Wednesday, March 27, 2013


My other half and I, partly for health reason, eat quite simple meals and although neither of us enjoy watching cooking programmes on television you can't help seeing bits and pieces in their promotional advertising (don't we get so sick and tired of those constant ads?).

We are often amazed at the way they pile bits on top of each other and surround them with drizzles of different substances on the outer edge of the plate and wonder why they do it.  I remember a couple of years back ordering grilled fish with a sauce plus chips and a salad.   When it arrived the chips were underneath the fish and the sauce which had been poured on the fish had made the chips horribly soggy.  Yuk.

Anyway, to try and cut a long story short (which I often fail to do) we then began talking about what we ate when we were children way back then...1930s, 1940s 1950s.  I lived at home until I was 21 so ate whatever mum cooked for dad and me.

I don't think meat has changed much as there is still beef, lamb and mutton, pork, chicken and fish.  Rabbit was also very popular and mum would sometimes roast it or bake a rabbit stew....very tasty.
We did eat offal which in those days was cheap although mum and dad wouldn't eat tripe.  I liked tripe so if I was working back at the office occasionally mum would have a lovely big plate of trip and onions ready for me when I arrived home and boy, did she know how to cook it really well.

Vegetables are a different matter though. All year we had cooked vegies which were mainly potato, pumpkin, beans, peas, cabbage, silver beet and cauliflower.  In stews you would have onions, celery, carrots, parsnip, turnips and swede.  We never had broccoli, broad beans, brussel sprouts, capsicum, sweet potato or any Asian greens or anything of that kind.

Most Sundays we would have a roast dinner of lamb or beef (sometimes pork but seldom chicken) with roast potato and pumpkin and probably peas and beans.  Of course back then there were no frozen vegetables and I don't remember any in tins.  The housewife (I don't like that term as the thought of being married to a house appals me) cut up the beans, podded the peas and always pealed the potatoes.

Before mum made the gravy in the baking pan she would pour out most of the fat into an old cup which would be allowed to set and we would have bread and dripping through the week.  Oh, I remember that beautiful jelly that was in the bottom of the cup.  It was so delicious but terribly bad for us, of that I am sure although, as I've said before, we did so much more exercise back then.

On Sunday evenings it was usually cold meat and salad and if my brother and his wife were coming to tea mum would put a saucer upside down in the bottom of the crystal salad bowl and chop up lettuce and then layer cucumber, tomato and egg on top.  She would cook beetroot earlier in the day and that would be sliced with sugar and vinegar and placed in a crystal beetroot bowl.  Dad even had his own beetroot slice to lift the beetroot onto the plates.  She would also sometimes slice onion and put it in a dish with vinegar and perhaps add cucumber to it as well. We also had radishes and spring onions. Mum made her own delicious salad dressing which I know contained Rawleighs mustard.

We nearly always had sweets (dad could always eat his sweets even if he was too full to finish his dinner) which were usually apple pies, jam tarts or turnovers, rice pudding, bread and butter puddings (oh, I used to love them) and of course stewed apples or rhubarb with custard.

When I think of the variety of different vegetables and fruit now available and how many different recipes there are from other lands it does make the diet we had when I was a child sound so simple but it was all very delicious and I do at times yearn for that simplicity.


  1. Oh the good old foods from our childhood....moms meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese casserole...and yes, that dish of cucumbers in vinigar.

  2. Our meals were even simpler than that...English type meals. No meatloaf or scalloped potatoes but yes, we may have had macaroni cheese. Life as I remember it was so much simpler then.

  3. While some of the old meals were wonderful (rice pudding springs to mind) I am also very happy at the way our diets have been given the chance to expand. Brocolli didn't exist when I was growing up - and I love it. I really like Indian meals, and Thai and Vietnamese food too. I don't like (and very rarely eat) the heavily processed foods that are around now.

  4. We didn't have broccoli back then either, but we did have brussels sprouts and boy did I love them! They're still a favourite now, along with broccoli which I like to cook together with cauliflower and serve with a cheese sauce. Bread and dripping was also popular, but not with me, I couldn't stand the greasy feel of the dripping. I remember the jelly that set on the bottom of the dripping though. Mum would turn out the whole set bowl into a larger bowl and scrape off the jelly which then became the base for soup. It's highly nutritious and I still do the same today if I've had a roast. I speed things up by putting the cooled dripping into the freezer long enough for all the fat to rise, then I pour out the still liquid jelly into a separate container and label it soup stock. Then it goes back into the freezer to wait for my winter soups. I remember always being hungry enough to clean my plate back then. These days I sometimes look at my dinner and realise I don't want it, I'm just not hungry, even if it's a favourite food.

  5. I am so glad to find somebody who enjoys brussel sprouts as much as we do. The best I ever had was in New Zealand but we get some pretty good ones here too although occasionally they have those little black bugs in them. Yuk! You know I don't remember Mum ever making soup although she made lots of stews. No, we ate the jelly at the bottom of the dripping although I think we stirred it in. Anyone pinching the jelly usually got into trouble!! I have always eaten everything on my plate. Perhaps comes of being bought up during the depression and WW2. I still enjoy my food but prefer plain meals.