From pigeon pie to pavlova: Mum’s cooking in the 60s 293



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Dinner time in Australia in the 50s and 60s was very much a meat-and-three-veg fare. Meat was overcooked and vegetables were baked or steamed to slops. Dessert wasn’t much better: canned fruit with cream or rice pudding!

But things weren’t always so drab. Back in the 1850s, Australian’s had a bolder palette (mostly out of necessity), making the early settlers very experimental with what was local and native. Thus were born dishes like Kangaroo tail Soup, Parrot Pie, Roast Galah, Stewed Cockatoo and Wallaby Pie.

roast wallaby recipe

In the early 1900s, Australian’s became disenchanted with bush tucker as began the great urban sprawl and peas and gravy accompanied everything!

Call her the Captain Cook of food pioneering, Margaret Fulton was Australia’s first food guru, helping Australian’s out of their food funk (with a little help from the White Australia Policy).

When in 1968, Fulton published her first book, The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, all sorts of new dishes began to appear on Australian dinner tables: French Onion soup, Pink Lamb with Wine jus, Crème Caramel and Chocolate Mousse (to name a few).


When flying first class was for the super starched executive top tier, Fulton flew first class all over the world, bringing back recipes to be published in Australian Women’s Magazines: Women’s Day (1960-1979) and New Idea (1979-2000).

Recently I acquired a second hand copy of Margaret Fulton’s, Book of Home Baking. Many recipes are traditional sponge cakes until halfway through when page after page is filled with decadent, moist, multi-layered gateaux. This made me reminisce of a treat my Mum used to make fur us kids back in the day. Mum’s go-to cake when we were growing up, baked only for birthdays and special occasions was the Black Forest Cake.

black forest

Back before you added an egg and milk to the packet mix, Mum could take all day long to make this cake. Three layers of cooled and creamed sponge later, it was always a delight to see it come together and make its debut at special occasions. No matter how awkward or heated a family get together could be, all things were right in the world again when that chocolate cherry laden plate made its’ appearance.

Tell us, what did your Mum make for special occasions? Do you remember eating overcooked meat and sloppy steamed veggies? 

Guest Contributor

  1. My mother’s food was never over cooked and never boring, none of us were fat or unhealthy. All our veges were un sprayed and straight out of the garden . And there was nothing wrong with veges and meat. Was a balanced diet and delicious too.

    4 REPLY
  2. Our food growing up was nothing but delicious. Mum was a cook in the Air Force… Could make something out of nothing. Never wasted anything, left overs were made into another dish. Yummy. Desserts were out of this world. Biscuits, butter biscuits, melting moments. NO MY MUMS FOOD wasn’t over cooked. It’s was delicious.

  3. What a load of rubbish. Our mother’s were great cooks and the food was never over cooked. It might be considered unhealthy in to day’s world because so many of the children are not as active as we were. I consider myself lucky to have grown up when food was fresh and free from preservatives and there was none of the present rubbish being pushed onto us.

    1 REPLY
    • Completely agree. They were great cooks who only had wooden spoons, hand held beaters which had to be physically used. Not plug in and the food turned out was a feast fit for a king. Miss my Mum’s curries. They were the best. Made from the left over roast. Bread and butter pudding, Ginger Fluff made by my mother-in-law was divine. The list goes on.

  4. My mum made the best beef and vegetable soup in the pressure cooker. It was delicious and every Winter it was top of the list. As a follow up it was baked custard for dessert…which was the one thing my eldest brother couldn’t swallow…he didn’t have to eat it when mum relented after he started to gag on it.

  5. We ate a lot of lamb. My mums lamb stew and baked dinners were scrumptious. Our treat every Friday was fish and chips.

  6. Can never say our food was overlooked and boring…. My mother was a wonderful cook and we had a big variety of food. Not the variety of vegetables we have today but certainly enough.

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