What is Operation Jam Jar?

Operation Jam Jar is all about getting back to basics in the kitchen.

Check out my efforts at cooking from scratch - cakes, soups, biscuits

Learn how to make things that you would normally buy at the supermarket - wraps, ice cream, pizza bases

Try to live a more 'country' lifestyle in the city - making your own jams or relish

Get the skills to enjoy cooking in a thrifty way, and have a bit of fun while you do it

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Top 11

It’s funny how food can stir up so many memories.  For me, one sniff of my mum’s lamb roast has me feeling like a 10 year old again.  Food plays a huge role in our lives when it comes to celebrating, commiserating, relieving boredom, entertaining and just for general enjoyment.  I had a think about the most memorable dishes and what they mean to me.  I would love to hear yours!

1.    Pancakes – this was one of the first things I ever cooked and once I got the hang of it, it became a Saturday morning tradition.  Butter, lemon and sugar was my topping of choice.  I always made myself busy before I had to wash up the pans though
2.    Mum’s Lamb Roast – I always agreed with the ad where Naomi Watts said she couldn’t go out with Tom Cruise cause ‘Mum’s doing a lamb roast’.  No one can make a roast like your mum can.  I asked my mum why my roast never tastes as nice as hers, and she said that maybe when I’ve been cooking it for 40 years it might taste pretty good too.  Mum always gets the lamb leg with garlic and rosemary on it which gives it such amazing flavour
3.    Dad’s BBQ Steaks – to this day I only like my steaks well done.  I think it’s because growing up that was the only option if you wanted to eat one.  Dad would always be on the BBQ, Mum would be making a green salad & some boiled potatoes.  We would sit outside and get eaten by mosquitoes and it was great.
4.    Spag Bol – this was a family favourite growing up.  Mum would cook it in the crock pot all afternoon and the house would smell amazing as I came in from school.  Unlike now where I like everything with chilli and extra chilli, mum’s bolognese was always spice-free.  Since my Dad is a meat & veg kind of man, it was ‘a bit foreign’ for him.  He didn’t even eat the pasta (that was just too strange) – he would just eat the bolognese on toast.  For me, it was such a treat to eat spaghetti I would devour it all in no time.  And sometimes even sneak in and eat some extra plain spaghetti.  Dad and I would eat leftovers on toast for breakfast.  Unreal.    
5.    Chip Sandwiches – on a Saturday afternoon my Dad and I would go up to the chip shop and buy $2 worth of chips with chicken salt.  We would then butter up some super fresh white bread and load it up with chips & tomato sauce.  To people that have never enjoyed the deliciousness of chip sandwiches, I urge you to go out this weekend and try it out.  You will NOT be disappointed.  As I got older I found that this is also one of the best hangover cures ever.   Wow I could really eat one of these right now…
6.    Grace Brothers Donuts – back in the days before Donut King existed, the only place to get donuts was from the Grace Brothers cafeteria.  In Dubbo, the ladies working in there (with their old lady aprons and sensible shoes) made the donuts crispy and with loads of sugar.  If I had ‘been good’ while shopping with Mum, we would go and grab a load of donuts to take home for afternoon tea.  If I had a day off sick from school Mum would go and get these and they always seemed to make me feel better
7.    Red Chops – these are the most delicious marinated lamb chops that my mum made.  Not sure of the recipe (I will have to hunt it down from mum) but whenever I was asked what I felt like, it always had to be red chops with mash & peas.  Mmm mmmm.
8.    Will’s Lasagne – my husband is a great cook, and unlike me he is really good at cooking without a recipe.   He makes the lasagne with beef or pork mince, and adds a tin of tomatoes, a tin of kidney beans, onions, capsicum, herbs, garlic, chilli, wine and whatever else he can find in the cupboard.  He lets it cook on a low heat for about an hour, and then he makes his own white sauce before layering it all up and adding loads of cheese on top.  Heaven.  The first time I tried it, I knew he was a keeper
9.    Chicken Chilli Basil with Flat Rice Noodles (from Chopsticks) – this was my favourite Thai restaurant in Randwick for about 5 years.  Any time we were going out for dinner everybody knew where I wanted to go.  All of the food was UN REAL.  It was always less than $20 a head and it was BYO.  What more could you want?  After years of love and affection you can imagine my heartache when we arrived one night with a bottle of red in hand and it was….closed.  Gone.  No sign.  Nothing.  It later reopened with new owners and a new name, and it was a bit rubbish.   Will I ever find anything like it again?  So far…no.  But I soldier on. 
10.Dip for Dinner  - isn’t it wonderful when you suggest something that you think is a little bit risqué, and the one you love says ‘I was just thinking the same thing!’.  For me, it was suggesting that we have dip, cheese, olives and Turkish bread for dinner one night.  I always used to think about it as a kid as I stuffed my face near the buffet (‘Why can’t corn relish dip be a meal?’) and I am so lucky to have married someone who feels the same way.  We do this about once a month.  We are WILD. 
11.Chicken Burritos – this is a Friday night favourite at our place, and one of the few things that Will & I usually cook together.  Cook up some chicken, onion and red capsicum with a load of garlic, chilli, cumin, and any old spices you like.   Load up some wraps with the hot stuff, then add avocado, cheese, lettuce, tomato, grated carrot and tzatziki.  Yum!

Why is it a top 11 instead of a top 10?  It was too hard to cut anything from the list once I got started!

What meals hold a special place in your heart?  I would love to hear from you

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