Friday, February 22, 2013

Family Recipe Friday, and Sharing Memories - Lamingtons

It has been quite a while since I have shared one of our family recipes and as with the last recipe, Anzac Biscuits, this one is also linked with my posts on Sharing Family Memories. An old family Aussie favourite is the delicious chocolate and coconut coated lamington. 

Lamingtons have been baked in Australian kitchens for well over 100 years. It is a little unclear how they first originated, and there is some controversy that the recipie actually came to Australia from Scotland.  Controversy aside, they are definitely considered to be an "Aussie icon" and are always listed amongst our traditional recipes.
These delicious chocolaty treats played an important part (and still do) in raising money for schools and sporting groups such as the local netball club, or the nippers club.  Lamington Drives were a common fundraising event, with groups of mothers gathering together for  large baking sessions which made dozens and dozens of lamington. I can assure you, every box produced  would be sold, as there is nothing better than a rich chocolaty lamington with the morning or afternoon cup of tea.

Like many children growing up in the 50's and 60's I have wonderful memories of the "production" line in Mum's kitchen, where we made dozens of lamingtons for a "Lamington Drive" for my local netball team.  Mum would bake the cakes (double mixtures) in large baking trays the evening before and cut them into squares ready for our netball team to assemble the next day.

The kitchen table would be set up with three or four bowls of the icing mixture, and plates with coconut.  Wire racks would be set up on the side bench for the finished lamingtons. My friends and I would spend the morning dipping and rolling the squares of cake, often getting more coconut and chocolate icing on our faces and fingers than on the lamingtons. There was always the sly slip of the finger in to the chocolate mixture, (just to assure it taste ok), and if a square of cake that accidentally broke in the mixture and had to be eaten on the spot. yum!!

When all the cakes were coated and rolled, Mum would serve us all a hot cup of tea and we would munch into one of the lamingtons, while we waited for the others to be ready for packing into boxes to fill all the orders collected in the drive.  In reflection I have to admire my mother's patience, smiling and joining in with the frivolity of a group of teenage girls who were turning her normally tidy and orderly kitchen into a chaotic chocolaty mess.

If you feel inclined, I have included the recipe below.  Happy lamington baking.


1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour 
6 x 59 g eggs at room temperature 
1 cup caster sugar
1 tbs boiling water
2 cups desiccated coconut 

Chocolate icing
2 cups icing sugar mixture
1/3 cup cocoa powder 
1/4 cup milk 
1/4 cup boiling water 

Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush a 19 x 29cm lamington pan with melted butter to lightly grease. Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overhang slightly. Sift flour into a large bowl, twice. Whisk eggs in large bowl until thick and pale.  Add the sugar, gradually, whisking well as you add the sugar, whisk until the mixture is thick and sugar dissolved.  Sift the flour over the egg mixture, pour the boiling water down the side of the bowl.  Then with a large metal spoon gently fold until the flour, water and egg mix just combined.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the metal spoon.  Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Gently, take cake out of the oven and turn onto a wire cooling rack, cover with clean tea towel. Let the cake cool over night.
Trim the edges of the cake and cut into squares.  Pour the coconut into a shallow bowl or plate. Now, make the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl.  Pour in the mild and water and stir until mixture is smooth, and slightly runny.
Now comes the fun bit!! dip the cake squares into the warm icing, coating evenly, then roll the cake into the coconut, giving it an even coat all over, then place the lamington on the cooking rack.  Repeat this process with all the cake squares, and set aside for an hour or so until the icing has set.

Note:  You can make different versions by slicing the sponge through the center and putting cream and jam in the middle before dipping the squares into the chocolate mixture.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Charles Henry Palin 1871-1957

Charles Henry Palin
Running with the theme of Wordless Wednesday I have posted a picture to complement my post  on Family History through the Alphabet Challenge - F is for Freemasonry.  This is a photo of my great grandfather Charles Palin in his the regalia that he wore as a member of the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows, in Broken Hill, New South Wales. The Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows, was fraternity with similar background and connections to the Freemasons Lodge.

Friday's Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge - F for Freemasonry

Did you have a grand father, great uncle or male relative who was a member of a Freemason fraternity??

As a small girl, I remember  my father dressing up in his dinner suit once a month with his small black brief case and heading off to the local Masonic Hall.  Nothing like "men's secret business" to spark the curiosity of a child. When I asked him where he was going he would advise that it was a place where a group of men met in friendship and to look at ways to benefit our community.

Black Brief Case that Held Freemasons regalia
Yes this weeks post on Friday's Family History through the Alphabet Challenge , for the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge, is going to be "F" is for Freemasonry.  Besides my father, a number of my male ancestors were members of  "lodges", all stemming from the a Freemasonry background.  Lodges played a strong part in the social life and fellowship of males in the early history of Australia and this continues  to the present day.  Exploring their involvement provides you with a little more understanding of your forefather, how they socialised, their companions and their engagement with their local community.

The Freemasons are members of one of the largest and oldest fraternity in the world. The origin of the  movement is not clear but it is thought to have originated in the Middle Ages amongst the groups of stone masons involved in the building of the castles and churches of that era.  There is some suggestion  that they were influenced by the group of Christian warrior monks called the Knights Templar, whose role was to help protect pilgrims making their trips to the Holy Land.  The fraternity of Freemasonry expanded with groups springing up in communities all around the world. These groups were made up of men from all levels of society bound together by a mutual understanding of equality and brotherhood with an overlying philosophy of high moral standards.

Apron worn by Freemasons
The first Grand Lodge was created in 1717 in England.  This was the first formal organisation of the Freemasons.  Other countries followed on with this example and Grand Lodges were created in many geographical areas as the administrative body of Freemasonry and the local organisations were called lodges. The "Masons" or "Freemasons" have played a significant role in western culture for hundreds of years through their leadership and community involvement, with many members holding significant offices in government, business and public service.  However, in the majority of cases Freemasons are everyday members of small-town communities working to uphold the traditions and principles of their fellowship. Due to their secretive nature they have often been surrounded by a shroud of mystery and curiosity over the years.

In Australia, the first Freemason to set foot on Australia is thought to be Sir Joseph Banks in 1770.  Members of military lodges brought Freemasonry to Australia and The Australian Social Lodge No 260IC was the first lodge to be established in Sydney, Australia with their first meeting being held on the 4th of January 1830. The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales was officially established in 1888.  In the years to follow Grand Lodges were started in all of the Australian States.

Freemasonry and Family Tree Research
Members from the Oddfellows Lodge in Broken Hill
Contrary to popular belief, the Freemasons of today are very supportive of those who are wanting to research members of their family who were involved in the fraternity.  Most of the Grand Lodges have their own Museum and for a small search fee will look up details of past members. The information that you will be able to find is generally the age when your ancestor joined, their address and occupation at the time of joining and sometimes there will be photos of members.

A very useful site is the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in the United Kingdom, and they provide a great array of resources for researchers who are looking at the history  and the people involved in the Freemasonry movement. 

 If you are interested in researching your family members who were members there is a link to a very informative document Information Sheet About Freemasonry and Family History which is designed to assist genealogists. This site also provides researchers with contact details of other Grand Lodges around the world.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wordless Wednesday- Sharing Memories

Shearing time
In on of my recent posts, Sharing Memories - Early days in the Bush - Day out with Dad, I wrote about my memories of spending a day out with my father when we lived on, Nuntherungie, a sheep station in the far north west of New South Wales.  I am taking the opportunity of Wordless Wednesday to share with you an old slide of my father and I, outside the shearing shed getting the sheep ready for shearing.  You will have to excuse the quality of the photo.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Follow Friday - An accumulation of my weekly research - 8

This week I have been busy researching how my ancestors were employed and the different resources that assist in finding how and where they were employed for my post "Friday's Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge - E for Employment".

 I was struck by the number of great resources that look at how our ancestors were employed and definitions of the unusual occupations of yesteryear. Boy, there are so many unusual occupations!!

So  in this weeks (or should I say month's) summary of my research, I would like to share with you some of the links, books and blogs that look at the employment and occupations of older generations. These links provide some fascinating reading on the unusual employment and occupations that were part of every day life for our ancestors.



Colin Waters, Dictionary of Old Trades, Titles and Occupations, 1999,MRM Associates Ltd, Reading, kindle version

Jane Hewitt and Paul Jack Hewitt,(2011)  Dictionary of Old Occupations, Kindle edition,

Cora Num, Occupational Records in Australia,

Helpful Links, Unusual Occupations in Canadian Census Records,  
Roots List of Occupations: 
Old Occupations in Scotland:
Hall Genealogy Web Site, Old Occupations: 
Occupations and Education, Ancestry.
The 1891 "London Census" Transcription, Victorian Occupations.

 United Kingdom and Ireland Occupations, Genuki,


Old Job Descriptions:
Family History Finder: Old occupations,
Family Research by Jody, Old occupations,
The Olive Tree Genealogy, Obsolete Occupations in Genealogy,
Genealogy Insider, Our Ancestor's Odd Jobs in Genealogy Records, .

Friday's Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge - E for Employment

It is pouring rain outside today, so what better opportunity than to finish of my next blog in Friday's Family History through the Alphabet Challenge as part of my attempt to complete the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge.

Today's challenge is "E" and this post was inspired my recent blog on sisters Mary Ann and Emma Jane Weston. As I put their stories together, part of my research involved looking how they, their husbands and other family members were employed.  The "Employment" of our ancestors helps us develop a more colourful picture of the circumstances of their lives.  So my Alphabet Challenge for today is "E for Employment".

There a number of different resources that can assist you with discovering how your family members were employed.  Here is a brief summary of some resources that are useful.

MC for Thomas Lee and Emma Jane Weston
1.  Birth, Death and Marriage Certificates:
Birth certificates generally list the occupation of the child's father, for example on Emma Jane Weston's Birth Certificate , her father is listed as a house painter.  Marriage certificates can give details of how the bride, groom and parents of couple are employed.  On Emma Jane Weston's certificate her husband Thomas Lee is described as a gold digger. (I believe this is literal, and not that Emma Jane was wealthy, he he.)

1851 Census Barnoldswick, George Rushworth and family

2.  Census: Census records provide us with a mine of information on how families were employed often listing the occupations of all family members and their neighbours. The census page from the Barnoldswick, 1851 Census  on the left shows how all of George Rushworth's family is employed.  It is obvious from their occupations that the main industries for this district were related to weaving and the textiles.

Military Record for Malcolm Michael Shepherd
3. Telephone, Post Office and Trade Directories:  These are another useful resource, which provide in alphabetical order, details of where family members lived and sometimes their occupations.  An example of a directory that is very useful for Australian Research is the Greville's Post Office Directory. I was able to find Emma Jane Weston's Uncle, Alfred Weston on the 1871 Greville's Directory abd confirm that he had moved to this district and was employed as a miner in Araluen, a mining community, in the Braidwood district of southern New South Wales.

4. Military Records: My recent blog "D is for Dog tags" outlines some of the wonderful information you can find when you access your ancestors military records. The front page of a soldiers record will give you details of their employment prior to their enlisting. An example of this can be seen from the front page of my grandfather Malcolm Michael Shepherd's military record.  His occupation is listed as a carrier in the Braidwood district.

Immigration: Mary Anne and Emma Jane Weston 1856
5. Immigration Records/Ship Logs: Emigration/Immigration and Shipping Lists are another useful resource.  When researching Mary Anne and Emma Jane Weston I was able to find out that they were employed as housemaids in London prior to travelling Australia on the "Kate".  These details were shown on the New South Wales, Australia, Assisted Immigrant Passenger Lists, 1828-1896 .

6. Letters, Obituaries and Newspaper Articles:  Finally,  the careful examination of the documents related to your family history that you have collected can be rewarding.  Often, when you reread a letter, obituary or newspaper article you are able to find clues to how your forefathers were employed. Old receipts or accounts from a family business will also provide you with clues. If you do not have newspaper clips or obituaries, Trove is a useful site for accessing these.  If you are new to Trove, a post from last year, TROVE, outlines how to register and the wonderful benefits it provides for family tree researchers. By searching the Trove you are able find feature articles, business advertisements, obituaries and death notices etc. These articles provide great clues to how your ancestors were employed.

I hope that you find these few hints helpful when looking for how your ancestors were employed.  Family tree research is more than names and dates, lets find out a little more more about how they felt, who their neighbours were and what was their life like!!