and the love is free: 11 lessons learned from my mothers kitchen

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I’ve been thinking about my mum lately. Alot. Even more than usual.

For the last week I’ve been travelling on my own from New York City to Seattle and now to San Francisco. And as always when I’m on the road there’s been plenty of time to think about things.

I love that about travelling.

My mum loved to travel and with mothers day around the corner, it’s hardly a surprise that my adventurous mum has been in my thoughts. You see it’s coming up to the 4th Mothers Day since she passed away.

I still really miss her. She would have loved New York.

I’ve also been thinking about all the new mums in my life. My friends that have started families but especially my gorgeous pregnant little sister. Yay for being an aunt again!

I find it really comforting to think about how life goes on. Renews.

So in remembrance of my mum and in celebration of mothers everywhere I wanted to share with you a few lessons I picked up from my mothers kitchen. Lessons I, thankfully, have recorded in my print book And The Love is Free. So if I ever get that horrible feeling I’m forgetting her, I can just have a flick through and bring her back in my thoughts.

11 lessons learned from my mothers kitchen

1. good cooks don’t lick their fingers
I still haven’t managed to master this one. I think mum and I might have to agree to disagree.

2. veggie soup should have lamb in it
When you grow up on a sheep farm, you don’t even question the fact that mum’s amazing veggie soup is made with lamb stock. Of course I’d call it lamb & veggie soup but to mum it was practically vegetarian.

3. it’s important to have a sense of humour in the kitchen
One of my favourite recipes in And the Love is Free is a beef stew. And it’s not a favourite because I loved it as a child, in fact the opposite. We kids used to say call it ‘yuck’. But rather than get offended, mum made a joke of it so I now remember it fondly.

4. brussels sprouts are delicious (along with asparagus)
Two of my mums favourite veg. I was always down with the asparagus but it took me years before I was able to share her appreciation for sprouts. Now I can’t get enough.

5. the secret to wonderful broccolini
is to boil or steam until tender the toss with lemon juice, zest and a little extra virgin olive oil

6. curry doesn’t have to include chilli
and is delicious with a little vegemite. My mum had no tolerance for chilli (she thought Dijon mustard was hot) so her ‘curry’ recipe of course was very simple, almost like the Japanese curries. Definitely not for everyone but very comforting if you’ve grown up with it.

7. it’s easier to bake meatballs than pan fry them
Mum used to bake her meatballs because she said they always fell apart in the pan if she tried to fry them.

8. the secret to great lamingtons
is freezing them for 1/2 hour before icing. This helps firm up the cut cake surfaces and makes icing much much easier.

9. passionfruit makes the best desserts
There are three passionfruit recipes in the book – a testament to my mum’s love of this beautiful fruit. I’ve previously published mum’s pavlova recipe on Stonesoup.

10. when it comes to birthday cakes, little kids are really only interested in the frosting
There are 5 kids in my family and each of us have a photo of our first birthday with a paper hat on our heads and chocolate frosting covering pretty much everything below the hat. Bit of a family tradition you could say.

11. for the best jam, use fruit that is slightly under-ripe
My mum’s jam was legendary so of course I’ve included her recipes in the book. Some of her secrets were to not use too much sugar and be picky with choosing your fruit.

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