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The Year I Learned Everything I Know!

Hello all

Okay dear friends it is Cheesecake Day today so let’s celebrate!

But first, we will need to go way back into my past to discover my first encounter into the magic world of cheesecake. How I love cheesecake! But I am not sure if it is the taste I love or if it is the wonderful memories that I carry within me regarding this delight. Let’s explore it further.

Here we go then … get into the time machine with me and go back to the year of 1964.

beatlesYes, it was the year the Beatles came to light with their string of number one hits; other things were happening in that year also so let’s revisit a few of them here:

  • Sidney Poitier becomes the first black actor to win the “best actor” Oscar
  • The Rolling Stones release debut album, “The Rolling Stones”
  • The Beatles have 13 singles Billboard’s Hot 100 at the same time
  • The Beatles hold the top five positions in the Billboard Top 40 singles in America
  • Bob Dylan releases “The Times They Are a-Changin”
  • Pablo Picasso painted his fourth Head of a Bearded Man
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is published written by Roald Dahl
  • Elizabeth Taylor marries Richard Burton for the first time  (www.thepeoplehistory.com/1964)

And it was in this magical year of 1964 that I tasted cheesecake for the first time and I learned everything I know …

It happened like this. At 17 years of age, I was one year out of High School and working for the Commonwealth Bank in the days when people actually liked banks. Yes, there was such a time folks! At the time, the Commonwealth Bank was run by the Federal Government and I was really a glorified public servant.

However, us bank girls never thought of ourselves as public servants. We had an element of superiority about us as it was a very prestigious thing to work in a bank. My mother (a dressmaker) was over the moon; she thought I had arrived dear friends! As I wanted to be a teacher, I thought it was simply a stop-gap on my way to better things.

However, I did love working at the bank because the girls who worked in the ‘Typing Pool’ with me were really lovely people. Then there were a few unmarried women who us young ones thought of as ‘spinsters.’ Thinking back now they were probably only 30 year of age! They held higher level positions at the bank and their ambition in life was to educate us younger girls in the Typing Pool and make our lives wonderful … and they did.

img_27751-e1370140072132And so it came to pass that in1964 these ‘spinsters’ introduced us to the delights of: ‘Dining Out.’

There was always an excuse to go out to dinner: birthdays, engagements, Christmas, Easter … you name it. But there was also get togethers at the home of one of the ladies: Shirley. ‘Slide Nights’ they were called and they were held to view the travel photos of the three women.  And there was always food ‘to die for’ afterwards with a cup of tea … and always there would be: CHEESECAKE!

And this, my friends is how I came to taste cheesecake for the first time. I was a ‘Cheesecake Virgin” until then.  Hence the recipe was given to me and forever after I made cheesecake just like the ones that Shirley served us on Slide Nights.

I learned to love travelling AND cheesecake AND dining out … thanks to the three older ladies at the Commonwealth Bank.

Where are they now I wonder? If they are still alive, I am so grateful to them: Joyce, Shirley and Hazel who taught me so much about how to live well. Hopefully, I am passing on their legacy – in the same way – to those younger than me.

Ta da … time now for the cheesecake recipe. It is baked in the oven and I can never eat it without the top being smothered in whipped cream and dotted with fresh strawberries … just like I ate it in 1964 at Shirley’s famous Slide Nights. Thank you  ladies for nurturing us younger girls and teaching us so much about what was really important in the midst of the workplace: friendship, adventure and food.

Wonderful Basic Cheesecake

750 g (1-1/2 lb) packaged cream cheese (soften at room temperature)

1 cup sour cream

1 teas vanilla

4 eggs

1/2 cup castor sugar (you can use a little more but I do not like it too sickly)

juice and rind of one lemon

1 good tablespoon SR flour

20cm (8″) crumb crust: 185g plain sweet biscuit crumbs and 90g (3 oz) butter. Combine in food processor and press into 20cm springform pan (or similar) and refrigerator until ready for cheese mixture.

Method:

Beat cream cheese and sour cream until soft, add vanilla. Beat eggs until thick beating in sugar gradually. continue beating while adding cheese mixture in small portions, mixing each time until smooth. Mix in lemon rind and juice. It will be quite runny but will set in the oven. Spread into crumb crust,

Bake in moderate oven 190 celsius (375 fahrenheit) 35-45 minutes. Turn oven off and cool in oven with door ajar (to avoid cheesecake cracking). Refrigerate. Just before serving top with whipped cream and strawberries or simply sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg.

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