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.

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.

Recipes with Ma

My Ma was a heck of a cook in her day, experimenting with international dishes and filling us kids with the most wonderful food imaginable.  Dad was a baker by trade with the bakehouse being in the family for over 100 years.  Dad kept a full vege patch and friends in their circle shared a multitude of other fruits and vegetables.  Between the two of them they raised money for the community through jams, pickles and cooking.

I thought I’d place some of the recipes that Ma and I have shared over the last few years as well as some great high fibre ones… stay tuned.’

It’s funny, I was mentioning the idea of recipes to Ma and she encouraged me to share them with you.  She told me she thought that there were a lot of elderly people out there that didn’t eat properly… How very true, not only does your taste go as you get older, but if you are by yourself, preparing food can be a real chore.  Especially when the food you want to buy comes in larger quantities than one person can use or is more expensive if you buy a smaller amount.  I’m sure Ma will help me sort out the best ones.