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.
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.
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.