For some reason today the universe deems it that I get a few blasts from the past…Some very welcome, some not so welcome.
So I thought I might just put another recipe out there that has more special meaning to me from my childhood.
These biscuits were my grandfathers cousins recipe so it is over 100yrs old and smell soo good when baking, they say smell and taste are one of the most powerful memory enhancers, for me these are it…
Aunty Belle ran the farm in Tumut NSW where we spent holidays and some weekends… I do miss those days of carefree running around, playing in the haystack, with mum’s panicked voice in the yard screaming “get out of there you will be bitten by snakes and you are allergic to grass…” LOL… I never saw a single snake in the hayshed and as for allergies.. I sneezed a little when I stirred up the dust…
We had a number of chooks at the farm to keep us well supplied in fresh eggs and Sunday roasts, one of my jobs was to help bring the chooks in at night to the chook houses and to feed them in the afternoons… It always made me smile standing there calling “chook chook chook” and watching them all come running like crazy for their grain… as for getting them into the pens at night, well they actually put themselves in around dusk, We did the head count to make sure we had everyone then just shut the door till morning… a few hours after letting them out we would go down to the nests (which were all over the place, those girls would nest in the strangest of spots) and collect the eggs…
Helping bring in the timber for the wood stove and fireplace was not one of the jobs I enjoyed the most… splinters were common as were spiders… not that it really worried me, I will say I appreciated the open fires in winter and the yummy food from that stove though, so there are compromises… but I would have just been happier wandering the paddocks singing and talking to the cows – yes singing to the cows, it was fun, no one to hear me and they seemed to like it… Well they didn’t run away so they must have, that’s my story and I am sticking to it. There were no other kids for miles around as the farm was 19 miles from town. So cows and sheep it was… In the summer I would ride my bike to town and go roller skating at the bull shed at the showground, Swimming in the river that ran through the property was always great and I spent hours down there climbing trees, catching yabbies and building swimming holes and tree houses… There was one old tree that hung out over the river, sitting up in there with a book for hours on end in the dappled sunlight was a favourite spot when it was too cool to swim. I still swim better in a fast flowing river to this day than I do in a swimming pool.
Aunty Belle (grandfathers cousin) was a very active member of the CWA, Red Cross and Royal Far West children’s charity. A lot of our time in the evenings was spent sitting on the verandah peeling and stoning fruit that people had dropped off or left on the verandah to make the jams and pies for various stalls and sales, going into town to the cattle sales and manning the cafe was great, the sights, smells and noises made it so much fun for a kid… Sometimes we would get a call to say there was a fruit laden tree at someone’s house, would we like to come and pick it and keep it… They were fun as I got to eat as much fruit as I could in the process, beautiful, straight from the tree. I remember sitting and waiting for the jams to finish being bottles so I could take the pot and spoon off to the back step and clean it out with the spatula… yummy warm fresh sticky jam… nothing like it… Dave still laughs at me when we walk through the supermarket and I see Jam Setta sugar, Pectin and Jam jar seals… I grumble and grouch generally with “if you need to add powdered pectin to your jam your not doin it right” and “lazy people, all those jam jar covers are is squares of cellophane, go get some from the newsagent and cut it out yourself and dip it in vinegar before sealing the jar”. Dave just laughs at me and keeps going now… Oh dear, I just realised I have turned into my mother…. aaarrggghh save me now!
There was so much other fun to be had as well, like horse riding and bike riding, gardening, I learnt to shoot at a young age and even if I do say so myself am still a reasonable shot, milking the house cow and herding cattle and sheep…
I think one of my favourite memories is of Meg, our caramel coloured house cow, she was so gentle and loved a cuddle… Mum always said I would get kicked or trampled as I used to climb all over her and walk around talking to her (keep in mind I was only about 10 or so at the time), she never hurt me and I saw her as a friend and in some ways I think she thought I was her friend too. I miss that silly cow and those idyllic times.
These biscuits were always on hand, we made them fresh every few days (apparently when I was around they did not last too long).
They were out every morning and afternoon tea as well as fresh scones from the wood stove and cream, freshly taken from the milk collected and separated then boiled that morning and a slab of home-made butter made from some of that fresh cream and some of that home-made jam… The smells that came from that kitchen were just divine… Oh Yummm… some of the simplest things in life are the best, really they are…
I still make these bikkies every now and then… They are not quite the same taste for a couple of reasons.
1. I now need to use gluten-free flour, finding the right mix of flours is a little tricky to get the texture right.
2. I do not have a wood stove… I still say there is nothing like the flavour of baked goods or a roast and veg from a wood stove… When I build my house that is one of the first things going in the kitchen… They maybe a little more work, but so worth the effort.
3. I still think the farm fresh eggs and home-made butter make a difference… I urge you NOT to make these with margarine instead of butter, they just don’t hold together or taste right.
I hope you try these and enjoy them.
Aunty Belle’s Biscuits.
1 1/2 cups Sugar.
4 tbsp Room Temp. Butter.
4 cups Plain Flour – for the gluten-free version I use a simple gluten-free plain flour mix from the supermarket and 1 tsp xantham gum. I am still not 100% happy with the texture but will keep experimenting with other gluten-free flours etc till we get it right).
4 tbsp Treacle.
2 tsp GF Baking Powder.
2 tsp Bi Carb Soda.
Pinch of salt.
Cream butter (I find they come out a bit better if you don’t melt it first), sugar and salt, add eggs, treacle, flour, baking powder and bi carb till well combined.
Sprinkle board with flour and roll out to about 3mm think, cut into circles about 5 -7cm in diameter.
Put on a greased baking sheet and pop in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes on around 200 degrees, keep an eye on them, ovens vary so much these days, they should just get a little darker than when they went in. They will still be a little soft when you get them out and they do not rise very much. Let cool on the tray and enjoy with a hot cuppa… when cool they will be lovely and crunchy.