Monday, 5 October 2020

Showcasing In My Kitchen, October 2020


I've been going to make Golden Syrup Dumplings  for MR. HRK for a while now, definitely one of his faves, and when I saw Maggie Beer make a guest appearance on journalist Annabel Crabb's  recent TV show, "Back in Time for Dinner", broadcast on the ABC here in Australia over four Tuesday nights,  I couldn't put it off any longer. I've made Golden Syrup dumplings a  few times in the past, always delicious, but I thought I would try Maggie's recipe this time. Yes I'm quite a fan of Maggie Beer, show me someone that isn't.

Watching this series was quite nostalgic in a way for our age group as we found ourselves reminiscing over  the various pieces of kitchen and garden equipment that we remember from our childhood days. Not during the wartime era I hasten to add, we definitely weren't around then or even thought of, however by the 1950's and the 1960's some of those old Aussie things, now vintage, were still around in some homes.

Something I found interesting during the 1920's episode of "Back in Time for Dinner"  was the revolutionary appearance of canned food in the kitchen pantry in the 1920s and the excitement that caused for the woman of the house. Offal was still a readily available and popular choice for meals, and we even ate our fair share of it, but suddenly the housewives were creating a plethora of meals out of canned meat, canned fish, and canned fruit and vegetables. There was no disgrace in serving a meal out of a tin, and it's still ok if it's baked beans, sardines, tuna, salmon, or spaghetti. Now it seems there is no disgrace in serving a meal out of a bottle, although as you know if you read my posts regularly, I like to mainly cook from scratch now that I have the time. However pantry staples such as tinned food are still important as an economical and  time saving resource. As well as all of the homemade jams, chutneys and pickles in my pantry, I keep a good stock of tinned tomatoes, chick peas, corn, pulses, sliced beetroot, sardines, tuna, sliced apples, pineapple pieces, and condensed milk as a minimum. Does that sound like your pantry these days?

No bully beef or Spam in sight though, as were the staples in the wartime era. After the First World War, attention turned to manufacturing food for the population, instead of the soldiers. Post War in the 1920's, the Ad man arrived, and gas ovens, couches, lino floors, new household appliances, and tinned food, sparked up everyone's lives. Let's not forget the glamourous Flappers either, it was party time.

Along with the tinned food innovation,  came the humble can opener, and some subsequent kitchen accidents, as these weren't easy appliances to use. The old can opener was really sharp, and a warning to watch your fingers came with it. I would have hated that can opener, and I can remember it still being around in kitchens in the 60s. This a photo of the one in the show. 

Then along came this one, a slight improvement. I remember trying to wrestle with this one in my Mum's kitchen. They seemed to go blunt quite quickly.

When the electric can opener appeared, in the 70s I think, it was revolutionary and everyone had to have one to make life easier. We still laugh when remembering that Mr. HRK and I received four  electric can openers for wedding presents in 1977, that's how popular they were. They were all the same, and yellow if I remember correctly,  and we know where in Rockhampton our young friends went to purchase them. It was at Millroys, a much smaller version  of Myer today, no clothing though that I remember. The electric can opener looked something like this, I don't have fond memories of that one either.

Thankfully now, most of the cans are ring top making life a lot easier. However I wish cans of condensed milk still needed to be opened with a can opener as boiling a can with a ring top to make caramel always worries me, even though I have had no disasters as yet. Touch wood! Which raises the question my friends, do you still have a can opener in your kitchen, or do you prefer an electric one or do you use one at all? I like my hand operated can opener, an easy one to use and occasionally I still need to use it.

Enough reminiscing, let's cook some dumplings, requiring no can openers. When I have cooked dumplings in the past, I have placed them in the frying pan to cook with the simmering sauce just as we sat down to eat the main meal, and they were ready when we finished eating. Although I always checked them after 20 minutes. However if you like a long interval between the main course and dessert, just slide them into the sauce as soon as you finish your main course. How you do it,  could depend on whether you are eating with your family, or entertaining guests. Golden syrup has been around in kitchen pantries for a long time, definitely since the 1940s anyway, and these dumplings have been a very economical and popular dessert through the decades.

Golden Syrup Dumplings, this recipe originally by Australian cook and chef, Maggie Beer

Ingredients for dumplings:

1 cup self raising flour

Salt to taste

20g  butter

1 egg

50 ml milk

Ingredients for Golden Syrup Sauce:

1/2 cup golden syrup

3/4 cup brown sugar firmly packed

30g  butter

2 cups water


  • Sift the self raising flour into a bowl and add a pinch of salt.
  • Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, and then add the whisked egg and stir to combine.
  • Slowly add the milk and mix gently until the dough just comes together and resembles a scone mix (do not over work the dough or it will be tough instead of light and fluffy.) Set aside.
  • Combine all sauce ingredients into a large frypan. Bring to the boil to amalgamate before reducing heat to a gentle simmer.
  • Flour your hands and roll the dough into the size of a twenty cent piece. Smaller dumplings will absorb more sauce.
  • Slip the balls off the baking paper all together into the syrup. Cover the frypan with foil to form a tight seal and cover with the lid. Cook for about 10 minutes before turning them over to cool for another 10 minutes on the other side. (Turning them over is optional.)
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with the remaining sauce and a jug of runny cream or ice-cream or even custard. Whatever you prefer. The dumplings will steal the show anyway.

Where would we be without this Golden elixir called Golden Syrup

There is reference to a version of Golden Syrup being produced at the Spiller's Sugar Plantation here in Mackay, North Queensland, in 1868. Outback shearers and station hands bought their golden syrup in 70lb. (30 kg.) tins, naming it "Cocky's Joy". Small farmers in Australia were also called a cocky in the first half of the 20th century. Cattle farmers were called cow cockys. Golden syrup was much easier to transport in tins than jam and often used as a substitute for butter on their damper. Who doesn't love Aussie damper with Golden Syrup, especially over a campfire? This  Golden Syrup story reinforces what a culinary icon it still is in our kitchens. Mine is in a plastic bottle here but I generally buy it in a decorative tin. 

What is the most valued appliance in your kitchen my friends? I would have to say mine are my Kitchen Aid, and our Rancilio Coffee machine and coffee grinder. The slow cooker and pressure cooker are great as well, we are lucky aren't we?

I like to collect  pretty milk and water jugs, which I use so I thought I would share a few of these with you.  I also love these beaded jug covers which are very useful. I inherited these, and still use them although I wish I could crochet as a couple are in need of a little repair. 

This past 12 months of living with the pandemic, has meant that some of the survival skills needed during the 1900's to 1950's as discussed in the show have been needed in our own homes. Simple home cooking, growing our own food, making our own coffee, avoiding supermarkets when we can, and just general resourcefulness have become a saviour during difficult times. Resourcefulness and resilience is surely in our DNA if we tap into it.

I've written this post as part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by Sherrys Pickings. It is worthwhile dropping over to her posts if you haven't already.

Warmest wishes



  1. Golden syrup's something totally new to me. I love dumplings, but never thought of serving them with golden syrup. Can't wait to give it a try.

    1. Thanks for your interest Angie, I have to say there will be no going back for you after you try these. Golden syrup is great with so many dishes for dessert.

  2. wasn't that show fantastic? i love annabel crabb, and i looooove the Ferrones. that mum is fabulous. I haven't made dumplings for ages. i must rectify that soon, tho it's getting a bit warm these days for such wintry things. we still have that ratty old can opener that you turn around and around. thank goodness most cans are ring-pull these days. i love jugs, as you probably know from my posts. i just keep on buying them... thanks for joining in this month.
    keep well
    sherry x

    1. Thanks Sherry. The nights here have been cool enough for hot desserts, so we are soldiering on with them. Yes that show was quite amazing really, what a concept eh? I think there has been another series we missed. Have to check it out.

  3. Your summary of old-time canned goods is very amusing. I've also read things about commercial canning in the 19th century, when there were often episodes of spoilage with disastrous results. Fashions in the culinary value put on canned goods have varied a lot over the years!

    My hand-operated can opener was getting very hard to use, so I recently bought a new electric one. This is a backwards event since I had an electric one for years and then switched to manual. As you say, though, most cans now have a ring-pull. Another option that I haven't see in ages is the sardine cans with a "key" and a tab that you coiled up with the key.

    be well... mae at

    1. Thanks Mae, yes I remember those sardine cans, sometimes those tabs that you coiled up didn't work. Much easier now. A lot of people say they prefer the frozen vegetables etc, however if the power shuts down during cyclones and extreme weather events, frozen food is disastrous. Take care, Pauline

  4. Being unfamiliar the Back In Time For Dinner series, I googled and found a trailer for both Back in Time for Dinner and Further Back In Time For Dinner. Both look great, I wish Netflix would show them here.
    I remember all those can openers and yes I still have a Swing-A-Way (Made in USA) opener.
    Your golden syrup dumplings are truly new to me. I must give this a try, although we don't have your golden syrup here. I'll used our version.
    Wow, I don't know which kitchen appliance I'd say is most important. I guess the espresso maker or the Instant Pot, or my smoker, no maybe the sous vide. Boy we are spoiled. Great post...

    1. Thanks so much Ron, I wish I could send you some golden syrup, I just couldn't live without it. A friend has a sous vide and loves it, I only have so much room in my kitchen anyway for the numerous appliances available these days. Hope you can try these dumplings during your Winter, perfect comfort food. Keep well.

  5. I use canned tomatoes and beans and tuna all the time. But a lot of stuff that used to be popular in canned form -- veggies like peas or corn, for example -- I always use frozen. Fun how times change! Anyway, your golden syrup dumplings look wonderful. Such a nice dish -- thanks.

  6. Thanks so much KR, yes I definitely prefer a lot of veggies frozen these days.The golden syrup dumplings taste even better than they look. Simple, cheap and delicious, what could be better. All the best, Pauline

  7. Your golden syrup dumpling looks amazing Pauline. And the crochet works looks amazing. Loved the fine detailing on every cloth. My wife would love this

    1. Thanks so much Rahul, the cloths are pretty and functional and the dumplings are just so delicious.

  8. I see you write we have been living with the pandemic for 12 months - it does seem that long :) I wonder what came first, the can or the can opener?

    1. Tandy, apparently the tin can was invented 50 years before the can opener, but a thinner tin can arrived at about the same time as the can opener. I wonder how on earth they opened the first lot. The contents weren't always reliable either.Thanks for your comment, Pauline

  9. Hmm not sure if my comment got published early by mistake - I loved your reflections on Further Back in Time for dinner that made me think of my mum's electric can opener. I was typing that Fight For Planet A was interesting in showing that preserved food from overseas had a lower carbon footprint than fresh fruit and veg from overseas. I loved seeing Maggie Beer make dumplings but was surprised she rolled them in a ball as I have only made golden syrup dumplings free form and cloudy but they are so delicious. And your jugs are gorgeous - I have a few that are special to me but not used enough!

  10. Thanks Johanna, so lovely to receive your comment. I think the savoury dumplings are more freeform than the sweet ones, who knows why. All about presentation perhaps.


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