Country hospitality

The way eggs should be - 'Hillingdon eggs' boxed by hand in recycled cartons, collected by Izzy and Lil. Donated by Michelle Pearce for an eat your history workshop, Orange, NSW. Photo © Jacqui Newling for Sydney Living Museums

Yours truly, ‘the Cook’ has been eating up the country miles with a visit to Forbes and Orange in New South Wales Central West. The visit to the region coincided with the River Arts Festival in Forbes and the Family History Societies of NSW and ACT annual conference in Orange.

Kitchenalia on display at Forbes Historical Museum. Photo © Jacqui Newling for Sydney Living Museums

Sharing memories

Visitors to the ‘Historic Gastronomic’ program at Forbes Historical Museum discussed their own food memories before exploring recipes from historical cookery texts, which put many of the items on display in the museum into context. Apart from horror stories about tripe, kidneys and brains, some treasured memories surfaced – of freshly foraged mushrooms on buttery toast, baked custard and homemade pasta, and Grandma’s gem scones, cooked in the iron pans that are displayed in the museum (above) in a wood-fueled stove. The workshop finished with us making butter from fresh cream, which conjured further memories of rural childhood – when long term residents recalled it being their job as kids, to run freshly drawn milk through the separator for butter.

Visitors share food memories at Forbes Historical Museum. Photo © Jacqui Newling for Sydney Living Museums

Whipping up a storm!

Onward ho! to Orange next day for a workshop of a slightly different nature, with delegates from various family history societies  who are interested in their families’ heirloom cookbooks and recipes. Taking advantage of the Orange Civic Theatre’s catering kitchenette we made ‘sweet omlets‘ (omelettes) from the Meroogal manuscript recipe collection (see below), without the aid of any gadgetry excepting an electric stove. With the premise that more hands make light work, each participant separate an egg, whipping the white the old fashioned way – on a dinner plate with a table knife until stiff, before folding the fluffy mass through the yolk, which was beaten with a teaspoon of sugar and dash of vanilla. The exercise certainly gave new respect for the efforts made to create a dish that would take less than a minute to ‘throw together’ with electric beaters.

Family History Societies’ conference delegates whipping egg whites for a Meroogal heirloom recipe for a ‘sweet omlet’. Photo © Jacqui Newling for Sydney Living Museums

Volunteer cheer!

In true community spirit, the local CWA branch members put on morning and afternoon teas, which is no mean feat, given there were around 350 delegates and exhibitors at the conference. Despite the array of delicious sweet and savoury tarts and slices, the CWA’s famous scones with jam and cream were the bees knees – for me anyway. Other community members volunteered to help throughout the conference period, as ushers, way finders, traffic wardens and all manner of odd tasks. We couldn’t have been more warmly welcomed, and well fed.

CWA Orange Branch volunteer Ros Bensch serving morning tea treats for the NSW and ACT Family History Societies Conference at Orange City Library. Photo © Jacqui Newling for Sydney Living Museums

Sweet omlet, Meroogal style


  • 2 eggs, yolk of one, whites of two.
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • icing sugar or sweet syrup, to serve


This recipe comes with a cautionary note: omlets must be made just before serving, 'the lighter they are the quicker they fall'. The omlet will puff up as it cooks, but will deflate as it cools, so pay heed to the authors advice!


Preheat grill.
Separate yolks from whites. Mix the yolk from one egg with the sugar until light and frothy.
Beat whites up with a pinch of salt in a very clean bowl until quite stiff. Fold lightly through the yolk.

Melt butter in a small frying pan heat until it starts to foam. Pour in egg mixture and cook until it has just set underneath. Remove from heat and hold the pan under the grill to set the top.

Slip onto a warmed plate and dust with icing sugar, if using. Serve at once or it will lose its puffy lightness.
If serving with syrup, serve in an accompanying jug.

‘Sweet omlet’ manuscript recipe (page 1) Meroogal Collection, © Sydney Living Museums

‘Sweet omlet’ manuscript recipe (page 2) Meroogal Collection, © Sydney Living Museums

*New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory.