A is for Apples, Asparagus and Avo


Family Food Fare and Favourites

I feel like I’m back in primary school writing “a is for apple, b is like a bat and ball…”.

Today I’m kicking off my A2Z 2021, and over the coming weeks I want to share some of my family’s traditional food fare. Some of the old-time menus will be still around, but much has changed as Australia has become a very multi-cultural and multi-culinary place, thanks to the arrival of its many immigrants.

THEN

Back in the day, one of our traditional family desserts was Baked Apples. I confess it was never my favourite food, largely because of the texture of the cooked skin. In our family it was always served with custard made with custard powder, another of my not-favourites.

Image from Pixabay

I suspect many of my generation would have eaten this dish, but perhaps not everyone knows how it was cooked. Apples were cored using a cutter (nothing like the flash ones available today). The hole was then filled with a mix of brown sugar and sultanas or other dried fruit, and perhaps a dash of spice and orange juice. The apples would then be cooked in a shallow layer of water in a baking tray. It was an economical and filling dessert at a time when dessert was always on the evening menu. These days, baked apples still appear in menu items but with fancier additions like ginger, nuts, and perhaps a dash of alcohol.

Earlier in my married life I would make a dish similar to the one I’ve copied here from mum’s recipe book: Apple and Coconut Tart. Since I’ve always loved coconut that was kept on the family menu over the years.

Mum’s recipe for a Coconut Apple Tart

Mum loved apples and always had her favourite types: Jonathans and, more recently, Pink Ladies.

Asparagus was a handy lunch meal – not the fresh-from-the-garden version, but out of a tin. Another of my mother’s favourites (she was the chef!) was a fresh sandwich with tinned asparagus and a dash of pepper[i]. It didn’t work nearly as well as a school lunch, though, because the sandwich would end up soggy.

Tinned asparagus may be tasty enough, but it’s certainly not fresh asparagus, which we would often have steamed as a dinner vegetable. And there was the time when we ordered white asparagus for dinner in Bavaria, and were given a humungous plate of it.

NOW

For the past 12 years I’ve been on a FODMAP diet so both apples and asparagus are off the menu. It’s amazing how often apples appear on menus in cafes and restaurants…sigh. I don’t especially miss apples, but having to navigate around them on menus can be tedious. FODMAP may help my innards, but the diet has done nothing for my outer dimensions.

New Food Fare: Avocado has arrived on Aussie menus in a big way – think of the hotly debated, so-called “waste of money” of avo on toast. I confess I’d never laid eyes on an avocado until I worked part-time in a greengrocer/fruit shop as a teen and yet among recipe cards I found this description.

What are your memories of food in your family – then and now?

DETOUR

This morning I was reflecting on my 2018 A2Z adventure about the Top End of Australia and some colloquialisms. I was reminded about the Aussie-isms by a twitter comment the other night, and I know some of my mates are heading up north this year so may be interested. You can check out the links here if travel is of more interest to you than food.

Commercially grown apples, Stanthorpe, Qld. Photo P Cass, March 2021

[i] In those far-off days, pepper was powdered and came in a cardboard container. Freshly ground pepper just didn’t seem to be around.


22 thoughts on “A is for Apples, Asparagus and Avo

  1. My mother used to bake apples with dates in the middle. She always made custard using custard powder. I remember my grandmother raving about avocados with pepper and salt in the 1950s. She had lived in Queensland and apparently they were growing where she lived. We had a fruiterer with a truck who would drive into our place once a week. My mother used to buy exotic vegetables like eggplant and zucchini. She was a very good cook.

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    1. Sounds like your Mum was quite avant garde in the culinary area. Mum was good at baking but not as good with main courses. Interesting about your grandmother raving about avocados.

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  2. At boarding school we used to call apple cake Sinker as it was quite stodgy. I do love a Pink Lady and we often have stewed apples in the morning on our cereal. Yes our diets have changed over the years, so it will be interesting to see your mother’s recipes.

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  3. Baked apples at Sunday lunch were often served at Nanna’s and I still love them, can’t say I was fond of tinned asparagus and I had never heard of Avocado until after I was married. I can see that your posts are going take me om many trips down memory lane. So pleased to see you here in the challenge.

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    1. It will be interesting to see the similarities and differences between us, won’t it? Seems I’m odd person out when it comes to baked apples 😉

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  4. I love your theme. I have recipes from my grandmother too and reading your post reminded me that she used to bake apples like that too. Like you I don’t remember being tjat fond of them

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  5. I remember having baked apples once or twice but much preferred them stewed. Like you I wasn’t too fussed on the skin. My mother also used custard powder because it was convenient – she was a working Mum but I think things like that were new and modern conveniences. She loved to cook different things but my Dad was a meat and 3 veg man and he didn’t like any of the “foreign stuff”. So when I was a young teenager she and I would have her “foreign stuff” for lunch when dad wasn’t around. I’d never heard of Avocado or Asparagus until I moved to Qld.and even then it was a long time before I saw fresh asparagus. Couldn’t stand the tinned stuff. Avocado used to be a regular fare when the neighbours had 3 different types of trees. The best ones were round – not much flesh with a huge seed in the middle but the taste was divine.Sadly i can’t eat them any more. 😦

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    1. I think things like custard powder was also about expense given the price of eggs. I don’t think I saw avocado or asparagus until I worked in a Greek fruit shop at Toowong while at uni. Our foreign stuff experience was very occasional outings to a Chinese restaurant in the Valley.

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    1. Avocado on toast, or fresh crusty bread…no butter, sprinkle of lemon pepper and I’m in heaven… really nice with shredded chicken breast also…
      I love them in salads, and as a dip, definitely with a little lemon juice and a sprinkle of black pepper, mixed well…Very hard not to eat the lot.

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    1. My mother’s writing was among the best I’ve seen apart from one boss and Daughter #1. Copyplate. I think that’s why she swapped to printing in caps when her handwriting deteriorated. Apple Sponge sounds nice. I saw a recipe for that in mum’s book too but I don’t remember her making it.

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