Nutrition, Nutmeg, Naan and Nasi Goreng


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

Nutrition: In the olden days, our family cooks made sure we ate balanced meals with good nutritional value, even if the meals themselves were uninspired by today’s standards. Our calcium intake came from milk and (cheddar) cheese and soft drinks (soda, pop, lolly water) were drunk infrequently. We may not have had a wide range of vegetables but those we had contained good nutritional value although they frequently had the life: potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, cabbage, peas and beans. Salads included tomatoes, grated carrot and cheese, beetroot and lettuce. Grains came from our cereal and porridge for breakfast rather than from wholemeal bread. Plenty of fruit came into the house: apples, citrus of all sorts, pineapple, bananas. In short, we probably met the requirements of the healthy eating pyramid reasonably well – apart from those desserts and baking treats. We were also far more active since it was unusual for working class families to have cars and we walked – a lot!

Nutmeg and its covering of mace. Spice Farm, Zanzibar. P Cass

Nutmeg was one of the few spices that was used in cooking or baking, along with ground cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice.

NOW

One of the dishes that has transitioned between “then” and “now” is a meal we call Nona’s Cheerio Plonk, a dish that has been enjoyed by Mr Cassmob’s family through the generation. It generated some discussion on Facebook because what we call cheerios in Australia (well in Queensland) is not the same as that in the US. Since the whole cheerio thing bewildered my US friends, you can see an image here from Woolworths. They have a different name in Australian states as well: cocktail frankfurts, cheerios or little boys. They are a deli item and don’t come in tins!

Nona’s cheerio plonk: recipe from Mr Cassmob’s mum.

There’s no formal recipe but here’s the summary: grease an oven dish, put a layer of sliced onions on the base, layer on the already par-boiled cheerios along with some chopped bacon, top them with slices of tomato and grated cheese. Bake in the oven until the cheese melts and browns a little. It may seem a strange concoction, but the whole family loves it and everyone hooks in.

In the course of this A2Z, we’ve looked at many of the changes that have occurred in our food and meals in Australia over the past decades. The diversity of our meal types and the ingredients have changed significantly. This article from the Australian Women’s Weekly highlights some of the differences we’ve already discussed. I hadn’t thought so much about the size of our meals, but maybe they have become less substantial and generally “lighter” – I’m not sure. I also hadn’t given much thought to fast food outlets as we rarely access them except occasionally when out at the shopping centre and then it’s more likely to be a kebab.

The change in where and how we eat is probably accurate – breakfast and lunch are much more mobile and we’re unlikely to sit down together. Dinner is also likely to be more relaxed with not all family being present.

NEW FOOD FARE

One of my key assessments for a curry restaurant is whether they serve Peshwari Naan which is my absolute favourite (I love the mix of coconut and nuts), while our friends always have garlic naan. Although we have naan at home sometimes, from prepared packs, they’re just not the same.

Nasi goreng for breakfast in Bali, thanks darling daughter!

I was thinking too that Nasi Goreng is associated in my mind with breakfast – or lunch and dinner – ever since our daughter profiled her brekky while in Bali. We both enjoy it and should have it more often as a meal. Asian Noodle meals are very common these days but again, for some unknown reason, noodles aren’t routinely on our menu.

Do you still have a formal weekend meal with family who live nearby and is it expected they come each week?

Is nutmeg a favourite spice or do you prefer others?

Do you think Aussies have a more balanced diet nutritionally, then or now?


17 thoughts on “Nutrition, Nutmeg, Naan and Nasi Goreng

  1. The staples of our past meals were similar to yours but we still eat all our meals at a table. We saw a lot of my maternal grandmother during the week but the weekly Sunday lunch was with my maternal Grandmother, holidays excepted, every year until I was 17 or 18.

    We differ in that we still eat lunch and dinner at a table, breakfast is in bed unless we have an early start.I think your meals are more exotic than ours but we do have a lot of Asian stirfrys with rice, pasta is a rgular on our menus too.

    I don’t think our meals are any less healthy, it is the lack of exercise that is our issue.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Before fast foods and industrial packaging, it seems as if it was easier, as you note, to have good nutrition (if one could afford it, of course) — especially in the country. I remember shopping with my grandmother on summer visits to her farm — and it was endless stops at roadside veg stands, the egg lady, the cheese shop the butcher. And those veg stand tomatoes straight off the farm were the best! https://mollyscanopy.com/2021/04/norm-my-career-building-dad-atozchallenge/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tomatoes straight from a farm stand are the best…full of sunshine. I hope you enjoyed the farm trail and didn’t get bored 🙂 The problem, then and now, is that some fast food is cheaper making good nutrition harder for those who are living in poverty.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was fascinated to see a picture of a nutmeg surrounded by mace.
    We had no fast food when I was growing up and soft drinks were definitely only for very special occasions.
    We didn’t have cocktail frankfurters very often but they were never called cheerios to my knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One thing I have noticed is in the 60s what I called brown bread is now called whole meal and what I called wholemeal they now call grain bread in its multitude of forms. At school tuckshop sandwiches came in either brown or white bread until the Oslo lunch was introduced and wholemeal, now called grain, bread.

    I suspect we are better back then – a lot less people were overweight. Cordial was a treat. Soft drink was if Mum and Dad were at the pub and I got a red drink. One and only one. Although just the other day I was talking about how some of us kids would take Milo sandwiches or jelly (crystal) sandwiches to school. We certainly didn’t have the choices back then but you don’t miss what you don’t have. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Pauleen – I remember one of my childhood friend’s family having a formal sit-down family lunch every Sunday – a roast. We called cheerios cocktail frankfurts down in Canberra/Sydney. I had to learn a new vocabulary when I moved to Brisbane. I think we were healthier back in the day. Not so much snacking food and pre-prepared sauces in jars etc. And yes, we walked more. I try and remember to have porridge for breakfast because I find it more sustaining than those sugary cereals. Oh and a boiled egg will get me through to lunch as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think eggs have more staying power than cereals or toast. We may not sound too different between our regions but there sure are interstate differences in words.

      Like

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