Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at suppertime...

Jayne, of Our Great Southern Land, has written about her dear old Dad and why he hates Plum Jam.
Her post took me back to my early childhood, ages 5-7.ish.

We didn't have much money, a common problem back in the 50's, so Mum stretched the budget as much as she could. Just like almost everyone else we knew.

Buying yesterday's bread from the baker, who came around daily with his horsedrawn wagon.
He knew the people who preferred yesterday's bread, because it was half price, and would have it in a special basket, along with stale sugar buns, if there were any, which he would give to the kids.
If the horse left a "gift" on the road, mum would scoop it up into a bucket of water and keep it for about a week to age before putting it on the veggie garden. As did many other people.

Buying tins of powdered milk, mixing it half and half with the milk the Milko left us until the "real" milk was gone, then we'd just use the powdered milk. Well, they'd use it. I hated milk and would eat my cornflakes dry and have my cups of tea without milk. Milo was a special treat, Sundays only. (until Mum left home, then I had it every day)

Things such as vegemite and jam were bought in the large economy sized tin, which lasted for months, as it worked out cheaper than buying a small tin every week. I don't remember jam in glass jars, it was always in tins.

We always had Plum Jam, because plums were so plentiful, the jam was much cheaper than something less plentiful like apricot or strawberry. We did have Apricot, very occasionally, if it was on sale, or if there was a little extra money. The Apricot was kept for "special", the Plum Jam was for daily use. Strawberry was never seen in our house.

Several times a year Mum would travel down to Adelaide to the Central Market, with another family who was going in their ute, and come home with a case of fruit that she'd bought cheaply because it was going too soft, and she'd make jam.

But most often it was the big tins of Plum Jam that we had in our kitchen. BIG tins. Trust me, these tins were huge!
Think about the large catering size tins of soup or fruit salad etc. available today.You'll get the idea. I remember the tins of vegemite weighed 7 pounds. I guess the jam was a similar weight.
About 3 and a half kgs?

We ate that jam at every meal. Along with yesterday's bread, it helped to fill little tummies when the main meals were kept small because meat was expensive and the man of the house had the larger portion because he went to work and earned the money.

We'd eat breakfast, then have toast and jam. School lunches were jam sandwiches. After school snack? Bread and jam. Dessert? Bread and jam, with cream if there was any available, always with cream for a special occasion, like a birthday. (When we'd also have a cake, filled with plum jam and cream of course). Before bed snack? Bread and jam. Sometimes we'd get a sugar sandwich instead. Brown sugar, since the white was kept for coffee and tea.

If visitors were expected, mum would mix up a batch of scones*, which would bake while the men were outside smoking and the women were gossiping, then we'd all eat them, warm, with jam, grownups inside at the table with the fancy cloth, kids outside.

In spite of all this jam, I never tired of it, although I would sometimes look at other kids school lunches and wish I had what they were having. Especially on Fridays when some kids would have a "tuckshop" lunch, pies or pasties with sauce, or a bun to go with the sandwich they'd bought from home. (Thursdays were paydays, so kids from more well off families would get lunch money).

I mentioned the tins of vegemite earlier. I remember Mum buying them, so we must have eaten the stuff, I just can't remember when. All I remember is the plum jam.

* scones. We'd have these when visiting other people, but mum didn't know how to make them, so I asked friends at school, or watched at their homes when we went there, and then told mum how it was done.
After a few failed attempts, she got the hang of it and was happy that she'd learned to make something Australian. Up until then, we'd serve biscuits to visitors. Arnotts Cream biscuits for grownups, Bush biscuits for the kids.


  1. We got bread and dripping after school and lumps of bread in a bowl with milk and sugar for brekky. Every good thing I wanted as a kid I had to steal. No wonder I made a life from it. Stealing is against the law but not against heaven, not absolutely, you can rob the rich.
    Verily darlings, I've pondered the Commandments, it's never what you do but why you do it.

  2. Wow you're such a country girl. I remember making plum jam in home ec but never really got into jam, I guess I've never much had a sweet tooth. Scones and cream . . mmmmmm . . .Although I have sad news, Scones are actually English! You were spoiled, we were never allowed to have biscuits or Milo. Deprived we were, no Milo! Can you imagine!

  3. Even as a child of the 1970s, bread and jam was a staple dessert in our house.

    I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I wasn't a 'bowl of icecream and topping for dessert' kind of girl, so bread and jam and cream was always the other option.

    Later the jam was replaced with honey when beekeeping became one of Dad's hobbies. Honey and cream ...... ooooh, I think I'll have that for afternoon tea today!

  4. R.H.; my sister loved bread and milk and would choose it over any other options. I preferred to go without if that was all we had available. Didn't like milk then and limit my intake now, and soggy bread? Erk!!

    Baino; no biscuits or Milo?? You were indeed deprived. I do indeed have a sweet tooth. Mum was of the school of thought that if your kids didn't eat their food, then you sweetened it so they would. Sugar as wonder my teeth aren't good!

    Kath; I think bread and jam is an Australia wide staple. I know kids who get it even now. I wasn't much into topping either, in our house it was icecream and tinned peaches whenever dad could afford it.
    Honey with cream? I've never had that one.