Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Mission Station Menu.

It was the coconut soup in yesterday’s post that led me to this interesting glimpse of life on a mission station in North Queensland sometime in the first half of the twentieth century. I assume the station was on the coast, as the menu included coconut soup make with fresh nuts.

I was interested in the idea of coconut soup. Not soup with coconut, but very coconut-y coconut soup – rather more so than the example yesterday which didn’t specify what form of coconut was to be used, but I rather think it was the dessicated kind. I found a very different style of soup in a short piece in the Brisbane newspaper The Courier Mail of 17 June 1953, which paid housewife-contributors a guinea for a recipe or meal idea.

Mrs. B. Johnson … will receive a guinea for a typical day’s meals that she used to cook when living on a mission station in North Queensland.  She even used the leaves of sweet potatoes as a vegetable.

Mrs. Johnson wrote that they bought the wheat, grinding it themselves for the porridge, and soaking it overnight to reduce cooking time. Goats’ milk, augmented with powdered milk, was used when the cows went dry. They kept fowls, and grew most of the vegetables in drums.

This is how she treated the sweet potato leaves. Pick young, clean leaves; wash, remove stalks, and tear leaves apart. Melt a teaspoon butter in bottom of saucepan, place leaves in saucepan with salt, and cook with lid on until soft.

Her menu was:-

Wholemeal porridge, milk and sugar.
Boiled eggs, toast, butter and marmalade.
Coffee or tea with milk and sugar.
Cost: 4/6
Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes.

Salad – cheese
Ripe pawpaw with lemon or lime juice
Scones, butter, strawberry jam.
Fruit drinks or tea.
Cost: 5/3
Preparation and cooking time: 15 minutes.

Coconut soup.
Steamed kingfish, boiled sweet potatoes, stalks of pumpkin leaves, sweet potato leaves, white sauce.
Banana custard.
Black coffee, or tea.
Cost: 10/-
Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour.

Here is Mrs. Johnson’s recipe for coconut soup:

Place milk of coconuts in saucepan, add grated coconut, a little grated onion, and about 2 tablespoons sago. Bring to boil, and allow to simmer until sago is cooked.

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