Tag Archives: ANZAC Biscuits

ANZAC Day 25th April, 2019.

This morning, our son and I attended the local ANZAC Day march and commemoration service. Indeed, as a Scout, our son was in the march and even carried the Australian flag. I must apologize that the photo is a little historic, but it can be difficult to get teenagers to comply. I’m sure you understand.

ANZAC Day is an incredibly deep and reflective day for us on a personal level. Geoff has family who served in just about every conflict and his Great Uncle, Robert Ralph French, was killed in Action in France. That was his grandmother’s much loved brother and since he had no children of his own, we’ve embraced him and our children will carry his memory forward.


In addition to thinking about these sacrifices, today I also reflected on the format of the commemoration service and how it’s probably the last bastion of tradition in our ephemeral contemporary world. Even after all these years and long after the Australian national anthem was changed to Advance Australia Fair, we sing God Save the Queen on ANZAC Day instead. I don’t know how that went at other locations, but where we were, there weren’t too many singing along. Many didn’t know the words and I also wonder how many didn’t feel right singing it either. We’ve moved a long way forward as a nation since then both in terms of gaining independence from Britain, but also in acknowledging and embracing our Aboriginal heritage. That Australia wasn’t “terra nullus” after all.

The service also includes two traditional hymns: God Our Hope in Ages Past and Abide With Me. The only voice I could hear singing was the minister on the microphone. I sang along but there was silence all around me. I felt it would have been helpful to have a choir leading the singing or have groups practice these hymns beforehand. It sounds dreadful when no one is singing along, just like at a silent funeral.


I feel this dog has earned the right be be an “Australian Digger”…slang for soldier.

I wonder how these traditions are going to go moving forward. Are they set in stone? Or, will future generations find a new means of expression?

Meanwhile, I made fresh ANZAC Biscuits when we got home and then watched a bit of the dawn service in Gallipoli and France. The ANZAC Biscuits have been an important part of my tradition and a way of expressing my gratitude. There’s something for me about pouring your emotions into food and sharing that with those you love.

I’ll leave you with this poem:

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872–1918)

Lest we forget.

Best wishes,


PS Just thought I’d mention that Geoff ended up being called into work for several hours last night and hence he wasn’t at the march but watching the march on the TV at home.

Anzac Biscuits- An ANZAC Day Tradition

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them. For the fallen by Laur…

Source: Anzac Biscuits- An ANZAC Day Tradition

Anzac Biscuits- An ANZAC Day Tradition

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

For the fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869–1943)

ANZAC Day commemorates not only the first landing of Australian and New Zealand troops or ANZACS at ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli on the 25th April 1914 but also honours service people who have served in all of our wars.

I didn’t really grow up with this sense that my family had served in the war even though my Great Uncle Jack had served in New Guinea in World War II and my grandfather had served as an Army Captain within Australia. Geoff, on the other hand, grew up with two uncles who had served in New Guinea and another who had served in Darwin and his Nanna who had lost a brother in France during World War I. Last year, we also found out that his father’s uncle had served at Gallipoli and went on to be part of the charge at Beersheba. So when it comes to ANZAC Day, our family has something personal and close to home to honour and respect. We have also seen the longer term impact of war on wives and children who experienced alcoholism, violence and depression. Not because they were bad men but because they had seen and experienced horrors that no one should experience and then they were simply sent home.

Watching the Canberra March on TV

Watching the Canberra March on TV

Geoff and I have been into the ANZAC Day march in the city only once but every year since I can remember, I have always watched the march on TV. In some respects, it is a solemn occasion where we remember and honour the dead but there is also so much to look at and I have always felt such a love and a fondness for the old men marching with their medals pinned to their hearts. I remember when these old men had been to WWI and slowly and surely they became the faces of World War II veterans and now even the Vietnam Veterans are looking well…old…and the WWI diggers have gone and WWII ones are thinning out.

Along with watching the march on TV, I have another time honoured tradition…making ANZAC Biscuits. Mothers, wives, girlfriends and anyone who cared, baked ANZAC Biscuits at home and sent them overseas to the men at the front. Such packages and letters from home were treasured, providing a much needed connection with their loved ones at home as well as breaking the monotony of military food.

Not unsurprisingly, making ANZAC Biscuits on ANZAC Day is as tradtional as the official Dawn Service and the march.

ANZAC Biscuits are really just an oatmeal biscuit and by modern standards are pretty plain. You can jazz them up with chopped nuts, ginger or even choc chips but for ANZAC Day, I always keep them plain and authentic. Their simplicity also serves to remind us of simpler times when austerity measures had been implemented, rationing had been in place and there wasn’t our modern over-abundance of just about everything. Things were scarce…even the basics like eggs.

Despite their simplicity, ANZAC Biscuits with their dose of thick, sticky, sugary golden syrup are scrumptious.

If you are a connoisseur of ANZAC Biscuits and as strange as it may seem, these people do exist, you need to specify whether you like your ANZACS soft or hard, very much the same way people get quite picky about having their fried egg: “sunny side up”.

Personally, I have had great difficulty mastering the perfect ANZAC. Most of the time, I find the mixture doesn’t come together well and I’ve needed to add extra butter to bind it together. Moreover, as I only really make ANZACS once maybe twice a year, I haven’t managed to perfect the process and work out quite what makes them crunchy or chewy. We just get what we get and usually because I’m baking them with the kids, I’m just thankful for that.

If you have read my blog before, you will know that most of my cooking efforts with the kids have their dramas and I must admit that I’ve had a good think about why we have the kitchen of chaos instead of something approaching the scientific wonder of the Australian Women’s Weekly Test Kitchen. I mean, you can be sure that most of our antics could never be replicated by anybody anywhere no matter how hard they tried.

As usual, baking ANZAC Biscuits failed to disappoint and we had our usual range of hiccups.

The kids play games on the ipad waiting for the tin of oats to magically refill.

The kids play games on the ipad waiting for the tin of oats to magically refill.

The first thing that you have to keep in mind when baking ANZAC Biscuits, especially if you like me want to bake them while watching the march, is that you need to check that you have all your ingredients the day before because the shops are shut on ANZAC Day until after lunch. This is a very important word of warning and despite my best efforts, I keep getting caught. This year, we are staying at my parents’ house at the beach and it is not very well stocked so I brought everything with me including the metal biscuit tray. However, I’d brought everything except the main ingredient…the oats…because I’d bought this wonderful metal tin put out by Uncle Toby’s specifically to house your big box of oats and to keep the nasties out. Thinking I had about a 12 month supply, much to my horror, I didn’t check my supplies. The tin was completely empty without so much as a single oat left inside. Some horrific porridge-guzzling Goldilocks and her three bears had been guzzling my oats.  I scoured the cupboards optimistically.  Dad has his very healthy whole grain oat porridge “stuff” which looks like oats on the outside but also has other grains mixed in and as tempted as I was to use this instead, Geoff and I both agreed it was a bit of a gamble. We were all looking forward to our annual ANZAC Day indulgence and we didn’t want a “fail”. We had to wait.


So we watched the march and while waiting for the shops to open, we took the dog off for a walk along the mud flats and the kids and I squirted Neptune’s Beads at each other and at ourselves and had a bit of fun. It had rained heavily overnight and it was still overcast so not terribly pretty but it was fun sloshing through the mud even if we didn’t see any crabs. Miss, I must say was thrilled about that. She doesn’t like crabs. She doesn’t like them at all and the mud flats down here start crawling as thousands of them emerge out of their holes at certain times of day which as yet I haven’t managed to pin down.

By the time Geoff returned from the shops and I’d had a bit of a nap, it was late afternoon by the time we were making the ANZACS and beforehand we quickly whizzed up our pizza dough for dinner and set it aside to rise.

It is always gets tricking making anything with the kids after making the pizza dough. The kids love getting their hands into the dough, squishing it through their fingers and really giving it a good workout. They can’t resist! However, dough is dough and I wasn’t happy seeing Miss with her hands in the bowl mixing the oats with the other dry ingredients. “Get your fingers out of there! That’s what spoons are for!!”

When it came to mixing the dry ingredients, which I’d thought was relatively simple, even this proved challenging to the kids and I could feel my patience getting very thin, very thin indeed. When you are pouring a cup full of flour as an adult, or at least an adult who has been cooking all of your life, you just know where that magic, unwritten line is on a cup that measures a cup full of something. It’s not ¾ of a cup and it’s not a cup full with some kind of mountain peak stuck on top of it either. It’s a full cup with something like a finger space left empty at the top so your supposedly full cup of whatever, doesn’t spill. I’m sure it is actually possible to pour a cup full of something without spilling it on the bench too but I’m not sure if I’ve even pulled this one off. We’re all a bit careless around here.

Besides getting pedantic about measurements which may or not matter in the overall scheme of things, kitchen safety became a serious issue when the kids were mucking around in the kitchen today. Consequently, we gave them more than a serious talking to especially about burns but also about knives. We told them that the kitchen is a workshop with dangerous tools and it needs to be respected. It is not a playground. The message wasn’t really sinking in so I opted for a bit of tough love and we looked up kids burns in Google went to images and showed them what some of these burns can look like. We also watched an educational presentation which you can link through to here: http://www.chw.edu.au/prof/services/burns_unit/burns_prevention/

I think that sank in although with kids you never know. I’d swear they have what my grandfather used to call “good forgettery” before his Alzheimer’s set in.

So after that very lengthy preamble, here is the recipe for ANZAC Biscuits. When we made it today, it produced a chewy, rather than crunchy biscuit and it was truly delicious!

Xx Ro

ANZAC Biscuits


2 cups rolled oats

1 cup plain flour

2/3 cup castor sugar

¾ cup coconut

1/3 cup Golden Syrup (5.5 metric tablespoons- easier to measure!!)

125g butter

1 teas bicarb soda

2 tablespoons hot water.



1)      Preheat oven to 160° C (325° F)

2)      Place the oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a medium-sized bowl and mix together with a large wooden or stirring spoon (ie not fingers!!!)

3)      Take a small to medium saucepan. Measure out golden syrup using either a cup of measuring spoons. I actually have a series of cup measures and that’s ideal for measuring out the golden syrup. Being so thick and sticky, it’s not the easiest to measure out. Add butter. We always buy the 250g packets of butter for cooking and I have noticed that even when the kids do a relatively simple thing like cutting the butter in half, they usually push the knife through at a not insignificant angle which can significantly alter the quantity of butter. Of course, you can take more of a laissez-faire approach with the kids and have fun and it doesn’t matter how it turns out but that’s not teaching your kids how to cook. I do quite a lot of ad hoc cooking myself and rarely follow a recipe to a T but I have enough experience and instinct to be able to cook by feel. I generally know what the mixture is supposed to look like despite what the recipe says and will jiggle ingredients around until it looks right. That sounds like I am contradicting myself but it does make sense.

4)      Place saucepan on the hotplate at a medium to high heat stirring occasionally. It doesn’t need to be watched closely but don’t walk away either. Depending on the age and capabilities of your kids, decide yourself whether to let them manage the hot aspects of the recipe.

5)      While the butter and golden syrup are melting, you need to prepare the bicarb soda and water mix, which is what enables the biscuits to rise and I’ve always felt the way the melted butter and golden syrup mix rushes up like a volcano provides great entertainment. I remember my Mum introducing me to this mystery as a kid and I was in awe. It was absolutely fabulous.

6)      Remove golden syrup and butter mix from the stove. Have the bowl of dry ingredients nearby and add the bi-carb soda and add water mix to the saucepan. This can really froth up and get quite excited so you might have to move quickly to avoid spills. This is a job for big hands or kids aged 12+ considering the hot, sugary fat involved.

7)      Mix well. You might need to add extra butter to get the ingredients to mix together well. You don’t want the biscuits to be too greasy but the mixture also needs to hold together well without crumbling. We ended up grabbing handfuls of mixture and squishing it together a few times to shape flattened balls which stayed together. I don’t think I’ve had to do that with recipes I’ve made in the past but they had been more of a crunchy consistency where these biscuits were more chewy.

8)      Cover a metal biscuit tray in non-stick baking paper. In the past I’ve placed spoonfuls of mixture onto the tray but with this recipe, I needed to squish the mixture together a bit for it to hold together. You need to leave a bit of space between each biscuit to allow for expansion.

9)      Bake for 8-10 mins or until golden. Remove from oven. Leave on tray to cool down for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Simple and scrumptious and we can remember our fallen heroes as well!

Love & Blessings,

Ro xxoo





My two little mini chefs.

My two little mini chefs.

Our ANZAC Pilgrimage

Yesterday, we commemorated ANZAC Day. While there were public commemorations right around the country, we went on more of a personal journey.

Unfortunately, our journey didn’t take us back to ANZAC Cove in any literal sense. I wasn’t in modern day Gallipoli to attend the Dawn Service and we didn’t even make it to our local Dawn Service.

In fact, I spent the entire day in my pyjamas and didn’t even leave the house. Yet, contrary to appearances, this wasn’t a sign of disrespect. I was simply following the road less travelled.

ANZAC BIscuits

ANZAC Biscuits

This ANZAC Day began pretty much like most ANZAC Days in our house, watching the March on TV. However,  baking the ANZAC Biscuits had to wait until dinner time because I was on the Internet researching, or should I say, connecting with our past finding out about our family’s war service history.

This was an interesting journey where I was exploring and getting to know Geoff’s family who all come from rural Tasmania.

I don’t know when you can claim someone as family. There’s blood but there is also connection, spending time together, anecdotes, memories, a sense of shared history.

Unfortunately when it comes to experiencing much of Geoff’s extended family, we sadly missed out. Geoff’s Dad passed away when he was in high school and his father’s mother died when his Dad was only 9 years old…a young boy. Anyway, this has understandably left some gaps. There are people we are closely related to but we simply don’t know them.

That doesn’t mean, however, that their stories aren’t our stories.

We just haven’t found out about them yet.

Like most journeys, ours began with the familiar and then branched out and literally galloped off into the great unknown.

The acorn among the poppies.

The acorn among the poppies.

Last year, we visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and paid our respects to Geoff’s Great Uncle Robert Ralph French, known as Uncle Ralph. Uncle Ralph was on Geoff’s Mum’s side of the family so Geoff grew up hearing bits of his story. Uncle Ralph, who had been a school teacher in Zeehan in Tasmania, was Killed in Action on the 4 September 1918 at Mont St Quentin, France and was buried in the Military Cemertery, Feuilleres. He was just an average, ordinary bloke who went to serve his country and didn’t come home. The kids had found some acorns in the grounds of the War Memorial and they actually left an acorn behind for Uncle Ralph as well as the more conventional red poppy. I thought that was quite appropriate because Uncle Ralph was a bit like the acorn. He died before he was able to reach his potential. We are lucky that we have some insight into Uncle Ralph’s experiences because we have a scanned copy of a photocopy of his journal. I have read a few pages and must get back to it. I have been meaning to type it up sometime.

Uncle Ralph didn’t have any children but Geoff’s Nanna certainly never forgot her much-loved brother and she also went on to have two sons serving in World War II. They both returned home but she also had two nephews who served and at least one of them was Killed in Action. Geoff said: “The fear in her heart must have been enormous having already lost a brother and a nephew and then to have her two sons heading into battle.”

I never met Nanna but she was pretty resilient. I don’t know whether she saw herself as “lucky” after the war because many mothers did indeed lose a son or even sons but she was certainly one who carried on. She had carried on through two world wars and the Great Depression where she’d supported six children on rabbits and the butter sold from their precious cow, which supplemented her husband’s wages as a builder. I can’t imagine a lot of building going on during the Depression. Times were very hard.

Nanna didn’t know that he two precious sons would eventually come home and that she would actually be among the “lucky ones”. That’s the great power of hindsight.

Anyway, as I filled Geoff in about Uncle Ralph, he asked me about his other grandmother’s family. Molly was one of 13 children and living in rural Tasmania, Geoff was pretty sure someone would have served.

Uncle Jim

Uncle Jim

It was then that I found Geoff’s Great Uncle Jim. It turned out that I’d already noted Uncle Jim’s war service but I think I’d looked into all of this before we were married and certainly before the kids came along. Also, I don’t think all this information was available online before. I’m pretty sure you had to go to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to look things up and that was just too difficult. We often forget how difficult research was before the Internet.

I now feel a bit funny bowling up to Uncle Jim and claiming him as family when we’ve never met but he was Geoff’s grandmother’s brother. That’s a close family connection. We just never had the chance to meet. Well, Geoff thinks he might have met Uncle Jim. He certainly knew some of the other Griffins.

Anyway, yesterday…our ANZAC Day…ended up on a totally different tangent.

We introduced ourselves to Great Uncle Jim.

Our search for Uncle Jim began with a Google search for the Griffin surname. This brought me to a fantastic website which shows photographs of Tasmanian service personnel and along with a brief bio. This is where I found Uncle Jim. In fact, I didn’t even know that he was family when I found him. He was a Major and he received a Bronze Cross. This was interesting.

This is when I put on my detective hat and the search really accelerated.

As I said before, searching these days is so much easier than it used to be. You can access records with a couple of simple clicks.

I found out that he served with the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment and within seconds, I was reading the text from his medal commendation:

For conspicuous gallantry and skill in leading his troops during the action in front of Beersheba on the 31st Oct 1917. He repeatedly led his troops forward under heavy machine gun and rifle fire and gave covering first which enabled his squadron to advance across exposed ground. His personal courage was a fine example to his men and his skill in choosing best positions for covering first was largely responsible for the squadron’s process during action.

Outside the Bible, Beersheba meant nothing to me but when I showed Geoff, he became quite emotional. Uncle Jack had been part of the Battle of Beersheba, which was apparently the last successful cavalry charge in history. Australian wartime history is dominated by Gallipoli and yet the Battle of Beersheba is an almost forgotten tale of Australian heroism and success. It was a turning point. Uncle Jim, it seems, made a significant contribution to the success. I was so proud.

Charge of lighthorse at Beersheba

We also found out that Uncle Jim served in Gallipoli but haven’t had time to explore that further. I spent hours researching Uncle Jim yesterday and realise that it’s going to be a long process. He also served in World War II.

Uncle Jim’s brother, Daniel, also served but I haven’t had a chance to get to him yet. Even online, research takes time especially if you’re like me and really want to walk in their shoes. You need to find out exactly where those shoes have been. What those eyes have seen and that takes along of work.

Ultimately, I would like to put some kind of book together for our kids about members of our family who served in the wars. I want them to pay their respects. Know their own history.

I would also like the kids to know something about how these men fared when they returned home. That the war didn’t just end with the armistice. In some, perhaps, many cases the war raged on long after men returned home both in terms of permanent physical injury but also in terms of the psychological effects. War Veteran and Actor Bud Tingle touched on this when we said: “we found ourselves changed forever.” I am quite conscious that some wives and children lived what you could call a domestic war or battle as these husbands and fathers struggled to adjust to the home front. I don’t know how anyone survives the horrors of war and then goes home and supposedly leads a normal life. I have heard the story of a woman married to a returned serviceman who said it was the wife’s job to help the men settle back into home life but in her case, her husband had seen too much and I’m not really sure what, if any, treatment her husband received. Psychologists weren’t on every street corner back in 1945.

But there was the pub…

It seems to me that at least in terms of the public arena, these family matters have been hushed and silenced. We value and appreciate the sacrifices our war heroes have made. The sacrifices they made for our country and for global freedom. We don’t want to tarnish their memories by raising the negatives but at the same time, these wives and children are survivors and casualties of war and their stories deserve to be told and understood. Their wounds need to be loved and treated so they can become whole. Sure, not all families went through this and perhaps those who did have moved on but there is always a but… a small, quiet voice which longs to be heard and just acknowledged. To that small voice and to the women and children who have paid an ongoing price for our global wars, I say sorry and I also thank you for your sacrifice. I haven’t shared your experience but I’ve tried to understand.

Lest we forget.

xx Rowena




ANZAC Biscuits

Today is ANZAC Day.

Although ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps, it has become a word in its own right and has even become a biscuit.

ANZAC Day is held on the 25th April and commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops in Gallipoli in 1915.

Today, my daughter and I did what Australians have been doing on ANZAC Day ever since the the First World War…we baked ANZAC Biscuits together.

I have been baking ANZAC Biscuits on ANZAC Day since I was a little girl and I still remember my wonder when we mixed the bi-carb of soda and water together and it all frothed up. It was like magic. Wow!

When my son was smaller, we made ANZAC Biscuits together. For some reason he used to call oats “notes” and so these became “Note Biscuits”, which sounded incredibly cute. It still makes me chuckle.

Today, I made the ANZACs with my 7 year old daughter. Where we’d usually make them for morning tea and eat them while watching the march on TV, today we made them at dinner time and had them for dessert. I had spent much of today researching family members’ war time service and had some truly amazing discoveries which pretty much kept me occupied for the day. That will be a separate post.

Miss stirring the ANZACS. We spent the day in our pyjamas.

Miss stirring the ANZACs. We spent the day in our pyjamas.

When you read about me baking ANZAC Biscuits with my daughter, it sounds like one of those really sicky-sweet mother-daughter moments you’d expect to see on something like the Brady Bunch.

That wasn’t our mother-daughter moment.

We were making the ANZAC Biscuits while I was cooking dinner which really was setting us up to fail. I don’t multi-task well and really struggle to do two things at once. Miss was also a bit tired and fidgety. She struggles to follow instructions at the best of times and as we’ve already established, this wasn’t the best of times. We were cooking under pressure.

Miss doesn’t understand the need for recipes and has actually made half-decent cakes or “mixtures” completely from scratch. While that might work for her, it makes for some stressful moments when it comes to cooking something specific together.

By now, you can probably already sense the storm clouds were brewing. There wasn’t a huge storm. Nothing like the clash of the Titans but our cooking experience certainly wasn’t going according to plan and I was becoming a little grumpy.

The recipe says that making ANZAC Biscuits is easy but I’d forgotten to take my usual handful of tablets this morning and was starting to keel over. My brain was foggy and yes, I’ll blame the tablets but I stuck the butter in the microwave without thinking and remembering this needs to go in a saucepan and be melted properly on a hotplate. You also need to have the dry ingredients in the bowl first.


In other words, you need to stick to the recipe. Follow the recipe step-by-step.

Pretty Simple Simon, isn’t it? Only, I’m no Simple Simon.

I’m complicated.

My daughter is spirited.

We did everything backwards.

The ANZAC BIscuits weren’t the best ones I’ve ever made but we did it. We paid our respects to our fallen heroes and I am also even more mindful of those who returned back home and in the words of Veteran and actor Bud Tingle “they were never quite the same”.

So today, we honoured ANZAC Day. Perhaps, you would like to join us in a biscuit and a cuppa!

Lest we forget!

xx Rowena

This recipe comes from the Australian Women’s Weekly.

Anzac biscuits

Makes approx 40 biscuits


125g butter, chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons golden syrup
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon water
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1 cup (90g) desiccated coconut
1 cup (150g) plain flour
¾ cup (165g) brown sugar


Preheat oven to 160°C or 140°C fan-forced.

Combine all dry ingredients  except bi-carb soda in a large mixing bowl.

Combine butter and syrup in a small saucepan. Heat gently until butter and syrup melt.

Combine bicarbonate of soda and water in a small bowl and stir into butter mixture.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour over warm butter mixture and stir well to combine.

Roll rounded teaspoons of mixture into balls. Place about 4 cm apart on baking paper lined baking trays and flatten slightly. You can also be a bit more decadent and make a few large biscuits if you so desire.

Bake in preheated oven 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes on baking trays; transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.