Ginger, Gadgets and Gender roles


Family Food Fare and Favourites

Join me as I dig through my memories, and recipes, to rediscover my family’s food “back in the day” and how those food habits have changed over the decades to today’s diverse and multi-cultural cuisines. This is my theme for the 2021 A to Z challenge.

THEN

Ginger has always been one of my mother’s favourite foods. It’s really no surprise then, that one my favourite recipes, then and now, was mum’s Ginger or Cinnamon slice. Try it – it’s delicious and has always been popular with friends from school birthday teas until now.

Ginger or Cinnamon Slice

Biscuit base:Topping: 
4 oz butter or margarine4 tablespoons icing sugar
2 oz sugar1 teaspoon ginger/cinnamon
1 cup self raising flour3 teaspoons Golden Syrup
1 rounded teaspoon ginger/cinnamon1.5 oz butter
From mum’s recipes to me.

Process:

Biscuit base: cream butter & sugar. Sift flour and ginger/cinnamon & add to creamed mixture. Press into a greased lamington tin –flour your fingers or use a flour measuring cup to help level it out. Bake at 175C until lightly browned (approx 15 minutes). Let it cool a little before adding topping.

Topping: put all ingredients except icing sugar into a saucepan. Stir over a low heat only until melted and mixed, then take off stove and add icing sugar. Pour over biscuit base and spread evenly. Cut while still warmish as it will crumble less.

Crystallised ginger was always on the table at Christmas time, in a dainty ruffled glass dish (which, annoyingly, I can’t currently find. Perhaps it’s in mum’s display cabinet – I’ll need to check when lockdown lifts).

Ginger drinks have always been mum’s favourites, with Kirk’s Ginger Ale leading the pack, though ginger beer may be tolerated.

Among mum’s recipes I found this one for home-made ginger beer which I believe to be in her mother’s handwriting. It was popular for families to make this up and store safely so the lids didn’t explode off.

Grandma McS’s ginger beer

Gadgets are generally ubiquitous in the kitchen, serving specific tasks. I can’t remember a time when my mother didn’t have an electric mixer, initially a Sunbeam then in the early 1970s, a Kenwood with attachments. On a more manual level, she had a hand-turned mincer which clipped onto a shelf or the table. Then there were the pie funnel and the apple corers etc. The other gadget that got a lot of use, especially in winter, was the pressure cooker used for cooking soups to casseroles.

NOW

I still love the taste of ginger and a recipe including it will always catch my eye. These days it’s more likely to be used in raw form in Thai cooking or in curries. You can either buy a knob of it in the supermarket or get lazy and but it pre-grated in a tube.

Gingers can also be grown in tropical or sub-tropical garden but they do have a habit of taking over.

Buderim Ginger is widely known in Australia and their products come in a variety of options, including ginger cordial (another of mum’s favourites). We took some ginger gummy bears to RootsTech 2017 to share with people we met. Overall the reaction was not positive – it seems they were too tart for most palates…but it was amusing watching the reactions.

I rarely drink fizzy drinks these days (well, apart from Prosecco!) but if I must have a soft drink (known as lolly water in PNG or soda in the USA), I will choose a Bundaberg Ginger Beer, perhaps one of their fancy new variants.

My first gadget was the Kenwood Chef we were given by my parents as a wedding gift. Complete with blender, mincer, dough hook etc it was a god-send in the back blocks of Papua New Guinea and got a heavy workload. It served me well for 40+ years, until a fit of Masterchef envy turned me to a new eggplant-coloured KitchenAid. Meanwhile the Kenwood behaves better for Daughter #2 and she is still using it. The other appliance aka gadget that gets a lot of use here is our electric wok, as evidenced by the fact when one gives us, we find another. Of course, our drawers contain a plethora of kitchen gadgets not to mention a surplus of serving dishes.

New Food Fare: Garlic is a product that’s grown in use and popularity over the decades. I have no recollection of it being used in my youth so I assume it was another introduction by our post-war immigrants.

Adding to new food dishes, I could add Goulash, Gazpacho and Guacamole to my list. I think I made Gazpacho once, back in my enthusiastic try-anything times, but Guacamole is the only one I’ve made periodically…isn’t that why the pre-made dips are in the supermarket?

Mr Cassmob learning a new cuisine overseas.

Gender responsibilities have changed between then and now, at least in our house. When we first moved back from PNG, Mr Cassmob copped a fair bit of flak from male friends if he went near the kitchen. Now he is the maestro of the kitchen as are many of the men of our acquaintance. I have largely given up and deferred to him but I’m very good at choosing interesting recipes, like the slow cooked lamb we had for Easter.

Did/does ginger appear in your family’s menus, then or now?

Do you have a plethora of kitchen gadgets or just a few trusted ones?

Who was/is the chef in your household, then and now?


21 thoughts on “Ginger, Gadgets and Gender roles

  1. SNAP – My mother loved Ginger in all forms but chocolate was her favourite. Perhaps it was because her father used to brew and sell home made ginger beer and she got the taste at an early age.

    After 50 years in the marital kitchen I handed over the next 50 year shift to Mr GeniAus last year. After a year at the stove I think he is enjoying the role.

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  2. I think we only used powdered ginger when I was a child, maybe for desserts, but I remember the crystallised ginger on the table. One gadget I can’t find now is an eggbeater with the handle on the side. Mine broke and now they seem to be in short supply. In the 1960s my mother bought a green bean slicer where you turned the handle and fed beans in from the top. That was my job every night.I didn’t realise you could eat beans whole until I left home.

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    1. That’s really interesting about the eggbeater…mine is still going strong touch wood. I smiled about the beans…ours were cut by hand, and like shelling peas, was often my contribution to the meal. It’s funny how a simple thing like whole beans vs snipped beans makes a difference.

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  3. We got a Kenwood Chef as a wedding present too and it has a lot of use. We recently had to replace it but we stayed loyal and replaced it with another Kenwood Chef. The new one has a very large bowl which I find very useful.

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    1. They were great workhorse for sure. I actually miss mine…I guess you get so used to turning the beaters in a certain way that a different way seems strange.

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  4. Ginger was also a favourite with my mother, her ginger sponge roll was delicious. Like you I only use ginger now in Asian style cooking. my mother-in-law was an excellent gourmet cook so my husband has always had an interest in good food and much to my delight has taken over as chef at least 3 nights per week, add in another meal out and that makes it about even. I have to admit to having many kitchen gadgets they do make life easy!

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    1. That’s a very egalitarian kitchen 😉 gadget acquisition is quite tempting 😉 I’d love to try that ginger sponge roll if you have the recipe.

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  5. I love ginger and use it every chance I can… not that HRH is aware, as he doesn’t like ginger. I find eating a couple of pieces of crystallised ginger helps ward off headaches.
    I have often used ginger and cinnamon together in a slice, they blend surprisingly well. I’m envious of the “two cooks households”… not ever likely here, more so now. The kids still laugh at the huge amount of mashed potato they got if ever I was ill.

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    1. I laughed at the potato…he’s not the one who’s got the Irish 😉 I haven’t tried cinnamon and ginger together, shall have to try it. I’ve used ginger for indigestion or colds, nut never headaches, handy tip. Thanks Chris.

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      1. Actually he does have Irish, his grandmother was “as Irish as Paddy’s pigs”… she came from Co Laois when she was about 5… how I loved her. We hit it off the very first time I met her. His great grandmother was from Sligo, his grandfather from Dublin… all on his father’s side…I started writing about Ma (grandmother) ages ago. I really must finish it.
        Ginger is great for indigestion also. Try adding grated ginger to the slice you mentioned above, or powdered ginger. I love the combination. I also love ginger and lemon tea.

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  6. My husband and I eat separate diets, so we both cook. In my family growing up, my mom ruled the kitchen in her first marriage, then has spent 32 years fighting over the kitchen with her second husband. He can cook but his presence in “her domain” irks my mom to no end.

    The gadgets I remember from early childhood include depression-era cast iron bits of machinery like the apple corer and peeler that clamped to the table (inherited from my great-grandmother) that we used to prep apples for canning applesauce and apple butter. There was also a wire potato masher, a cherry pitter, metal whisk, and several old-school metal cookie cutters. These days, my most-used kitchen gadgets are my toaster oven and my slow cooker (crock pot).

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  7. I recognise that recipe as something my mum used to make so I’ve copied it down – thank you. I love ginger but my beloved is not a fan, so I have to sneak it into things. Ginger beer has to be Bundaberg and thankfully they sell it here in Scotland.

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    1. How cool that the recipe is familiar. If himself doesn’t love it, you could swap cinnamon for ginger…or just keep the lot to yourself 😉 How amazing about the Bundy Ginger Beer!

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  8. Love the photo of Mr. Cassmob in his chef attire! My grandmother was an aficionado of Canada Dry Ginger Ale (when she wasn’t drinking Quevic Vichy, a sparkling water from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., near where she lived). She was also big on ginger snaps — especially for upset stomach. I still reach for ginger snaps when I feel off — the ginger being so good for digestion.

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  9. My mother loved ginger too. But her favourite was Marzipan and I loved being able to buy her the decorated fruits from the Paragon cafe in Katoomba which sadly no longer exists. Thank you for the recipe. Definitely trying that one. 🙂 Loved my Kenwood. Cried when it died.

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    1. Ah, yes, the marzipan “fruits” looked so appealing. I used to like the pink pigs and green frogs that I think we iced with marzipan or similar. Sad about your Kenwood.

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