HU­MOUR: Amanda Blair’s fam­ily food fight

When the clan re­jects the mo­not­o­nous reap­pear­ance of lasagna, some­thing more “ex­otic” is called for.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents - WITH AMANDA BLAIR

Hus­band said he couldn’t take it any­more – some­thing had to change, he was ab­so­lutely sick of it. I ques­tioned why he hadn’t spo­ken up ear­lier, be­fore it got to boil­ing point? I was happy for him to take con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion as I had no in­ten­tion of chang­ing my ways.

“Fair enough” he said. “Then let’s make the kids de­cide.” Like Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoff­man in the leg­endary di­vorce lm Kramer vs. Kramer, we stood on op­po­site sides of the kitchen, kids in the mid­dle. If they agreed they were to go with their dad. If they didn’t, they came to me. I swal­lowed hard, slightly ner­vous at the pos­si­ble out­come. Bravely I asked, “Are you sick of me serving lasagne on a weekly, some­times bi-weekly ba­sis?”

I’m sure your fam­ily has that one sta­ple meal that’s served up week af­ter week, year af­ter year. They’re cheap, easy to pre­pare and freeze well, so you can de­frostheat-n-serve in be­tween chauf­feur­ing ev­ery­body around to dance classes, sport­ing events, par­ties and po­di­a­trists. Sure, I’d love to spend my days gen­tly pre­par­ing tasty casseroles and cakes for my clan. I’d also love to spend my days sail­ing around Sar­dinia on a yacht with a top­less drinks waiter called Sven. But neither of these can hap­pen be­cause like most Aussie mums I’m out there work­ing hard for the money, which means that time and menu choices are reg­u­larly com­pro­mised.

My stay-at-home grand­mother’s go-to dish was the “ex­otic” (her words) chow mein. Al­most ev­ery time I vis­ited there’d be a pot of it sim­mer­ing away on the stove­top, the heady aroma of mince meat, Keen’s Curry Pow­der and cab­bage mixed with Ciara per­fume be­com­ing a sig­na­ture scent. When

I was “of age” 12, she sat me down at the or­ange Laminex ta­ble and cer­e­mo­ni­ously gave me a hand­writ­ten copy of her mas­ter recipe. She told me to “tuck it away, be­cause one day you’ll need to know how to cook”.

I’m still not sure the process of chop­ping, heat­ing, open­ing pack­ets and adding water is what they call “cook­ing” at Le Cor­don Bleu.

For the pur­poses of this col­umn I got down on my hands and knees and ri ed through the boxes stored un­der my bed, know­ing I hadn’t chucked this recipe out. I found it in a scrap­book along with two other favourites she’d passed down be­fore she died – curry chicken and shep­herd’s pie. In all three dishes she rec­om­mended boil­ing the beans and car­rots be­fore plac­ing in a pot, which ex­plained why the veg­eta­bles in Nan’s cook­ing were al­ways colour­less and taste­less. In all three dishes she’d also sug­gested adding a packet of “chicken noo­dle soup” to “spice” them up, which may ex­plain my grand­par­ents’ hy­per­ten­sion. She’d also writ­ten that for a more “fancy” meal or for “special guests”, add curly pars­ley.

Tonight my fam­ily had a leave pass from the lasagne and were say­ing ciao to the chow. I rushed to the shops and gath­ered all sup­plies. When chop­ping back home, I no­ticed I’d over­looked an in­gre­di­ent miss­ing from most of my cook­ing re­cently. Writ­ten at the bot­tom of the page was Nan’s se­cret that made all her food taste good, no mat­ter how many times she served it to me “Al­ways cook with love in your heart. I love you.”

And she did. Wish she was com­ing for din­ner tonight. I’d use ex­tra curly pars­ley.

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