V is for Vencatachellum

Image courtesy of James Bryant

When we had roast lamb for dinner the leftovers were never wasted.  The next day they would be cooked up with sultanas, some vegetables and Vencatachellum Curry Powder. Vencatachellum was the brand name for a spice mix imported from India.  Typical of the 1950s was that food was never wasted.  The Sunday roast chicken became soup on Monday. Corned beef became rugged racehorses the next day (slices of meat dipped in batter).  Another use for left over lamb was Shepherd’s Pie.  We never had pork as my mother couldn’t stand the smell of it but she did cook boiling bacon which was as good as ham on wholemeal bread for school lunches.  T-bone steaks and chops were commonly on the table along with three or more vegetables.

My father would cook now and again.  There were only two meals in his repertoire but they were greatly anticipated and enjoyed.  One was his misnamed spaghetti bolognaise as it consisted of a whole chopped up chicken cooked in a homemade tomato sauce and served with spaghetti.  The other was salmon pie which was tinned salmon in a white sauce with a potato and cheese topping.

You had to make sure the lid was on or the flies would get to the milk.

Food deliveries made life easier for people living in isolated towns.  Eight miles to Mittagong seemed a long way to go for groceries!  The butcher from Bargo delivered meat, the milkman (named Billy Cairns) filled the billy hung on the gate, the fruiterer arrived in his truck once a week with exotic vegetables called zucchini and eggplant which my mother enthusiastically cooked along with the more mundane varieties.

A Vacola Bottling Outfit from Tea With Hazel Blog

Dessert was an essential part of every evening meal.  My mother would cook rice puddings, pasta puddings and bread and jam puddings.  Every summer we sweated as we laboured, filling Vacola bottles with peaches, plums and apples from our orchard and submerging them in the large green preserving unit full of boiling water which sat on the fuel stove.  Blackberries from the back of the property made the most wonderful jam.  Apples  and blackberries dripped through muslin in the laundry to make clear jellies.  Green tomatoes were combined with banana passionfruit to make unusual jams or used on their own to make pickles.

The only cakes my mother made were fruit cakes and as for pies of the pastry variety, they were never on the menu.  Canned food was rarely used and considered a luxury.

13 thoughts on “V is for Vencatachellum

  1. I’m really enjoying your posts Linda. Standard curry in our house was Keen’s used to cover up the taste of what I suspect was rather stale or overcooked meat. The added sultanas were probably the best part of the dish.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just found your challenge posts from your commenting on another I’ve been reading. I am fascinated! I live in Canada and it is fun to see how life and experiences were the same or different! Like your elementary readers with David and Wendy? Ours were pretty much the same but with Dick and Jane and their dog Spot. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories.


  3. Using up the leftovers by transforming them into something new is perhaps a dying art, but one that I’m working on. The only cookbook I was able to find devoted to that subject was published in 1973. I’ve posted a few of my own recipes on my blog under “The Leftover Project,” and continue to collect suggestions. Thanks for sharing your culinary memories. Do you still can your summer produce? I have done, but not lately, and want to try again this summer.
    @RhondaGilmour from
    Late Blooming Rose


  4. Every now and again I look at a Vacola bottling outfit on eBay and am tempted. We don’t have fruit trees in our yard except for citrus but I could buy fruit cheaply when in season. Mmmmmm. I’ll have to think about it.


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