A bite of Anzac history
GIVEN it's Anzac Day on April 25, I decided to learn how to make Anzac biscuits - the CWA way.
According to the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee, during World War I, the wives, mothers and girlfriends were concerned for the nutritional value of the food being supplied to their men.
Any food they sent to the fighting men had to be carried in the ships of the Merchant Navy.
Most had no refrigerated facilities and food sent needed to remain edible after more than two months.
A body of women came up with the answer - a biscuit with all the nutritional values possible.
The basis was a Scottish recipe using rolled oats which were used extensively in Scotland, especially for a heavy porridge that helped counteract the extremely cold climate.
Other ingredients used were sugar, plain flour, coconut, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water.
At first the biscuits were called soldiers' biscuits, but after the landing on Gallipoli, they were renamed Anzac Biscuits.
A point of interest is the lack of eggs to bind the Anzac biscuit mixture together.
Because of the war, many of the poultry farmers had joined the services, thus eggs were scarce.
The binding agent for the biscuits was golden syrup or treacle.
As the war drew on, many groups such as the Country Women's Association, church committees, schools and other women's organisations devoted a great deal of time to the making of Anzac biscuits.
Cae Adams from the Urangan CWA came to the Fraser Coast Chronicle office to teach me how to make the biscuits and I was so grateful for her time.
Not only did I learn how to make the biscuits, but I learnt so much about their organisation.
Thanks to television shows such as My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef, the CWA is known for its wonderful baking, but it does so much more than just make biscuits and cakes.
If you become a member you can learn and compete in activities such as drama, choir, knitting, crochet, floral art, photography, cookery, art, and soft and hard crafts as well as learn, in depth, about an international country each year.
Cae has been a member of Urangan CWA since it started 36 years ago. She joined for the handcraft and has held roles including vice president, treasurer and secretary, and today manages the bookings for the hall in Urangan among other administrative duties.
"The QCWA Urangan Branch formed on June 8, 1982, with 30 members and two qualified handcraft teachers," she said.
"The first meeting was held in the Scout den in Shell St, Urangan.
"We outgrew that small hall very quickly and commenced holding our meetings and handcraft mornings in the Urangan Progress Hall.
"We had use of the hall each Tuesday morning and for any special functions rent free from our first meeting in 1983 until QCWA purchased the hall from the Urangan Progress Association on May 20, 1996.
"In those early days, members worked tirelessly to update and improve that hall.
"We held a monthly bake stall at Dayman Park.
"That was our main fundraising revenue.
"With a membership of 30, we were a diverse group and we soon had a choir and a handcraft committee.
"A large percentage of our members were very interested in handcrafts and once again, we had members who excelled in this arena, receiving numerous prizes for their work at branch, division and state level.
"It wasn't unusual to have 60 to 70 ladies in the hall of a handcraft morning and teachers were running three or four set classes each month.
"Members enter into branch competitions for knitting and crochet, floral art, photography, cookery, art, (and) soft and hard crafts for international country of study (Germany this year).
"Winning entries at branch level then proceed to division and once again the winning entries go on to be judged at state conference in October."
Cae said it would be good to see some younger blood among the ranks at the Urangan branch.
Personally, I would love to do it, and I think it would be a great place for stay-at-home mums, or FIFO wives, and Cae said young mums were more than welcome to bring their children along to do some handcraft.
The QCWA Urangan branch meets on the first Tuesday of the month, except January, at 9am in the QCWA Urangan Progress Hall, 19 Pulgul St, Urangan.
Its social handcraft days are on the second, third, fourth and fifth Tuesday of each month at 9am at the all.
By the time I had learnt all of this, our biscuits were ready and we'd driven everyone in the office mad with the smell.
Needless to say, they didn't last long.
1 cup plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
¾ cup rolled oats
125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp water
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut.
Combine butter and golden syrup, stir over gentle heat until melted.
Mix soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture, stir into dry ingredients.
Take teaspoonfuls of mixture and place on lightly greased oven trays; allow room for spreading.
Cook in slow oven (150°C or 300°F) for 20 minutes.
Loosen while still warm, then cool on trays.
Makes about 35.