Beloved hand-me-down kitchen objects speak of the past & carry their own stories.
1 / Preserving pan
Ginny Grant, senior food writer. This is my paternal grandmother’s preserving pan (although she called it a jelly pan). She was a huge preserver – she made the best raspberry jam (runny and fruit forward) and I distinctly remember her quince jelly, so crystal clear and golden. They lived in the Oamaru district and she would have standing fruit orders from Central Otago fruit growers, so boxes of stone fruits would turn up ready to be preserved. Nowadays, I use it as an ice bucket.
2 / Milk jug
Nicola Edmonds, photographer. A treasured jug that belonged to my Nana Morgan. At her house I remember it was the jug-of-all-trades, mostly used as a milk jug but I also in use when there were big family meals – for gravy, white or mustard sauces or for custard. It’s probably the only thing I have that belonged to Nana Morgan. I love it because it reminds me of her wonderful cooking and these days I love to use it in my kitchen because of the handle, which feels as though it was ergonomically designed to fit my hand.
3 / Silver cutlery
Emma Galloway, food writer. From memory, my parent’s were given this cutlery at their wedding. When I was little the set used to live in a special drawer, in its special box and was only used when we had people over for dinner, but nowadays my mum uses it as regular cutlery. Years ago, when we moved to Perth I asked her if I could have some to use for styling my recipes on my blog and cookbooks (at that stage they were but a dream!) – she let me have one knife and one fork.
4 / Cake slice
Tracy Whitmey, copy editor. My sister’s china cabinet now holds those few heirlooms that have made the journey to New Zealand from the family home in Lancashire. This china cake slice came from my grandma. I can’t say that I have memories of Grandma using it, but it’s special because she painted it and it has ‘Hand painted, HW’ on the back. Growing up, we used pieces of Grandma’s handpainted pottery on the table everyday – cups, plates, milk jugs and sugar bowls, always with a floral theme.
5 / Cheese knife
Kelli Brett, editor. Priorities have always been questionable in our family. Upon returning to Australia after 12 years living overseas, the first thing my mum gave me was her cheese knife. I had no furniture, no crockery or glassware or cutlery, but to Mum that cheese knife was an absolute essential. It’s been with me ever since. A reminder of the sensational cheese shop she worked in when I was a kid, the magnificent cheese boards and platters that always appeared with every excuse for a glass of wine, and the fact that a good cheese knife never goes astray…
6 / Rabbit jelly mould
Jane Lyons, food writer. My grandpa Peter is 90 now and he remembers the thrill of having the jelly rabbit at his birthday parties when he was little. His mother would make it for him and then when my mum was little, my grandmother Beryl would make itfor her. Then Mum made it for me and my brothers when we were young! There were often hairy moments trying to get the rabbit out of the mould – Dad had to use a hair dryer a couple of times.
7 / Frying pan
Aaron McLean, photographer. The frying pan was my mother’s and had long been in the family kitchen. When I left to go flatting my mother gave me the pan to use (she has since gone through many, many frying pans, none as good as the one she gave away). Some years ago the handle broke off but we continued to use it without the handle. Last year my eldest son, who had been dabbling in wood turning, made a new handle for the pan. So it is now fully restored, with the third generation family member invested in its ongoing usefulness.
8 / Kitchen scales
Greta van der Star, photographer. My mum was a dedicated baker – she would triple cake recipes and bake using roasting trays to make sure everyone she saw that week got to take something home. My memories of these scales consist of licking the butter and sugar off the sides. Mum was often multi-tasking and one day the smell of melting plastic filled the kitchen; the tray left dangerously close to an element started collapsing in on itself, soft and gooey. I love this memory – living in a single parent household is chaos and making time to bake every week for anyone who walks in the door is love.
9 / Pottery bowl
Ellen J Hemmings, stylist. This was passed down from my Granny when I was collecting servingware for my wedding. She died not long after and now every time I use it I am reminded of her. This bowl is what Gran always used for her rice pudding. Mum said Gran knew it was her favourite and would always use fresh morning cow’s milk and sometimes they would walk down to the shed together to get the milk to make it more special.
10 / Stonefruit corer
Fiona Lascelles, art director. I was spoilt by the best summer fruit while growing up in Hawke’s Bay, not only in the backyard (what wasn’t eaten fresh straight from the tree ended up in jars) but the local orchards as well. My mother would spend days in the blazing hot kitchen coring, bottling and making jam, filling the cupboards for winter. I distinctly remember her hands stained red by the plums off the tree in the garden.
11 / Photo plates
Fiona Smith, senior food writer. My grandparents were quite adventurous sorts. This plate, with my grandmother’s photo printed on it, is from their travels to China back in the late ’60s or early ’70s, at a time when China was not known as a holiday destination and only for the intrepid.