What’s for tea Mum?

This is the age-old question asked of mothers by their children as they arrive home from school. Looking back, I’m thinking that I was no different.

My parents sold their business, Twin Towns Radio, at Tweed Heads when I was 5 and went into hotels The first was at Hivesville in the South Burnett Region of Queensland and the second at Jimboomba, south west of Brisbane I don’t remember our meals until after that time; I guess we ate what the cooks were preparing. I do remember that every Sunday night when we lived at Tweed Heads Dad would go and buy fish and chips wrapped in newspaper and we would sit on the lounge room floor and eat it out of the paper. What a treat! I still love to do that!

Mum hated cooking with a passion and especially hated deciding what to have for dinner so the menu was fairly restricted. After we left the hotels, Dad became a professional fisherman and crabber at Donnybrook north of Brisbane, on the mainland sheltered by Bribie Island. We had a boat hire business, a corner store and an unofficial post office as well. Consequently we ate a lot of seafood – the mud crabs were so good, fresh whiting, tailor,….. whatever was in season at the time. We were so spoilt. Dad & I loved it. Mum didn’t like it at all!

Next Dad turned his hand to poultry farming, a poultry abattoir and growing citrus at Chevallum near Nambour on the Sunshine Coast – he was truly a man of many talents. Our diet changed again and we ate a lot of chicken and duck and, of course, oranges in season. I can remember taking five oranges to school for lunch and nothing else!

Our Monday night dinner was usually a roast – chicken maybe – with roast vegetables. (At this time, chicken was still a treat for most families as it was very expensive so again we were spoilt. No-one had freezers so the chichens had to be bought fresh.) Sometimes, we would have corned beef with white sauce and boiled vegetables or maybe even picked pork! Then on Tuesday night it would be cold meat and mashed potato and vegetables. If I was lucky, we’d have been able to get a wheelbarrow of green mangoes from the people up the hill and Dad would have made his wonderful mango chutney to go with the cold meat.

Mum’s speciality was oxtail! It was so good. I use her recipe too and it was a favourite of my kids as well Sometimes we’d have rabbit with white sauce; sometimes lamb chump chops with vegetables.

We would always have dessert too. I did like dessert! Mum would make a lovely rice pudding and serve it with stewed apples and this was one of my favourites – still is, actually. Sometimes, if the oven was going she’d make a baked jam roly poly pudding and serve it with hot runny custard!

Dad liked to cook when he had time and he was pretty handy in the kitchen when he wanted to be. Often on a Sunday night he’d cook us up a Chinese feast. He had books of recipes and he’d buy the special ingredients he needed. These meals were pretty tasty and Mum enjoyed the night off.

To make Mum’s Oxtail Superb you will need:
1 oxtail, fat removed
2 carrots chopped
1large onion finely chopped
4 oz tin mushrooms (I used fresh mushrooms but they weren’t readily available when I was a kid.)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup diced celery
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for at least 3 hours. Mix 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour to make a smooth paste with water. Add 1/2 teaspoon Parisian Essence & stir it in to thicken the stew. Simmer a further 15 minutes before serving.

This is a great dinner for a winter’s night. Enjoy!

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