Times Past: Trees

This month for our reminisces Irene Waters has suggested the topic of “Trees”

I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in the city.

Our first home was at Henley Beach and Norfolk Island Pines lined many of the streets in the area. They were tough, helped lessen erosion and provided wind breaks. When we moved a couple of kilometers east our road had only a few of the Pines but outside our house was a big one. When our ex-neighbours came to visit, climbing that tree was a challenge. The first part was relatively simple because the lowest branch was within reach and there were no big distances between the levels. The higher we went though the more the tree swayed and certainly the more scared I became so I was nowhere near the highest climber. The person who seemed fearless was Jenny, an ex-neighbour who probably was about 10, she continued higher and higher even when her body swayed from side to side as she clung onto the trunk. She definitely was the bravest.

Norfolk Island Pine in the background.

As kids we were all given a  tree. I think mine was a Navel Orange. I know my younger sister had the Mandarin Tree and I was jealous of that, all kids love Mandarins. There were also Figs, Almonds, Golden Queen Peach, Apricot, Grapefruit, Lemon and Plum trees.

One day Dad burnt off some dry grass underneath a very big, old Gum Tree then that night flames shot out of the top like a Roman Candle. Dad climbed up the ladder and sawed the top off the tree.  My oldest brother’s tree was supposed to be a replacement for the old dead Gum but that was still standing when the new one planted beside it had died and rotted away. Years later Galahs started nesting in the hollow each season.

The old Gum Tree with top sawn off.

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Times Past: Meals

When I see children tucking into Sushi, Curry, Pizza, Yiros or Spring Rolls it makes me realize how much broader their eating experiences are than my own childhood ones. Our family didn’t have a rich cultural diversity and our meals reflected that. Any spaghetti we had came out of a tin and bore no resemblance to the delicious Italian recipe I’d enjoy now.

Breakfast would have consisted of Weetbix or Cornflakes in Summer and possibly Semolina in winter, definitely not muesli with yoghurt. We also made toast in a toaster where you had to stand and watch it all the time, the toast didn’t pop up, you had to open the door to check it and to take the slice out.

We ate breakfast, lunch and tea, I think it was considered posh to have “dinner” in the evening. Staple night time meals were Mince with mashed potatoes and peas, forequarter chops and sausages or stew. Mum used a  Pressure cooker  to cook stew and I hated being asked to drop the valve over the jet of steam when she was busy out in the garden. Sometimes we’d have “English Fillet”, I’ve no idea what kind of fish it was but it was orange and it was cooked in milk and served with white Sauce and parsley. We’d have boiled potatoes with that. Savaloys were a filling meal served with vegetables and Tomato Sauce.

Pressure Cooker

When our old Auntie Myrtle was living with us she took over the cooking and we had to eat things like Liver and Bacon, crumbed Brains, Tripe and Kidneys.

Sunday lunch was usually a roast of Forequarter Lamb or rolled Brisket with plenty of roast vegetables and Gravox.  Although we kept chooks we didn’t ever kill them for dinner but in the 1960s a Chicken Shop opened within a mile or so of our place and occasionally we’d get a Roast Chicken for Sunday lunch or a special occasion. Unlike now when we have as much chicken as we want at a single meal it was really not much more than a delicious taste of it when I was young. Vegetables would be whatever was in season and always fresh; cauliflower, spinach, peas, green beans, silver beet, swedes, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, carrots or pumpkin.

During the week we’d have salad with the left over roast meat. The salad was made up of tomatoes, Iceberg Lettuce, Apple Cucumbers and onion. No French or Italian dressings just mayonnaise or a splash of vinegar. There would also have been Beetroot but not on my plate!

Sunday night meals were easy and quick like canned mushrooms on toast, Baked Beans, spaghetti  or Scrambled Eggs.

Canned spaghetti on toast

 

Desserts were usually some kind of stewed fruit from our trees or canned served with custard. Our fridge couldn’t keep icecream so that was a special treat. Other desserts were Jelly, Junket, creamed rice or sometimes Blancmange   A favourite dessert of Auntie Myrtle’s  was Bread and Butter Pudding.

Bread and Butter Pudding

“Take Away” meant Fish and Chips if we were very lucky when we went down to the beach. Rice was a dessert dish and my first meal with savoury rice would have been when I was about 18 and had my first “exotic” Chinese meal.

Yum, Sweet and Sour Chicken with Fried Rice