Tui Flower’s Friday – Revisiting Menus Past

Way back in 1968 when Tui’s book was first published, New Zealand was a very different place. Communication with the Northern Hemisphere-based branches of our respective families was via letter (sea mail unless urgent), international news footage was always a day late as the tapes were flown out, and though as a nation our image tended towards tough, brash, adventurous outdoorsy folk (think All Blacks and Sir Edmund Hillary), this sense of daring didn’t quite reach the countries dining tables. At least, not any we older Homesteaders remember sitting down to in our tender years. In fact, get a bunch of children of the ’70’s together and you can bet it won’t be long until the conversation turns to food in general, and next thing you know they’ll be swapping meatball horror stories to make your hair curl.  In school we may have been singing about meatballs on top of cheese covered spaghetti, but at home we were sitting down  the meat equivalent of canon balls, generally served with a boiled spud, a spoonful of soggy cabbage, Surprise peas,and all liberally doused in Watties tomato sauce. Oh, those were the days!

It was with no real surprise that we discovered a basic meatball recipe in Tui’s book, but it was followed by an entire section of sauces to accompany them. Sauces! With meatballs! And the ingredients made our eyes bug: garlic and tomato, pineapple, capsicum, and one creamy sauce calling for blade mace! We had to give this a try!

We chose, to compliment our pasta-based meatball feast , three sauces: fresh tomato, sweet and sour, and that intriguing Creamy Spiced Sauce. Farm Girl opted for macaroni cheese, citing the prior engagement of the school sleepover where a surprise to the digestive system would be frowned upon.  Fair enough, we grudgingly agreed. She did help with the tedious sugar addition to the pavlova we decided was the perfect dessert-to-follow.


Tablespoon by tablespoon, the sugar is beaten into the egg white to produce the oversized meringue both Kiwis and Aussies claim as their own

The upshot of the round table discussion that followed was that meatballs are actually really yummy, although a bit fiddly to assemble. Of the sauces, the tomato one was pretty much what families the world over are now sitting down to on a regular basis, and with good reason. You just can’t beat the classic combination of tomato, onion and garlic. It’s been a while since we thought to bung a bay leaf into the mix; we just might make that a regular thing now our memory has been prompted. The sweet and sour sauce was a winner, well out-shining anything we’d flung together under that name recently. As for the creamy sauce, with it’s combination of ginger, nutmeg, mace and allspice we were a little wary but it was in fact the perfect foil for the taste-bud walloping other two. We can’t see it becoming a Homestead staple, but it wasn’t repulsive either.


As for the pav, well every family has someone that is renown for their pavlova production. These Auntie Dot/Pip/Sue/Ann ladies (who often aren’t your Auntie at all) effortlessly churn out massive, crusty outside/fluffy in, perfect confections every time. Sadly, this talent bypassed the Homestead. 


it all looked so promising before…

However, if you’re every after a sticky, chewy, cow-pat shaped disc to grace the supper tables at your next family gathering we may just be able to help you.

No, no photos exist; the humiliation was just too raw. 


12 thoughts on “Tui Flower’s Friday – Revisiting Menus Past

  1. What fun to cook form vintage/retro cookbooks!! And getting indeed all nostalgic about it…I bet that pavlova tasted just fine and I wonder what a meadow with cowpats like that would look like? Have a great weekend, xo Johanna

  2. I read a book once in which the NZ heroine (it was a Mills and Boone) threw together a casserole that included meat, roast veg and glazed cherries. I read other books byt he same author, and the heroines were prone to adding odd things to meat dishes – bananas went into one. No mention of meatballls that I recall, but you know – meatballs were a bit of a thing here too in my childhood. My mum didn’t like them, forturnately. She also didn’t like tomato sauce, so I didn’t really get to have good tomato sauce until I left home.

    Pavlova! I LOVE pavlova – but I doubt if I could ever succeed at making it, since I’ve never yet made a decent meringue of any sort, let alone turn it into something crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

    Intriguing variety of sauces – I’m with the rest of you that white sauce sounds interesting – novel even, but not regular weeknight fare, which is how I always think of meatballs. What sides did you have – boiled spud?

    • I’m wondering if that author was Daphne Clair. As for meatballs featuring in Mills and Boons: perish the thought! As you so rightly observed, the culinary fare in those was always “exotic” (glazed cherries – how flash!).
      We had the left over cream sauce mixed with the left over tomato sauce stirred through left over pasta for lunch today…not bad at all and the fridge is looking much better for the clean out 🙂
      No, not boiled spud for the sides…we took a leaf out of Mills and Boon and went exotic (at least by ’70’s standards) and had penne pasta.

      • “My” M & B author was Essie Summers – the name Daphne Clair rings a bell, but I looked her up and if I read any of hers, I don’t remember them now.

        Leftovers – love them, as long as they’re used up promptly. They’re my main go-to for my lunch at work. Hate all those little dishes and containers with half a cup of something that moulder away in the back corners until the smell alerts me that it’s time to declutter in there.

  3. How adventurous you are to make all those sauces! It may surprise you but I never ate a meatball until about ten years ago. My mother used to make ‘meat patties’ – a bit like burgers I think. We never had anything so exotic as a meatball at school – instead we had rather a lot of spam fritters – ugh! Was that a Kenwood Chef I saw with FG? I have one that is 33 years old and still working very well. I am not skilled in the meringue department and know your pain!

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