Friday, December 4, 2009

Joy (to the world)

My first ever job was working as a kitchen hand in a Salvation Army Retirement Home. Most of the people who worked there were Salvation Army themselves, so staff morning teas always started with prayers. I'm not a religious person myself, so I usually just drifted off into a dream world while all this was going on. One day, the receptionist was leading the prayer session. I don't remember the exact words, but it was something like "Please God, please, remind us to stop and smell the roses..." The pause lengthened to a point where bowed heads began to look up, and we saw her shoulders shaking with quiet sobs. Someone quickly jumped in to finish off, and she said nothing more. I have often thought of that moment, how we saw a moment in her life that she probably only intended to be a private one.
I thought of that incident this week. It was when I popped over to my neighbour Joy's house to smell her roses. She has really, really beautiful roses. She prunes and fertilizes and sprays and we get to enjoy them. I have time to smell them, every day if I want to. I am a very lucky person.

As well as having fabulous roses, Joy has a great fruit cake recipe. I made one this morning and the house smells so good.

Joy's light fruit cake

3 lb mixed fruit
1 T golden syrup
1 c wine
1/2 lb butter
1 and 1/2 c sugar
6 eggs
3 and 1/2 c high grade flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 mixed spice
1 t rose water essence

Mix the fruit with the syrup and wine, cover, and leave overnight. Cream the butter and the sugar, add eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Add the fruit and the flour and mix. Bake 4 h at 130 degrees C in a 10 inch square tin.

It's the rose water essence I think, that's the secret ingredient. It smells amazing. What's on your Christmas baking list?

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  1. that's such a sweet story, about the roses. you're right, we should lean over the fence and smell them more often!
    your fruit cake looks yum- i just might have to try that one (i like that there's wine in there- i'd have to buy an extra bottle for baking!)

  2. Toll House Chocolate Chip cookies--from scratch--with walnuts and real butter, real sugar, and real calories. YUM!!!! Will be making several batches this season!

    I always like making time to smell roses, appreciate snow (even as I shovel it), appreciate sunrises and sunsets, and clear crisp skies and puffy clouds.

  3. great post Jen; it's a wonderful life. Keep smelling the roses.

  4. of course having worked at that same place I'm thinking who?? why?? about the tears at prayer time..

    lovely lovely roses - might try that recipe!

  5. Lovely. That's something my Grandfather always said.

  6. The roses look beautiful and so does the cake. Just need to make mine. Have bought the rosewater, the glace cherries and a persimmon as it happens, because Giles has been translating underworld mythology and Persephone (who he was calling Percy phone, ahh the things that make us howl with laughter). Your neighbour Joy was so aptly named by her parents.

  7. Hey Miss Smith, as you are aware I worked in the very same resthome at the very same time. I have to admit that I do not remember a single thing that was said during prayers at morning tea, clearly I was dreaming as well. Was that sobbing person D with the glasses and curly hair? That's such a sad image.

    Well I am planning on making teeny tiny little bite-sized Christmas puddings out of scoops of Christmas cake, iced with white chocolate and maybe some pieces of green jelly beans on top cut to look like leaves. I just made it up, haven't tried it yet, I hope they work!

  8. Hi Jen - that christmas cake recipe sounds well worth a try. I might try a gluten free version. Im wondering where to get that rosewater though? Any suggestions??

  9. Hi Marg, I found rosewater essence in Countdown alongside the vanilla and almond essence. I'd never noticed it there before, but there it was.

  10. when we were putting the birth notice in the paper for Louis I was reading the notice to the operator "Ken and Mary welcome with joy" and the operator said
    is "joy" a person or an emotion? I replied "an emotion" and she said "right, lower case j". For some reason your post reminded me of that. Ken

  11. The roses are lovely. My first flat had an elderly neighbour who smoked while pruning her roses and we could smell when she was on the other side of the very high fence. Every so often she would phone us up and invite (tell) us to come over to pick the roses. I think she just wanted to talk to someone. I hope your colleague had someone to talk to too.