Many people are surprised when I tell them that I belong to the Queensland Country Women’s Association. There are lots of perceptions about the QCWA that don’t always match the reality. Most people you speak with think that the association is for old ladies, who live in the country and cook and knit. There are of course some of these but the largest branches are in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, there are lots of younger women who are members and there are no prerequisites for cooking, knitting or any sort of craft. Most of the women I speak to join because they want to make a contribution to their local community and to make new friends.
One of the projects that I have recently been involved in has been the rewriting of the QCWA Cookery Book. The book was originally compiled in 1959. Over the years it has had a number of reprints and before reprinting it this time we decided to review the book to make it more appealing to today’s cooks. The recipes were converted to metric measurements and in many instances the instructions were rewritten. In the 1959 version it was assumed that cooks making the recipes would know what to do and as a result much of the detail such as tin sizes and oven temperatures was left out. That knowledge doesn’t necessarily exist today so we thought that it was important to make the recipes easy to follow and give cooks a good chance of success.
The original version included information about hostessing which was removed in subsequent versions, but in this most recent reprint has found its way back into the book. These notes and the original advertisements all tell a great story about life in the 1950s and we thought it was important to include them. Some of the recipes are very 1950s – they seem to have a fascination with all things jellied but there are 100s of recipes in there that are still as relevant today as they were then.
More details about purchasing the QCWA Cookery Book can be found on the QCWA website. It is also for sale at the QCWA Tea Rooms at the Brisbane Exhibition. The QCWA has been running a refreshment stand at the Ekka since 1925. State Archivist Norma Lovelace, the Tea Rooms Convenor Mary Martyn and I had a chance yesterday to speak with Neroli Roocke from ABCs Country Hour about the QCWA at the Ekka. If you have a chance you can read and listen to the story here.
The ladies at the tea rooms serve freshly prepared food, you can buy a QCWA Cook book or some homemade jam, so if you have an opportunity visit them under the grandstand.