© 2009 Marica

034 – Food journals

In the recipe book it says “Ros’s Plonk Cake”. Ros will tell you it’s her Aunty Paula’s Plonk Cake recipe. Either way this recipe is connected to a very special friend and every time I use it (which is very often) I think of her and her family. Today I made this cake using black doris plums and raspberries but my all time favourite combination is using black doris plums and nectarines.

I didn’t start collecting recipes until I got married when I was 22 years old. Up until that point my cooking skills were minimal – I couldn’t even call them basic, they were lower than that. Cooking just didn’t interest me and I wasn’t going to do it until I had to. Acquiring recipes wasn’t something that I ever thought about back then.

As with everything in life things changed. Very quickly I realised that I had learnt a lot about cooking by watching my mother and sister at work in the kitchen. I soon become a really good cook. Baking featured prominently and I loved gathering recipes from people after eating their baked delights.

My recipes books (yes, there are more than one) are tattered looking. They are falling apart and the spines are ripped. Most still have their covers. The pages have yellowed. The sellotape I used to put in hand written recipes from people or from newspapers and magazines has left stains on the pages. I have recipes handwritten by people who are no longer alive. My recipe books are a part of my history: Aunty Moyna’s Cheese Straws (the mother of a friend I grew up with), Mama’s Mayonnaise (my children’s grandmother on their father’s side – she died before any of my children could get to know her), Diana’s Dressing (one of my sisters – the one that has always loved to cook), Mira’s Torta (a cousin in Croatia – she cooked this when we visited in 1972 – it was this woman that had an influence on me naming one of my children Mira), Branka’s Cheesecake (a friend I grew up with and shared a lot with), Fran’s Lemon Bars (I worked with her in my first teaching job) … the list goes on and on. I name all my recipes after the person who gave it to me.

Looking through my recipe books will tell you a lot about the time I was living in. There are recipes for bottling various fruits and vegetables. There are recipes for making sauces – tomato in particular ( my children couldn’t stand the smell it made in the house while it was cooking but they loved the final product and wanted me to make it). Those were the days when we had pantries laden with preserves and jams – we had ample to get us through the winter. We also always had homemade baking on hand. They were certainly different times.

Today as I was making Plonk Cake I was connected to people, both present and past, and they wouldn’t even have known it. I realised today my recipe books are my food journals – they document my journey into the world of cooking and life.

29. Every day eat, drink, rest, work, exercise, play, love, create for your own good. And the good of others.
33. Every day try something new.
44. Every day remember how far you have come.