I have so many memories of what Mum would cook for us as kids. Some are less than fond memories, like ham steaks with pineapple (what the hell!). Some are a bit random, like always having a slice of orange with a side salad. But, most of them are amazing memories and were the beginning of my love for food.
One of my favourite memories is pouring through The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book for weeks, or maybe even months, before our birthdays to pick which cake we wanted. Between the three of us, we probably went through half the cakes in the book. The rabbit and the butterfly were favourites of mine. I’m sure most Australian kids of the 90’s can relate to this memory. It was the best!
Mum taught me how to cook and I’m so grateful that she did. She would let me make a mess of her kitchen most weekends. Given that I get my excessively clean gene from her, I can now understand that watching the mess probably wasn’t super easy for her! Most of what I made was either from other Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks or Mum’s own recipe book. It was just a little exercise book that she had hand written recipes into over the years. It was so well used that it was turning slightly brown and had tattered edges and half its pages loose.
One recipe on regular rotation in our house was Lemon Dumplings and it’s one of Mum’s favourites. As you can see below, this seems to be a recipe my Mum wrote down without the intention of anyone else using it, because it’s not very clear! Soph and I weren’t able to get together on the day she shot these photos, so Soph made the dumplings herself. I certainly did not make it easy for her by asking her to cook from this recipe and then try to make these rather ugly (but delicious) looking things look pretty. She pulled it off though, as always.
So, to decipher the recipe, you need to start by rubbing the margarine (or butter) into the flour. Then add enough milk (roughly ¼ – ½ cup) to form a sticky, thick dough. To make the syrup, place the water, sugar, golden syrup and sliced lemon (2-3 slices) in a fry pan or large saucepan and bring to the boil. Mum suggests doubling the syrup quantities if you prefer a saucier dish. Once boiling, add dessert spoon-sized balls of dough. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through. Serve with ice cream and/or cream and enjoy!
Happy Mother’s Day Mum! Thanks for making me birthday cakes, giving me free reign of your kitchen, always having a full pantry when I come home as an adult and, in particular, for making me your sous chef all those years ago.
Love you Mum
(This is my Mum, Chris, looking like a stunner at my wedding)