Sheep looking happy in Goomalling

Sheep looking happy in Goomalling. It’s obviously not Australia Day.

Dear Amelia,
Much as you wouldn’t want to be a turkey at Christmas, you definitely wouldn’t want to be a lamb on Australia Day.
Woolies was packed to the rafters with dead ones this week, or various bits and pieces of them, including full legs at $10 off.
I don’t know when this “tradition” of eating lamb on our national day started but I suspect it wasn’t very long ago (in fact I think it’s only been a “tradition” since 2005 when the Meat and Livestock marketing people teamed up with Aussie loudmouth Sam Kekovich and bombarded us with lamb ads).
I asked your Grandpa what he wanted for our Australia Day dinner tonight and he said Peking Duck, and while I don’t usually reward him for being a smart-arse, that’s what we’re having.
He kindly found me an “easy” recipe in Gok Cooks Chinese, a really terrific book from the lovely Gok Wan of TV’s How to Look Good Naked fame.

gok wan
I say “really terrific book” but I haven’t actually cooked anything from it yet.
What I HAVE done is read it from cover to cover, so at least it’s a start.
For the Peking Duck, Gok says to buy a pack of duck pancakes at the supermarket.
So I’m going to have to make my own using a recipe off the Internet (only three ingredients but a difficult-sounding rolling technique – alcohol may have to be applied to mouth).
Seeing as Peking Duck isn’t very Australian, I thought I should also make the effort to bake some pumpkin scones.
The recipe is from the 1970 edition of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook, which was given to me as a wedding present in 1974 by a lady called Ali Mealey, who was a neighbour of your Great Grandma and Grandpa in Bunbury.
The Mealeys were a big boisterous family of carnival people (they set up their amusement stalls at country shows all over the State) and Ali had a heart of pure gold.
This book has been so well used, the dust jacket actually disintegrated and then the entire hard cover dropped off.
It’s THE go-to book if you want to make Strawberry Hazlenut Gateau, which I have done on many occasions over the years but not lately because it contains obscene amounts of whipped cream.
It’s made up of layers of hazelnut meringue sandwiched together with melted chocolate, whipped cream and sliced strawberries, then covered with more whipped cream and strawberries.
Here’s a pic of it from my AWW Cookbook.

strawberry hazlenut gateau
But back to the scones…
Before you start, you need to know two of the Australian Women’s Weekly set-in-stone scone rules from 1970:
1. Cut sharply and evenly with your scone cutter. Don’t twist it.
2. Never cut a cooked scone with a knife – always break it open with your fingers.
I’ve got no idea why you have to do this, or what will happen to you if you don’t.
That’s because I’ve never been one to tempt fate.
Even as a kid I wouldn’t wear blue and green without a colour in between.
I didn’t step on a crack until I was 23.


One year ago on this blog: Echidna Pavlova


pumpkin scone


Makes about 12

30g softened butter
¼ cup caster sugar
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin (about 340g)
1 egg
2½ cups self-raising flour
pinch salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ – ½ cup milk, depending on dryness of pumpkin

Preheat oven to 230C.
Beat butter and sugar together.
Add pumpkin and mix well.
Fold in sifted dry ingredients alternately with ¼ cup milk.
If necessary, add remaining milk to make a soft but not sticky dough.
Turn mixture on to a floured surface and knead lightly.
Pat out to 2cm thickness and cut out scones with a floured 5cm cutter.
Place the scones in a greased 28x18cm lamington/slice tin and glaze the tops with a little milk.
Bake scones for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool the scones uncovered on a wire rack if you like firm, crisp tops.
Wrap them in a tea towel as soon as they come out of the oven if you prefer them soft.

pumpkin scones


Dear Amelia,
Down here in the land of purple utes and visible bum cracks, Australia Day celebrations are taken very seriously.
You’re buggered unless you have at least two Australian flags attached to your car roof, four cartons of Crownies in the boot and a Staffie whose upper body is hanging out the car window.
If you don’t own a Staffie and can’t borrow one from a mate, you could probably avoid being called a poofter by having Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh blasting out of your car radio while you lay some rubber in the Middleton Beach car park.
Or, if you’re looking for something slightly more sophisticated, you could stay home and make an Echidna Pavlova.
I think every boy and girl should have an Australia Day recipe up his or her sleeve and this Echidna Pav is perfect.
It comes from the book Sheridan Rogers’ Food Year, which is very good but now out of print.
You can visit Sheridan Rogers’ website here.
The pav is supposed to serve 6, but the way I make it, it feeds 35.
This is because it’s so sweet, you can’t eat more than a couple of mouthfuls.
That said, it’s perfect for those Australia Day barbecues where everyone is as smashed as rats and is likely to throw up anyway.
Sheridan Rogers’ version probably isn’t as sweet as mine because she uses fruit (nectarines, apricots or peaches) cut into 5mm batons for the echidna spines.
I used After Dinner Mints – the ones shaped like sticks – because it was easier.
Sheridan doesn’t put eyes on the echidna’s face either but I had some dried cranberries in the pantry and thought what the hell.
Currants or sultanas would be just as good.
Blue M&M’s, I think, would be really special because you could tell people they were a metaphor for our iconic, wide, blue Australian sky.
Very patriotic and less hassle than borrowing a Staffie.


Serves 35 drunk people

4 egg whites
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour
400ml thickened cream
box of After Dinner Mint sticks
2 eyes of your choice

Preheat the oven to 120C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites with half the sugar until they’re stiff and shiny.
Fold in the rest of the sugar along with the vanilla essence, vinegar and cornflour.
Put dots of this meringue mixture under each of the four corners of the baking paper to “glue” it to the baking tray.
This is so it doesn’t slide around when you’re fashioning the echidna’s body.
Spoon the meringue mixture on to the baking paper in an oval shape, stretching it out at one end to make the pointy echidna face (see picture after the recipe).
Bake it for one hour, then turn the oven off, but leave the pav in the oven for another 30 minutes.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely.
Whip the cream until it is quite stiff. If you don’t, the “spines” will slide off the echidna’s bum.
Put the echidna on a platter, cover it with whipped cream and stick the After Dinner Mint “spines” in the body section.
Place the eyes of your choice on its creepy little face.