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.
Ham was a relative rarity in my early childhood, mainly found in Ham and Split Pea Soup, which was reasonably inexpensive. Having soaked the split peas overnight, Mum would steam them with a ham bone in the pressure cooker to make a deliciously warming soup in winter.
On a hot summer’s day when I was a teen, our main meal might sometimes be a slice of ham with a simple salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, sliced cheddar and beetroot accompanied by mashed potato.
I have a question for the “brains trust” reading this post. Do you remember something called “Hedgehogs”, and not the hedgehog slice you find in a bakery? It came to me the other night that we used to have something called that we called hedgehogs, made with mince meatballs, rolled in rice, and cooked in tomato sauce. There is definitely another dish, typically called Porcupines, which I only found after Google searching. In this case the rice is mixed in with the mince. So why do I have an image of the rice-encrusted meatballs? Am I Hallucinating??
Mum would sometimes make a honey roll cake but it wasn’t a family favourite. I found my uncle’s ingredient list for making them commercially as he was a pastry chef and former Army cook. (I’m not sure how he coped with the Army given how often he changed jobs on civvie streets because he didn’t like the boss). The quantities are mind-boggling.
Ham on fresh bread or with a salad is much more common these days and great for picnics. I can only assume that we are less financially constrained and that the supply of ham is less expensive anyway. We still have ham and pea soup in winter though because it’s yummy.
I have no recollection of encountering hamburgers back in the day, but we would regularly enough have rissoles. To this day hamburgers are not on our default menu either at home or as take-away. However, when our girls were teens we would sometimes get them from Uncle Sam’s at Sunnybank Hills rather than any of the usual big-name places.
Our salads today are often far more exotic, and one we enjoy is haloumi and basil salad. We love the taste of haloumi freshly pan fried..
Easter has just passed so we can defer our angst over Hot Cross Buns for another year. Their appearance on the supermarket shelves at earlier and earlier dates seems to drive us all slightly demented. They were a treat back in the day because they were restricted to a short period of time.
Herbs have taken on a major role in modern cooking. No longer the cardboard cylinders of McKenzie’s herbs, rather individual bottles, or equally likely, sachets of fresh herbs from the supermarket. Keen cooks will often grow their own herbs and spices. We currently have lemon thyme, flat leaf parsley, basil, Thai basil, Kaffir limes (for limes and leaves), rosemary (which I can’t eat), and mint.
For dessert when we have visitors, one of our default recipes is Honey Custards because they’re tasty, easy and quick to make. (Tip: don’t use your manuka honey – save it for treating your sore throats with lemon, grated ginger and a jot of rum).
New Food Fare: Haloumi cheese and hommus/hummus are standouts for me, both of which we include in menus without thinking about the changes. While our parents may have grown their own parsley or mint, I don’t think many grew other fresh herbs or spices.
Did/do you have honey and lemon with hot water (and extras?) when you had/have a sore throat?
Did your family ever make large-scale recipes to feed many people?
Do you remember hedgehog meatballs or porcupines?
Do you grow your own fresh herbs?