Food…some eat to live, whereas others like me, live to eat. My love of eating is common knowledge among all who know me. For me, food evokes and creates memories.


Seemingly so, many a fond memory from my childhood has food interwoven into it - gagging on my first oyster off the rocks down at Wilson’s Promontory, the sheer pleasure of gorging on homemade sausage rolls and lank shank and vegie soup on a wintery Saturday after netball and my love of coffee perhaps stemming from my mum allowing us a percolated coffee as a treat when my parents were entertaining, from a fairly young age (not to mention the after dinner mints that my sister and I scavenged for on the table the following morning).


My partner Marty and I were only recently talking about the simple things we loved doing as children that have seemingly become lost over time.  For me, it was a big deal to go and pick up fried rice with my dad on a Saturday night with our saucepan in tow (showing my age here – before the days of takeaway containers – really not such a bad idea) and Marty loved going to the fish and chip shop on a Sunday night in his pj’s with his dad before settling in to watch Walt Disney. Take a moment to recall a fond memory of your childhood – perhaps food is consciously or sub-consciously etched in your memory?


So it is fair to say, I had high hopes for my children, on the food front. Prior to having children of my own, many a friend had complained about their children being fussy eaters. I have to admit; I secretly thought to myself that this would never happen to me (naive, I know!). So one can only imagine my disappointment (understatement) when my daughter turned up her nose at my lovingly prepared fish, lamb and chicken casseroles, instead opting for the tub of yoghurt or meal in a squeezie pack I offered her post casserole, in my delusional paranoia she was going to starve.


In one of my many food epiphanies I have experienced in the past two years, I decided to put my foot down, and ceased to offer Clover an alternative to the meal she turned her nose up at. Secondly, I changed our nightly meal structure, so instead of Clover eating earlier than us, we all ate together at 6.00pm (needless to say, I was ready for a second sitting by 9.00pm!). It is an understatement to say this improved her palate – it totally transformed it. Given its success in our household, Jonah too was eating dinner with us from the time he could sit in a highchair. Although I am not sure whether I can attribute this to his love of eating or simply because he is a boy? Who knows…


A further dietary change in our household was when I was breastfeeding Jonah, he was suspected of being dairy and wheat intolerant and was advised by my pediatrician to eliminate both from my diet. This forced me to reconsider what I fed my family, as I was unwilling to prepare separate meals at dinnertime. This forced break-up with dairy and wheat, made me realise not only how much I actually consumed of both, but also much of my post baby weight I was carrying was owed to this love affair. Initially, I couldn’t imagine enjoying a day of eating without dairy and wheat being a big part of it, but over time, this re-invention of mealtime brought with it a broader range of foods, the use of different flavourings (you don’t realize how many sauces have wheat in them until you have to avoid it) and also being five kilograms lighter. Fortunately for Jonah, the suspected intolerances were unfounded.


The cost of our weekly food shop and the amount of rubbish we seemed to be generating in our current temporary residence, without a compost bin, triggered my urge to review and improve our consumption patterns. Although my two children did not eat a heap of processed or packaged foods, there were a couple of things that were not only filling our bins, but also the grocery bill. Yoghurt squeezies, at almost $2.00 each, were being consumed at a ridiculous rate, with almost $20.00 worth being eaten per week (perhaps it is value for money if you consider the 12 different ingredients included in the average one of these). Although seemingly convenient, I figured it was also pretty easy to buy a big pot of Jalna (with about four ingredients) and put it into a container to eat when out and about, for about ¼ of the price.


The same sentiment goes for sultanas – 1 kg of organic sultanas for $8.00 replaced the snack pack sultanas (non-organic – which are coated with a vegetable oil, potentially GM canola) that are $14.00 per kg (incidentally the apple and sultana snack packs are $23.00 per kg). In all seriousness, whoever said they could not afford to buy organic, perhaps meant, they cannot afford the time to put the bulk amount into a small re-usable container! Furthermore, I am not sure if it is only my children, but they hardly ever finished an entire snack box of sultanas!


Clover was also very fond of packaged cheese and biscuits. I am not really sure how these became a staple in the weekly shop, but with 25 plus ingredients, I really question not only their nutritional worth but whether they could even be classified as a food. So they have been bumped from the weekly shop.


Spending the past winter at Arthurs Seat, where it rains A LOT (quite a rude shock after 1.5 years in Qld), we spent a good proportion of the winter indoors. Cooking seemed like an obvious timewaster, not to mention the wash-ups sans a dishwasher and the mess made by a one and three year old ‘helping’. The buying of a weekly, seasonal fruit and vegetable box and joining a co-op to buy pantry staples in bulk, really motivated me to try even more new recipes (well I had to do something with the rainbow chard, kohlrabi and daikon that was in season over the winter – believe me I had to google what to even to do with them!) and attempt to make as much as I could from scratch. I have just made my own tomato relish for the first time – so easy for even the most basic of cooks and so damn delicious on everything!


By no means is this blog about making the non-cooks among us feel any sort of guilt, but simply a sharing of my ever-changing thoughts about food. Believe me, my love of cooking is at the expense of other domestic chores!


Part II will explore the sweet world of coconut, imitation-free maple syrup (my word is this worth every cent) and raw cacao (think cocoa less the added sugar). In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming choc-cranberry ripe slice recipe (think decadent cherry ripe, but without the 22 largely unfamiliar ingredients!).