Times Past: Cooking with Mum

This month’s prompt from Irene Waters made me chuckle, “Cooking with Mum“.

I’m a Baby Boomer so my mum was a stay at home housewife, right? Wrong! I don’t think Mum ever intended to fill that role, running a business was what she loved and whenever an opportunity came up she took it.

I know there won’t be any photos of her cooking and there certainly won’t be much to write about!

Dad loved Rockcakes and the only thing I can remember cooking with Mum were batches of those. I didn’t get to crack eggs into the mixture or to squish it through my fingers. My job was to grease the tray and dust it with flour. Although I’ve tried to bake cakes I think I’ve inherited Mum’s culinary skills and after all these years I’ve learnt my limitations. Luckily I married a man who loves to cook and he passed on his enthusiasm to our children.

Rockcakes

Advertisements

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.

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

Times Past: Birthday Parties

Birthday Parties are the theme for this month’s recollections, suggested by Irene A Waters.

(Baby Boomer growing up in an Australian capital city.)

When I was young we had birthday parties though nothing like the extravagant theme parties many kids have now. Most of our birthdays would have been celebrated within the immediate family but during my Primary School years I remember parties I attended at other girls’ homes. Boys were never invited and I don’t remember any boys having parties, even my brothers.

In my class at school there were cousins who lived next door to each other and I looked forward to their parties because they always had delicious cream puffs. I also remember seeing my first ice-cream cake at another party. During those years the party pies and pasties were all home made, nothing was available from a supermarket freezer then.

We played games like:

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

Musical Chairs

Pass the Parcel   (only the last person got a prize)

Scavenger Hunts

We had fun with balloons and whistles which had extending paper ends with feathers on them.

Everyone was given a piece of cake to take home wrapped in a serviette.

My brother Michael’s 4th birthday celebration.

My birthday, guests include neighbours, a cousin and friends from school. A brother of one girl is hiding in the background, probably embarrassed to be there.

There are always balloons at birthdays!

 

Times Past: Haircuts

In response to Irene A Waters at Reflections and Nightmares this post is about haircuts.

I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in an Australian capital city.

I have a strong memory of my hair when I was little because I had to suffer Mum’s brushing of it. Clonk, drag, clonk, drag, she never demonstrated much finesse when it came to fine motor skills. My hair was always in two plaits with ribbons on the end. A vision has just popped into my head of Mum reaching out to get a rubber band from a door knob so she could fasten the end of my plait. I don’t think I had my hair cut much before I was about 10. I remember the awful disappointment as I left the hairdressers then with what I considered a “boys’ cut”. Maybe Mum was fed up with me complaining about her rough hair styling and sent me off to be shorn.

When I was in secondary school I grew my hair long and when it was in the intermediate stage I permed it myself. No nice styling before or after the perm and I was horrified when I saw the initial result but by setting it in quite large rollers it looked presentable when I left the house.

My brothers had their hair cut by Dad until secondary school. “The Oracle” remembers going to a barber for the first time when he came through the city on his way home from school. There were never any fancy cuts for them, just a short back and sides but at least Dad had enough skill to avoid the “Basin Cut”.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Times Past: Remembered Plants

Irene Waters has taken up another blogger’s suggestion, plants and gardens, for this month’s memoirs.

I’m an Australian, city raised, Baby Boomer.

As I look around my garden now I see things I’ve planted because they bring back happy memories of time spent with my grandparents. I planted a Mulberry Tree because they always remind me of climbing high up the massive one they had in their backyard. I have “Lamb’s Ears” in a pot, I discovered the velvety texture of their leaves where they were growing around the border of Nana’s fish pond. I have a lush fern garden which I always associate with Nana. The path meandered around their backyard with shrubs and trees creating lots of secluded little places.

At home we had a very long lawn along the side of the house, it had been used for playing Bowls and we made good use of it, running through sprinklers in the summer, upending bikes to fix tyres, playing on the swing and rocker as well as doing gymnastics.

Mum worked on the flower beds out the front and along the side while Dad took on all the vegies and fruit trees out the back.

The house was old and for a long time there was a Wisteria covered arch out the front, in September it was wonderful walking under the perfumed, blue flower sprays. Plants I remember Mum growing were Geraniums, Pelargoniums, Coleus, Cinerarias and Dahlias. She always fussed about with Dahlias she cut, singeing the ends before putting them in water. Lilies, including black ones, appeared each year and a Japonica bush with it’s bright flowers on almost bare stems. I loved it when the Guelder Rose bush flowered with its big, white pompom blooms. We kids had fun with the fruit from an old wild peach tree, lining the peaches across the road then waiting for a car to come and squash them.

When we first moved to the house in 1953 the back yard was full of fig trees, all but one were bulldozed and a variety of fruit trees took their places. We ate apricots, almonds, peaches, nectarines, oranges and mandarins, whatever was in season. There seemed to be lemons at any time of year. Grape vines grew along a wire trellis and I loathed coming home at night when spiders would be hanging from the vines and I’d invariably walk face first into a sticky web. Dad also grew tomatoes, sweetcorn and different melons. I lived overseas for seven years and received a letter from Dad once a year, I guess seeing the almond tree in bloom reminded him I wasn’t there because each time his letter told me the tree was in blossom.

In my garden I have Grape Vines, a Lemon Tree, two Fig Trees and a Hibiscus all grown from cuttings taken from the old house. The Snowflakes and Grape Hyacinths which are shooting up now also came from there. I didn’t realize just how many memories were linked to my plants and garden.

 

 

 

 

 

Times Past: In the School Playground

Another post following Irene Waters suggestion, this time it’s about school playgrounds.

I’m a Baby Boomer brought up in an Australian capital city.

I attended the local public school and our “playground” was asphalt but there was also a grassed oval and another area where older girls played softball. The school was near the beach and the bases were simply depressions in the sand. Only the older boys went onto the Oval  during school time.

On the asphalt area we played:

Fairies and Witches, Hopscotch, Chasey, What’s the Time Mr Wolf?, Red Rover All Over etc

Skipping – long ropes for group skipping and short ropes for individuals. A group skipping game I remember went with the chant, “Old Mother Wishy Washy fell down the well. How far did she fall?” The pace was normal to start with but at the end of the chant it became “pepper” ie very fast. However many skips you managed at the fast pace was how far the washerwoman fell.

Marbles -this was really a boys’ game but I loved playing, I probably only played after school

Knuckle Bones – not plastic ones but actual sheep knuckle bones saved from the Sunday roast.

Monkey Bars – I can’t recall where these were so maybe they were actually in community playgrounds but I remember the blisters on my hands

YoYos – Mine wasn’t very fancy but some kids had genuine Coca Cola ones. Yoyos were something that became a fad for a while then disappeared again.

The “Playground” ie asphalt was also where we had to line up in our class groups at the end of lunch before marching into our rooms to the music from the Fife and Drum Band.

Once a week we also lined up in classes for the “Oath of Allegience” or whatever it was … “I am an Australian, I love my country, I honour her queen, I salute her flag, I promise to obey her laws”… and the singing of the National Anthem.

Before I was old enough to go to school, doing a lap around the asphalt for the “Best Decorated Bike” contest at the School Fair.