I have been reading “A Home Grown Cook”, by biography by Alison Holst, who is affectionately known as St Holst in our household. This unassuming Kiwi woman first appeared on New Zealand television many years ago to show home cooks how to prepare healthy, affordable and tasty family meals. Who can remember Chef Graeme Kerr of the Galloping Gourmet cooking shows who used a plethora of high priced and exotic ingredients which were out of the range of most of us? His show was a bit much for ordinary Kiwis to cope with, and we embraced Alison's style and down to earth presentations. Alison Holst tells of her family history, idyllic childhood and how her cooking career progressed. From tutoring, television appearances, to representing the Egg Board and Meat Board, she took her cooking skills throughout New Zealand and overseas. She has also been a prodigious fundraiser for charities. Alison Holst was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in 1985, and appointed Commander of the British Empire for Services to Home Science in 1987. In 1997 she received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Otago, and in 2011 was made Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
The chapter “Cakes and Quilts” tells how Alison started quilting after seeing a Toronto friend’s quilts. A trip to the local quilt shop was a revelation, and Alison purchased fabrics and stitched her own designs of appliqué blocks during her long hours of travelling. She designed the blocks to tell the story of her life and family, the Maple Leaf block to honour her first visit to Canada, and a block with scones and a tea pot in memory of her Mother. The strawberries were for daughter Kirsten who picked the fruit during a holiday job, and a rooster in memory of all the family chooks. Alison appliquéd two figures in centre of her quilt, herself and her beloved husband Peter, depicted gathering the bounty from their garden.
Alison Holst has produced 99 cookbooks to date, and a quick check in my kitchen shows that I have 9 of them. A couple of them are falling to pieces, a sign of a well used cookbook indeed. And wrapped up for Christmas was a nice new addition to my cookbooks, “100 great ways to use slow cookers and crockpots”, by Alison Holst and her son Simon. Many thanks to grand-daughter Megan for this gift, it will be much used, I am sure.
We have had a change in our holiday weather and the hot sunny Wairarapa sunshine has been replaced by heavy rain. So the shorts and sandals have been replaced with warmer clothing, shoes and socks and the gazebo has been forsaken. It was a good time to visit Pukaha Mount Bruce and get a peek at the rare white kiwi chick. Pop over to our other blog at www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com and read all about this rare and beautiful fluffy white baby.