Friday, 18 January 2008

Cooking in the 60's

Chatting to a workmate yesterday about food and cooking (yeah - that's a surprising admission for Rita, eh?), we reminisced about a meal that was pretty trendy round Hobart in the late 60's. I was given the recipe at the time by a workmate at the Hydro who typed it out specially, as it was SO exotic I hadn't been able to find it in any of the cookbooks I had.

It would have been a different matter today - I'd have just googled it of course! But - we ARE talking 40 years ago here!

Last night I unearthed my ancient book of recipe clippings from that era to remind myself of exactly what went into this wonderfully enlightened dish.

Just so you can catch up with our many fun dinner parties of Hobart's 60's era, I'm very kindly going to share this recipe with you!

I won't amend or alter it in any way.

"CHOW MIN

1 lb mince
1 pkt chicken noodle soup
4 cups water
1 tsp curry
2 lge onions
1 tin pineapple pieces
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/4 cabbage (shredded)
1/4 lb peas
1/2 lb coarsely chopped beans
salt
10c pkt cashews

Fry onions (sliced) and mince then add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 20 mins."

I love the luxurious addition of the 10c pkt of cashews!

(BTW - Don't forget - the Golden Dragon in the city, and the Kan Wan in North Hobart were the only 2 Chinese restaurants here at that time - and maybe 1 in 20 people would eat out once a year in those days. Plus it was still the days of children being seen but not heard, so if, perchance, you were a child lucky enough to be taken as a special treat to a restaurant, no way did you get asked what you wanted, or made any kind of noise or disturbance there.)

So - anyone who wants to transport themselves miraculously back to one of my exclusive dinner parties of 1967 - here is your passport to gastronomic heaven! Go forth and conquer!
Posted on by Rita
18 comments

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

When did Har Wee Yee open? I remember my dad was very fond of a take away called Buck Bo Farn? which was steamed rice which had a delicious centre of meat,prawns,mushrooms etc
Anon2

Rita said...

Har Wee Yee is new in comparison to the other named two! I remember the old Buck Bow Farn from there! Yum!

Christina said...

Silver Pearl at Rokeby, Peking at Claremont, Golden Harbour at Bellerive and King Wah at Newtown still have the wonderful Buck Bow Farn on their menus. My favourite from years ago. I still get teased by family about my love for it.
My mum still makes the good old chow mein. We lived on it growing up in the 70's. It's still my 11 year olds favourite Nanny food.
I was expecting a great old fondue recipe Rita or a good old Beef Stroganoff. Whatever happened to those. Dare I say I still make a decent Beef Strog.
Bring back the 60's and 70's. Not everything though, I remeber eating saveloys with mashed potato and other ungodly things. Who else had these wonderful dishes?

sir grumpy said...

Yes, Rita, the stuff of dreams.
My first Chinese was in the 60s with my girlfriend (now the misuse).
Her family were streets ahead with food, even having spag bol! And Mince Curry.
It was with trepidation I went for the Lunch Special, trying to impress her with my worldliness(1).
I had chicken and pineapple with steamed rice. Wow, how exotic it was. I'd never even eaten SAVOURY rice before...it always came as pud at mum's.
You never forget your first time...

Rita said...

Hi Christina - naturally I have all the fondue and strog recipes! I have to also admit to a huge liking of strog and still make it often for myself. It's so tasty and easy.
Sir G - oh yeh - the Savoury Mince recipe is right alongside the Chow Min recipe in that ancient recipe book of mine!

I know I've waffled on about those old meals before, but some of those dishes are ageless (but not Christina's savs and mash!!).

beachsands said...

I love and still make chow min. My mum's recipe was different... It has from memory a packet of chicken noodle soup, curry powder (keens of course), green beans, onions, lots of cabbage and mince.
My food memories of the 60s were not that bad. My mum was a pretty cook for her time. I managed to save her old recipes .... she threw out or gave away heaps of really good stuff as she got older eg my father's and her war medals and some of our toys. My Dad often travelled for work and came back with wondrous toys that were not accessible in the bush.
Re spag Bol .... nearly my favourite comfort food dish.
Friday night was kids cook and clean up night or buy fish and chips.....the only possible take away. The deal was ingredients were available and money saved by not buying takeaway was ours to keep (at least 50c) Lamb loin chops, par-fried chips (from real starchy OLD potatoes bought by the sack..V.cheap) and frozen peas that she used to pick every year, blanch and freeze, was a favourite.
One night I made my first ever spag bol sauce using real garlic...exotic for MB using the the galloping gourmet recipe I had seen on the television. Little brother declared that he was not eating that shit and lacking any words worse than his, I hurled the plate at him consequently splattering every possible surface in the kitchen. Furious dialogue and cleaning followed...temporary ceasefire in the face of a much greater power arriving at any moment.
Ah Rita what a fabulous idea for a post...nearly needs its own website.

Cartouche said...

I was born in 67. But I still cook what was in vogue then.
Did I ever mention my vast collection of old cook books and womens weekly mags etc?

Ted said...

I still make a version of this several times each winter, I worked out last time that if I finely shred the cabbage I can wrap it in some pastry and have some yummy little parcels.

My version is here http://www.docook.com/2007/08/26/mums-chow-mein/

Rita said...

Sands - the recipe I gave sounds quite a bit like your mums to me!
Cartouche - I'd LOVE to see your vast collection of old cook books and WW mags. Where did you get them from? I love reading those.
Ted - welcome and thanks so much. I went and had a look at the site. Love all those old recipes, and I really do feel they still have a place in todays menus.

In hindsight, looking at the ingredients of that Chow Mein, I reckon people could do a lot worse than cooking up a brew of it in preference to some of the SHIT food younger people (ie my younger kids for a start) devour today on the run!

t h e - g o b b l e r said...

Rita I always thought of Chow mein as our veriosn of the American-Chinese dish chop suey.
I assumed that it was one of the first Chiese dishes that Aussies embraced, although I suspected that it was heavily anglisized & altered to our tastes of the time.
Interestingly iy reveals that we have a snapshot, a moment suspended in time that food memories can instanttly take us back to. What is most important here of course is the lovely feelings we have when rememebering the dish & how it makes us quite particular about the methods of its preparation & ingredients.
I suspect that all recipes evolved this way once.

Rita said...

Good morning Gobbler. You're probably correct as to the origins of Chow Mein. It possibly WAS our version of the US one. And yes, I'd also assume it was heavily anglicised for our palates, such as they were, to find acceptable!

I think one of the reasons for its popularity was it's ease of preparation, and the common-ness of the ingredients.

It was just a matter of using the ingredients which you mostly had in your cupboards anyway (apart from the 10c packet of cashews!). You didn't have to go to a deli (even assuming we had such a thing here!) or supermarket (ditto!) to specially buy the required additional ingredient of 4 dessertspoons of yaks milk that was guaranteed to make this dish a raging hit at dinner!

You just got out the stuff, bunged it all in together (after you'd browned the mince and onions) and left it to cook itself - then voila! Yummy, filling dinner's ready everyone! Come and get it!

Rita said...

And, BTW, thinking back to my blase comment about not having to go to the supermarket to pick up additonal required ingredients:
bear this in mind -
*only the more affluent had a family car (my family didn't)
*very few women had a licence or were let to drive said family car (my mum didn't)
*the trip to the shops was a HUGE expedition involving dragging kids (many of them in comparison to todays 1 or 2) to get the bus to the shops (can someone please grab the pram?), having enough presence of mind to be able to shop for 2 or 3 weeks groceries (you knew that there was NO WAY you were going to want to attempt this logisitical and emotionally wearing nightmare any sooner!), supervise the kids, carry the purchased articles/shopping bags, call a taxi, then get home - in one piece - to unpack, then get dinner. All with bugger-all help from the man in your life!

I'm trying hard not to exaggerate here, but want to paint a realistic picture for those who might be reading this with 2 cars parked in your driveway, supermarkets open 7 days, from 7.00 am till midnight etc etc. It's wonderful to see how things have changed, and I suppose that's the definition of aging.

t h e - g o b b l e r said...

Oh stop it you 'Angelas Ashes type!'

Rita said...

I was more thinking of the Jane Eyre analogy!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am looking for the recipe for Buck Bow Farn, I am from Tassie and now in WA can't find it anywhere

Dixon Chan said...

Hi. The Kan Wan Cafe was my dad's restaurant. Partnership - Kan and Wan. "Wan" was my dad. Born 1909 - passed 2004. Together they opened the first Chinese Restaurant in Hobart ! Majority of the Chinese were market farmers and gardeners. I recalled Dad telling me how he taught many of them to start Chinese Restaurants. Thats when Har Ware Yee - Hong Kong - King Wah and Golden Dragon and more started. Dad was a special man.
Today - the Kan Wan Cafe 1958 1998 has a Brass Plaque on the footpath.
My dad's name outside the Queens Head Hotel.
He later relocated to Hong Kong Restaurant Moonah - then to Launceston New Yorker Restaurant 1973. He retired in 1985.

Regards
Dixon (Son)

Dixon Chan said...

Buck Bow Farn - is basically Chow Min or Chop Suey whacked in with rice. Its first made with Rice in a largish bowl - only 1 - 2 cm thick to the top of the rim of the bowl... patted down at the base so the surface of the bowl is covered with rice. Then the Chop Suey - Chow Min mix is whacked on top. Place a large plate ontop of the bowl. Flip it upside down - so the bowl is upside down on the plate. Take the bowl away.. you have a mound of rice with a chop suey filling hidden inside the mound. Cover with your gravy sauce - sprinkle with shallots. Done.

Anneke Reid said...

Hi there Dixon Chan... It is so great to read your post as I was just going down memory lane with my love of Buck Bow Farn as a child growing up in Hobart. Was surprised with this blog and very happy to hear everyone's comment and didn't realise it was such a popular dish.. We used to go to New Norfolk Chinese all the time. I was very interested in the recipe but more interested in the gravy sauce as that was what made the dish..would you be able to share that information please??? If not I can totally understand but a very big thank you if you can. Many thanks!!