the 5 most important lessons from my mother’s kitchen


I always have a touch of sadness when I think about Mother’s Day.

While I love the idea of celebrating the heroics of my friends and two sisters who now have families of their own, I can’t help but think about someone who should be here. Someone who should be reveling in the joy of being a grandma.

Yes Mother’s Day always makes me miss my Mum. More than usual.

So with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to share with you the most important things I picked up from my mother’s kitchen. To pass on a little cooking wisdom from the inspirational woman who gave me the best possible start in the kitchen. And in life.

1. Don’t be afraid to improvise.
With the nearest town a 10 minute drive away, the nearest supermarket over half an hour away and 5 children to feed, my Mum was a master of the gentle art of improvisation. It was second nature. If you didn’t have a particular ingredient, you’d try something you did have.

2. It’s fun to try new things.
My mum was always clipping recipes from magazines or the paper and trying out new ideas. As she got older and had more time and less mouths to feed, I think she even more adventurous. I’ve definitely inherited her drive for experimentation.

3. Even good cooks need to ‘cheat’.
While my Mum was focused on making food as delicious and nutritious as possible, she wasn’t a food snob. She loved growing her own veggies and baking cakes from scratch, yet she was happy to take shortcuts in the kitchen when needed. A great example being her pasta recipe below using commercial pasta sauce. Or her fabulous apricot chicken using canned apricot nectar and a packet of french onion soup.

4. Keep a well stocked pantry.
Our farmhouse kitchen had one of those wonderful ‘walk in’ pantries which, when you’re living in the country is an essential. It was always tidy and well organised, down to the ‘secret’ compartment in the bottom where she would hide the chocolate biscuits from my Dad.

I don’t ever remember my Mum saying we had ‘nothing to eat’ because there was always something to be found in the pantry or freezer.

5. Follow the 2-Minute Meal Plan.
OK so my Mum didn’t actually know about my latest ebook, the 2-Minute Meal Plan. But when I was thinking about writing this post I had a bit of a revelation. Here I’d been thinking my new meal planning method was ‘revolutionary’ when in actual fact it’s pretty much the method I grew up with. Buy what looks good, keep the pantry stocked and decide what to cook on a day to day basis.

Thanks Mum.

A Mother’s Day Celebration!

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To find out more go to:


butter beans with cabanossi & bacon
serves 2
Adapted from ‘And the Love is Free‘.

My mum used to make this with short pasta, usually penne. It was one of my all time favourites.

In this version I’ve simplified things by cutting out the onion. And made it lower GI or ‘slow carb’ with the use of canned butter beans instead of cooked pasta. This version is also gluten-free.

2 slices bacon, chopped
1 stick cabanossi, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup commercial tomato based pasta sauce
1/2 green capsicum (bell pepper) chopped
1 can butter beans (400g / 14oz), drained

1. Heat a little oil in a fry pan and cook bacon over a medium heat until browned.

2. Add cabanossi and cook for another few minutes to brown lightly.

3. Add sauce, capsicum and drained butter beans. Simmer for a few minutes until everything is hot. Taste & season.


vegetarian – replace the bacon with a red capsicum (bell peppers). And replace the cabanossi with feta or bocconcini scattered over at the end.

vegan – replace the bacon with a red capsicum (bell pepper) and replace the cabanossi with a handful of semi dried or sun dried tomatoes

cheesy – serve sprinkled generously with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

herby – sprinkle over a handful of torn fresh basil leaves.

hot! – replace the cabanossi with spicy chorizo and add in some fresh or dried chilli.

pasta – replace the butter beans with cooked pasta such as penne. You’ll need about 150g (5oz) dried pasta cooked according to the packet direcitons.

‘baked’ – cover with grated cheese such as cheddar and place under a hot overhead grill until the cheese is melted and golden. About 5-10 minutes.

different beans / lentils – feel free to use other canned beans, lentils or chickpeas. Home cooked legumes can also be used, you’ll need about 240g (7oz) cooked drained legumes.


video version of the recipe

Celebrate Your Mum!

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For more details go to:

Happy Mother’s Day!

With Love,
Jules x


  • Lovely post :)

    On mother’s day, I always think of my friends who have lost their mothers.. So I’m sure lots of people will be thinking of you.

  • yum- as usual, staring at the photo getting hungry.

    I love butter beans – they are the ultimate in a gooey-floury all at once mouthfull.

    I like the vegetrian/vvegan suggestion too! I figure if you add a bit of smokey paprika you don’t miss the depth of flavour from bacon.

  • Hello Jules!!!
    Just purchased your book online and I hope I qualify for the free 2 minute Meal Plan cookbook. I bought your book as a birthday gift to myself. I have written a family cookbook for my husband’s mother’s family with great success and much satisfaction. I want to share with you a quote that was a huge motivator when I took on the task of coordinating and creating our cookbook…
    “When we prepare dishes handed down to us from our grandmothers, we become grandchildren again, reconnected to the people who have gone before us. When we prepare traditional food for our children, we give them memories they can turn to when they are grown and cut adrift. They will prepare these foods and once again be grounded with their families in time.” Judith Comfort’s Christmas Cookbook (1988)

    Thank you and I look forward to receiving my gift to myself in Canada.
    Sincerely, Lori Martin

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