Grandma’s steamed peach pie

A.J. (Joe) Carseldine

Remembering Sarah Agnes Carseldine (nee Protheroe) 1856 to 1929

My grandparents. Joseph and Sarah Agnes Carseldine (neé Protheroe) lived at 'Fairfield', Bald Hills (then a rural, mostly dairy farming area 11 miles north of Brisbane), the family farm where his parents, William and Mary Ann Carseldine had settled in 1858.

Grandpa passed away suddenly on 5th June 1919 from influenza. After the end of World War I, an influenza epidemic swept Europe causing many deaths, it was said as many as were killed in the War. Australian troops returning from the war brought it to Australia, Grandpa being one of the victims.

Then on 2nd April 1920, Uncle Vern was tragically drowned at Bribie Island. This left Grandma with no male to help run the farm. My father, Percy James Carseldine, a blacksmith by trade, decided to leave his trade and take over the farm.

Our family had been living at Northgate from where we moved to Bald Hills in October 1920. I can well remember the events that day. Two men arrived at the Northgate house with an open waggon drawn by two horses, and loaded our possessions. Dad, Mum and we three kids myself, Harold and Vern (who was then 4 months old) preceded them in our horse and sulky. From then on our family settled down to farm life, with Dad running the farm, and Mum and Grandma coping with the household.

One of Grandma's interests was the vegetable garden, from which we had a constant supply of seasonal vegetables throughout the year. We also had fruit trees growing; peaches, ordinary white fleshed and china flats, guavas, Seville oranges, bush lemons, and persimmons. Grandma was an excellent cook, jam, pickle and chutney maker, so the pantry was always well stocked. I can still remember the taste of her Steamed Peach Puddings! She would line an enamel basin with pastry, add peaches and sugar and cover with pastry top, then she would steam cook it. Another of her specialties was Pumpkin Pie, which was just as delicious as the Peach Pudding. Her scones made with buttermilk were another unforgettable delicacy.

Each year the Church would hold a Fete, which included cooking and needlework competitions, and about 1923 I was reading through the various categories of the competition, when I noticed that the prize for a plate of scones, was the princely sum of two shillings and sixpence (25 cents).So I asked grandma would she show me how to make scones, and she agreed. Things went smoothly and the scones came out of the oven beautifully cooked, and I started to go outside thinking my job was finished. Grandma asked "Where are you going Joe?" I replied "Oh I've made the scones I'm going out to play." "Oh no you're not" said Grandma, "The cooking isn't finished until the dishes are washed up!" However 'my' scones won first prize, and I felt like a millionaire.

When the pie melon season arrived, it was time to make a stock of melon and lemon jam. We would sit round the kitchen table after dinner at night, Grandma and Mum cutting up the melon, Harold my next younger brother and I were recruited to take out all the seeds from the melon. Then the prepared fruit was left overnight together with the lemon seeds in a cloth bag, so that the pectin would infuse throughout. Next day it would be cooked, cooled and bottled, with melted paraffin wax being poured over the top of each jar to preserve it.

While Mum was preparing dinner at night, Grandma would bath us. Vern, number two brother, was always a problem at bath time, Grandma would have to fight him to remove his clothes for the bath, then he would refuse to get into the bath and then refuse to get out. But Grandma always won!

One thing I always looked forward to was Grandma reading books to us after we got into bed. There was no electricity in those days, so she would read to us by candlelight, such books as David Copperfield, Treasure Island, and Children of the New Forest. She would read a chapter to us each night and I think this was the main reason for my lifetime love of literature.

When the cows produced more milk than could be sold, Dad would separate the milk and send the cream to Caboolture Butter Factory, but retain enough to make our own butter. The making of which Grandma supervised. Each Saturday morning, Harold and I were given the job of turning the handle of the churn to make the butter. After the butter was made, Grandma would work it by hand until all the buttermilk was removed, and the salt added as a preservative. Scones would then be made from the buttermilk.

As the dairy herd increased, Dad had to build a new milk room to house the milk cooler and cream separator. Grandma's younger brother, Uncle Charlie Protheroe was a builder, so Dad had him build it. As he and his family lived at Eight Mile Plains, on the southern side of Brisbane, transport was a problem, so he stayed with us for about a fortnight while building the new dairy. He smoked a pipe, one of the foulest smelling pipes one could imagine, which he loaded with strong dark plug tobacco. When he wanted to light up, Grandma would chase him out of the house to the wood heap, where he would sit on the chopping block and tell us kids tall stories.

Grandma had a lifelong friendship with Mrs.Skerman, and I can remember about 1927 Dad driving the T-Ford, with all the family aboard to Skerman's house for Grandma to spend a week with them. The Skermans had come to Queensland in 1867 and settled on the North Pine River, establishing a dairy farm. David and Louise Protheroe and family had arrived in Brisbane from Wales in 1871 when Grandma was 15 and selected land adjacent to Skerman's property, thereby becoming neighbours.

Grandma could speak Welsh fluently, and wanted to teach me but, callow youth that I was, I refused, a decision that I have often regretted .Although Fairfield was her home, she would spend short periods with other members of her family. She was with her eldest daughter Alice Neville when she contracted her last illness and died on 16th.August 1929. She was buried in the family plot at Bald Hills Cemetery.

The best Grandma anyone ever had.