It was a big weekend. It’s not often that I’m actually happy when Monday rolls around. But this morning, if the truth be told, I was kinda looking forward to a normal day at the office. A day of sitting down in front of the computer and heading along to a few meetings. Bliss.
Although in some ways I’m a bit sad that the 3 day extravaganza that was the Sydney Good Food & Wine Show is over. I can’t remember the last time I got to do so much people watching – a pastime I find endlessly fascinating. There was the fun of meeting fellow Sydney food bloggers Helen, Suze, Reem and Trisha. And even some unexpected stonesoup readers dropping by for a chat which was really lovely. As was hanging out with the Kampai girls – talking to people about their fun wine parties.
But the thing I found most rewarding was talking to people and seeing their reaction to my book. Of course there were a few people who looked at it and said ‘oh I already have all those recipes’.Â I didn’t bother to explain that they had missed the point.
Then there were others who got the appeal of the idea of a book of your Mum’s recipes, scattered with stories as a celebration of her life. The people who thought it was a lovely story and bought copies for themselves and their Mums. And then there were others still who could see the value of having all the classic Australian family dishes presented in a modern way in the one spot. Mums buying it for their kids who were about to leave home. Teachers commenting that it would be just the thing for their students – a market that hadn’t crossed my mind even once. There’s certainly something to be said for talking to people.
What really surprised me, though was the pulling power of caramel slice. On Saturday morning I had my display done with one book open to the page of Mum’s simple roast chook – one of my favourite photos (below). It got a few glances but no one actually came over to take a closer look. Then I had the bright idea that chocolate would probably sell a lot more than chicken and quickly flicked to good old caramel slice. Almost instantly I saw someone walk past saying to themselves ‘caramel slice – yum’. Soon I had people coming over to check it out and have a chat. Magic.
mum’s caramel slice
[an extract from ‘and the love is free’ available to preview and purchase online HERE]
Sometimes, when she didnâ€™t have any cooking chocolate, Mum would top the slice with chocolate icing instead, but it was never anywhere near as good as the textural contrast you get from real chocolate. Apparently there are a number of people out there who think that milk chocolate is the only way to go – feel free to use your favourite.
for the base:
125g (4oz) butter
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
for the filling:
400g (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 tablespoons butter
200g dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
Grease and line a 28 x 18cm (11 x 7in) tin. Melt butter and combine with dry base ingredients. Press the mixture into the base of your prepared tin. Bake for 15â€“20 minutes or until golden.
Combine filling ingredients except chocolate and spread over the warm base. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
For the topping, melt chocolate in a double saucepan or in the microwave on low heat and spread over slice.
Allow chocolate to set and cut into squares.
Note: For an even easier version you can skip making your own base and line the tray with a layer of plain sweet commercial biscuits instead.
Pick up a copy of my new cookbook â€˜and the love is freeâ€™ by clicking on HERE.
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