My daughter and her husband gave up the bright lights of the city to live in a remote northern region of our country. The pearl earrings and stilettos have been placed into storage, and the small car that was so brilliant for parking in tiny city spaces has been traded in for a beast that includes sleeping quarters, bull bar and racks for fishing rods. Hilarious as neither of them have fished in their lives.
When they visited over Christmas I thought I’de share a few meal preparation tips for basic and rural living because there certainly weren’t going to be any 3 or 4 Hat restaurants where they were headed. The only hats around would be wide brimmed with corks hanging off them to deter the flies.
This in itself was strange because I too am a city lass and have never been camping in my life. Never, unless you include camping in the back garden with the stereo, the drinks fridge and bathroom equipped with bubblebath.
Lessons from my childhood came flooding back, the lessons from a father who after years in Bomber Command during World War 2, returned to a position held for him for four years and who then allowed him twelve months leave to “find himself”. What did my private school educated, city slicker father do during those twelve months? Went sheep shearing, and shooting foxes and rabbits for their pelts of course.
This was the reason that as a child there was always a tin of Golden Syrup, or as it was better known, Cocky’s Delight or Cocky’s Joy, in the pantry. You see it was not as expensive as jam, did not need to be refrigerated, and came in a tin making it easily transportable, especially in saddle bags. Spread across damper straight off the coals it was considered the bees knees and bushies loved it.
My father was always happiest sitting in front of a fireplace shaped from large rocks way down the back yard, with fresh damper covered with Cockys Delight, and hot Billy Tea. Used to scare the bejesus out of us kids when he swung that billy tea around his head, as old bushies used to do
A cocky is a small farmer. He usually selected himself a 300 or 500 acre holding, clears it, fences it, pays for it, sows wheat in it – and then he goes to bed to wait for his crop.
The next morning he gets up and finds the paddock white with cockatoos grubbing up his seed. He is there to sow and reap -cockatoos. And that, they say, is how he got his name as a cockatoo farmer – a cocky.
⁃ C E W Bean, On The Wool Track. 1910.
So when the daughter visited I cooked Golden Syrup Dumplings. Minimal effort, minimal ingredients, and simple to cook on a camp oven. Flour, Butter, Cockys Delight and a dash of milk. I cooked it in the slow cooker and the daughter agreed it was a tasty alternative to Black Forest Cake and Pavlova which were going to be difficult to source in Arnham Land.
In hindsight I wonder if this was a precursor to the Depression style cooking now so prevalent thanks to the missing staples on our supermarket shelves…..