|Aerial View of Tin Can Bay|
|Wild Dolphin Feeding, Tin Can Bay|
Call me “old-fashioned”...I don’t care. No doubt I’ve been called far worse.
I’m sure you remember the sing-song we used to warble when we were kids....“Sticks and stones.....” etc.
Actually, in many aspects, being called “old-fashioned” is not such a bad thing.
Centuries ago when my late brother and I were little kids - from our wee small years forth - we never kicked up a stink, pushing plates aside, whingeing, refusing to eat what was put in front of us at meal times. We didn’t need to be bribed or cajoled into eating our vegetables, green, white, yellow or orange. Colour wasn’t a factor; we didn’t discriminate. No force was necessary; no harsh words required. We loved our vegetables and hoed in happily.
Academy Award worthy performances weren’t part of our dinner rituals.
Without fuss or ado, we ate our breakfast, lunch and dinner – no tantrum accompaniments required.
We understood what was on the plate in front of us wasn’t going to kill us. There was no reason to be distrustful. Our health and welfare were of uppermost importance to our Nana and our Mum. We were fed simple, natural, healthy food. Everything tasted pretty damn good to us.
Processed foods weren’t in abundance; not as common a commodity, or as expansive in variety as they are these days.
Canned baked beans, canned spaghetti, Windsor and luncheon sausages, saveloys, cherrios, Camp Pie (similar to the Spam), macaroni (the only type of pasta available in those days of yore), Vegemite, Peanut Paste (definitely crunchy), Velveeta processed cheese, cheese spreads, and some others sat on the grocery shelves.
Supermarkets weren’t the size of palaces as they are nowadays. Corner mixed stores were familiar sights, even if not all of them were situated on a corner.
Along with our love of vegetables, we never turned our nose up at meat, either.
Golden steak and kidney pies hot from the oven were favourites among many other delicious offerings e.g. soups, roasts, liver and bacon in brown gravy, rissoles, roast meatloaf, Aberdeen sausage, silverside or corned beef/brisket, hearty oxtail stew, beef stew with dumplings, casseroles and braises filled our dinner plates....not all at the same time, of course!
A spoonful of golden syrup was always added in the making of braises.
Fat beef sausages in onion gravy were once a week regulars. I loved tripe drenched in white sauce thick with onion, parsley, and chunks of potato. Yum! Sometimes Nana coated the pre-cooked honeycomb tripe in a thin batter, dry breadcrumbs, or just flour before deep-frying. Many of you are probably screwing your nose at my mere mention of tripe, thinking I’m talking a lot of tripe. Oh! Well! What’s new?
There wasn’t much, if anything, we didn’t enjoy eating.
Chicken in those days was mainly presented only on special occasions such as Christmas, Easter and, perhaps, birthday celebratory dinners.
Curries, accompanied with rice always received an enthusiastic “tick”, as did fritters. Lima beans drenched in a delicious home-made tomato sauce made by the hands of our Nana was another much-favoured meal.
Fish featured regularly, too. We enjoyed freshly-caught fish, along with smoked haddock or cod, kippers, canned herrings in tomato sauce, and, of course, sardines.
Fresh was always best; and because our mother loved fishing, we dined on fresh fish quite often. Fresh oysters, mud crabs and sand crabs were eaten with gusto. At young ages, both my brother and I learned how to skillfully shuck oysters without stabbing ourselves. We were taught to treat our oyster knives as if they were made of gold. And such fun we had chasing the Soldier Crabs along the beach...days of freedom....
The main event was always followed by pudding.
The word “dessert” was never the word used around our dinner table back then when I was a kid. It was always “pudding”, a word derived from the French word, “boudin”, which originated from the Latin “botellus”. The latter, in fact, means “small sausage”. So it really became twisted somewhere along the way! “Pudding”, of course, can refer savoury dishes as well as sweet. (A silent nod of recognition to “Yorkshire Pudding”. He'd feel slighted if I failed to make mention)!
Blancmange, junket, jelly, trifle, apple/fruit pies, baked rice or tapioca, sago, bread and butter pudding, steamed pudding with homemade custard, apple crumble or banana custard (I wonder if anyone still makes banana custard) filled our bowl and our stomach.
Stewed fresh fruits, such as loquats, mulberries, apples, peaches, as well as canned fruits, served with custard, were part of the fare, too. Fresh fruit salad was a regular.
On rare occasions strawberries from our garden managed to make it to the table. Nine times out of ten, my brother and I ate them straight from the plants...without reprimand.
Because we had an ice chest, not a fridge, ice cream was a treat we enjoyed only when out and about.
For us, meal times were never a battlefield.
Fast-food/take-away back in the Dark Age (more like the “Enlightened Age” to my way of thinking) was limited to crisp, golden-battered local fish and chips, potato scallops, meat pies, pasties and sausage rolls...and, of course, Chiko rolls. And, sometimes, if you were lucky, and entered the right fish and chip shop, a crumbed or battered deep-fried prawn cutlet.
When I have fish and chips, vinegar is a must, never tomato sauce. When I have a meat pie (or two) it’s always with Worcestershire Sauce, never, ever with tomato sauce! That, of course, is just my taste...others prefer otherwise.
I wish a bakery somewhere these days knew how to make good pasties.
Over the years I’ve searched high, low, wide and far to find delicious pasties like those I enjoyed during my childhood, but, unfortunately, to no avail. I can still taste the pasties (and meat pies) made by the Gympie bakers, Condies and Harry’s. And a special, special mention goes out to the best meat pies of all that were made by Hind’s Bakery in Tin Can Bay. They were the greatest and most memorable. Salivation personified!
So, yes...as children my brother and I needed no coercion or force to make us eat our food. We enjoyed everything...including the boiled and roasted peanuts we bought, using some of our pocket money, on Saturday evenings after watching the pipers and drummers of the Scots’ Pipe Band march along Mary Street, Gympie’s main street.
In no way am I inferring my brother and I were perfect children. We weren’t – far from it – but we never needed urging when it came to eating the food placed before us.
The only thing we kicked up was a football, never a fuss.
Almost every day articles appear in various forms of the media about how to make kids eat their vegetables, particularly green vegetables. And, they leave me wondering what the hell is going on!
Many might say I’ve not a clue because I didn’t have kids of my own. Maybe they are right; maybe not.
Sometimes kids are pandered to far too much. They are allowed to rule the roost.
Adults can be guilty of talking too much in front of kids. There’s an old saying - “Little pigs have big ears” - in other words - “be careful what you say in front of children”.
Years ago I was babysitting a friend's little boy for the weekend while she went away with her beau.
The kiddie, who was a lovely little fellow, was about two years old...give or take a month or three. Come meal time he decided to throw a tantrum...throwing himself on the floor, legs in the air, yelling his lungs out. It looked like a lot of fun and an interesting pre-dinner exercise routine, so I decided to join him on the floor. I mimicked his every move, angle and scream. Suddenly, he stopped, looked at me and began laughing. I joined in...and within a couple of minutes he was back up at the table digging into his savoury mince, wiping his plate clean without another murmur of complaint!
Shouldn’t parents, not the kids, be the ones who set the home rules? Turning the household into “Lord of the Flies” can’t be fun for anyone.
See! I am old-fashioned! I admit it! In the words of Manuel of “Fawlty Towers”; “I know nothing!”
And the status quo shall remain, I believe...that much I know.
Oxtail Stew: In Dutch oven, heat 2tbs x-virgin olive oil and 3 chopped onion. Sauté until soft and slightly golden; add 4 chopped medium carrots, 3-4 chopped parsnips, 3 celery sticks, finely chopped and 4 chopped garlic cloves; cook 5-6mins; remove from pot; set aside. Lightly dust 2-3kg oxtail with plain flour. Add 2tbs x-virgin olive oil to Dutch oven; increase heat to med-high; add oxtail; brown. De-glaze pan with 2c red wine; add 2 cans crushed tomatoes, 2tbs tomato paste, 2tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1tbs golden syrup or brown sugar, 2c beef stock, rosemary and 2 bay leaves; bring to a fast simmer; season; cover. Transfer to 180C oven; cook 2-3hrs, until meat is falling away from the bone. Serve with: mashed potato, polenta or buttered pasta.
Green Vegetable Stir-Fry: Heat large wok over a high heat. When very hot, add 2tbs oil, 1 long red chilli, sliced, 1 chopped garlic clove and 1tsp grated ginger; stir-fry about 30secs. Add 200g trimmed sugar snap peas and snow peas and 1/2c thawed peas, if frozen; stir 2-3mins. Remove from pan; set aside. Add extra oil to wok if needed; add 2-3 heads of broccoli cut into florets, 1 trimmed bok choy, trimmed kale and 3 sliced spring onions. Cook on high heat, stirring, 4-5mins, until soft. Return peas; add juice of 1 lime juice, 1-2tbsThai fish sauce and 1tbs soy sauce; stir-fry until hot; season to taste. Remove from heat; stir through 1/4c coriander leaves; serve. Throw in some roasted nuts of choice, too, such as cashews, walnuts, almonds...and/or pumpkin (pepita) seeds or sunflower seeds.
Cornish Pasties: Heat oven 220°C. Using fingertips, rub together 125g cold butter and 250g plain flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Blend in 1tbs cold water to make pastry dough. Cut into 4 equal pieces; put in fridge for 10 mins. For filling - Mix together125g diced lean rump steak, 1 small onion, diced, 1 small carrot, diced, 75g diced, waxy potato, 75g diced Swede turnip, 1tsp mustard and pinch of mixed herbs; season. Roll out the pastry into 14cm (5½in) rounds; brush the edge with the egg. Place prepared filling in one half of the pastry round. Fold pastry in half making a moon shape; firmly squeeze the edges together, crimping the pastry with your fingertips. Repeat until all are done; place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper; brush pasties all over with beaten egg. Bake in oven, 10 mins then reduce the heat to 180°C; cook for a further 35 mins. For a vegetarian version – replace meat with 50g semi-hard cheese, diced celery, diced leek; add 75g diced potatoes and diced Swede.
Chiko Rolls: Thaw 8 sheets of spring roll pastry. Cook 200g finely diced chicken (or lamb, if you prefer) in pan; set aside. Melt 2tsp butter and 1tbs olive oil together in a deep-sided fry pan. Add 1 finely chopped onion, 1c green cabbage (Savoy), finely shredded, 1 celery stick, finely slice and 1 grated carrot to the fry pan; cook until soft. Add the chicken or lamb, 1 crumbled chicken stock cube and 1tbs plain flour; stir through to combine. Lay out 1 pastry sheet at a time, keeping the rest under a damp tea towel so they won’t dry out. Place roughly 2-3tbs of mixture at the bottom centre of the sheet; fold over sides to the middle and roll. Brush the end with egg to adhere the pastry. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan...enough oil to completely cover for deep frying. When the heat is right, Add roll to the oil and cook until golden. Drain on paper towel and serve while still hot. Omit chicken, and add other vegetables of choice, add some kale, and/or zucchini, too, for a vegetarian Vego Roll!
Coconut Blancmange: In saucepan, dissolve 8tbs cornflour in 1litre milk; add 1 tin sweetened condensed milk, 200ml coconut milk and 100g desiccated coconut. Simmer on med-heat until thickened; stir constantly with wooden spoon. Place moulds in cold water bath; pour in mixture; chill 3hrs or until firm. Dissolve 200g caster sugar in 175ml water; add 200g pitted prunes; cook without stirring 10mins; cool. Serve with unmoulded blancmange.
|Cheerios aka Little Boys|