Rationing, Rhubarb and Risotto


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

In my broader investigation into Australian food timelines, I was surprised to discover that I was a post-rationing baby but not by all that many months. After their wedding, my parents lived with dad’s parents and so their ration cards would have been combined. With a small family of just four adults this would have posed far less of a problem than for housewives trying to feed a family of children.  Queenslanders would have been better off than those in southern states as, being a tropical area, they wouldn’t have had to deal with limited heating supplies in the cold weather. I always thought mum avoided recipes with many eggs because they were expensive but perhaps it was also a residual effect of the war rationing. It’s also made me wonder if the large rectangular garden in my grandparent’s yard had been a wartime vegetable garden.

Image P00789.002 Awm.gov.au. Copyright expired. Women, and a couple of brave blokes, in Brisbane queuing for meat.

Mum loved rhubarb and it was frequently served with ice cream or custard for dessert. She also liked rosella jam, which remains a family favourite. These recipes I’ve inherited combine those food loves. Rosella Jam is my absolute favourite jam but it’s just too much bother to make so I keep an eagle eye out at craft fairs and the like. The other dessert made regularly with rhubarb was rhubarb and apple crumble which I enjoyed, unlike rice pudding which I loathed. Mr Cassmob loathed it more and has a graphic story of a boarding school experience which I’ll protect you from.

Among the Trove discoveries I’ve made is mum’s prize-winning entry in the Australian Women’s Weekly for her Russian Walnut Cake.  Okay, it was a consolation prize but I imagine that apart from the kudos, the £1 prize would have been well received.

Australian Women’s Weekly, 18 June 1952, p18

NOW

Our food journey as a married couple was started by Mr Cassmob’s maternal grandmother, who gifted us the popular Robert Carrier cookbook. Having cooked some of the dishes and moved on to other cookbooks, we’ve passed this heirloom on to our eldest daughter who is a true foodie.

Rice these days is an accompaniment to our meals rather than dessert, since neither of us has fond memories of rice puddings. One vegetarian dish we cook is Mushroom Risotto with a diverse range of mushrooms included and shavings of parmesan. Yum!

Grated Rind from citrus fruits remains a delicious addition to both our main meals and also desserts.

NEW FOOD FLAVOURS

Rosemary wasn’t a herb that was used in my childhood home, and sadly is no longer in our current cuisine. While I love the smell, it is now the “kiss of death” for my tummy, so sadly, it has had to be eliminated from anything I eat. You’d be surprised how often something in a restaurant menu will sneak in some rosemary, and of course more so when eating Italian or Greek cuisines. Sigh.

Restaurants aren’t food flavours, of course, but now that we are more likely to eat out, we gain experience with new ingredients and cuisines. At one Italian restaurant in Brisbane we used to enjoy their rabbit ragu…delicious and melt-in-the-mouth.

Have you tried ramen, retsina or radicchio?

Is rosemary one of your favourite herbs?

Did you like or loathe rice pudding as a child?


22 thoughts on “Rationing, Rhubarb and Risotto

  1. Rhubarb was a favourite in our house too although I didn’t like it much.

    Rabbit however was a regular favourite. I grew up in Sydney where it was common to eat rabbit. We bought it at the butcher and Mum either baked or casseroled it. I preferred casserole – it was melt in the mouth. good.

    Very disappointed moving to Qld for it not being a staple anywhere. Although once I think I found them in a deli. The other was hogget – in Qld there was no in between, it was either lamb or mutton. Hogget has much more flavour than lamb without the toughness of mutton. I used to try and get a small side of mutton but even then it would be a bit tough.

    My mother liked to try new recipes and experiment. Have you ever had blue rice? Have to say none wanted seconds 😁

    Lyn

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    1. Very interesting about the availability, or lack thereof, of rabbit and hogget. I don’t believe I’ve ever had the latter though I did enjoy the rabbit ragu. So intriguing to see the differences even between our states. And no, blue rice boggles my brain!!

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    1. One day Mr Cassmob will tell you of his adventures with rice pudding 😉 Like you we preferred the AWW cookbook and Margaret Fulton. Carrier’s was rather more European haute cuisine. Sadly it was rosemary on roast lamb that “did me in”….like being king hit on the belly…not fun.

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  2. Not a fan of rice pudding either.
    And I’ve never had rabbit. It’s not a protein that seems to get much play in the US in restaurants or grocery stores. I’d try it though, if given the chance.

    Growing up, a neighbor down the street grew rhubarb on the rocky banks in her backyard. She always had an overage which my grandma would make pie with. That is a desert I miss very much.

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  3. Rhubarb struck a chord with me — my mom always had a patch growing in the garden, and at my parents’ last home the rhubarb plant was huge! She usually made a compote of strawberries and rhubarb, with plenty of sugar, and served it over a biscuit. Delish!

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  4. I am very fond of rhubarb and we grow it in our garden. It seems it is an acquired taste, we once served it as dessert to some Indian guests and they found it difficult to eat – too tart.
    I like creamy rice pudding though we don’t have it often.

    My maternal grandmother was very fond of the Robert Carrier cookbooks and used the so much that my grandfather had the paperbacks rebound for her and I still have those. Very involved recipes, I remember once cooking brioche according to Carrier’s recipe and it took most of a day.

    I have tried tried ramen, retsina and radicchio but not together 😉

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    1. Glad you didn’t eat ramen, retsina and radicchio together…lol. Is rhubarb easy to grow? I should try it.
      I think Carrier did like making the recipes complex, or chose complex recipes. Your grandmother must have been an advanced cook. Very special to have that bound copy.

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  5. Rabbits were regularly caught on our farm and boiled in large pots outside for the dogs. My mother hated the smell from her outback days in Queensland.

    Rhubarb grew well in our cold climate in the highlands and rhubarb and custard were regulars on the menu. It took so much sugar to make it palatable!

    Rice puddings were a favourite as a child. I can’t seem to make one like my mother’s. She had the technique.

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    1. Maybe one has to cook something for decades to acquire the technique, though I admit rice pudding isn’t an incentive for me. I can just about imagine the smell of rabbits boiling..yuk.

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  6. I love rhubarb! The man in the house doesn’t like it but will tolerate it with apple. Apple & Rhubarb crumble is on the menu quite often, using pink lady apples from our trees and rhubarb from our vegie garden. Rice pudding – never! I’m sure I had enough for a lifetime as a child.

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  7. I like rosella jam too and you’ve reminded me that there is a bit of a church stall with books and jam down the road this morning. I might have to go and check it out. I hadn’t thought about it much but I suppose rationing did mean that things like offal were more affordable and had to be served up as tasty treats. There was a lot of lambs brains and lambs fry for breakfast when I grew up as a child, probably the result of my mother growing up with it when she was a kid during the war. I wasn’t too keen on the brains and the liver was an acquired taste. Haven’t had them for years now thank goodness.

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    1. Rosellas can be parrots but in this case it’s a tropical plant. The fruit makes a delicious red jam unlike other types but it’s tedious to make.

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