Natalie Tozer's favourite things (+ her Lorna Louise slice recipe)

Artist Natalie Tozer counts her collection of four-leaf clovers as among her favourite things.

Natalie Tozer shares her favourite things. Photo / Babiche Martens.
Natalie Tozer shares her favourite things. Photo / Babiche Martens.

Emerging artist Natalie Tozer feels blessed to work in the "creative playground" that is Lot 23. Set up in an industrial building in Minnie St, Eden Terrace, this family venture incorporates a film and video production house, a cafe, art gallery, and a space for events.

Tozer not only gets to assuage her artistic appetite daily, but can also take her newborn son, Tom, along to the "office".

This mother of two is an Elam graduate whose first love is watercolour. "But I fell into sculpture when I was invited to participate in this year's Headland Sculpture on the Gulf pavilion," she explains.

When she's not pursuing such painterly passions, she's curating art for the gallery or producing events that range from music-video launches to cabaret shows. In any down time, you'll find her tempting cafe patrons to indulge in sweet somethings such as their home-baked Lorna Louise Slice.

"We wanted to make the space a hub for the local community," says Tozer. With art in abundance (works by Otis Frizzell and Mike Weston are currently on show), and couches to retire to, the experience is akin to stepping into someone's living room.


MY FAVOURITE THINGS

Four-leaf clover collection and Lorna louise slice.
Four-leaf clover collection and Lorna louise slice.


1. Lorna Louise Slice
Our baker at the cafe, Dan Tiehuis, adapted this recipe which originally came from our other chef's mother, Lorna. She lived on a farm in the Manawatu and used the wild berries that were growing alongside the paddocks to make this slice which has whole fresh berries and home-made jam in it.

Ingredients:
• 125g room-temperature butter
• ¾ cup caster sugar
• 3 large room-temperature eggs, separated (use whites for topping)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp vanilla essence
• ¾ cup raspberry or plum jam

Coconut topping:
• 5 egg whites (use 3 from separated eggs)
• 1 ¼ cups caster sugar
• ¼ cup desiccated coconut
• 1 tsp vanilla essence
• Handful fresh raspberries (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 150C. Grease a 28cm x 18cm rectangular cake tin and line with baking paper. Allow paper to hang over the edges.

2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add three egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Sift flour and baking powder together; fold through the creamed mixture. The dough will be quite crumbly. Press dough into the lined tin. Bake for 15 minutes until golden; allow to cool.

5. To prepare the topping, add egg whites and sugar to a clean, dry bowl. Place bowl in sink of warm water and using an electric mixer, whisk until sugar has dissolved and the whites form soft peaks. Gently fold in the coconut and vanilla essence.

6. Use a spatula to spread a thin layer of jam over the cooked base. Cover with fresh raspberries if using. Spoon and spread the coconut meringue over the jam to cover the meringue.

8. Bake for 10 minutes or until the meringue top is a pink eggshell colour. It's normal for the meringue to crack. Remove from oven and cool in tin for 2 - 3 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the tin by holding on to the baking paper and gently lifting it out. Cool on a wire rack.

10. Cut into squares and serve topped with fresh raspberries. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.


L - R: 1960's coffee machine, vintage ball-gowns, stuffed white cobra.
L - R: 1960's coffee machine, vintage ball-gowns, stuffed white cobra.


2. 1960s coffee machine
The San Marco lever coffee machine, which we bought from the owners of the old Brazil Cafe on K Rd, was part of our inspiration for opening a cafe here. It uses an old-fashioned, manual extraction technique - there are no electrics.

We use beans from Brazil Roastery that are blended specifically to work with the machine, and I can tell you that it produces dangerously strong coffee. When we posted shots of our gallery renovation on Facebook, a lot of people spotted the machine and said it was like an old friend had returned.


3. Vintage ball-gowns
I'm lucky enough to have ball-gowns from both my mother, Joy, and my mother-in-law, Gaye. They're all hand-made. My favourites include one that Gaye wore for her Prom graduation in 1966.

She was over in the States as an exchange student. It's a floor-length gown in a sparkly aqua-metallic fabric and I find it so elegant with its high neck. The other one is a kaftan-like dress with batwings made in floaty chiffon. It's a symmetrical design featuring clouds and rainbows - very cosmic!


4. Stuffed white cobra
I have such an imaginative father-in-law. He gave me this as a present for my 30th birthday because I had always admired it when I visited their house. He'd had the cobra since he was a child growing up in Christchurch.

He says he has an ambivalent attitude towards snakes, so extraordinary and sensuous on the one hand, so prehistoric and alien-looking on the other. The cobra lives in my studio on a table next to a jar of vintage paint brushes and a terrarium.

Pink-lens Ray-bans and vintage baby clothes
Pink-lens Ray-bans and vintage baby clothes


5. Pink-lens Ray-Bans
My father-in-law, Steve, gave me these Aviators. He could have given them to my husband, Sam, but because they're pink with red-leather trim, I don't think he would have worn them. I love sunglasses and these are in mint condition. Steve was given them in the 1970s but he suspects they're a 1960s design.


6. Vintage baby clothes
I've been given some baby clothes that were made for my mother-in-law by her mum or grandmothers. They're at least 60 years old. I used to dress my daughter, Penelope, in them when she was a baby. I'd turn up at the coffee morning with her all dressed up to the nines! They're lace-trimmed and beautiful. Really, they should be in a museum.


7. Hermes handbag
Fuchsia. Tasselled. Suede. Hermes. 1960s. What more could you want?

L-R: Hermes handbag, cameo necklace, painting by Elliot Francis Stewart
L-R: Hermes handbag, cameo necklace, painting by Elliot Francis Stewart


8. Cameo necklace
I grew up in the Bay of Islands and, when I was a teenager, took art lessons from a couple called Mary and Ron Citrine. They were both in their 80s, and I loved going there for my weekly session.

We'd head out into the fields to paint en plein air, which is how I fell in love with watercolour. We'd paint flowers and landscapes, which were not altogether fashionable at the time.

The Citrines had a huge impact on my life; they defined my identity as an artist. They gave me this delicate cameo necklace which I treasure.


9. Painting by Elliot Francis Stewart
To my mind, Elliot is a genius; he's just so over-the-top talented. He's based in Grey Lynn and his art has a comic-book influence. He always paints on found objects, such as doors or cabinets, and we own a bitter-sweet painting of his that is painted on a door with a red background.

It reminds me of the story of Rapunzel because it depicts a boy reaching out to a girl who is standing in a tower and her golden hair is flowing down and dripping all over him. But, somehow, he just can't reach her.


10. Four-leaf clover collection
One day when I was in the Hard to Find Secondhand Bookshop in Onehunga - an amazing place with lots of levels and nooks - I discovered The World in Vogue. It's a fantastic hard-cover fashion book and was inscribed in the front as a gift to "Jackie" in 1967.

When I took it home and started leafing through it, on page 105 I found a collection of four-leaf clovers. Imagine that. Instant good luck.

- VIVA

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