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Recipe search

Whilst searching for a recipe on the Internet I came upon a most remarkable website, viewed the recipes, read some of the stories and had the strongest urge to tell my own story of my involvement with kitchens, both personal and professional.

Diana Serbe

My email to Diana Serbe, asking whether she might like to hear my story was answered in the affirmative, and I sat down to recount my story about making pasties with my grandma. My story-telling skills being rather basic didn’t manage to produce a literary masterpiece, but I did feel a sense of pride that I had some family history on paper at last (not to mention on the screen). Thus began a wonderful journey of story writing, friendship and sharing with Diana. I invite you to visit her website by clicking on the heading below. Enter Diana’s Kitchen and enjoy her company as I have.
In Mama’s Kitchen

  • As my sons have left home they have all requested recipes for such things as Tuna Mournay and Golden Syrup dumplings. In fact recently my youngest son was telling a friend that he wanted her to make golden syrup dumplings. She asked him for the recipe, so he went as usual to the internet, and found, much to his surprise, that the recipe was one which I had submitted to In Mama’s Kitchen. So here it is the family’s favourite and very easy dessert. INGREDIENTS Dumplings ? 1 cup self-raising flour ? 1 egg ? 1 teaspoon butter ? 1-2 tablespoon milk Syrup ? 1 cup water ? 1/2 cup sugar ? 2 tablespoons Golden syrup or honey ? 1 tablespoon butter METHOD Sift flour into a bowl. and rub in the butter until it is like breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and milk together, and carefully mix with the flour to make a soft dough. Do not over-mix as this will make the dumplings tough. Place the water, sugar, butter and golden syrup into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Drop in teaspoonfuls of the dough, cover with a lid and simmer over a moderate heat for about 12 minutes or so until cooked. Serve on a shallow plate and drizzle the golden sauce over the top, accompanied by custard, cream or icecream. My husband’s favourite is hot, runny custard. Serves 4-6 people
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“Candlelight and Glitter”

We’ve all heard that term, ‘candlelight and glitter.’ It conjures up scenes of candles and romance, gorgeous women wearing glorious gowns and dancing with handsome men in glittering ballrooms, with soft music playing and silver candlesticks gleaming. Well, that’s not how most of us live, is it? In fact most of us would be lucky to have candles lit on the table more than once or twice a year. As for the romance, beautiful gowns, ballrooms and soft music, I’ve never known much of that, except in the movies.

Innamincka

However, I did have an experience of candlelight, glitter, and even a bit of romance, far removed from that described above. Picture if you will, a scene in the Australian outback, near Innamincka, which is near the junction of the New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian borders, and is considered one of the most remote tourist destinations in the Australia, a small outback settlement in the very top corner of our state along the Strzelecki Track, and on the bank of the Cooper Creek. In times past it was an essential stopping place for outback travellers, with its own Australian Inland Mission hospital, a store, telegraph station and pub. Now it consists of a store, pub, post office and motel, in the middle of nowhere.

Camp

In the footsteps of some famous explorers such as Burke, Stuart and Strzezlecki, we had traveled north for an outback adventure holiday. My husband Ken had spent six months preparing for this trip, building a specially outfitted trailer in which to carry our equipment and supplies. Our children Terry, Michael and David had special permission to be away from school, and were terribly excited about spending ten days in the Australian Outback together with their cousins. With Ken’s two sisters Pam and Dorothy, their husbands and families we made a party of sixteen. In the low red sand hills near the river we’d made our camp; three tents, one campfire, and one makeshift outback toilet. At night our chairs ringed the campfire as we watched the water boiling for our billy tea. The glowing red coals surrounding the camp ovens which contained our meal of braised rabbit and vegetables, and Jam Roly Poly Pudding were also warming our hands and setting our happy faces aglow.

Cooper Creek

(Note) The Cooper is currently in flood. Feb 2004
When we had arrived the Cooper Creek was in flood, and running a banker, which in Australian parlance means full to overflowing. It was becoming more mobile by the minute with water spreading over the flat surrounding landscape, creating little lakes where shortly before there had been red sand, dry grass and low scrub. The water sang a merry song as it ran over logs and rocks at the edge of the creek making its way down from the Thompson and Barcoo rivers, through the channel country in Queensland, to this normally parched desert country and eventually on to Lake Eyre in South Australia. When the Cooper floods, it brings new life to the outback. It spreads green along its way, providing water for huge spreads of Sturt’s Desert Pea, flowering Red Hops, and bringing to life dormant aquatic creatures.

Starry Night

The sky was high and wide, and at night the stars glittered as diamonds. When one spends most of one’s life in the city, or even in a country town, one does not experience the height or breadth of the outback night-time sky. It is blacker than ink. The air is as crisp as a chardonnay, with the stars in that great dome overhead almost begging to be plucked as fruit. The outback silence is palpable. No sounds of traffic penetrate the night time stillness, no barking dogs, squealing tyres, banging car doors, or raised voices of the unhappy couple next door.

Creative Cooking in Camp

Our meals were feasts of innovation. Each plate contained one piece of browned rabbit and glorious onion gravy, surrounded by carrots, diced potatoes and celery with huge herb dumplings to sop up the gravy. No white linen cloths graced our tables, we ate using a fork, with plates resting on our knees and cleaned every last little bit of meat from the bones using our fingers. Several of the children took it in turns with the tea towels to dry the washed plates for the second course. One of the men scraped back the hot coals, using a spade, and then using a long stick, the lid of the camp oven was carefully lifted to reveal the perfectly cooked dessert, browned evenly on top, and resting in a delicious sticky jammy sauce. We used the same plates and forks to eat our dessert, and then a second shift of dish washers took their places by the table that held the washing up bowl and tray, with the next shift of children to help with the drying up. Everyone had a job to do and a contribution to make for this family expedition to work successfully and as parents we had determined that this would be so. Our wonderful repast was followed by a welcome mug of steaming hot tea, as we sat around the campfire playing ‘I Spy,’ a game usually reserved for keeping children amused on long trips in the car. In this case however, we all enjoyed the game, invariably wondered why we didn’t do it more often, and probably promised ourselves that we would.

Camping Fun

At bedtime, children were washed in warm water, held in the same bowl used for washing the dishes, changed into pyjamas and tucked up in their sleeping bags. Eventually the little voices calling from tent to tent ceased, and the benediction of the night fell all around us as we too made our way to our tents and zip-up sleeping rooms within with warm sleeping bags, lit by the light of a lantern. Daybreak came early, accompanied by first birdcall as wild duck flew to the creek and splashed gently into its flowing waters. Flocks of colourful budgerigars, all chattering with a high pitched scream, flew down to the water to drink, and having done so, wheeled around in the blue sky before leaving for the day. Galahs in the tall gums scolded their chicks, telling them not to be so impatient for their food, as the sun emerged from behind the red ramparts of the sand hills, spreading its pink and golden light across the early morning landscape. Voices of children chatting quietly amongst themselves floated softly on the crisp morning air as they scouted for small twigs for the fire, and the older ones helped with the task of getting it going, to make an early morning cup of billy tea, with the obligatory gum leaf of course. The addition of one gum leaf to give the tea a slightly eucalyptus taste is widely used in the Australian outback, especially among those who travel in the cattle camps. Excited voices told us that they had found a little lizard in the sand hills, and another had seen a rabbit bounding out of sight into its burrow. Rubbing our hands together to banish the cramping cold of night, we would wrap them around a mug of hot tea and stand with our backs to the crackling camp fire in an attempt to warm our bodies. The cold doesn’t last long in outback Australia though, as the sun comes over the horizon spreading its warmth over the camp; we would retreat gratefully to the shade of the graceful gum trees lining the bank of the Cooper Creek. The fish in the creek were plentiful and both men and children armed themselves with fishing lines and hooks baited with fat wriggling worms dug from the damp creek bank. Shouts of pleasure erupted each time there was a catch, and before long there were sufficient fish to feed all of us for tea that night. Mothers washed clothes in the plastic bowls, and using nature’s clothes drier, pegged them onto the tent ropes. Having tidied up the bedding and done the chores it is then their time for lying on a rug under the shade of the gum trees with a good book, or a game of cards or scrabble.

The Dig Tree

In the interest of our children’s education, we decided that we would travel to the ‘Dig Tree’, the site of the Burke and Wills disastrous expedition of 1860-1861. This expedition which began in August 1860 was the result of an attempt to win a prize of 2000 pounds, offered for the first person to cross Australia from south to north. Leaving a Mr. Brahe at Cooper Creek, Burke and Wills forged north, but due to poor planning the expedition was a failure, coming within sight of the northern sea, but not able to reach it. Returning to Cooper Creek in April 1861 with insufficient food or supplies, the expedition was stunned to find that Brahe had left Cooper Creek a matter of an hour or so before their arrival, taking fit pack animals with him. Before he left, having waited one extra month for their return, Brahe had buried supplies in a hole near the tree now titled ‘The Dig Tree.’ Burke and Wills however, were too weak and ill to continue, as were their camels, and after wandering lost for some time in the desert, died in June 1861.

Taking our supplies of fruit and sandwiches filled with camp pie and tomato sauce with us, we travelled along the unmade outback tracks to the historic Dig Tree. There was not a lot to see at the site, although the tree was marked. It is preserved as a historic site today, but our family expedition was in 1973, and we were just a little sad to see how insignificant a place it was, although we were standing on the very place where our famous explorers had camped.

Storekeeper or Surgeon

On our return trip we called in to the Innamincka store for an unexpected treat of an iceblock on a stick. The store didn’t have the capacity to store ice-cream at that time, and in the event of a power failure, iceblocks could be simpler to manage, and not as expensive if a loss occurred. The store was built at the site of the old telegraph station, Innamincka Hotel and Australian Inland Mission hospital. We couldn’t imagine how people could possibly have run a hospital in this remote and painfully lonely place, without the conveniences of modern day life, let alone the necessary things to care for injured and sick patients. Today the doctor comes into Innamincka by airplane, and if a personal call is not necessary gives advice over the outback radio network, as he did on the evening when my brother in law managed to have a fish hook embedded in his thumb. Proprietors of outback businesses and cattle stations are often required to be stand-in medical personnel, and on this occasion the wife of the owner of the Innamincka store took down the medical kit, and administered a shot of morphine, while her husband removed the fishing hook from Eric’s throbbing thumb, as per the instructions received over the radio from the Flying Doctor headquarters in Broken Hill.

Fish Dinner

Dinner that evening was glorious freshly caught and cooked fish that had grown in the unpolluted waters of the Cooper, grilled over hot coals, accompanied by baked potatoes, tinned beetroot and mayonnaise, bread and butter. No greasy chips or modern mixed salad, this was a simple meal, using only the most basic of ingredients. The food was treated with respect and presented at the point of readiness to each diner. The fish was followed by tinned peaches with hot custard, freshly made, as we had been able to purchase fresh milk from the Innamincka store. Our magnificent meal was eaten by the light of the camp fire and lanterns, with the glittering Australian night sky overhead.

Conclusion

Others can have all the other stuff, the insubstantial, the modern, the artificial, but I would choose what our outback has to offer any day. It has enough romance, glittering stars, beauty and colour for me, and though my children are now adults with children of their own, the memory is still as fresh as yesterday. When I hear them discussing their outback adventure holiday, their voices are filled with the awe of rememberance as they recall arduous journey in vehicles not as well equipped as the four wheel drive vehicles of today, the excitement and the pleasure and just darned good fun. I also hear longing for the outback, and know that they would like their children to have such an experience too.

The above family trip took place in May 1973

About me and my kitchens

Kitchens have loomed large in my life. I love all my cooking pots and utensils. A smart set of sharp kitchen knives is my pride and joy. It was not my destiny to train to be a high profile Chef, but a cook I became, one who loves creating different dishes using fresh ingredients, one who follows the dictates of her history. Do not be mistaken, there has been a love of creating good food running in the veins of the women in my family for several generations. I am but one in the line of women who has taken pride in the produce of her kitchen. I have passed it on to my sons, who in turn have passed it on to their children and I am very proud of this continuing tradition. What follows is the story of my life through the oven door.

New Year’s Eve 1994

We?d been having an elegant shared dinner with friends, and our hostess, a dear friend Susanne, insisted that we make a wish as 12 o?clock chimed. The fireworks went off on the television, the champagne glasses clinked and kisses were exchanged all round. I wished for a new stove; in a shiny new ?magazine look? kitchen.
That may seem a bit odd to you, but to me it meant the fulfilment of a long held dream. I?d had a love affair with the idea of having a really classy and efficient kitchen for as long as I can remember, but each time I achieved this aim, life had taken an unexpected turn and I?d moved, leaving my beloved kitchen behind.

Stoves of all kinds

I have known many stoves (thirteen in all) quite intimately during my long cooking life, having begun my apprenticeship in cooking at an early age. At the end of WWII, when I was seven years old, my parents built a corner shop that kept them busy from daylight to past dark, and needed the help of my brother and me. Having lived through the Great Depression and the war, my parents were driven by deprivation and hardship to succeed. Therefore by the time I had reached the age of eleven, I was considered old enough to help with the meals, and not just the dishes. Life was not as it is now for children, for there was no television, and children were expected to ?pull their weight?.
My mother?s pride and joy was a shiny midnight-black metal monster using kerosene for fuel, similar in operation to the smelly kerosene heaters that were used in the 1960 to 1970 era. Mum considered this to be a relatively safe appliance for me to use, and I would prepare the vegetables for tea. She would bring home the cooked meat part of the meal in a large stock pot, used on a primus stove in the room at the rear of our shop, as long slow cooking didn?t need constant attention, and she was always busy with customers, but not so busy that she couldn?t prepare tasty meals. Mum was a mistress of the art of ?Slow Food? before the title was even thought of in culinary circles. We often had Steak and Kidney, Braised Lamb Chops, Stewed Rabbit and Curried Sausages all carried home in that big pot.

Learning to cook

My job on arriving home (after having completed my shop duties, which usually meant washing up a mountain of milk-shake containers), was to wash and peel enough potatoes for tea, according to mother?s instructions. They had to be cut in even sized pieces, covered with water and set to boil on the kerosene stove. Accompanied by my father?s radio on the shelf in the corner as it banged out my favourites, ?The Argonauts? and the ?Hit Parade?, they boiled away steadily. It is no surprise therefore, that sometimes the odour of burning potatoes had me dragging my ear reluctantly away from the radio and leaping to rescue scorching food. A panic ensued in a rescue attempt; to get the saucepan scrubbed, add more water to the trimmed potato pieces, the windows and doors flung wide to let out the odour, and the cooking completed. Often it was too late and I had to start all over again, hoping that the smell would leave the house by the time the family came home for the meal. I admit to watching their faces more than once, to see if their expressions indicated a detection of the burnt offerings. Hunger must have dulled their senses to the smell of scorched food in the kitchen, or perhaps they were just too kind to mention it.
My great delight at the age of twelve was baking in the oven of our old wood stove which my mother kept spotless. From time to time she would renew the coat of Silver Frost on the door, and the hot plate was painted with stove black. My Grandmother had taught me how to get the wood and light her wood stove, so I was confident I could manage ours. I began poring over my mother?s meagre collection of cookery books looking for recipes that I could try. Mum owned a Domestic Science book, a Green and Gold, a Barossa Cookery book and her own book of favourites written in beautiful copperplate. She had copied out recipes, probably from her own mother?s handwritten recipe book, of melting moments, coconut jam tart and lamingtons. I tried my hand at golden syrup dumplings(see recipe section) and custard, and had instant success with my brothers and sister; it made a pleasant change from tinned peaches and custard. This approval gave me the courage to continue learning. Pastry making was pure pleasure. I followed the lead of my grandmother who was an expert in this art, and skilled in making jam tarts with pastry decorations on top. Whilst checking the tarts during the cooking process one day after school, a tray slipped forward, upending a tart full of boiling fig jam onto my foot. I didn?t have time to worry about the mess of hot jam on the hearth, or the ruined tart and baked roly-poly pudding. Mum came home to find a sad and sorry mess in the bathroom as well as in the kitchen. I sat miserably clutching a damp towel around my very red foot and one huge blister. No wonder my mother worried about what I was doing while she was busy working in the family shop until quite late. Being able to cook made me very popular with my much younger sister, who was very fond of what she called ?Jenny Muir Cakes? after a fellow pre-school student who had a little currant cake in her lunchbox each day.
With the growing prosperity of the family business, my mother?s great delight was to have the kitchen renovated. Gone was the old silver-fronted wood stove replaced by a neat little cupboard for storing the saucepans, and solidly built cream cupboards with green Laminex tops, on which now sat a small metal primus stove for everyday cooking. In reality it was a bit of a monster that required methylated spirits to be poured into a small bowl at the base of the burner. I would light the meths. using a match, and when it had almost burned away, air was pumped into the kerosene tank and the knob turned to send the kerosene vapour to the burner. A truly horrible contraption! About this time we acquired an electric griller with a coil element, similar to a toaster, under which we grilled sausages, chops or pork fillet. I?m not quite sure how I managed to survive this experience, as more than once while turning the sizzling meat, the fork came into contact with the coil and I received a jolt, throwing me back across the room. Shaking but thankful that it had not been worse, I would push the little tray back under the griller and vow that I would be more careful next time. A somewhat shocking experience for a 12 or 13 year old, I think you would agree.

Electric oven

My father then bought mum a lovely little cream enamelled electric oven that sat on its appointed green bench top, and in which she baked wonderful sultana cakes. This was Mum?s pride and joy and I was not allowed to use it, being considered too young to manage the electric controls. But I suspect my parents were really concerned about the electricity bill if I was let loose with this new piece of equipment.

Back to the wood stove

In 1960 I graduated from my apprenticeship. Marriage brought with it a home of my own, and my very own stove. It was back to the old faithful silver-fronted wood stove, that kept the high-ceilinged kitchen warm in winter, and provided a means of preparing slow food such as baked beans, stews and bottled preserves. With its ability for drying damp nappies brought in from the clothesline, and for airing off the towels and sheets, as well as keeping the home warm, it was a multi talented piece of equipment. When the children began school I, along with many other mums of school-children, had a weekly baking day to provide cakes, biscuits and slices for school lunch boxes and trading tables. Patty cakes with icing and cherries on the top were favourites. The old wood stove took second place when the electric frying pan came on the scene. It meant instant heat for fried sausages and onions, or an ideal container for preparing that ?meal in the pot? such as braised chops and vegetables or savoury mince and rice. My first Asian stir fry meal was cooked in that frying pan under the tuition of a friend who had lived overseas, and had more advanced cookery ideas.
When we moved to Naracoorte in 1974 I was fortunate to have an electric stove as well as two wood-burning pot belly stoves for room heating. The pot belly stove provided an ideal environment for proving bread dough, and many an evening was spent in mixing the dough, watching it rise, and making up the loaves and rolls ready for baking. The yeasty smell of the rising dough was wonderful. Saturday mornings were fun-filled with children helping to use the Sawa biscuit maker, fill the biscuits with icing, and licking out the mixing bowls.
A move to Mount Gambier in 1981 gave me the opportunity to renovate the kitchen of the gracious old home which we?d bought. A cabinet-maker friend installed beautiful pine cupboards, with stunning green bench tops, and we purchased a large second-hand gas stove, found abandoned in a farm shed, filled with bits of straw, and covered with bird droppings and dust. A day or two of dismantling and scrubbing had it as good as new. Lovingly cleaned and polished it was like a new stove. Being extra wide, it had plenty of capacity for cooking large family meals, as well as for entertaining. I loved ?cooking with gas?. The heat was instant, and it gave me the opportunity to develop a new skill: making quiche in my home kitchen, a skill that led me on to my next culinary phase.

Polly’s Pantry

The wheel turned full circle when my husband decided to invest in a run-down snack bar, the perfect means of presenting my cooking skills to the general public he thought. I was back working in a shop. A quick makeover for the premises included painting walls, lacy curtains, bright green bench tops. We added little vases of flowers to the tables and opened for business, christening it ?Polly?s Pantry?. My father?s aunt, Aunty Polly Morgan who came from Wales, and whose name I had always loved, inspired the name. My recollection of her was of a petite woman with white hair in a bun, the image of a little Welsh housewife.
My ambition was to present good wholesome food. The ordinary fare of hot chips, pies, pasties, sausage rolls and yeast buns, all with instant coffee didn?t inspire me at all. Those who came to enjoy our new style food found quiche and salad, fresh wholemeal scones with jam and cream plus proper cappuccino topped with thick froth and a sprinkle of chocolate. The whole life of the business undoubtedly revolved around the second-hand electric oven at the back of the shop, in which we did our daily baking. Without that old oven we would have been nothing more than any other ordinary snack bar, but being able to create new dishes each day transported Polly?s Pantry into the world of the gourmet, and I just loved it while it lasted.
A business decision in 1985 brought us back to the city, and I regretfully said goodbye to Polly?s Pantry, a creation of which I am inordinately proud. A sense of adventure then led us into purchasing a piece of farmland at Kanmantoo, on which there was an abandoned farmhouse. It was overshadowed by a huge overburden mound from the no longer operating local copper mine, and often had me wondering how it would look without its man-made mountain. A new roof and lots of sweeping gave it some semblance of being habitable, at least on a weekend basis, and so we had a farm retreat in the country, with its own wonderful slow combustion wood stove. A wide solid creation in cream enamel that filled the whole fire place, which although it had seen better days, could still cook a beautiful scone, or roast a great leg of lamb, and so on weekends we lived like kings. Shearing time meant hot scones and biscuits for the shearers, taken up the hill to the shearing shed in a large wicker basket together with big pots of coffee. I think of living at the farm like being on the top of the world, with just the sheep, lambs and the magpies in the tall gum trees for company.

The orchard at Lacewood

A couple of renovations later whilst living in McLaren Flat at our property ?Lacewood?, I began making sauces and jams on the kitchen stove, using the windfall fruit from our orchard. I had no intention of starting a new business; I simply wanted to stock my pantry shelves. The sheer volume of products in jars meant we desperately needed an outlet for distribution. A few wineries sought local products, and with that expansion of cooking activities, the kitchen stove became sadly inadequate. My husband had developed an aversion to the commercial activities invading his domestic domain. He disliked the pungent aromas of coriander, cumin and ginger from the stores of cartons under the pool table in the family room. He winced each time I unpacked the oven after sterilising jars, especially if he was watching the television during this process.
When the brand ?Lacewood? was born, its cradle was the converted garage at the end of the implement shed. We?d had it lined and the lower walls clad in stainless steel. Using two large gas burners and a couple of secondhand jam pans we began manufacturing such products as Wild lime sauce, Bushman?s Plum and Dragon?s Roar salsa. The aromas in that kitchen became impregnated into its very walls and ceiling. If only I had a dollar for each time we had a visitor to the kitchen, who upon entering, lifted up his or her nose to the ceiling sniffed, and said with rapture, ?Oh that smell. I can remember my mother?s kitchen smelling just like that when we made sauce.?
Stoves have had a significant place in my experience, since as a small child I helped my grandmother make pasties and cook them in her cream and green wood stove with its beautifully polished copper water tank built into the side, its little copper tap ready to supply hot water for tea or washing up the dishes.
I have always loved the washing, cutting and general preparation of ingredients, the slow, wonderful smell of cooking food, and the pleasure that others have taken from the finished dishes. I began to dream about a whizz-bang, stainless-steel fronted oven to make food preparation easy in my later years, one that did not have a temperamental door hinge, or a cranky electric ring. So, I made a New Year wish for a wonderful new kitchen, complete with stainless steel oven, gas cook top and a dishwasher that worked every time.

The final chapter

When ?Lacewood? was sold we retired into the nearby town, moving into a ten-year-old home with it?s pre-loved, and rather tired, coffee coloured kitchen. The obvious thing to do was renovate, and so my dream became a reality. We chose a modern and efficient wall oven, stainless steel range hood and sparkling gas cook top installed in cream timber cupboards, featuring local craftsman-made leadlight doors.
You can take the woman out of the kitchen, but you can never take the kitchen out of the woman.

  • also known as Bee Sting Bars 1 cup butter, firm 3/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons milk 1 cup chopped or slivered almonds 1 teaspoon almond extract 1 3/4 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg Preheat oven to 350F. In a small pan, combine 1/2 cup of the butter, 1/4 cup of the sugar, honey, milk, almonds, and almond extract. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring; set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut remaining 1/2 cup butter into pieces and, with a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut into flour mixture until mixture is very crumbly and no large particles remain. Add egg and mix with a fork until dough holds together. Press dough evenly over bottom of an ungreased 10 by 15-inch rimmed baking pan. Pour almond mixture over dough, spreading evenly. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is deep golden. Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into 2-inch squares; for smaller cookies, cut each square diagonally into 2 triangles. Store in an airtight container, if you can bear to leave some to eat later.
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Food Fusion in South Australia

The fusion of different food cultures in South Australia reflects the diversity of its land. In the South, dense pine forests and green pastures cover the land that is used to grow beef cattle and prime lamb, whilst its cold, clean southern waters provide delicious lobster and scallops. Grazing gives way then to the lush vineyards growing on the Terra Rosa soil of the Coonawarra, and cropping lands of the upper south east with their majestic red gums. The mighty River Murray turns red desert sand into a lush market garden and orchard as it wends its way from our northern border, to the sea on the south coast at Goolwa. Along its length are orchards and market gardens growing citrus, grapes, stone fruits, melons, tomatoes and a cornucopia of vegetables crops for local, interstate and international markets. World class wines grow in the slightly cooler climate of the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley, whilst the west coast has a wealth of seafood such as whiting, oysters and tuna. vale.jpg

The food culture brought to South Australia by English immigrants.

English immigrants first settled in South Australia in 1836, in ships such as ?HMS Buffalo?, a replica of which is to be seen at Holdfast Bay. These folk established themselves on the Adelaide Plains, some gradually taking up agricultural land in the Adelaide Hills. In 1839 persecuted Lutheran immigrants from Prussia arrived, looking to establish their community in a free land. My own forebears arrived on the ?Isabella Watson? in 1846. These people brought with them traditional English recipes many of which appear in my own grandmother?s handwritten recipe book, such as Stewed Chops, Potato Dumplings and Brown Pudding. They were all simple recipes, not requiring complicated ingredients, and not costing much money, a style of cookery that reflected the modest means of the time. Among the English immigrants were sheep graziers providing prime lamb, others farmed beef cattle and still others became the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers of newly established towns.

In the 21st century, our cuisine is a fusion of English, German, Italian, Greek and Asian, with some French thrown in for good measure. These varied food cultures make good use of the natural resources of South Australia, and ensure that a veritable feast awaits visitors to our region.

Had I been asked in 1950 to give a typical Australian menu I should probably have said: Vegetable soup, an entrť•†of Seafood Cocktail, Roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots and peas as main course, followed by Bread and butter pudding?

Today the most wonderfully fresh food is enjoyed widely, without a sting in the hip pocket, and can be washed down with an amazing variety of world class locally produced wines. A typical menu at ?The Limeburners Restaurant? at McLaren Vale might read like this : Turkey liver and Mountain Pepper pate, braised Chicken breast with red wine and Muntrie glaze, sweet potato chips and fresh garden salad followed by Lemon Myrtle curd tart and Kangaroo Island clotted cream, with a glass of excellent mellow shiraz or a crisp fruity chardonnay. The wine will most probably have been produced from the vineyards surrounding the town, the reds having mellowed in the autumn sun, and the whites exhibiting the crisp fruity style of the vale, such as D?arenberg?s The Olive Grove Chardonnay.
Italian food culture

Italian cooks, using to great advantage locally grown and wonderfully juicy tomatoes, local pasta and fresh herbs, lamb and olive oil, have introduced many of their traditional dishes to the region, to which, by reason of the climate they are eminently suitable. Italian immigrants have seduced us in to their way of preparing food, as well as their way of producing it. Many of the state?s successful winemakers and olive oil producers are second generation Italian/Australians. South Australia has a Mediterranean climate, and therefore many of the same crops that grow in Greece, Spain, France and Italy grow superbly here, including that damned olive. Someone planted a few olive trees – probably an Italian or Greek immigrant longing to have the taste of home, and soon we had innocent little Australian bush birds eating the fruit, and pushing the seeds out the other end to plant them in other regions. Through the Adelaide Hills we have many self sown, or should I say bird sown, Olive trees from which some pressing plants produce what they label Ferral Olive Oil. It is a sought after oil, being a full flavoured and peppery golden drop.
Greek food culture

The Greek influence has made good use of beautifully fresh seafood, farmed and caught in the clean waters surrounding the South Australian coastline. At Port MacDonnell, Robe and Kingston there are thriving lobster fisheries. Port Lincoln is the home of Bluefin Tuna fishing, Port Adelaide is home port to a fleet of prawn, whiting and deep sea fishing boats, and the West Coast is home to a flourishing Oyster and Abalone fishery. Michael Angelakis of Angelakis Brothers in Adelaide says this about the early days in South Australia. “It was very tough,” says Michael. “A lot of families went to Thevenard on the West Coast because migrants had already established a fishing village there and you could speak your native language. “But this meant that their cultures were kept alive, too. And the best way to learn another culture is through food.”

German food culture


German immigrants settled both at Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills, and in the Barossa Valley, settling in a lovely little corner called Bethany, and Gnadenfrei (meaning ‘freed by the grace of god’). Bringing with them their traditional industries and agricultural pursuits, as well as vine canes, they planted the first grape vines in the region, never knowing just how widespread the wine industry would become in their new land. German communities also had their own food producers such as traditional German bakers, German butchers with wonderful spicy metwurst, and pickle makers, finding the perfect ingredients here to continue the practice of their traditional crafts. What a treat it is to walk into one of these bakeries and inhale the yeasty aroma, to see the golden crusty loaves and delicious German cakes such as Bienenstich, a yeast cake, cream filled and topped with a sweet honey-nut layer.

Asian food culture

Asian cooks have brought to South Australians an amazing array of locally grown Asian vegetables and cooked dishes. What a proliferation of Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants since the 1950s. An amazing creator of Asian dishes of international renown is Cheong Liew, of the Grange Restaurant at the Adelaide Hilton. Cheong is renowned for his astounding ability to perform the marriage of Asian food and local ingredients, especially featuring Australian native ingredients which provide their own unique flavours.

The oldest food culture ? indigenous

For centuries the indigenous people of this country have used the fruits and plants growing widely on the land. It may have taken a long time but it is satisfying to realise that Indigenous foods are becoming more widely known and available, being grown very successfully by a group of visionary farmers in South Australia, and enabling the creation of dishes such as; Calamari seasoned with lemon myrtle, Lemon myrtle linguine tossed with local scallops and prawns, Native spinach fettuccine with Springs Smoked Salmon with creamy sun-dried tomato and macadamia sauce, Kangaroo fillet crusted with Mountain Pepper and served with a pepper berry dressing and fresh leaf salad.
In Oz we have a little freshwater crustacean that lurks on the bottom of streams, lakes and in farm dams, they are called Yabbies. Another term : freshwater prawns. They are absolutely delicious, and can be used in Yabbie Chowder, Yabbie Pate, or Yabbie Stir Fry with Asian vegetables. An enterprising lady at Inman Valley, looking to diversify on a dairy farm tried farming yabbies in her farm dams, and found that a successful enterprise could was established by buying yabbies from all over Australia and marketing them under the brand Galloway Yabbie Farm. Yabbies have been enjoyed by indigenous Australians for centuries. Now the rest of the world is waking up to their secret delights. Their delicate, sweet flavour and firm texture has won lavish praise from connoisseurs the world over.

Gone are the days when a lamb chop and three vegetables were standard fare in this community. Imaginative marketing presents the cook with many options such as marinated meats, fresh pasta and ready prepared vegetables. There is certainly no excuse for boring or unattractive food with the range raw products on offer in South Australia.

Years around my Father

My father was in his seventy ninth year at the time of his death. He had lived through times of conflict, had made the transition from being a student to working in a coal mine, from being young and fit to living with a mine related injury, from living in Industrial Wales to living in Australia as a migrant, from being an employee to building and operating a small business in a rural town.

He was approximately five feet eleven inches tall, and of course was less than that at the time of his death, which had been the result of a ten-year decline in health following some mini-strokes and a heart attack. However he still possessed the thick hair that had lost its natural brown colour, and which I had known for all of my life. He had been that colour from his thirties. Although not a man of robust health he worked with all of his resources to maintain and renovate our home. He put the same effort into the building, establishment and operation of a business after the end of WWII.

Brought up in a Welsh mining village with Methodist chapels meant possessing a set of values that could not be waived under any circumstances. He brought these values to his personal life, family life and business dealings.

Dad was a strict father for whom we four children felt respect in all things. One didnít dare open oneís mouth at the meal table for fear of Dadís cane on the knuckles whilst he was listening to the ABC news broadcast.

In my late teen years my father had been stricken with an illness that kept him confined to bed for months at a time. My mother found that operating the business on her own with the support of we children was difficult, and the decision was taken to sell the business so that Dad could retire and recover his health. After helping the new owners of the business to settle in they left for a well-deserved holiday travelling with their car and caravan to Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

As a family we were relieved to see Mum and Dad enjoying their retirement, however this was short-lived when Dad became ill again after a few years, to the extent that it threatened his life. At this time mum and dad were operating a business on Henley Beach Road at Thebarton. I can remember being there to help Mum because Dad was bed-ridden for most of the time. The shop was not air-conditioned and Dad was spending his days in discomfort. Relief came at last when they bought a home at Oaklands where Dad could stay whilst Mum went to work. Mum would spend hours making special fruit juices for dad to consume, as this seemed to be the only food that he could tolerate. At one stage the Doctor advised Mum that Dad was probably within weeks of dying. However, my mother was made of sterner stuff and she persisted with her fruit juice regime. It took many months but Dad did eventually make a recovery, although he bore the effects of that illness for the remainder of his life.

Eventually Mum and Dad were able to retire and moved to Glengowrie where Dad spent his days reading his books although there was a problem with his sight, and listening to his collection of records containing orchestral performances.

During their early retirement Mum and Dad made several visits back to the land of his childhood, and although they enjoyed visiting, Dad vowed that he would never go back to Wales to live as it had changed too much from the time of his youth.

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