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Book cover

The Art of Living in Australia dates to 1893, and details everything the new colonist ought to understand about the rigours and habits of living in the great southern land. It covers everything from how often you should bathe and how to make toothpaste, to sustainable fishing practices and growing vegetables suitable for the climate.

Written by Philip E. Muskett, a physician, the book also contains over 300 recipes, contributed by Mrs H. Wicken, a Home Economics teacher at the Technical College, Sydney. The recipes include some wonderful gems, some great ideas for easy home cooking, and some that probably wouldn't win you a place on Masterchef.

All of this absolutely begs the question, how well do these recipes stand the test of time? Are these soups, fish and meat dishes, salads, vegetables and desserts of purely historical interest, or can they be successfully created in the 21st century home?

We here at Sydney University Press road-tested a few of the recipes at home in our kitchens, and over the next few days we will share with you some of the results, starting with Mulligatawy Soup and Oxfordshire Pudding.

Mulligatawny ingredients

Mulligatawny Soup (p.230)


2 quarts stock
1 apple
1 onion
1 carrot
½ oz. curry powder
1 oz. flour
1 oz. butter


The liquor in which poultry or rabbit has been boiled is the best for this soup. Slice up the apple, onion, and carrot, and fry them in butter; sprinkle over the curry powder and flour and brown that too; pour over the boiling stock and stir until it boils up, simmer gently for one hour, then rub through a sieve* and return to the saucepan. Bring to the boil, flavour with salt and lemon juice. Pour into a warm tureen and serve. Send well-boiled rice to the table with this soup.

* In a nod to modernity, I may have used a stick blender here.

Mulligatawny cooking

Mulligatawny, according to the SBS food website, is Tamil for ‘pepper water’ so it should come as no surprise that Mulligatawny Soup makes for a pretty good curry sauce. While there are many recipes for this soup online, Muskett’s recipe (p. 230) is simple and uses staples available in most kitchen pantries. Despite its minimal ingredients and simple recipe, this soup packs a good amount of sweet and spice and could be used as a base to add seafood, meat or additional vegetables if you so wished.. I could definitely see myself making this one again in some form or another.

Oxfordshire ingredients

Oxfordshire Pudding (p.360)


1 pint milk
1 ½ oz. rice
1 oz. sugar
Rind of half a lemon


Wash the rice well, strain off the water and put it into a pie dish. Mix in the sugar and the rind of the lemon; pour over the milk, and let it stand for half an hour. Put it into a very slow oven, and bake till firm. This is a very delicious pudding if properly made; it should be firm, but not dry.

Oxfordshire served

Oxfordshire Pudding is basically a lemon flavoured rice pudding, using a minimal amount of ingredients, all of which are readily available today and can probably be found in most household kitchens. The lemon rind, somewhat surprisingly, permeates throughout this pudding giving it the warm and comforting flavour you'd expect from a rice pudding, but with the added freshness of citrus. My tips for this recipe are that it needs more liquid than you'd think, and if you are unfamiliar with cooking rice by baking it in the oven, it can take a long time. Just when you think it's done, I’d suggest popping it back in the oven to cook for another 10-15 minutes. Otherwise you will end up with ‘crunchy rice’ (like I did).

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