My parents were courting during the Great Depression, and got married during World War II, when Dad was a soldier. Failing the medical, he worked his way up to Staff Sergeant in charge of Stores, South New Zealand.
To me, I think these experiences defined them, having a direct impact on the way they lived their lives. Thrifty and hard-working, they were well equipped to live through hard times. I grew up with chooks and fruit trees in the backyard, together with Dad’s garden. Despite working long hours, Dad managed to grow a lot of what we ate, especially as we were vegetarian. Mum was more of a baker than a cook, but she bottled fruit to last the winter, made puddings and sometimes cake.
Cooking was strictly women’s business in our home. Mum had made fruit balls to earn extra money during the Depression and, in wartime, she cooked food for Dad to take back to barracks after his weekend leave.
Anzac Biscuits date back to World War I, when they were part of the ‘care’ package women sent to their men at war. Due to egg shortages, the biscuits were bound together with golden syrup, so they did not spoil and, due to their hardness, they travelled well in tins.
Here’s the recipe Mum taught me. I share it in honour of my parents:
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup coconut
125 g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 tbsp water
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the rolled oats, sugar and coconut. Mix well.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the golden syrup and water.
- Stir the bicarbonate of soda into the liquid mixture and allow it to foam.
- Pour the foaming mixture immediately into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Spoon heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased tray and bake at 170°C for 15-20 minutes until golden.
- Leave biscuits to cool on tray 2-3 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Biscuits will harden when cool.
NOTE: This article was published in The Sun on 10 October, 2018.