I’ve learnt a huge number of things from my mum. She is an incredible person and I’m no immensely blessed to have her as my mother. My love of food, cooking and sharing it with others comes from her. With Mother’s Day next week, I’d love to share with you some of the lessons in life that she has taught me through food.
- Generosity. My parents are some of the most generous people I know. For those who know them, I know you’ll agree with that. They have, for their entire lives opened their home and their hearts to a multitude of people. It’s never too much to cook a meal, drive many hours for a party and bring half the food or host a lunch or dinner for a friend’s birthday. For many many years when I was a teenager, Mum & Dad hosted what became known as “The Geriatrics Christmas Party”. It was a Christmas dinner we had in December for all the oldies from a nearby reitrement village that they had be-friended and didn’t have family to come over for a traditional Christmas dinner. We collected them, drove them home and hosted a beautiful meal and showed them much love. I’ve learnt that life is not about me and to be generous with what I have.
- Hospitality. Tied closely in with generosity, Mum and Dad truly have a gift of hospitality. That hospitality always involves food & wine, lots of food & wine! Mum has taught me that you don’t have to have a lot of money to be hospitable, you just need to be willing with share what you have and make a fuss of your guests!
- Keep it simple. Cooking food for other’s doesn’t have to be wildly complicated or of Masterchef quality. A good old-fashioned cake, roast dinner or sticky date pudding goes a long way.
- Cooking is an expression of creativity. Mum is creative in so many ways. As I was growing up she was always sewing, painting or otherwise creating something. She taught me to knit, to cross stitch, embroider, use a sewing machine. We travelled on a family holiday when I was 11 to Fiji on the proceeds of selling jewellery she made from FIMO (a modelling clay). She has always said “If you can read you can sew” and “If you can read you can cook”. Cooking is just another expression of her creativity and I’ve learnt over the last few years that cooking, photographing my food and blogging about it is a thoroughly enjoyable creative outlet for me too.
- Celebrate. I grew up in a family that celebrates (and still does). Everything. I mean, we celebrate everything, from front teeth coming through, birthdays (every one), a good test result, a new job, a promotion, a move. I’ve learnt that it’s important to celebrate and acknowledge achievement, success and just simply another birthday which in itself is a celebration of life. Of course each celebration comes with bubbles, cake/dessert and the meal of your choice. This is us celebrating a few days away together!
- Keep trying new things. When I was little we had a pretty traditional country diet from what I remember. Lamb chops, peas, carrots and beans. Spaghetti bolognaise was my first recollection of non-“Australian” food. The 1980s brought stir-fry and Chinese. Mum likes to mix together her own flavours and not so much follow a recipe, so her sauces, and meals always have that something ‘extra’. Mum says that I’m a more adventurous cook than her, but I’m not sure that’s true. My dietary constraints have forced me to explore cooking in new ways with different ingredients, but Mum still has that flair for knowing what works with what. I love that she still tries new things, including some of my recipes!
- People matter. People are the reason behind why we share food. I’ve learnt from Mum that people and caring for others is the most important thing we can do and for her, and for me, one way of showing that is through food. I love sharing my recipes and food with my family, friends and those of you who only know me online. I love that food brings together people that would otherwise not have met and can give us a shared interest and joy. Sharing food also provides a perfect opportunity for conversation & relationship. We always grew up having dinner together as a family and that’s something that’s important for Leigh and I to share with our boys too. Food and love seem so closely linked.
I’m sure I could go on and on. I wish all you mums a very happy Mother’s Day next weekend, but especially I thank you Mum for being MINE.
If you’re still looking for a pressie for your mum for Mother’s Day, how about getting her a signed copy of my cookbook? I’ve put together a Mother’s Day package of the book plus a handy mini-supoon for $32.95 and I’ll even gift wrap it for you! You can buy it here.