Vegetables, Veal and Vanilla Slice

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.


Vegetables “back in the day” were less varied than they are today. Usually potato, pumpkin, peas, beans, sweet potato and perhaps parsnip. None of them came in frozen or tinned form and all were fresh though I wish I could remember where mum did the shopping before they had a car. Perhaps in Fortitude Valley which was on our bus route.

I have no strong recollection of eating veal and yet I think we did, very occasionally. I can only assume it was a bit expensive. It’s only in her later recipes that mum mentions main meals like veal.

As always, there were biscuits and, in this case, Valentine Kisses and Variety biscuits.

Mum’s Valentine Kisses


A variety of mushrooms at the Borough Markets, London.

It was once more common for us to eat dishes with veal like Veal Italian or Veal Cordon Bleu. For some reason, veal is not regularly seen on our menu these days. Even when it comes to schnitzels, where you might expect veal, we lean towards chicken.

Different vegetables have become more commonplace these days and I certainly learned a lot about what was “out there” when I worked at the fruit and veg shop on Toowong’s High Street. My children will happily take the mickey out of me regaling how I would haul sacks of potatoes into the store from the owner’s car during my uni days of part-time work. I may have been long and skinny then, but I was obviously much fitter.

Did you have vegetable rules about what your kids had to eat? A friend in PNG used to cook a different meal for each of her five children – no way that was happening chez Cassmob. Our daughters were given the allowance of not eating one vegetable that they didn’t like. For one it was mushrooms, for another it was pumpkin, but for the gourmand-in-training nothing was barred. She would crawl (yes she hadn’t even started walking!) to the kitchen cupboard and pull out a garlic bulb and eat it like an apple. Weird child!

Garlic bulb to snack on anyone?


We had some wonderful food when we had a short holiday in Vietnam with fresh fish and vegetables….very tasty and refreshing meals. Somehow, we haven’t quite come to grips with actually cooking Vietnamese cuisine despite having bought some cookbooks. We did enjoy our journeys through food markets in Vietnam even though some of the sights were a little confronting.

One of our Vietnamese meals – octopus and seaweed. Sounds strange but it was delicious.
We were far too cautious to eat street food.

I can’t recall anyone identifying as vegetarian or vegan when I was younger. If I had the courage of my emotional convictions, I’d at least be pescatarian but the change just seems too big a practical leap for me.

Vanilla Slice – yum!!

Who doesn’t like a really good Vanilla Slice? If you’re looking for the best of the best you need to visit Kurt’s Cakes in Cavanagh St Darwin. Kurt turns out the most delicious vanilla slices we’ve ever eaten – as well as superb “special occasion” cakes that we’ve ordered for big birthdays, anniversaries or weddings. Mr Cassmob’s maternal family lived in the Victorian town of Ouyen which has a Vanilla slice Competition – I’m sure Kurt’s would be a winner. Did you know as a child that vanilla came as a bean, not just a bottle of vanilla essence?

Do you eat or cook Vietnamese food?

Is anyone in your family vegan or vegetarian?

Did your children have to eat their vegies – under duress or persuasion?

Fruit and vegetables in a food market at the Mekong Delta.
You need the patience of Job to work in the markets.

14 thoughts on “Vegetables, Veal and Vanilla Slice

  1. I know of someone with a caravan who roams Australia searching for the perfect vanilla slice. Not recommended for weight control! Our vegetables arrived in a truck once a week driven by the “fruiterer” when I was a child. My mother was quite adventurous so we had zucchini, broccoli and eggplant along with the usual Swedes, turnips and parsnips, potatoes, carrots and peas. Chokoes grew at home and I hated them with a passion. I must get back into cooking Vietnamese food as I am slipping into boring meat and three veg lately.


    1. Interesting that you had those diverse vegetables and even that the fruit ever supplied them. You’ve made me realise Mum may have got her veggies from a truck doing the rounds as I recall there were some. Vietnamese food seems so fresh…,”we” should experiment.


  2. Like Linda I can remember vegetables coming on a truck to our street and you could go and choose plus my mother had a lot of groceries delivered.

    I love Vietnamese food. My preference is for vegetarian options but I do eat meat. When I was a child I was reluctant about eating my meat not my vegetables.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you and Linda are right…there were food deliveries and trucks that did the rounds, yet I remember only the iceman who brought ice for grandma’s ice chest (so I must have been young), and a bread delivery and fish.

      Interesting that you liked veg better than meat even as a child.


  3. Ah vegetables. I loathed zucchini growing up. It tasted like metal. We used to eat it holding our noses. My daughter went through a vegetarian phase but missed bacon too much. Thank you for sharing all your Mum’s recipes Pauleen. It’s very kind of you. I can’t wait to try them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never thought of Zucchini having a metal taste….interesting. The biggest challenge to being vegetarian is learning new recipes I think, and finding dishes in a menu. I don’t think I’d miss bacon. I’m perfectly happy to share mum’s recipes Alex…gives them longevity.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I must stop reading these posts at dinnertime — just too tempting 🙂 Here in the states, Veal Parmigiana (or Veal Parm for short) is the typical way it is prepared. As for vegetables growing up, we used to put mayonnaise on our broccoli and ketchup on our cauliflower just to get it down — because, like you, my mom expected us to eat what was served (minus the free pass!).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We had a large vegetable garden so whatever was in season was what we ate, I got a shock when m-i-l served choko I had never heard of it and it is not on our menu nowadays. Love Vietnamese food it has a freshness of taste sometimes lacking in other Asian dishes. I’ll let you look up the slang for vanilla slice, enough said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will have to delete that slang from my mind! Choko was something we ate very occasionally. “We” (ie the chef or the recipe-selector) need to come to grips with Vietnamese cooking.


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