Jane Lawson it taking a whole generation back to their childhood with her new cookbook
WHAT are your favourite memories of being a kid? If they include going to the corner shop to buy some lollies, then you are going to love the new cookbook by Jane Lawson.
Called ‘Milkbar Memories’, Jane has taken the memories of a generation and turned it into something special.
Inside the pages of this book you’ll find recipes for donuts, Vienna almonds, musk sticks, milkshakes, battered savs, ice creams, cobbers and banana fritters.
“The idea for this began when I wrote a book called ‘Grub’, which was all about favourite family food memories, you know, the foods your mum or grandma cooked and it wasn’t always written down,” Jane said.
“So that was in the back of my mind…that there was something missing. The fun stuff, the weekend stuff, the naughty stuff that was all part of childhood for a generation. So that’s what inspired me to do this book.
When you’re a kid and you go to the shop for the first time to buy a bag of mixed lollies, that’s a big memory for many people. It was the first time maybe you made a financial transaction or the first time you chose things yourself. When I’ve spoken to people who have read the book they tell me they didn’t realise what important memories they were for them.”
The book is packed with foods that many people would remember and probably haven’t eaten in a long time, and it’s a flashback to the time of the ‘Milkbar’, something that has been replaced with servos,
multi-national convenience stores and supermarkets open between ninety and a hundred hours a week.
“Today kids don’t have the same memories as the previous generation. Having that one special place to go as kids doesn’t exist anymore, all this stuff, almost too much choice is anywhere and everywhere.
“Plus kids today don’t walk to the shops alone like we did years ago, as it was a safer, less complicated time. There wasn’t much going on then, and we made our own excitement and fun,” Jane said.
“It heartened me a lot to talk to people of my age group who only now appreciate growing up in the ‘60s or ‘70s, we realise now what a great time that was.”
“The toughest recipes to get right were the confectionary. I based most of them on my memories of how they tasted as a kid, take musk sticks, and I’m not the first to attempt these, it’s not a hard recipe but getting the flavour and texture right was the tricky part. It took a few goes to get that right.
“Sugar is so fickle when you’re cooking with it, as humidity and weather can have an effect on it. Getting the consistency right was the hard thing, like mint chews, they are tricky when heating sugar to get the right type of chewiness.
“We live in a world economy now, if this book came out fifty years from now it would be so different. There is so much stuff available everywhere, and I couldn’t imagine what would be in this book if it came out then.”
Asking someone what their favourite recipe is in their own cookbook often gets a similar response no matter who wrote it.
“What’s my favourite recipe in the book? That’s like choosing your favourite child. With my books I put a lot of effort into each recipe, and I have to love it to put it in, but I have said that if I had to choose a favourite it would be Caramel Buds, as they bring back wonderful memories for me.”
In the food industry, things are always changing, and one example is the popularity of salted caramel which seems to be everywhere. In her new book Jane has a great recipe called Salted Caramel Cobbers.
“I don’t know why for example salted caramel is such a new thing. It’s not a new product…I think someone has taken the idea and gone for it. You can find salt in chocolate now. Like clothes, food has its fashions. There might be vanilla or lavender in food next year, as things come and go.
“I remember as a kid going to McDonald’s (when it was cool), and I used to dip my fries in the chocolate sundae,” Jane said. “I loved that salty and sweet taste. It’s the same thing with salted caramel.
“Now all the work is done so homecooks can easily whip them up and hopefully connect with fond memories of their own childhood at the same time.”
Jane thinks long and hard about answering the question ‘What is the one food everyone should eat before they die?’ Luckily though, it’s a traditional Aussie favourite. “Hmmm…I’d have to say a potato scallop. They are just beautiful. You can’t beat a crisp coating, when it’s all salty, fluffy on the inside, and fresh out of the fryer. Of course, there’s that whole other debate about whether it’s a ‘Potato Scallop’ or a ‘Potato Cake’, as I think it depends where you live. I’m pretty sure in Adelaide they call them Potato Fritters, so that’s a debate for another day.”
Milkbar Memories is available now – check out the recipes Jane has shared with QT Magazine reader in this issue
“Today kids don’t have the same memories as the previous generation. Having that one special place to go as kids doesn’t exist anymore, all this stuff, almost too much choice is anywhere and everywhere.”
Milkbar Memories is available now.