Favourite Foods –Part 1


Fancy some ox eyes or some scotch woodcock? How about some wet devil? Did you know Petit Toe Pie is actually pigs’ feet pie?

Each Friday this month I plan to feature a favourite gran’s special dish in honour of Grandparents Day (to be celebrated in NSW on October 25).

I’m kicking off the series with a book review of an old cookery book given to me by my mother in law when I asked her to participate in this project.

The book is W.M.U Cookery Book, and it has an interesting history.


Both kinds look pretty scary to me

In 1894 the Queensland Presbyterian Women’s Missionary Union (PWMU) published a cookery book to raise funds for the Queensland Presbyterian missions.

The first Presbyterian mission to the Aborigines of Queensland was established in 1891 at Mapoon, on the western side of Cape York Peninsula.

According to museum curator Alison Wishart, food was central to the operation and success of the mission.

In her article The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’—food as an assimilation strategy: re-writing the menu at Mapoon mission,  she claims the cookbook was the Queensland PWMU’s most lucrative fundraising initiative. It was reprinted in twenty-two editions up until 1981 and revised by PWMU groups in other states.

It was a hugely popular, groundbreaking book, with more than 225,000 copies printed and sold. It was considered such a great kitchen aid that it was the preferred gift of ‘discerning women’ to new brides.


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The W.M.U. Cookery Book


The poem below featured on the title page of early editions of the book.

May those who buy this little Book

Find its contents a boon;

And, as they work its dainties up,

Remember far Mapoon!

Prevent, as much as in them lies,

The dying out too soon

Of Queensland’s Aborigines—

By helping on Mapoon!

Our duty stares us in the face—

Our hearts should beat in tune;

Nor mar by want of harmony

The Mission at Mapoon!

I have the 14th edition and it is a little gem of classic and unusual recipes as well as hints for a happy and organised home.

Even the advertisements are wonderful.


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I had to include this one. It’s where I met my Hubby 34 years ago.

Feel like some Bloater Paste?

All you need is: “Half lb of good steak. 2 slices lean bacon, 2 red herrings, I dessertspoonful Worcester sauce, pepper to taste. Method: Mince steak, bacon,herrings (which first skin and bone), three times, and put in a jar, mix in sauce and pepper, put a tablespoonful on butter on top, steam 1 hour and beat with a fork till very smooth”.

I’ll let you in on a secret. The “Ox Eyes” recipe does not, in fact, contain ox eyes, but is made from toast and eggs.

Sadly the Sheep’s Head Pie and Sheep’s Tongue in Savoury Jelly contain the head and tongues.


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The recipe for sheep’s head broth can be made with beef, mutton or sheep’s head and feet.

Did you know the feet take longer to cook than the head?

This book has everything from recipes for the sick, for those with diabetes as well as useful gems like how “to clean a Panama hat”.

The book tells us: “For weak eyes, from whatever cause, bathe the eye in a solution of boracic acid. Take a teaspoonful of the powder; with a little boiling water make a paste, then add one pint of warm water. Keep in corked bottle”.

A cure for coughs, colds and asthma involves cracking “four fresh-laid eggs and put them (shell and contents) in a jug or basin; cover them with the juice of 5 or 6 lemons; let it stand for 48 hours, beat it up and strain; add 1 pint of honey, ½ pint of eater previously boiled and allowed to partly cool. Mix altogether and bottle it. Dose: One tablespoon three times a day, or more frequently if necessary”.

There are recipes for getting stains out of marble, home-made soap, and cement to fix broken china or glass.

This book tells you how to make furniture polish, take mildew out of linen, renovate a straw hat and make a night light.


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W.M.U Cookery Book was way ahead of its time – or maybe we’re just going backwards in time.

You know how rainbow cakes are all the rage now? I made one for the three-year-old Goddess’s birthday.

Well, my new/old little book has the recipe for that. Other favourite recipes included are oxtail soup, lentil soup, steak and kidney pie and Cornish pasties.

Tune in here next Friday for more cool household tips from old as well as advice on garnishing, a recipe for Tutti Fruity Layer Cake and a beautiful chicken recipe from my first favourite Glam Gran.

Happy cooking, and have a glamorous week, Tamuria


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