Wednesday, November 04, 2015

SNAP! CRACKLE! POP! LET’S GO OFF WITH A BANG!








If you’re as ancient as I am you’ll remember what special day today is.  You’ll also have many wonderful, fun memories of how, when we were children, we used to celebrate the fifth day of November.

Today is Guy Fawkes Day/Night aka “Bonfire Night” aka “Fireworks Night”.   For better effect, the celebrations, of course, were held at night. 

 In the weeks leading up to this red-letter day in November (there are a few special days in November), for us kids the excitement grew. Our fervour knew no bounds. Our enthusiasm reached fever point as the day dawned. We could hardly wait until the sun went down.  Was it the longest day of the year, or did it just appear to be so?  Our patience was tested to its limits.

School lessons dragged on and on, boring us to death. More important things needed our attention!  At the final bell we rushed out of the classroom; the race was on to get home as fast as our legs could carry us. Bonfire-building and making a Guy were on the agenda.  Poor Guy!  I don’t know why he always had a smile on his dial. Doomed, his hours were numbered! 

My brother Graham, being a couple of years older, was, on any normal day, fleeter of foot than me, but somehow on the afternoon of Guy Fawkes’ Night it was a tie as, neck and neck, breathlessly we sped home.

For many reasons I’m glad I was a kid growing up in the Fifties. Being able to enjoy Cracker Nights is one of the major reason. 

These days Guy Fawkes’ Night is just a far distant fond memory; an old tradition that’s disappeared into obscurity; deleted from our calendars in the late 1970s by those who felt it no longer had a place in our “modern culture”. 

Once we’d spent our saved pocket money at the Gympie Show in May it then became time for us to knuckle down again. Our attention once more was directed towards the serious job of earning and saving a new stash of pocket money. We had from May to November to do so. Empty soft drink and milk bottles were collected and returned to the shops in exchange for pennies, threepences and sixpences; sometimes a shilling even - all dependent upon how many bottles we’d collected.  After school or on Saturday mornings, bundles of newspapers were taken to the fish and chip shops and to the butchers.  The early days of recycling…we had it down pat in the Fifties.  “Recycling” isn’t a new thing.   It’s not the “Wonder Word of the Noughties”! 

Soon after sundown on the special day our bonfire was lit.  The countdown had begun for Guy Fawkes’ fiery demise.  The stakes were high. The heat was on.  Guy’s fate was sealed.

Our front yard transformed. It became alive with noise and light. Throw-Downs exploded on our concrete garden path; the garden path that bore evidence of where we smashed open the hard shells of Queensland nuts (known more commonly in nowadays as “Macadamia nuts).

Tom Thumbs, the tiniest crackers, were either set off singularly or all at once on the string that strung them together.  The latter was the most fun when it came to Tom Thumbs.  The larger version, the Big Tom Thumbs (very original), were more than double in size. They went off with a louder bang and louder cries of excitement issued from us.

Catherine Wheels, nailed to fence posts, when lit spun in blazing bursts of enthusiasm. Sky Rockets gave the stars a run for their money. Their exuberant multi-coloured ostentatious eruptions showered above while we oohed and aahed below.  Fountains and Roman Candles dazzled while we feasted on treats Mum spent the afternoon preparing. 

Like centurions some householders solemnly and determinedly stood guard at their letterboxes. Guy Fawkes’ Night was a prankster’s delight. 

Those were the days, my friend; we had a cracker of a time….

Cracker Spuds: Grill 6 pancetta rashers until crisp; drain; crumble into small pieces. Rub skin of 6 medium kumara with oil; place on baking tray; bake in 200C oven 1hr; turn halfway through. Remove from oven; cool 15-60mins; cut kumaras in half lengthways; carefully spoon out flesh into bowl; put skins on baking tray; preheat grill to high. Mash flesh; stir in 4tbs sour cream/crème fraîche, 3 finely chopped shallots and 125g grated cheddar. Spoon into skins; sprinkle pancetta and more grated cheese on tops; place under grill, 2-3mins.

Banging Bangers: Preheat oven 180C. Place 450g quality fat pork sausage (or chipolatas) in lightly oiled heavy baking tray. Combine 3tbs hoisin sauce and 3tbs honey; pour over sausages; coat well. Bake, 45mins, turn and baste.

Steak Sparklers: Cut sirloin steak into 1-inch squares; do similar with green and yellow capsicums. Combine 2tbs red wine vinegar, 2tbs soy and 1 crushed garlic clove. Load wooden skewers, alternately with steak, capsicum, button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, begin with the meat. Marinate the kebabs overnight. Cook kebabs on the barbie. 

Fireworks Fudge Cake: Preheat oven 180C. Line square, 20cm tin. Combine 200g plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp bicarb soda, 75g cocoa and 1-1/2tsp cinnamon in bowl. Finely process 100g salted peanuts and/or cashews; add 3tbs tahini, ¼ to 1/2tsp chilli flakes and 225g dark brown sugar; mix well. Melt 75g unsalted butter and 100g dark chocolate in saucepan; add to nuts along with 2 large eggs; beat until smooth. Spoon into another bowl; stir in 175ml cold milk; sift in dry ingredients; beat until smooth; pour into tin; bake about 1hr. When cold, ice with lime water icing - 300g icing sugar and juice of 1 lime.

Chocolate Crackles: Mix 4c rice bubbles, 1c icing sugar, 1c desiccated coconut, 5tbs cocoa powder and 250g melted Copha together; spoon mixture into patty cake papers; refrigerate until set; bog in.

Sparkling Sparkler Crackles: Combine 4c rice bubbles, 1c lightly-toasted desiccated coconut, 1/2c lightly-toasted pistachio nuts, 1/2c dried cranberries, 1/2c chopped dried figs and 1/4c chopped glace, fresh or dried cherries in bowl. Melt 1.5c white chocolate buttons over pot of hot water; add 80ml cream and 1tbs glucose syrup; mix into melted chocolate. Pour over dry ingredients; gently mix; scoop into patty cases. Chill until set; decorate with a drizzle of chocolate, if desired, and chopped cherries.

Chocolate-Caramel Rocket Cracker Slice: Grease and line 20x30cm lamington pan with baking paper; allow the long sides to overhang. Sift 1/2c cocoa powder and 1-1/2c icing sugar in bowl.  Add 5c rice bubbles and 1/3rd cup coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts; toss to combine. Add 150g melted Copha; stir to combine. Spoon into prepared pan; use back of spoon to press evenly.  Chill hour or so until firm. Grab 2x380g cans of caramel (or make your own); combine caramel filling with 2/3rd cup smooth peanut paste in medium saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring constantly, 5mins or until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat; spread evenly over prepared base; chill 2 hours to set.  Melt 150g milk or dark chocolate; pour over caramel mixture; spread to coat; chill 1 hour or until set. Cut into squares to serve.

47 comments:

  1. We never built a Guy, but bonfire/cracker night was BIG. Families got together to construct it, and fireworks abounded. I never liked the bungers much, but the pretties won my heart. I still can't resist a sparkler...

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    1. Hi EC....as kids we had so much fun on Bonfire Night. We always had a Guy and stuck him atop of the pyre.

      We used to love running around the yard the next day trying to find the crackers that had failed to go off the night before.

      My brother Graham and his mate Don who lived next door to us, and who was the son of a policeman, blew up our neighbour across the road, Mrs. Reisenleiter's letterbox one year! lol

      She never could find enough evidence on them to openly lay the blame...but....hahahahaha.

      Mrs. Reisenleiter was the neighbourhood "sticky-beak"...so we all kept our mouths shut...the adults as well! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. Great excitement for us kids way back in the 50's.
    The rubbish that went onto our bonfires ( in a cleared area - the thought
    of a bushfire hung over everyone's head) was amazing.
    A real get together of family and friends - and strange as it may seem
    I recall not one harmful incident.
    When we were told to do something we did it, or a certain something would come
    into the equation and it hurt!
    Love the chocolate rice crackles - well that's what they look like - I haven't seen them I think from way back school/college days and they ended in 1960!
    Great report Lee - "Down good old memory Lane".
    Cheers
    Colin
    PS: Funny how we survived without ipods etc?????????????

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    1. Hi Colin...yes, they're are the delicious old Chocolate Crackles (I'd erroneously missed including the ingredients in the recipe given above, but I've now corrected my oversight).

      I held a lunch party one time when I was living at Yorkeys Knob and I decided just for the fun of it to make a whole pile of Chocolate Crackles...it was a party for "grown-ups" not kids...and the first things to disappear off the buffet table were the Chocolate Crackles!!

      I can't recall anyone getting hurt, either, during our Cracker Nights all those years ago. I know some kids did...accidents did happen, of course...and kids will be kids.

      As you say...we were raised to respect our elders...and we did heed their warnings...most of the time...when we were certain "they" didn't find out! lol

      Thanks for coming by. (I still survive without an Ipod etc. I only have a landline phone...my desktop and laptop)....the simple life for me! :)

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    2. I remember chocolate crackles being hugely popular way back then, every school fete had them and they appeared at many kids birthday parties, but we never liked them, my kids and I.

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    3. I loved them...still do, not that I've had one in quite a while. the last ones I made I threw in some toasted muesli and dried fruits....they were great.

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  3. I have never heard of it. Was or is it like Halloween?

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    1. Here you go, Sandie....this will explain it all for you. :)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_Night

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. I had no recollection of today but I do know when I read your posts I am instantly hungry. Ha

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    1. I guess Guy Fawkes' Night wasn't celebrated in the States, Linda. But the recipes can be! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. I can only have a bit of dark chocolate, we built a firepit in the back yard but have yet to use it, no cold weather yet, but soon

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  5. Oh, this certainly brings back memories Lee. I'm glad I grew up in the fifties and experienced all these wonderful adventures too. We usually built a Guy too, he looked a lot like a scare crow and was sat at the top of the bonfire. ...and this was in our suburban backyard in Taringa too !

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    1. G'day Helsie....we certainly had a ball on this days all those years ago...great, happy memories.

      Thanks for popping in. :)

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  6. "...no longer had a place in our modern culture."
    Really? I thought it was banned because so many fires got started and too many kids lost eyes and fingers from holding crackers as they exploded.
    We still had fireworks displays though, councils would have them I think and I KNOW the Army did them too, we would attend each year and some of those displays were pretty fantastic. Dare I say it? Yes I will. Better displays than the Sydney New Year ones.

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    1. Yes, River. And kids today are still losing eyes and fingers through other methods. The helicopter-do-gooders believe they have control over everyone. Kids, people will still hurt themselves by whatever method. Will everything end up being banned, I wonder.

      Now the kids are learning how to construct bombs by instructions given on the internet...we were taught to be responsible.

      We had wonderful, good, innocent fun on Guy Fawkes Nights when we were kids. I still have all fingers, toes and three eyes. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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    2. Yeah - me too Lee
      I am sick of this bloody PC crap.
      Discipline and responsibility have been thrown away.
      Funny how we all survived and had fun, eh? Instead of being
      "TV - ipod - Couch potatoes" who only know of MacDonalds as a
      food outlet!
      Christ at the age of 10 I rode a horse to school as most did in way out
      country properties - 7 miles across paddocks and creeks - the rules were and God help you if you didn't do so.
      1. Shut all gates
      2. Respect your horse.
      Colin

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    3. Colin...funny about that, isn't it?

      I am in no way a fan of political-correctness. In fact, I'm a staunch advocate of political-incorrectness! lol

      The P/C crowd have passed their used-by date, in my opinion...way past it.


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  7. Very evocative of those times Lee. I didn't even realise that Aussies once celebrated Guy Fawkes Night in pretty much the same way we did and still do in England. I used to love Bonfire Night in the same way that you did. In those days you were allowed to buy fireworks at any age. That seems outrageous now with all the Health and Safety laws. Tonight Shirley and I will be going to a private bonfire party at the home of one of her colleagues. Let's hope the forecast of rain is wrong.

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    1. G'day Yorkie...yes it certainly was. Carefree times that all the do-gooders hate to see others enjoying! What fun we had, our pocket money safely grasped in our hands or in our pockets as excitedly we lined up at the counter in the old Penney's Cash store as we drooled over the array of fireworks on offer...which ones to buy first!

      It is outrageous all the rules, laws, regulations we're surrounded with these days...to me they've not made anything better...quite the opposite, in fact!!

      I envy you and Shirley the fun you will have with your friends around the bonfire. I'll be there with you both in spirit!! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. Great memories of Guy Fawkes night. We called it bonfire night, it was held on May 24 down here! Strange a different date and time of year. We used to have big fires and all would gather around, and off we would go with the crackers.

    No one got hurt, no one got burnt...
    Chocolate Crackles, yum!

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    1. Hi Margaret...what you celebrated as a child was Empire Day...24 May, not Guy Fawkes Day which is 5th November.

      Empire Day was in honour of Queen Victoria whose birthday fell on 24th May, but it wasn't introduced here to Australia until 1905 after her death. I think it the southern states of Aus celebrated. It's no longer observed here, to my knowledge.

      I don't recall any fireworks and bonfires on that date here in Queensland. We only had the fun on 5th November...hence the making of a Guy to set atop our bonfires.

      Much fun was had and enjoyed....

      Thanks for coming by. :)




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    2. Empire Day!!!!!!!!!! ??????????
      I don't recall ever celebrating that day - Actually I've never heard of it
      here in "OZ".
      Liz's birthday is a bit of a joke - celebrated in different months by State
      governments - and not one on her actual birthday!!!
      Rather than have another public holiday - dump this one and replace it
      with the Melbourne Cup - at least people enjoy that day and no one works anyhow - so make it official.
      Cheers
      Colin

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    3. I don't remember much about Empire Day, either, Colin; and I think it was celebrated in the southern states/areas only.

      A few months ago I had heated discussion with a friend of mine who now lives up here on the mountain where I live. She and I argued the point re Guy Fawkes Night until we both almost blew-up because she tried to convince me (a pointless exercise *smile*) that Guy Fawkes Night was in May, because that's when they celebrated it when she was a kid growing up in......Canberra!

      Then the penny dropped....and I pointed out to her the difference in the time of the year....etc., etc. The different celebrations one completely separate to the other.

      And I agree....Melbourne Cup Day should be declared a public holiday. I've been saying similar for years and years. It's a day that the majority of Aussies get into the swing of things. I know this Aussie typing this response does!!! :)

      Thanks for popping in again. :)

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  9. Bloody kids! Hooligans!

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    1. Yeah! Bloody kids, Mr. Ad-Man....I wish I was a bloody kid....I am in spirit! :)

      Cheers...thanks for coming by! Glad to see you're in a good mood as always! :)

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  10. We're not creative enough to have a full-on burning, blowing things up holiday here.

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    1. I'm sure you lot up that way have been creative enough in other areas of celebration, RK! :)

      Thanks for popping in. :)

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  11. I so agree with you, Lee. I was reminiscing last night with my son after the grandkids had gone off to a public display in town, the first time in years we haven't had our own bonfire and let off crackers down by the creek. I'm so glad I was a kid in the 50s, too. It was a great time to be a child. We used to let off our crackers on the grassed area in front of the cemetery so in addition to the fireworks there were all the reflections off the headstones. Only for the brave! We'd scare away the little kids quite easily. How mean and what fun! I cried with laughter last night when I told me son about Kenny Dapterwic blowing up Mrs Hayden's letterbox. I think about that every year and have a chuckle. Thanks for the memories!

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    1. Hey there Pauline...Only a couple of hours ago when I was at the local supermarket I was taking with one of the young women working there and I again related the story of when my late brother Graham and his mate blew up the letterbox of our neighbour across the road. We had a good old laugh about it.

      There always seem some group or other around these days who want to strip us of all fun. The Non-Enjoyment Brigade. We're not allowed to be silly and have fun these days, if they get their way! I'll put a fight...I won't go down easily! :)

      I love your comment about "scaring the little kids"! lol It brought back memories to me how we used sit around and scare the living daylights out of each other with our ghost stories. We knew full well we were making it all up...but that didn't make any difference! We'd still scream our lungs out and jump sky high if someone broke away unseen and purposely snuck up on us! Great stuff!

      Thanks for coming by and thanks for the laugh. :)

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  12. Those Banging Bangers sound delicious. I don't often eat sausages, but I'll try these.

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    1. I don't eat sausages often, either, River....once in a blue moon...if even then!

      Thanks for popping in again. :).

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  13. Wonderful recipes and great memories.

    Thanks for visiting.

    Have a blessed weekend.

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    1. Thank you, Gail...and thanks for coming by. :)

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  14. Woo hoo! The monitor for our main computer has been replaced, and I can now see what is on the screen much better.

    I would think that pot-stickers would also be most appropriate for such a celebration.

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    1. Nothing quite like a new monitor. I know how I felt when I got my new one. I felt like I'd need to wear sunglasses when in front of it!

      Many tasty treats are appropriate for such celebrations, Jerry; and our mother was good at preparing many of them...and we were very good at demolishing them! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  15. Interesting celebration. :)
    I've never heard of it but it sure sounds like fun.

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    1. Hi Lux...how strange you've never heard of Guy Fawkes. It's a story that certainly is set down in history. Our way back then of remember what the old fellow did gave us lots of fun and excitement, that's for sure.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  16. That sounds like great fun! I always love to see the food pics and recipes you have.

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    1. G'day Lynn....it was. I'm glad you enjoy the recipes.

      Thanks for popping in. :)

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  17. Like you, my Mum had stories of cracker night. I don't ever remember getting to participate in them myself in the 70s but I am certain that there were illegal crackers on cracker night for some time.

    As I was scanning through your pictures, I had a thought that you were going to add chilli to the chocolate crackles - now there is a thought. Love chilli chocolate.

    You have put on a mighty spread this week Lee, and I am feeling rather full at your kitchen table. Thank you.

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    1. Hi there Carol...you're not an oldie like me, so you missed out on all the Cracker Night fun, frolics and food! :)

      The least I could do is put on a good spread here; so feast as much as you like...you have all the time in the word. There have been a few celebrations this past week...November is the month for it! :)

      Thanks for coming by.. :)

      Thanks

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  18. Very fond memories of the 5th from when I was a kid - does not seem to significant any more!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Not here in the Land of Oz, anyway, Stewart...but still in the UK from what I can gather.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  19. Columbus Day around here is soon to become a thing of the past. Native Americans strongly protest honoring a man who slaughtered so many of them after discovering America. Perhaps we can turn Columbus Day into a day like Guy Fawkes Day and learn to torture the explorer.

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    1. Hi Annie...get ready to circle the wagons, then! :)

      Thanks for popping in...I hope all is well. :)

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  20. Too bad it's not celebrated so much anymore - I think it sounds fun!

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    1. It was good, harmless fun, Lynn...but we're not allowed to have fun anymore. The helicopter-do-gooders put paid to that!

      Thanks for coming by...sorry I've only just now found your comment. :)

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