Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I’VE A LOT ON MY PLATE – I’LL GET STUCK IN AND WIPE IT CLEAN!


Aerial View of Tin Can Bay
Wild Dolphin Feeding, Tin Can Bay
Soldier Crabs
 


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

27 comments:

  1. We also ate what was set in front of us. And processed food was a non-event. Everything was made from scratch.
    That said there was the occasional food war. I just couldn't come at liver. Or tongue. Or kidney. One of my brother's couldn't bear rice.
    If you didn't eat the main course you didn't get pudding.
    And there were definitely no separate meals cooked for the children. We all ate the same home cooked meal.

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    1. Similar with my brother and me when we were kids, EC...and it didn't harm us in the least. We rarely suffered from colds, nor did we have any allergies.

      I loved pressed tongue, brawn etc., I've not had any of either in years. I used to make my own once upon a time...but no more.

      Actually, these days I'm more of a vegetarian, I guess....but I would never, will never give up eating meat completely. I just don't eat it every day. Once a week, sometimes twice, but not much more often than that. Chicken is usually once a week, sometimes twice a week..and fish plays its role in there, too.

      Daily I eat a lot of vegetables, fresh fruit and raw mixed nuts.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. The good old days which I remember well.
    Well thought out Lee is your post.
    One of the little men that comes every second weekend to stay - I give him carrots, fresh ones, he thinks they come out of a tin, haven't told him they are fresh and his 2 sister that also come at same time haven't told him any different :) Ice cream is always on the menu if veggies (fresh) are eaten!

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    1. Hey there Margaret...Yes...the good old days...they weren't so bad after all. Our grandmother did most of the cooking in our household...Mum went out to work, and she worked long hours. I loved watching Nana cook, and learning from her. She made food; the cooking and the eating of food interesting. :)

      When the little bloke gets introduced to carrots straight from the garden, he will be hooked forever! Oh...fresh young carrots...home-grown...nothing quite like them!

      Ice cream is always on my menu nowadays! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. "When I have fish and chips vinegar is a must..." Of course, vinegar is such a versatile product! It not only adds the right flavor to a dish, but it's also a great cleaner. It is especially good at cleaning our.. stomach of the grease left by the delicious fried fish and chips.

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    1. G'day DUTA...I've been a lover of vinegar all my life...from when I was a little girl through until now when I am an old girl!

      My pantry is not complete if there isn't a variety of bottles of vinegar in it. Cider, malt, white, balsamic, red and white wine vinegar, too. The more the merrier I say! Cider vinegar is at the top of the list!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. I was a picky eater as a child. My mother cooked for the family and she also had to cook for me. She would not let me leave the table until I finished everything. Thankfully, we had a dog that always hung out under the table. Today, I wish that I was that picky again, but alas, I like too many things.

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    1. Hi Arleen...I've never been a picky eater...pick me some food and I'll eat it! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  5. I'm old fashioned too...and I raised my daughter the same way I was rasised....dinner time drama did not exist. Her kids? Oh never mind.

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    1. Hey Delores...Hahahahahaha! Say no more....I get the drift with your last statement! lol

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  6. We were a family of five. My mother could make a loaf of bread last a week. Sunday dinner was our main meal and usually consisted of one chicken served to all of us. Now people eat an entire bucket of KFC for a family that same size. We had lots of vegetables. Often our dinner meal was soup and/or salad. A friend of my brother's dropped by at mealtime one evening and said "I see you're eating dinky again". I don't remember starving.

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    1. Hey there, Annie. Sunday lunch was our special meal of the week...we went to Sunday School in the morning and raced home to a feast for lunch. We followed the aroma of it cooking from the top of our street to our back door! :)

      Those were the days, my friend! Thanks for coming by. :)

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  7. Being of German extraction, our daily fare was a bit different to what you had, but we never turned up our noses at what was offered either. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner, with no snacks in between, so when mealtime arrived we were good and hungry. We were given a variety of vegetables from the very beginning of our solid food days, around four months old, so we got used to the different tastes and textures. I did the same with my children a wide variety with no snacking once they were old enough to cope with the three meals a day program. Once they got used to that, we did have occasional afternoon teas and later there was the after school snack, but a very small snack, not a meal sized plate of treats. Like you, roast chicken was a Christmas treat for us. Pudding was called sweets and was mostly custards with or without sago pudding, or one of Mum's apple strudels, again with custard, in the summer, Dad would go to the corner store and bring home a 'brick' of ice cream which came in a rectangular cardboard box and was finished that same day because it wouldn't stay frozen in an ice chest. But we didn't get sweets every day either, it was a Sunday treat usually.
    These days, I know several small children who barely taste the food before declaring they don't like it and leave the table, then come back when the ice cream is served and eat a heaping bowlful.

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    1. G'day River...seems we had similar eating patterns when you and I were growing up.

      We weren't allowed to leave the table until everyone had finished eating...and we had to ask permission to leave said table. As for declaring we didn't like something, not eat it, leave the table and then return to eat a bowlful of ice cream (or sweets of any kind)...that would never have happened! lol

      Thanks for coming by. ...I bet you're thankful for that cooler change after those horrendous temps!

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    2. Cool change is very much appreciated. We even had thirty seconds of rain this morning :)
      We were allowed to leave the table when we'd finished eating, but if we didn't eat (a rare occurrence) we knew there would be no sweets or anything else until the next mealtime.

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  8. Oh my this took me back ...
    Growing up I often went shopping with my dear mum, she always served fresh home cooked food.
    We had three meals a day and no sweets or snacking in-between. Plates were emptied ...
    Treats were the odd occasion.

    I am so pleased that today the grandchildren also enjoy home cooked food and their sweet treats are kept to a minimum ... unfortunately it is not the same for many children :(

    Many thanks for sharing your recipe ideas.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hi Jan...We had our treats...and we had and enjoyed our three meals a day. Of course, at primary school we had "little Lunch", too...and always ate something then.

      With your interest in good food, I'm sure your grandkiddies will follow in your footsteps...they've a great example to follow. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  9. I loved that photo of the dolphins and the crabs. Boy your mom and dad taught you to eat right. Your meals look delish - I can't say my family eats as good as they should!

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    1. Hi Sandie...It was my mother and grandmother who taught us to eat right. Our father was not in the picture....ever. My brother and I were raised by Mum and Nana (Mum's mother).

      We didn't miss out on special treats, either..but we never made a fuss at meal times and enjoyed everything we were given. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. Similar diet in so many ways but we were fussier eaters. Tripe was served once. Even my mother would not eat it. I disliked offal and would not eat it. I was made to eat my cabbage, except I didn't and slipped it into my pyjama pocket. Brussel sprouts actually made me retch, so eventually trying to make me eat them was decided to be futile. I eat them now with bacon and butter, but I am not keen on them. I was never keen on stews and I am still not, but casseroles are fine. Aberdeen sausage? Too exoctic for us. Tinned ham, yes, Camp Pie and Spam, no. Fish and chips from the takeaway shop, yes, but very rarely fresh fish. I often wondered how one special occasion roast chicken could serve so many people. What never happened though in my childhood, uneaten food was never replaced by something more to our taste. Eat it, or leave it, there was nothing else on offer.

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    1. Aberdeen sausage "exotic"? lol I don't think so, Andrew. Surely you jest! It was one of the first things we learned to cook in our high school home science classes.

      Offal regularly played a role in our meals, and I loved it. However, these days I've not had any in a long, long time.

      I love Brussels sprouts...and cabbage...I guess there is not much I don't like...and it's always been that way.

      Tinned ham took the world by storm when it arrived on the scene...but we very soon got over that novelty. I guess it's still available...I'll have to have a look next time I'm at the supermarket...same with Camp Pie...I've not seen it in donkey's years, either.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  11. Recently, my friend Jon who lives in Taiwan was here at our house with his sweet five year old daughter - Alexa. She normally lives with her mum in England. I had promised Jon that I would make a nice Sunday roast complete with fresh vegetables, beef gravy and of course golden Yorkshire puddings. I made a little plate up for Alexa but she managed to spoil the meal with her moaning. She didn't like carrots and she didn't like parsnip or buttered roasted leeks. She didn't like mashed potatoes or gravy or Yorkshire puddings. The whole meal seemed to focus on her childish pickiness.

    My kids were never like that. We never gave them the opportunity to turn their noses up at meals. They ate what we ate just as Shirley and I did when we were kids. I wonder how the hell we have reached a situation where small kids rule the roost about what they eat. As you say - it is the parents who should be in charge. You should never give kids the inkling of an opportunity to veto or reject the food placed in front of them.

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    1. Well said, Yorkie.

      I don't accept the excuse about "working parents", either.

      With no father in the picture, our mother went out to work all throughout our growing years; and Nana, worked during our school hours, every morning going out to clean the homes of others and for a while as a pub cleaner, too. Those two women worked hard to bring money into the household to feed, clothe and house my brother and me.

      Children need discipline...firm but fair....not abusive. Children are not the bosses of the home.

      And the proof is in the pudding (no pun intended)....look at what a fine young man Ian has become...and his love of food...and his expertise at the preparation and understanding thereof.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. your side of the world has so many food items I am unfamiliar with I'd have a hard time deciding if I should eat them or not, although I am not really fussy, we had to eat everything on our plates and if we didn't like it, at least one bite, now I credit that habit to my non fussiness today. the coconut dish looked a little like flan to me which we had a lot in Mexico when we traveled there. hope all is well with you.

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    1. Hi Linda, the Coconut Blancmange (or just any old blancmange) is not dissimilar to a flan or to a panna cotta.

      I'm sure you're familiar with most of our foods, Linda...perhaps they just bear a different name.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  13. There was lots of processed food on the dinner table when I was growing up in the 60s. I have migrated toward almost all fresh food for myself, but it's easier when it's for one. :)

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    1. Hi Lynn....Nana did most of the cooking in our household...and in the years of my childhood processed foods didn't feature in a major way.

      Because we didn't have a fridge, if fresh green peas weren't available canned peas or dried peas substituted.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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