Learning from our Grandparents

My grandmother (Nana) turns 90 later this year. The same age as Queen Elizabeth! How incredible to have lived through 90 decades. The changes that she has seen! When I was in year 9 or 10, we had an assignment for History where we had to interview three people in regards to either The Great Depression, World War II or the Vietnam War. It was a bit tricky to find people still alive who had experienced the Depression and who were old enough to remember what it was like but that was the topic that I chose. Nana wasn’t very old during those years of hardship (being born in the mid 20s) but she still had some valuable recollections. I also interviewed local Mackay identity Bill Kemp who worked for many years at Lamberts Department store. He died aged 102 years in 2011. Aunty Lex Fadden (the wife of my great Uncle) was the third person that I interviewed. What an insightful assignment it was. To learn from real people with local experiences was invaluable. It brought to life the text book teachings.  My mum is doing a big clean-up at the moment and I hope that in one of the boxes (that she is kindly storing for me) I can find the cassette recordings of the interviews.

Since having a child of my own, I have been speaking with Nana about the ‘old days’. In her day, she didn’t have a car until her second daughter was about 2 years old so there was no problems with screaming babies who didn’t like the capsule or worrying about transferring a sleeping baby from car to cot. But there was the inconvenience of not being able to go places at the drop of a hat. It was definitely a simpler life then. Each day had a purpose. Mondays were for Washing, Tuesdays were for Ironing…. Now, although it’s easier to just throw the clothes into the washing machine rather than stand at the boiler stirring them, sometimes it feels like there are constantly clothes to be folded. Not that I’m complaining!  And women usually didn’t have to try and juggle more than one ‘career’ either. And that was completely acceptable. It was challenging enough being a Mother and trying to manage the budget, the pantry and keep the house in order. I’m sure there weren’t a gazillion plastic toys to constantly pick up though!

The other night, we were discussing food and babies. I was concerned that I wasn’t feeding our toddler enough during the day so she was perhaps waking at night, hungry. Nana was telling me how it was incredible that even in the tough times of her childhood, her widowed mother still managed to feed her seven children really well. She grew vegetables in the garden and they always had a hot meal at lunchtime. At night-time, they had bread and butter (or dripping). Sometimes with jam. Nana’s mother would often scold the kids for slicing the butter thickly to put on their bread. She’d cry “It’s butter, not cheese!” They never had the luxury of a glass of milk but their mother always made some sort of pudding on milk – Rice or Macaroni Pudding. And they made their own ice-cream. Before there was such a thing as an ice-cream maker. Her mother beat it by hand.

Here is a recipe which I’m going to try (in the thermomix – I certainly don’t have the strength or inclination to use a wooden spoon!)

Homemade Ice-cream

2 cups Milk

4 Tablespoons Powdered Milk

I dessertspoon Butter

1 teaspoon Gelatine (dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water)

2 tablespoons Sugar

Warm milk, Beat in powdered milk + sugar.

Dissolve butter in and add the dissolved gelatine. Beat well

Put into Freezer + when half frozen, re-beat  and add Vanilla.

Then freeze again.




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