Funny Farm // Damper recipe

the real farm ville

There are plenty of city kids who have never ridden a horse or collected eggs straight from the hen-house, and even fewer who have actually milked a cow. But Mr Eats World grew up in rural England and has expressed a desire for his children to experience some of the simple joys of country life that he did.

Despite my all urban upbringing, I’m also keen for Raffles and Sugarpuff to learn that milk doesn’t grow in plastic bottles so we try, as often as practical, to head off for a few fun days of mucking in on a farm.

This time, though, things don’t quite go according to plan and my excitement is replaced with befuddled confusion before I even smell the first fragrant waft of animal excrement in the air. As Raffles snores and Sugarpuff snuffles away in the back of the car dreaming of soon to be shorn sheep and, no doubt, new ways to terrorise their parents, I ask Mr Eats World exactly what his fondest memories of growing up in the country were – expecting an answer extolling the wholesome virtues of fresh produce, clean air and wide open spaces. Instead he offers the following countdown of his hits and memories of bucolic boyhood bliss…

  • Cow tipping;
  • Shooting inanimate objects with spud guns;
  • Shooting larger inanimate objects with air rifles;
  • Blowing up letter boxes;
  • The random hurling of lit “bangers” (fireworks) on Guy Fawkes day;
  • Underage lock-ins at the local;
  • Drinking Snake Bite – (a disgusting sounding beer and cider concoction and the most cost effective way of getting drunk, he explains kindly to his baffled Aussie wife.)

Hello!? I know he said “simple” but I didn’t realise he was talking about his IQ. What exactly was he envisioning for our kids from our rural sojourns? Life lessons in juvenile delinquency? I’m tempted to wrench the steering wheel from his hands and hightail it back to the relative safety of our home because I’m starting to think that rural air damages the brain and the only farm appropriate for my husband is of the “funny” variety.

I decide it’s probably a good thing that this time around we’re not staying at an actual farm but instead in an apartment on the outskirts of a neighbouring town. That is until we arrive to discover that our apartment, while fabulous, offers us a stunning outlook over the local Hooters franchise which we have to explain off to my curious son as a restaurant for owls.

Now I’m no prude but, when I mentioned that I wanted my kids to know where milk comes from, this is not quite what I had in mind.

We head from our hotel to the farm with me on high alert for armed and inebriated Brits tormenting the livestock. To my huge relief we find a pretty regular animal farm and the activities on offer spectacularly wholesome. So even with the threat of the BYO Brit brat I brought with me, the cows stay unmolested. Except for the one that has to endure being milked by an uncoordinated five-year old. The only thing blown up is Raffles chest, with pride, as he rides a horse around a paddock and the only thing lit is a fire by the stockman who is here to teach us how to make delicious damper and who, given it is still morning, substitutes Snakebite with strong billy tea.

Unlike their British counterparts, (whose farms were not quite so colossal and were probably so pissed on Snakebite that they’d be off searching for a kebab in a neighbouring village) the stockmen of colonial Australia lived on bread alone. Away from home for lengthy periods with only a camp fire and basic provisions, this simple unleavened bread – originally made with flour, water and a good pinch of salt – was a life saver.

uncooked damper

Baked in an iron pot and buried in hot coals or wrapped around a stick, we think its best eaten warm with lashings of golden syrup

It’s also simple and fun to replicate at home where the bonus of a fridge means you can add a few ingredients for extra taste. Though nothing beats the smoky crispy flavour of one cooked over a campfire.

damper

As always, a weekend of farm life has proved to both educational and a hoot, if you’ll pardon the obvious pun, but still, it is with much relief that we arrive back to the polluted smoggy air, pre-packaged plastic produce and cramped space of the city, my children uncorrupted by our hotel view or my husband’s rampaging rural influence.

THE RECIPES

Damper at home
Ingredients:

450g (3 cups) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp of salt
3 tablespoons of butter, chilled, cubed
3/4 cup water

Method:

  1. Place dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 200°c and line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  4. Add the water and mix with a knife until dough leaves side of bowl.
  5. Knead on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes and then shape into a circle.
  6. Place on baking tray and use a sharp knife mark 6 to 8 wedges on top
  7. Dust with a little extra flour and bake in for 30 minutes or until the damper sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

28 Comments on Funny Farm // Damper recipe

  1. Jase
    April 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm (5 years ago)

    Bahaha! mr eatsworlds version of rural life sounds heaps more fun than milking cows. 😀

    Reply
  2. Lydia C. Lee
    April 5, 2013 at 7:36 am (5 years ago)

    oooh, damper on a sitck – we did that as kids but I’ve never done it with mine. Must do it at least once. Sooooo good!

    Reply
  3. Bek Mugridge
    April 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm (5 years ago)

    What a gorgeous post.
    I too believe kids benefit greatly from the connection with the land and where food comes from, even if only occasionaly.
    We are lucky where we live, we seem to have the best of both worlds around the sunny coast XX

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      April 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm (5 years ago)

      Love the Sunny Coast. You are so lucky to call it home 🙂

      Reply
  4. rhian @melbs
    April 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm (5 years ago)

    Ahhhh Don’t be too hard on your husband, snake bite was a delicacy, being a girl however I drank snake bite and black (with added blackcurrant juice) much more classy and made it slightly easier to stomach!!
    Sounds like a lovely day out, I love the cow molesting very funny.

    Reply
  5. Jodi
    April 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm (5 years ago)

    I have not made damper in years!! Thanks for the reminder and recipe! 🙂

    Reply
  6. iSophie
    April 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm (5 years ago)

    This is a bit freaky, I just made Damper in the oven. Hubby loves it and requests it often!

    Reply
  7. This Charming Mum
    April 5, 2013 at 6:48 pm (5 years ago)

    That’s so funny. Rural life clearly means very different things in different places. I worked for awhile in a regional UK pub in the mid-90s during my first backpacker odyssey. I remember snakebites very clearly – beer, cider and something red (cordial?). The red looks the same going in as it does coming back out! The damper is a great idea though. Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      April 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm (5 years ago)

      Hubby claims the red is just to make it look better on the way back up. Horrible man. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Alicia
    April 5, 2013 at 11:05 pm (5 years ago)

    Haven’t damper for donkeys. I make one with mash potato and herbs in it 🙂

    Reply
  9. Desire Empire
    April 6, 2013 at 10:07 am (5 years ago)

    Well you can take the teenager our of the country but you can’t take the teenager out of the boy. That damper looks great too. I haven’t made it since I was a child in a holiday camp. I must reacquaint myself with the stuff.
    Carolyn

    Reply
  10. mamagrace71
    April 6, 2013 at 7:22 pm (5 years ago)

    Oh, that’s hilarious! That Snakebite drink sounds horrid! But yes, each to their own.
    Family outings to the country are always guaranteed to provide some entertaining stories 🙂

    Reply
  11. lindanortje
    April 8, 2013 at 8:31 pm (5 years ago)

    I enjoyed you post a lot! You are right, no flavor comes close to the smoky campfire flavor! Pinned you recipe 🙂 Thank you for sharing at our ALL MY BLOGGY FRIENDS party!

    Reply
  12. Ed @ The Tunnel
    October 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm (4 years ago)

    You were right about Hooters – it’s frequented largely by night owls, isn’t it? (I would have no idea, of course.)

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      October 17, 2013 at 9:50 pm (4 years ago)

      Yes, I think you’re right… and probbly a bunch of khaki clad “bird” watchers!

      Reply
  13. Leanne Winter
    October 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm (4 years ago)

    Hahaha..Mr Eats World had a fantastic childhood didn’t he. Although I’m not entirely sure what cow tipping is – is it actually tipping a cow over?

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      October 17, 2013 at 9:48 pm (4 years ago)

      Sadly Leanne it is. Sleeping cows to be precise… but other than his cow abuse he certainly did have a fun if somewhat unruly childhood. So different for us these days with our boys… 🙂

      Reply
  14. Lydia C. Lee
    October 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm (4 years ago)

    I think about making damper on a stick in the fireplace, but that’s as far as it gets…

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      October 17, 2013 at 9:46 pm (4 years ago)

      It’s pretty yummy… worth the effort. 🙂

      Reply
  15. robomum
    October 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm (4 years ago)

    I love it! Kids SO have to get grubby and dirty!
    I love damper in the campfire. Hungry now….
    Cheers for linking with The Lounge. Robo X

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      October 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm (4 years ago)

      It’s so much fun I think we’re due for another visit. 🙂

      Reply
  16. Have a laugh on me
    October 17, 2013 at 9:37 pm (4 years ago)

    WHAT? You have NEVER had a snake bite????? I’m a Kiwi and visited the UK and it’s like a rite of passage – LOVE THEM, but not so much anymore. I grew up on a farm, as did my hubby, but not dairy, sheep and beef, so it’s hard to say hey – look at these great beasts – we fatten them up – put them on big trucks and they get taken away and then end up on a supermarket shelf 🙁 And sadly I still have a wee tear when I see cows/sheep on trucks 🙁 xxx

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      October 17, 2013 at 9:43 pm (4 years ago)

      I know! For an avowed drinker my snake bite virginity is almost criminal. And I get the tears… I used to be vegetarian and still find it hard to look a cow in the eye.

      Reply
  17. Tegan Churchill
    October 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm (4 years ago)

    The one (and only) time my uncle, who was 17 at the time looked after me on his own he taught me how to use a gun and light a fire cracker…mum and granny were less than impressed!

    Reply
  18. This Charming Mum
    October 17, 2013 at 10:15 pm (4 years ago)

    I remember loving this post the first time around. It resonates even more now since we spent the last school holidays at a farm stay! We even made damper! Thanks for sharing it again 🙂

    Reply
  19. Sarah Mac
    October 18, 2013 at 10:49 pm (4 years ago)

    I think I had a similar upbringing to mreatsworld – he didn’t grow up in Devon by any chance?

    Reply

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