Kedgeree recipe

Ma and I have been making Kedgeree every Good Friday for a number of years.  For weeks before Easter she’d be checking for the cheapest smoked cod  (smoked haddock was a luxury and rarely if ever found at a supermarket).  Finally it would be bought and placed on the freezer until Good Friday.  This year Ma was 20160325_172924fixated on the smoked fish.  Once I had bought it, it was all about when we were going to cook it.

(Kedgeree is thought to have originated in India brought back to the United Kingdom by returning British colonials and is listed as early as 1790.)


2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil
1 medium size onion, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder (I add more)
1 cup of long grain rice (I use Basmati)
3 1/2 cups water (3 for rice; 1/2 for fish)
750g smoked gemfish, haddock or cod (we use cod)
3/4 cup milk
40g butter
3 hard boiled eggs; 2 roughly chopped, 1 sliced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a moderate heat and gently fry the onion until soft.  Stir in the curry powder, and the rice and mix well.  Pour in 3 cups of the water and cook at a simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  If the rice gets too dry too fast, turn down the heat and add a little hot water. (It always takes me more than 15 minutes)

Meanwhile, put the smoked fish, the milk and 1/2 cup of water into a large frying pan over a moderate heat.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes (I do more as I like to see the fish flaking).  Drain, peel off the skin and discard, along with any remaining bones.  Break the fish into large flakes.

As soon as the rice has absorbed all the water and is tender (I taste test), add the flaked fish, butter, chopped egg, and the pepper.  Stir well.  Garnish with parsley and the sliced egg.



The Ma I used to know

As Mother’s Day approaches I’m reminded of what I’ve lost, and found in my own Ma.  Looking back over the years I look at what we’ve shared together. We were like two peas in a pod.  We loved to go walking together until her arthritis won and walking became too difficult and painful.  She would teach me the names of the different flowers that crossed our paths and from this I developed a love for gardening.

Growing up I wasn’t interested in cooking.  I didn’t bother as the rest of the family were good cooks so I didn’t consider it necessary.  When the family get togethers stopped, as people went their separate ways and got caught up in their own families, I started to take an interest.  Dad, who was a baker by trade, and I would make Easter buns from scratch every year.  I haven’t done this since he passed away.

As my parents aged I took over more and more of the cooking and started collecting cookbooks and hoarding dozens of pull outs from magazines.  Ma and I would pour over the recipe books discussing the merits of recipes and what we were going to cook.

Recipe books are still something we share together.  Ma can’t operate the stove and can no longer remember where any of the ingredients are kept but she can still sit at the table and help me cut things up.  She can roll a mean Lamington in the coconut and help me with sausage rolls.  We taste test and argue about what needs to be added.  Her secret ingredient is Sweet Chilli Sauce for anything that just doesn’t taste like it should. It works!  She has trouble knowing how to cut some things up and can no longer remember her tried and true recipes.  I’m so glad I took it on myself to write my favourites out a long time ago, some of which I’ve shared on here.

We were cutting up onion and garlic the other day and I used the flat of the knife to crush the garlic so the skin would flake off, this was something she taught me many years ago.  She told me she’d have to remember that trick for next time.  That’s when you feel sad, sad for what she’s lost.

My Ma is a wonderful cook. Over the years I think she has managed to create a jam, pickle or relish out of any ingredient you care to name.  The big saucepan was always bubbling away on the stove emitting odours of vinegar or the sweetness of sugar.  Those jars were sold to raise money for various local charities.  I now make Ma’s famous Tomato Relish and last year potted up a few jars of Strawberry, Ma’s favourites.

The Christmas pudding, cake and mince tarts are no longer part of her repertoire, I have taken up the mantle.  Occasions like Christmas and Easter create a fixation and confusion in her.  For weeks beforehand she wants to cook the Good Friday fish or buy the Christmas ham.  It prays on her mind, nibbling away at her psyche until finally I give up.

The Mother’s Day and birthday cards I have given her over the years were from a daughter paying homage to a mother, supporter and best friend.  Every card I used to give her would reduce her to tears.  It was always my mission to find the card I knew would make her cry. Over the last couple of years, I’ve struggled to find a card to express our changed relationship.  I can’t bring myself to buy the cards of old.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Ma to the moon and back, it’s just that things have now changed, she is different from the Ma I used to know

I’m now more like the mother than the daughter.  I now take responsibility for her health and well being.  I now take her everywhere she needs to go.  I now spend nearly every waking hour with her.  So yes, I don’t feel like I can give those cards any more.  I’m sad for the mother I’ve lost.

But I’ve also found another Ma.  Over the years whenever I’ve asked Ma if she wanted to go out, 9 times out of 10 she would say no.  Now Ma will nearly always go out with me.  She is more outgoing.  She asked me for purple highlights (we’re talking bright purple) before Christmas and has been rocking them ever since.

My Ma has never been very demonstrative.  She hugged me the other day of her own accord for the first time I can remember.  I was blown away.  She now uses a term of endearment to address me… she has never done that.  (Not sure whether it’s because she can’t remember my name or?)  Anyway I’m basking in the glow.

While I’ve lost the Ma I knew, the new Ma is just as loveable albeit different.  So this year the Mother’s Day card will be different from previous years and as always I will try and pick the card that makes her cry.

During the month of April I am running/walking to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Australia. If you would to support me please go to my fundraising page.

Chocolate Chip Plus Biscuits

I’ve been going through Ma’s multitude of recipes which include old books and torn out magazine clippings from the 1960s.  I love the history of our taste-buds.  They used a lot more offal – lovely recipes like braised brains and pig’s trotters.  Among my favourites are the old cook book collections compiled by theYum Billys P&C of the schools we went to; the Innerwheel Club to which Ma belonged plus churches and the CWA.  They were real family recipes so you knew they should be yum!  Best thing about them is the ingredients are usually in the pantry.

I came across this Chocolate Chip recipe the other day and fell in love (so did Ma).  It was listed in my infants school cook book (go back around 30 plus years).  It’s a nice one for Christmas as it looks festive and it’s yum.

3 oz butter (28.35g)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups SR flour
1/2 cup salted peanuts or walnuts
1/2 packet of choc bits (I’m not sure how much used to be in a pack back then but I don’t think you can have too much chocolate!)
1/2 cup sultanas
glace cherries

Place sugar in mixing bowl and pour melted butter in top, stir to dissolve (ok, I had a problem with this as it wouldn’t melt properly so I kept using the microwave to heat the butter and sugar – I think next time I will melt the butteron the stove top with the sugar until it’s melted and transfer to a bowl to cool).

Cool – beat in egg and add the nuts, sultanas and choc bits and stir in flour.

Drop by teaspoon full onto greased scone trays (I used grease proof paper) and place 1/2 a glace cherry on top.

Bake in a moderate oven for approximately 15 minutes (it’s around 150 in my fan forced oven).

Allow to cool on trays.



Nuts and Bolts Recipe

nuts & boltsAs a kid growing up, Ma and Dad were very social people who did a lot of entertaining.  Many a night I remember watching Ma prepare the hors d’oeuvres or Horses Doovers, as us kids liked to call them.   In those days, any good party served pretzels and nuts besides things called ‘Devils on Horseback’, coloured cocktail onions, cubed cheese and cabanossi, french onion dip with the essential Jatz biscuit, and smoked oysters if you wanted to be real posh!

The next day there was always left over pretzels and nuts among other things.  From these ingredients we would create, Nuts and Bolts which us kids used to devour.  Years later I decided to try and make them again and was worried they wouldn’t taste the same….but they did!


2 1/2 cups of Nutri-Grain cereal (sounds yuk, but trust me it’s awesome)
1 1/2 cups of pretzels (I use the mini ones but we used to use the sticks)
1 cup of salted peanuts
35g packet of French Onion Soup Mix
1 scant tablespoon of lemon pepper (no added salt)
1/3 cup of olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.  Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Combine cereal, nuts, pretzels, soup mix, lemon pepper and oil in a large bowl.  Mix well to coat.
  3. Spread over baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, stirring after every 5 minutes or until hot and crisp.  (I like mine to be well done and brown)
  4. Set aside to cool and place in an airtight jar.

Unfortunately they don’t last very long because I can’t stop eating them once I’ve made a batch!!

Fruit Loaf aka GTT (Go to Toilet) Cake

All the normal foods that make ‘normal’ people ‘go’ (ie. licorice, prunes etc), don’t usually make much of an impression on Ma. A couple of years ago I came across the following recipe which I re-named the GTT Cake or Go to Toilet Cake.  Ma liked the taste AND she got results (huzzah!).

150g dried apricotsIMG_9987
150g dried figs
150g pitted dates
150g raisins
2 cups of orange juice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups of self-raising flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground ginger

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Grease and line a 7cm deep, 10cm x 21cm (base) loaf pan with baking paper,

Combine dried fruit (I cut my dried fruit up, the recipe didn’t state this) and juice in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 20 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Stir in bicarbonate of soda.  Set aside for 10 minutes.

Transfer fruit mixture to a bowl.  Stir in sugar and eggs.  Sift flour and spices over fruit mixture.  Stir gently to combine.   Spoon into loaf pan lined with baking paper.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  (Put foil over the top if browning too fast.)

Stand for 10 minutes in pan.  Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Serve slices at room temperature or toasted.  It keeps well.

I really like this recipe.  You could probably mix your dried fruit depending on what you had as long as your quantities were the same.

Muesli Recipe

My sister gave us this recipe a few years ago.  It’s expensive to buy all of the ingredients but they do last you for a few batches especially the oil and vanilla bean paste.  It’s really yummy.

500g of good quality oatsIMG_9985
Sesame seeds (to taste)
Macadamia nuts
Almonds (skin on)
Sunflower seeds
Macadamia oil
Vanilla bean paste

Place all your dry ingredients in a large bowl except the Sultanas.  I start with the oats and mix in an ingredient at a time usually by the handful.  Just put in what you like until you have the mixture that you want.

Mix 2 tablespoons of Macadamia oil and 4 tablespoons of honey on stove over low heat until runny and slightly warm.

Take off stove and stir in 1 large teaspoon of Vanilla bean paste.

Mix with other ingredients then place on a large baking tray (lined with baking paper), spreading the mix out as much as possible.

Cook in oven 160-170 degrees celcius and stir every 5 minutes for even cooking.  I like mine brown and toasty.

Add sultanas and any other dried fruits to your liking eg. cranberries, dried apple etc.

I like eating mine with yoghurt.  It takes Ma a bit of time to get through a bowl as there is a lot of chewing required!

Ma’s Spag Bol (Spaghetti Bolognese)

For as long as I remember I’ve loved Ma’s Spag Bol.  Every time she made it it would be different.  I found out why when I asked for the recipe.  There were never any exact measurements.  You just tasted as you went until it was just the way you like it.  So with that in mind… here is how I now make it.

500g beef mince (sometimes pork and veal)
1 large brown onion (or 2 medium) chopped
2 to 3 cloves of garlic crushed
2 teaspoons of beef stock powder
1 teaspoon of oregano
2 heaped dessertspoons of basil pesto (sometimes I use some fresh basil)
1 tin of Heinz Big Red Tomato Soup (or good quality other brand)
2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste
Few drops of Tabasco Sauce
Optional:  chopped mushrooms (handful); chopped bacon; splosh of red wine; may need to add salt

Add some oil to a saucepan and cook your garlic and onion into soft.  Add your mince and break up with a wooden spoon; cook until brown.  Add all of your other ingredients and simmer gently for 30 minute to an hour.  Keep tasting and adding until you are happy with the flavours.

Serve with spaghetti cooked to al dente and serve with parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

It’s always yummier the next day once the flavours have gone through.  One of my favourites!!

Capsicum Jelly

This is an old family favourite.  When we had a glut of capsicums from the garden, this was the first thing we made.  Kind of like a sweet and sour sauce.  It was always great for dipping.  Hand me the Jatz!!  I’m sure it would be great with some cream cheese….hmmm

4 large capsicums (we used red and green or another colour just to make it look pretty)
2 tablespoons of salt
1 cup of white vinegar
2 cups of sugar

IMG_5272Put capsicums through the mincer… we have an old handheld one, it gives a good consistency, with 2 tablespoons of salt.

Leave for at least 2 hours.

Wash thoroughly and add 1 cup white vinegar and 2 cups of white sugar.

Cook 30 minutes or until jellied or thickened.

When cold place in a sealed container and use when required.


Strawberry Jam

IMG_9826We have made this recipe twice in as many weeks as strawberries were so cheap.

900g strawberries washed and hulled (if they were on the large side we cut them into a few pieces.

1kg sugar
juice of 1 lemon (I like a real juicy one otherwise I find the Strawberries too sweet)

Knob of butter
Jam Setta
Sterilised jars (3 x large jam jars or 5-6 smallish ones)

I suppose this is the sloppy cooks way but I find it turns out pretty scrummy.

Place the strawberries in a large bowl with about half the sugar and attack it with a potato masher.  I didn’t have a potato masher so attacked it with a meat mallet (very indiscriminatory though).  I didn’t smash the beejebers out of them, I just gave them a good talking to.  I like to see some strawberries in their form and some really squished.

Add the rest of the sugar and lemon juice, give it a stir and leave to sit overnight (if you are really desperate wait at least 3 hours). It should look very runny and foamy come morning with bits of strawberry.

Stir them well and place in a large saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Place a saucer in the freezer.

Increase the heat and boil the mixture rapidly for around 20 minutes checking occasionally to see how the strawberries are… are they getting squishy and looking like yummy globs?

Check to see whether your jam is ready by placing a small spoonful on the saucer that’s been in the freezer and put back in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, take the jam off the heat and remove the ‘scum’ (usually foam that congregates around the edges) with a slotted spoon or tea strainer.  Stirring in the knob of better helps to disperse any remaining scum.

Take the saucer out of the freezer and use your finger to push at the edge.  If the jam ‘wrinkles’ slightly at both edges, it is done.  If it’s still runny return the jam to the boil.  Remove from stove and stir in Jam Setta (the amount will vary depending on how set your jam is – I used 15g the first time with one large juicy lemon and around 7g the next with one and a half juicy ones.  Both set well… that’s the tricky thing about jam!  Best to try a small amount first, especially if the jam shows some indications of setting by itself).

If the jam is being lazy (not setting) place the jam back on the stove and stir until the Jam Setta is dissolved.  Do the freezer test again to test for setting.

Leave to cool for around 15 minutes and bottle.  I wash my jars in soapy water, rinse and dry with a micro fibre cloth then do a final dry in the microwave on low heat or in the oven on low heat.

Fill the jars right to the top as the jam will shrink slightly when it cools.

Enjoy!  It’s pretty yummy and makes a good gift.

Ma’s Pumpkin Fruit Cake

Ma’s famous Pumpkin Fruit Cake.  Any funeral, birthday or special occasion would see this cake made.  IIMG_9610f it was for Christmas, the plonk would be added along with some glace fruit… anything to tizzy it up.  Always yum and always very popular.

Now Ma, being Ma never was one for exact measurements… so here is how I make it nowadays.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
4oz butter
1 pkt mixed fruit (approx 375g)1 cup mashed pumpkin (cold)
2 tbl golden syrup (generous)
2 cups SR Flour
1tsp vanilla essence

Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy, add vanilla, syrup, pumpkin and eggs stirring well after each addition.  Add flour and fruit and stir until well combined.

Place in square fruit cake tin lined with foil (21cm approx) and bake in moderate oven for about 45 minutes.  If the top starts to brown too much cover with a piece of foil.

Ma says:  “It’s a very adaptable cake.  Add more or less fruit or different types of fruit.  It doesn’t seem to alter the success of the cake.  I often use just a mix of what I have on hand.  I also add 2tbl of rum, brandy or sherry if I want it to keep longer or to make a richer cake.”

When I make it, I like to add almonds and some ginger and figs.