Book review: The Way Mum Made It

The Way Mum Made It edited by Alexandra O’Brien
Review by Kylie Thompson

Genre: Cooking

If you’ve ever had the chance to talk to older home cooks, you’ll know they’re a brilliant resource for cooking knowledge. Sure, a chef can show you how to use those hard to source ingredients, but grandparents can generally show you how to survive on less than you think you’ll need.

Celebrity chefs have a team of minions prepping for them. Parents just get it done, however possible and usually while child-wrangling. What that means is that the home cooks of the world tend to know the best kitchen hacks and cheats to get a healthy, tasty meal made fast and with a minimum of fuss, because they have no other choice.

While there’s certainly a place in the world for chef style cooking, the home and hearth style comes with ease of use, and a history of satisfied cooks. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s the sort of flavours the whole family can enjoy, no palate training required.

The Over60 community, an online gathering place for those with recipes and stories to share, have collected their best and favourite recipes into The Way Mum Made It, giving those yet to find the site a way of exploring some of the most delicious, nutritious, and all around wonderful dishes the site has to offer.

The recipes are varied, catering to a range of tastes. From post-war fare to our more modern multicultural cooking efforts, recipes range from the quick and easy, to the kid friendly, and on to those foods that take a little more effort. These aren’t MasterChef™ contestants, though, and the dishes aren’t the polished insanity that comes from pretending home cooks should bring professional knowledge or flamboyant artistry to their every dish. The Way Mum Made It is a collection of recipes new and old, from the rationing days to the modern classics, with the generation’s trademark knack for working magic from even the most meagre pantry.

This is an old-school style of cookbook, which means that there aren’t pictures, just the recipes. If you’ve spent a bit of time in the kitchen, it’s really not an issue: after all, you’ll already have the basic knowledge you need to make it work. Having said that, those new to cooking don’t need to be worried. The beauty of simple dishes is that you don’t need a picture to tell you how it should look. They can be useful with more complex recipes, but a lack of pictures in this case won’t make the dishes harder to get right. The upside, of course, is that having no pictures frees up space to include even more great recipes.

The Way Mum Made It is a wonderful starting point for those new to the kitchen, or those looking to shave dollars from their grocery budget without surviving on bland and unhealthy options. If you’re looking for fast to prepare meals that won’t break the bank, or recipes perfected over long-term use, this is likely to be a fantastic resource.

The Way Mum Made It is published by ABC Books/Harper Collins Publishing, and is available through the publisher’s website, at leading bookstores, and through the usual e-retailers.

Rating: 3 and a half stars

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