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

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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

Graduations

Thanks Irene for another suggestion. I’m a Baby Boomer and grew up in an Australian capital city.

Graduating or marking a significant milestone has become commonplace now. Last year I attended a grandchild’s Kindy Graduation evening but I don’t think anything was done to mark early progressions to higher grades when I was a child. At the end of Primary School we were awarded the, “Progress Certificate” if we passed. My report cards show marks so I suppose we must have been tested.

When I was attending Secondary School  the final Assembly for the year was a marathon event with the best reader in the class reading out the best essay and the person deemed the best at reciting her chosen poem performed that too. Every class at every year level was represented.

The third, fourth and fifth years of Secondary School were called, “Intermediate, Leaving and Leaving Honours”.  At the end of each year a dance was held for each of these year levels and as far as I remember that was the only “celebration” of another year being completed.  Being shy I didn’t enjoy the occasions at all.

The first actual Graduation  Ceremony of my own was when I received my Diploma of Teaching. All the girls had to wear white dresses and I guess the boys wore suits.  The ceremony was held at Bonython Hall on North Terrace, Adelaide. My parents would have attended but I don’t have any photos.

 

My next two awards I had posted to me and I didn’t attend the presentations but when I graduated again I wanted to inspire my children so I decided to attend the ceremony. They came to the Festival Theatre to watch, I think what they actually felt was that graduating ceremonies involve lots of speeches and hours of standing around!

 

 

 

New Meets Old

These days it’s proved impossible for me to resist the tidal wave of the mobile phone. A big issue for me has been the “always available” aspect but currently the most annoying feature relates to fashion. Yes, the fashion of bigger and bigger screen sizes but also the fashion for false pockets or sagging pockets in clothes. It’s summer now and hot so wearing nice loose clothes keeps me comfortable, I don’t often wear dresses but those I do wear don’t have functioning pockets. The lovely, loose, soft pants which are currently fashionable have equally soft, loose pockets which means that every time I sit down the phone silently slips out and often disappears into the side of the seat cushions. If I keep the phone in a bag when I go out I become all thumbs when I try to retrieve it to answer a call. Frustrating.

I’ve discovered a solution at least to the soft pants, a press stud midway on the pocket edge and that’s where new meets old. The mobile phone and soft, loose pants are the new while the press studs I found were definitely old. The one I used today was the last on a card I found in my grandmother’s sewing basket. She died in 1959!

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: 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.