Sunday, December 30, 2012

All-Bran Tea Cake

Here it is!  The first of the recipes from the little book of the Senior Girls Missionary Book of Tested Recipes.

All-Bran Tea Cake
(donated by Miss M Bulgin)
page 3
  • 2 tab dripping/butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup sweet milk
  • 1 cup Kelloggs All-Bran
  • 1 heaped cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup of raisins/sultanas
Cream the dripping and sugar, add egg, beat well.   
Add All-Bran. 
Sift dry ingredients and add alternatively with the milk.
Add raisins/sultanas last.
Bake in a moderate oven (180 deg c) for an hour.  (35 minutes *** see notes).

My Results and Notes

My first concern was whether Kellogs All-Bran in the late 30s to late 40s was the same product that is sold today.  I looked at a few vintage ads by Kellogs such as this one here and here and found that as best I could see from the pictures, All-Bran hasn't changed much from when Miss M. Bulgin was baking.

I was a little bit naughty and made a few substitutions, such as sultanas for raisins and butter for dripping but I think this wouldn't have had a huge effect on the overall product.   I also added a tiny splash of almond milk to the milk, in an attempt to sweeten it a little. 

The batter came together nicely but spoon or bowl lickers beware!  This isn't a particularly sweet batter because there is only a small amount of sugar.   I prepared the pan by buttering all inner sides, covering the bottom with baking parchment and flouring the sides.

 The recipe calls for the cake to be baked in a moderate oven for an hour.  I pondered this a little and decided that if the recipe was actually from the 30s and the kitchen range/oven was one like those sold in the ads for ovens a change would be required.  Firstly, the seal on modern ovens is far more successful at keeping heat in the oven.  Secondly, I suspect that our modern ovens hold a more regular and high temperature.

(important note ***) I decided to play it safe and only baked the cake for 35 minutes at 180 degrees celcius.   It turns out that that was perfect.

I added some creamed cheese icing (cheated and bought Philadelphia Cheese's pre-made frosting) and added some blueberries on the top.

The cake had a thick and heavy fruit cake consistancy and tasted wholesome.  It was only a little sweet but I found this very pleasant.

Upon sampling the cake I regretted adding sultanas.  They bought a nasty, overcooked fruit taste to the mouth and was the only feature of the cake I didn't enjoy.  

I would like to try making this cake again but instead of the sultanas, I'd add chopped dried apple pieces and a small dash of nutmeg and cinnamon

Pondering Miss M. Bulgin
I found a few articles in the Courier Mail (courtesy of the Trove, the NLA's digitisation project) mentioning a Miss M. Bulgin. 

Given that at this early stage in the project I don't have a clear date for the publication of the book, I am not able to easily determine whether the earlier articles in 1933 or the later ones in 1941 relate to our donor.  

A Courier Mail article in 1933 lists a Miss M Bulgin as being responsible for the 'fish pond' at a local fete to raise money for the Baptist Church in Nundah.   Other stalls at the fete included fruit and vegetables, woodwork, plain and fancy needleworkpotted plants and cakes and sweets.

One article in 1937 mentions a Miss M Bulgin attending a lovely afternoon tea party at Rowe's hosted by Mrs A. M. Anderson visiting from Adelaide.  I like to imagine Miss M dressed in a sweet floral dress seated with her friends for a spot of tea in the old Rowe's Arcade

Another, more exciting article is from August 1941 when a (17 year old) Miss M. Bulgin of West End received a letter from a relative overseas at war.  Inside were some snapshots and a few letters from a person called Roy/Ray to his Aunt.  Miss M Bulgin was hoping that the Courier Mail may help her find the Aunty the lost letters were adressed to.  

Is the West End Miss M this the same Miss M from the fete stall at Nundah in 1933?   If so, she would have been only 9 years old and running the fish pond at the fete.   My thoughts are that it is possible but unlikely.  

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The City Tabernacle Senior Girls Missionary Union Cookbook

Most of my Grandma's cookbooks went to my Aunts (and rightly so!) but a few scrappy books that no one wanted remained in her kitchen draw.  When looking through these last few, sad looking books I discovered one that caught my attention.

The front cover has long ago been lost, as has the back cover, but the title page is still intact.

"The City Tabernacle Senior Girls Missionary Union  (Wickham Terrace, Brisbane) Book of Tested Recipes"

Given that my Grandmother lived in Ipswich, I don't think she would have attended the Senior Girls Missionary of Wickham Terrace and I don't know the book came to her, whether she bought it through her own church or if it was gifted to her.


How old is it?
The National Library of Australia has a copy listed in it's catalogue however it says it is only 84 pages long while my copy is 98 pages.  It also doesn't have any advice on the year of publication other than a suggestion that it is in the 1900s.

There are a few hints within the book itself, such as an advertisement which has prices in pounds (decimalisation occurred in Australia in 1966) and the phone numbers listed for companies are four digits with a letter in front, eg. B2155 (the letters were removed from Brisbane phone systems by 1962).  

I'd date this earlier than the 50s though because of ads which are selling range ovens more in the style of the 20s through to early 40s rather than the more modern-looking 50s ovens.  (Ad from page 2 of the booklet below)

Personally, without any further research I'd peg it somewhere in the decade from 1935 - 1945.

Why bother? 
Firstly, I like baking.  I also like baking and cooking recipes from days (or even centuries!) gone by.   I think tasting foods is an interesting way to experience the past.  I also enjoy seeing recipes which are unchanged over decades or even hundreds of years.

But I also thought that it would be a tragedy for this little book to go into the bin because every recipe in the book was submitted by a Queensland woman - and each recipe has the donor listed beside the title of the recipe.  

How sweet to know I am eating biscuits that were a personal favourite of H. O Young or trying the Russian Caramels that Mrs M Illman thought were the bee's knees (enough to incite her to add the recipe to this collection!)   I think it's a lovely bit of Brisbane's history which deserves better than a short trip to the tip.

I also like the thought of baking recipes that my grandmother made, using her rolling pin and bowls (which I also saved from the kitchen at the same time). 

Why mention it here? 
I've decided it would be a bit of fun to cook each of the recipes from this little book and to share the recipe, my results and maybe take the time to ponder about the recipe donor.

Knowing how fickle I can be with projects, I won't promise that these will be regular - not can I promise that I will cook through the whole book...

But hopefully it will be a bit of fun along the way. 

Melbourne Trip 2012

 It seems that I picked the perfect timing for my trip to Melbourne.   Though the weather swayed between hot, warm, cool and cold, there was not a drop of rain during my stay.  The city was decked out beautifully for Christmas, including some of the historical arcades.

I ate a lot of fantastic, massive portion meals at a variety of places:

1. Avacado & fried mushrooms on toasted pida.  - St Kilda Galleon Cafe - Carlisle St, St. Kilda
2. Macadamia Salad - Vegie Bar -  Brunswick St, Fitzroy.
3. Spiced Dandelion Tea & Chocolate & Prune Brownie - Storm in a Teacup - Smith St, Fitzroy.
4. A Shak-in-roll breakfast burger - Beatrix - Quensberry St., Queensberry.

 5. Lemon Brioche - Beatrix - Queensberry St, Queensbury.
6. Strawberry Tart - Gallery Cafe - National Gallery of Victoria.
7. Pumpkin Salad - Spud Bar - Chapel St, Windsor.
 8. Yasai Ramen - Yoyogi - Swanston St, City Center.

9. Muesli Slice - Crumbs Bakery - Errol St, North Melbourne.
10. Welsh Rarebit - Hopetoun Tea Rooms - Collins St, Melbourne.
11. Bircher Museli - Mileto's Bar - Chapel St, Prahan.
12. Mango & Pomello, Matcha Icecream & Sago - Dessert Story - Swantson St, Melbourne.

I intended to be a tourist and go to Luna Park but it was packed with school kids.... so instead I enjoyed seeing the gingerbread version in the Gingerbread Village by Epicure (to raise money for the Starlight Foundation). instead I enjoyed seeing the gingerbread version in the Gingerbread Village by Epicure (to raise money for the Starlight Foundation).

I waited in the cold dark for Fairy Penguins to come into their homes amongst the rocks but only saw a few.  Apparently it was good fishing for penguins that evening.   This showy little juvenile penguin was less than a meter from me.  Squee!

I saw some incredible street art...

...and I visited the NGV to peruse more traditional art.  I enjoyed the Ballet and Fashion exhibit (thanks to Bessgeorgette for the tipoff.)  I also paid to see the Radiance exhibit of Neo-Impressionist artworks, which I loved.  After that I wandered through the European Art section.  I felt entirely calmed and at peace by the time I left.

One of the main events for my trip was the vintage clothing shopping I had planned.  Below is the list of stores I visited (ending in only a few purchases).

1. Hunter Gatherer Showcase Store - Royal Arcade.
2. Anonymous Posh - Royal Arcade.
3. Hunter Gatherer (St Lawrence Op Shop) - Royal Arcade, downstairs.
4. Circa Vintage - Melbourne CBD
5. Hunter Gatherer (St Lawrence Op Shop) - St Kilda.
6. Shag - Brunswich St - Fitzroy.
7. Shappere - Smith St - Fitzroy.
8. Sally's Retro Fashion - Smith St. Fitzroy.
9. Sixes and Sevens - Smith St. Fitzroy.
10. Friperie - Smith St. Fitzroy.
11. Out of the Closet - Brunswick St. Fitzroy.

70s/80s skirt.  I loved the pattern and colours in this skirt so tried it on as well as a peasant blouse that didn't really work for me.  The girl in the store was friendly and attentive, the music wasn't too loud and the fitting room spacious/mirror huge. 

12. Vintage sole - Brunswick St. Fitzroy.
13. Hunter Gatherer - Brunswick St. Fitzroy.
14. Sheila Vintage - Brunswick St. Fitzroy.
15. Ruby Red Dress - Gertrude St. Fitzroy.
16. Red Rocket - Melbourne CBD.

Red Rocket gets an honourable mention because though I didn't buy anything there I spend a long two hours browsing through the store and would have bought a dashing green 50s dress if it hadn't been 2 sizes too big.  The atmosphere was great, the store staff didn't hassle and it was a great shopping experience.  I definitely recommend this to any visitors to Melbourne wanting to do a bit of Vintage shopping.  (Also - duck upstairs one floor to Lucello, a charming and whimsical store which sells vintage and antique haberdashery.)
17. Fancy Pants - NOW CLOSED - St Kilda.
18. Treasure Trove - Chapel St. Windsor

The lovely gentlemen in this shop were very helpful and affable.  The owner was very willing to bargain down on the older stock which means I got this nearly new 60s dress at a steal price of $80.   It seems that a lot of stock in this store is from the closed Fancy Pants store at St. Kilda.  There was a great mix of items in the store and I really enjoyed shopping there. 

19. Fat Helens - Chapel St. Prahran.
20. Chapel St Bazaar - Chapel St. Prahran.

What can I say except that shopping at Chapel St Bazaar was an absolute pleasure.  I tried on two 50s dresses and a 50s cardi which all fit perfectly.  I talked myself out of buying all three items and now wish I had at least bought one of the dresses.  I was unwilling to pay $120 for it when it was slightly damaged and I had another rather similar. I did however go nuts on scarves and bangles here.

21. Out of the Closet - Melbourne CBD.

I was pleased to find the exact style of peasant blouse I was after.  However, I didn't like the general feel of this store and found the store owner who served me snide and off-putting.

I suspect if I were to go back to Brunswick and Smith St again I would have been more free with my money.  Trying to cram all that vintage shopping into just a few days was hard - and I always had the thought "I don't want to spend $x on that when I might find the perfect dress in the next store/tomorrow."

I was often disappointed by the large amount of 70s, 80s and even 90s clothes available and the scarcity of 50s and 60s.  This was entirely my own fault as I had traveled to Melbourne like one expecting to find the vintage clothing equivalent of the Cities of Gold (i.e. the streets lined with 50s dresses, so common that only a pittance of say $50 was being charged.)

But I am delighted with the few pieces I bought and have already worn all of them in outfits over the last week.

I loved the beautiful old buildings around Melbourne - both in the city and out in the suburbs.

Finally, the real highlight of my trip was when I visited the Melbourne Zoo and was able to enter the enclosure to get photographed with a group of Meerkats.  They were so small, dainty and full of energy, like hyperactive children.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Exciting things on the horizon...

I'm full of excitement about the future at the moment.

Tomorrow morning I head off on a holiday to Melbourne, which will of course involve a lot of vintage hunting.   I promise to write some blog entries about my finds and review the stores I go to. 

When I get back to Brisbane I have concerts and end-of-year break-up parties to attend. 

Then a short half week back at work before I move house.  That's right!  Blog readers will no longer have to tolerate outfit shots against blank, white kitchen walls or a dull hallway.  My new home is a well-kept 1870s worker's cottage with many quaint and elegant features to include in photos.

While the holiday and move are happening this blog may get a little quiet but I promise there are good and exciting things on the horizon!