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.
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
|4 oz butter or margarine||4 tablespoons icing sugar|
|2 oz sugar||1 teaspoon ginger/cinnamon|
|1 cup self raising flour||3 teaspoons Golden Syrup|
|1 rounded teaspoon ginger/cinnamon||1.5 oz butter|
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.
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.
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?
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?