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.

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