Sunday was the Lord’s day when I was growing up. You went to church. And you didn’t rock up in any old thing, you brushed your hair, cleaned your teeth and wore your Sunday best.
And you didn’t only attend church, you went to choir practise as well. Choir practise was on for an hour before church so our Sundays started early. Dad would drop me and my older sister off at the church and later when my younger sister, Emma turned seven, she was allowed to come as well.
The practise room was separated from the church by a long corridor and was as cold as ice. We were taught how to sing by a very lovely man whose son had gone off the rails and murdered his wife.
After an hour of singing practise it was time to go into the vestry where the blue and white choir gowns were hanging on racks. The vestry was colder than ice and the choir gowns so chilled-over they felt like they had been pulled from the freezer. Once we were draped in our floor to chin frozen gowns we would wait for the organ to start and that was the cue for us to enter the church and take our positions in tiered seating at the front of the church where we could be viewed by all the parishioners.
We would rise to sing when the congregation sang but we’d sing two songs to the captive audience as well. Sometimes someone in the choir was given a verse to sing solo but that honour eluded me.
After the singing part of the service had concluded, the organ would start up again and we would move out of the choir stalls in an orderly and silent fashion and head back to the vestry where we could remove our thawed out gowns. Then it was off to Sunday School.
I loved Sunday School. Emma and I were in the same class and there was always something fun organised like flower arranging, or craft or cooking where we would make pikelets that were later served in the church hall at the morning tea. Once they brought in a police man to speak to us. He didn’t carry a gun because the police in New Zealand didn’t carry guns, a baton was all they needed. The policeman let us try the handcuffs on and we were super excited. My cousin tightened the cuffs on her wrists and then she couldn’t release her hands. The policeman told her he’d forgotten to bring the keys so she burst into tears.
After the morning tea we’d finally be on our way home. When we walked in to the house we could instantly smell the roast my mother would have put in the oven before she left for church. It was usually a lamb roast with potatoes, parsnip and kumera surrounding the leg of lamb. All mum needed to do was cook the frozen peas, stir the gravy and make the mint sauce while we went upstairs and removed our ‘Sunday best’.
Did your family observe the Lord’s day?
Here’s a recipe my mother didn’t put in the oven before leaving the house for church but she did make this for her dinner parties.
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5 (Because you have to joint a chicken, otherwise it’s an easy dish)
Cost: This is quite inexpensive dinner party fare. I only needed to buy the chicken and the mushrooms, everything else was in my fridge or pantry.
- 1.5kg (3lb) chicken jointed into 8 pieces
- 30g (1 oz) butter
- 2 tbspns olive oil
- 250gm (8 oz) Swiss Brown mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 tspn sugar
- small handful fresh tarragon leaves
- 400gm tinned tomatoes
- 2 tbspns tomato paste
- 6 shallots, sliced
- 2 tbspns chopped continental (flat leaf) parsley
- 125g (4 oz) butter
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 3 cups chicken stock
Make the brown sauce first:
Heat butter in frying pan, add peeled and finely chopped onion and peeled and finely chopped carrot. Saute very gently until onion and carrot are dark golden brown. Add flour to pan, stir over low heat until flour is dark golden brown; do not allow to burn. Remove pan from heat, add stock, stir until combined. Return pan to heat, stir until sauce boils and thickens. Reduce heat, season. Cover pan, simmer very gently 1 hour. Strain sauce, retain liquid.
Heat butter and oil in large frying pan. Add half the chicken, fry gently on all sides until golden brown; remove chicken from pan. Repeat with reamining chicken, remove from pan.
Add sliced mushrooms and crushed garlic to pan, saute gently until mushrooms are just tender. Add wine, bring to boil, boil uncovered for 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add prepared Brown Sauce, sugar, tarragon, tinned tomatoes, and tomato paste. Season. Add chicken, bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered 45 minutes or until chicken is tender; stir occasionally. Add parsley and shallots.
Serve with rice, mashed potatoes or crusty bread and a green salad.
This recipe has been adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook.