Today it is cold and wintery and it made me think of my childhood in Cooma and all the homemade food families ate in those days.
My mother worked once we were a bit older, but she always had a home cooked meal on the table (often by 6 o’clock!), apart from Friday night when we often had fish and chips purchased from the local takeaway cafe. We weren’t Catholics, but it was just a ritual we followed, or maybe Mum did it to have a break. On Sunday nights we often had something simple like scrambled eggs and baked beans (Mum’s concession to processed food) with toast or soup.
I recently came across the Cooma Cookery Book, a reprint of the original printed in October, 1930. On one of my sentimental trips back to Cooma I saw it in the local pharmacy and purchased a copy as the proceeds were going to Cooma District Hospital Auxiliary, and my daughter was born in Cooma Hospital.
I particularly like the foreword:
“Miss Ina Walters has done me the honour of asking me to read her Cooma Cookery Book. It may be because she has heard me say that in no other town have I enjoyed, so often, more delightful samples of Woman’s most important art. To wives with grumpy husbands; to young ladies who hope to have adoring husbands; to girls who want to please Mum and Dad, and to the Dad, who cooks while Mum plays golf or bridge, and even to bachelors who would venture into the kitchen, I commend this wonderful little compilation.
Every recipe has been proved by the women of Cooma and Monaro; they are, as far as I can judge, all practical and delightful. I am so sure of them that I am buying one for my wife.
The Cooma Cookery Book should prove a splendid litle aid in Cookery classes.”
(T.A White, District Inspector of Schools, Cooma)
I can’t say that I ever saw my father cook a meal, or my mother play golf or bridge, but I do remember enjoying her cooking along with the rest of the family and my father certainly wasn’t grumpy while he was eating them!
Here are two old favourites from the book.
SHEPHERDS PIE (from an Old Cook)
1/4 lb cold meat; 6 cold potatoes; 1/2 oz butter; a little milk; 1 onion chopped; 1/2 gill gravy; salt & pepper to taste; a little nutmeg. (Mum used minced lamb from the leftover Sunday leg, and also added chopped bacon and tomato sauce)
Cut the meat into small squares; grease a pie dish; mash the potatoes; season with pepper; salt and nutmeg mixed with a little milk.
Line pie dish with half potato and finely chopped onion; sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Put remainder of potato on top. Smooth over with the blade of a knife; sprinkle a few bread crumbs on top. Put little knobs of butter here and there on top of the pie. Bake in a hot oven for fifteen minutes.
BUBBLE AND SQUEAK (from an Old Cook)
Cut 500 gram of cold beef in slices, 500 gram chopped cooked potatoes; 500 gram boiled cabbage.
Fry the potatoes and cabbage with a little butter, pepper and salt. Sat aside and keep hot. Lightly fry the beef and put into hot dish with alternating layers of vegetables (potato/cabbage mixture), piling higher in the middle. Serves 4.
These are two typical meals from my childhood, although not my mother’s recipes. Bubble and squeak was a common meal for those days and was a quick and easy to use up leftovers.
|A smaller version of the mincer Mum used to make shepherd’s pie|