You can smell the cinnamon, a roast cooking and the joy of preparing a feast or meal for the family as you turn the pages of this more than just a cookery book.
The sub-title ‘Memories of an Australian Country Kitchen’ is understated as the undoubted store house full of scrumptious recipes would grace the tables of any seriously good restaurant anywhere, let alone the family dining table.
Growing up in country Victoria Kate McGhie learned the art of preparing fresh food well from the soil to the table from her mother and grandmother. As the family depended on the ‘vegie garden’ for much of the fresh produce used, she grew up eating fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden, as everyone did and still does, if they have a ’vegie patch’. She also learning from the experts, her n mother and grandmother, the best way to prepare and cook what was in plentiful supply.
Each of the chapters commences with memories of her childhood relative to the chapter, wonderful tips on how best to cook simple things like roast vegies to get the best flavour, colour and taste. There is a wonderful story about foraging for mushrooms, a story which holds much more than just gathering fungi for the table, which looks back at the simple everyday life of foraging and gathering nature’s bounty.
Along with the memories are many, many tried and true traditional recipes covering just about any style of dish for all seasons. Beef and Stout Stew with Parsley Dumplings comes with a lovely introduction as to how the stews were served at the family table, along with an endnote in relation to stout verses beer and what happens if you decide to make the Dumplings.
Nectarine and Smoked Trout Salad with Celery leaves, a seasonal dish if ever there was one, is also one that would grace any table anywhere and is both quick and easy to prepare and serve. Perhaps something different for Christmas this year!
There is wonderful tale about ‘Aprons’ which is a definite ‘must read’ and as the year rapidly draws to a close, an Inspiring section on Christmas for those already feeling over or underwhelmed by the festive season.
The No-Bake Deluxe Fruit Cake can double as the Christmas cake; Clootie Pudding takes a little longer but will add that something special to the festivities and is also full of tradition.
If you are stuck for a main course check out the Rolled Lamb with Mint and Pea Filling or the Festive Pickled Pork which is a cheap, traditional alternative to the Christmas ham and well loved by many of the older generation.
Want a little bit more upmarket well take a look at the ‘Crayfish on Tomato Jelly’ designed to impress or simply wander back over the pages to select some of the many traditional Australian Country recipes which will do you and your guests proud.
This is a book for giving and receiving and regardless of whether you are a cook, a person who would like to be a cook or someone who enjoys a wonderful book and look back over the years, there is something for everyone in this beautifully presented and photographed walk down memory lane.
P.S. Do make sure you check out the bit about ‘cake tins’ as this is truly something special and applied to many families world-wide during the First World War.