.

Not to worry though. I have this sorted after many years of waiting. I just tell them we are eating at 10am and they are sure to arrive by lunchtime.

Next there is the Indian section.  Curries and extra spicy food are a must , as well as copious amounts of rice. If the food burns my mouth when I try it, I know it will be just right for them.

Chilli so hot it burns my nostrils whilst preparing it. Heaven help me if I get an itchy eye during the process. Instant blindness.

The Aussie and English lot are more than happy to have bangers , peas and mash. With maybe a few prawns thrown on the barbie to boot.

Whip up a big pot of Spaghetti with ciabatta and olive oil on the side and we are set.

Despite the work involved, these family get togethers are great. Everyone is happy, not in the least myself. I may be exhausted from all that cooking, but I happy to have them all in the same place at the same time. Life is good.

70th birthday

I had the best 70th birthday ever.

I was lucky to be able to travel to Japan 10 days before I turned 70. 

What a great trip it was. So many beautiful things to see and do. 

The autumn leaves were displaying their brilliant colours and the weather was close to perfect.

Never in my wildest dreams did that I think I would ever be able to travel overseas again, let alone to Japan

However, the opportunity arose and it was with great excitement that I packed my gear, organised my trip and off I went.

The lesser known islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu are places not to be missed. The people, the food and the culture are amazing.

The pristine natural springs, the towering mountains, the shinto shrines ,buddhist temples and the super friendly , helpful people of Japan make a visit to this country a wonderful experience.

To wander slowly about the many little towns and villages is indeed a pleasure. One feels quite safe, even a woman alone. There does not seem to be any sign of muggers or pickpockets.

There were no homeless people seen , at least not where I went. Maybe in the big cities there are, but it just does not seem to be a place where people are homeless. 

The streets and countryside are free from any litter. Drivers have manners and adults and children all wait patiently in line in shops and at attractions.

Hotel staff are at the visitors  beck and call. Bowing with respect to every guest who enters their hotel. Beds are laid out for sleeping, bags carried to the rooms , smiling faces with no expectations of anything more than a thank you.

The food. Wow, the food is amazing. Every chef in every little cafe or bar will go out of their way to please the diner. 

Foods such as Ramen, fish prepared every way imaginable, pork, chicken, beef veges in all shapes and form. A gastromical delight.

I cannot believe how much food I consumed, but did not feel over full or bloated. It is all very natural, no preservatives at all and freshly prepared.

Sure, there are MacDonalds and KFC but why would anyone want to go there when all this other food is available.

My favourite meal was Ramen. This soup like meal has an amazing depth of flavour. I really need to learn how to make it. Full of soupy goodness, with nododles and some kind of meat, whether it be seafood, chicken or pork, does not matter. All were delicious. All left me wanting more. 

Another favourite were the Yakatori dishes. Deep fried chicken  other meat or just vegetables in a light crispy batter .. Truly amazing.

I had a misguided idea that all I would be eating was sushi and sashimi. How wrong I was.

Ice cream, in many different flavours, lingonberry, roasted green tea, matcha, mango or just plain milky were equally is good as any I have ever tasted.

Yes, Japan is an amazing place. 

I actually turned 70 halfway between Haneda and Sydney. The airline staff knew it was my birthday and I was given a nice roomy seat in an exit aisle as a business class upgrade was not available due to a fully booked flight. 

The cabin crew, two rather nice young men brought me champagne in a proper glass and also a set of Qantas pyjamas.

What a birthday to remember.!

Hot Springs

On a recent  trip to Japan I was excited to be going to places that had Onsen, or Hot Springs.

Actually, before arriving in Japan I was sure that I would be partaking in more than one dip in a hot spring 

Onsen water is believed to have a multitude of healing properties, since time began, and is packed full of minerals that are thought to be good for your skin, circulation and general health. Onsen baths can be  made from materials such as cypress wood, marble and granite , and are often situated in areas of outstanding natural beauty or attached to lovely traditional inns. They can be absolutely beautiful. 

I packed my swimwear and towel in readiness for the experience.

A dip in the onsen is  supposed to be very good for all matter of complaints. It eases  painful joints, makes the skin soft and silky and relieves stress amongst other things.

 Ask any Japanese person what is their favourite thing about Japan and they’ll most likely say onsen . 

For such a well-loved pastime, onsen are also probably the scariest part of Japanese culture for most foreigners.

I read up on the rules of public bathing.

First and foremost, no clothing, swimwear or anything like it is to be worn in the onsen.

At this revelation I was taken aback. I, of the larger variety of women, naked in public?

 It was almost too much to comprehend.

I immediately doubted my confidence to appear before others in my skin only. 

One plus was that women and men had separate onsen. This calmed me down a little bit. At least no men would be present.

How would the super slender Japanese women cope with a whale like creature in the midst of their onsen?

The next rule is that everyone must have a shower before entering an onsen.

This is to protect the pristine waters from any contamination. No soap or shampoo can be used. Save that for the shower  beforehand.

Every onsen has a row of showers around the edges. Soap and shampoo are provided as well. A small stool is there to be used whilst showering as it is considered bad manners to stand and shower. One must also be careful not to splash the person showering next to you.

At the  onsen, you will be provided with a small and a large towel. Also a basket in which to place your clothing.

The large towel is for drying yourself and should be left in the changing room along with your clothes. The small towel is for washing and can be taken into the bathing area. You can take your small towel into the bath with you  but you mustn’t let it go in the water. Most people sit it on their head whilst bathing.

The small towel is also used to discreetly cover ones privates whilst walking from the shower to the bathing pool. I doubted it would cover much of my body. A bit akin to a postage stamp on a letter.

The more I  read the more I was filled with dread.

If you have long hair, wrap your hair in a small towel, as even if you’ve just washed your hair under the shower  you should take care to make sure that it doesn’t go in the bath water. No one wants to see hair floating around them.

In fact, even if you don’t have any hair you should refrain from putting your head underwater, it is just not considered to be hygienic.

Tattoos are a no no.

 Persons with tattoos are best to bathe in a private indoor onsen.

 Excessive noise and alcohol are also banned in public onsen

Armed with all this information, I decided I would give it a go .

The best time would be around 4am as not many people in the area at that time.

I woke just before 4 and gathered my courage. Just as I was about to leave my room, an earthquake struck. The building shook and rattled for several minutes. Surely this was a sign that the gods were warning me not to show my nakedness to anyone else.

That was it. 

The decision was out of my hands.

I never did experience the onsen.


Golliwogs are here to stay.

Love them or leave them.

 Some say they are racist. 

I have to disagree.

 There is nothing racist about a golliwog.

Gollies are cute little creatures who bear no resemblance at all to any human. 

They are just cute little dolls. 

Gollies have been around for many many years.

I had one when I was a small child. 

I loved it.

I also loved Gilbert Golly from the Noddy Books. Another favourite book was The 3 Golliwogs.

At no time , before now, have Gollies ever been likened to any human race. 

Why people are up in arms about them is beyond my comprehension.

How can anyone say these cuties are offensive?

Offensive to who?

I have many friends and family members who are indigenous persons. Not one of them is offended by, or thinks Gollies are racist.

This (Racist) way of thinking is all in the warped minds of the minority . 

This minority needs  to get a grip on life.

Does this minority also feel that Barbie Dolls are offensive?

If not, why not?

Barbie Dolls are big busted, blonde bimbos. 

One look at myself and I could qualify as such.

Am I offended? 


What about the Black (am I even allowed to say that word) Cabbage Patch Dolls. They look like an actual human. They are the image of a  bubba of African descent.

They would be more likely to be considered Racist than the humble ,loveable Golly. But, no, no one ever complains about them.

I make Gollies. I actually sew them up and sell them to people who do not have a warped mind.

These people love them, just as they would love any other doll.

I was thinking that maybe it is more the word “Golliwog” that offends some people. 

I really don’t see why it should, but it is worth a thought.

Maybe if they were called something different. Some thing like Mammy Dolls. Or Pappy Dolls.

Maybe just Dollies would be better in the minds of some.

I listed my gollies on a craft site just recently.

Out of one hundred comments, only two accused me of being Racist.

Not a very large percentage is it?

 Perhaps it is just another case of Minority Rules.

From Wikipedia.

“A dominant minority, also called elite dominance is a minority group that has overwhelming political, economic, or cultural dominance in a country, despite representing a small fraction of the overall population (a demographic minority). Dominant minorities are also known as alien elites if they are recent immigrants.” 

A da y in the life of an 18 year old

A day in the life of my 18 year old grandson is very much different to when my own boys were 18.

When my own three were 18, they had all moved out of home to either work or go to University.They did their own washing, helped with the housework and took turns at cooking the evening meal any time they came home. They had been doing these chores since they turned 12. They are now in their mid 30 ‘s.and still do so whenever they come to visit.

At present I am looking after my two grandsons aged 14 and 18 whilst their parents take a well earned rest. I love these boys dearly but their daily routine, especially the 18 year old, leaves a bit to be desired.

Granted, he gets himself out of bed each morning without any help from me. Spends half an hour under the shower, how could showering take so long I ask myself. Next task is getting dressed. Then another half an hour in the bathroom combing, gelling, moussing and styling the hair and god knows what else. Thank goodness he is not a girl.

Next up is breakfast. He does make his own. Literally, a litre bowl of porridge, 4 eggs on toast and a litre size mug of protein shake.

He tells me it is for building muscle. I would have thought the mega bowl of porridge and the 4 eggs would have been sufficient for that.

Mind you, he is very slim and not overly tall. Perhaps he does need such a breakfast to build him up, who am I to think otherwise.

Of course the kitchen looks like a tornado has passed through when he has finished his breakfast.

No amount of encouraging will see him cleaning up after himself. That Is not an option according to the lad.

Whilst this is happening, and in amongst the tornado style mess from 18 year old, I prepare the 14 year olds breakfast because he doesn’t know how to even turn the toaster on, let alone place a slice of bread in it.

14 year olds breakfast is a bit more normal.

One package of Up and Go and 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter.

When I suggested that I could teach him how to make toast a look of sheer horror came over his face. He assured me he would be “right” not knowing this simple task.

They both headed off to school after a bit of banter about what clothing would need to be washed that day.

Talking about clothing. Oh my goodness!. 18 year old dumps at least 4 changes in the laundry every day. There is the school uniform. The after school clothes, gym clothes, after gym clothes, going out socialising clothes, pyjamas. A look of disbelief on the little cherubs face when I suggest he could possibly wear some clothes again without washing them as he had only had them on for a couple of hours.

Oh no, that would never do,

I ask if he would like me to show him how to use the washing machine, he tells me he doesn’t have time to learn that as he has to rush off to the gym, after he has more protein drinks of course. These ones are different, he says ,as they are specifically for pre gym. The powder all looks the same to me.

I have to add that before each clothing change he goes through the hourly shower and preening routine plus a quick mega bowl of porridge and another protein shake and any leftover meat in the fridge.

I estimate he has at least five meals a day. Last one at around midnight when he cooks up several chicken breasts for when the munchies strike.

I cook an enormous quantity of dinner for the boys. Most of it consumed at the table, very rarely a crumb left.

Poor dogs do not get any scraps .

I suppose it is good that there is no wastage but I cannot believe how anyone could eat so much.

My daughter left me $600 to buy more food. That amount would keep me and several others overfed for more than a month I told her.

Just take it she said, you will not have any change left, after the 10 days.

She was right.

18 year olds. You just have to love them.

snippets of my life as it is and how it was