When I first moved to Sydney, my paternal grandmother sent me a recipe book. She’d forgotten that I’d lived away from home before, and that I was an okay cook at that point. But it didn’t matter to me. What mattered to me was that she’d spent time, going through her own books and finding things that I would eat.
The book is a mix of handwritten recipes and ones she’d cut from her treasure-trove of magazines – and one of my favourite part about the published recipes is, that if there was bacon or something I wouldn’t eat as part of the ingredients, she’d carefully edited those things out. It always made me laugh, because as if I’d carefully add something I didn’t eat. But then, when I gave it some thought, I realised that she didn’t want me thinking she was inconsiderate.
I was once asked in an interview (not a job interview) what I’d take from my house if there was ever a fire. I said something stupid like my CSI DVDs and photos, both of which I’d probably let burn now. Obviously, Archie is priority number 1 in that sort of situation, but I have three material possessions I’d be grabbing for, one of which is Nan’s book. You cannot, in any way, replace the love and care that went into making it for me.
Without knowing it, for the last year, I’ve been writing a memoir about my nan and me. It centres, as so much of our relationship did, around food. Because I have quite a few other writing projects on the go now, with three of those having time deadlines on them (one being my thesis, eep), I’ve decided to keep writing these food memories of Nan and publishing them here for now. I’ve also decided to add a challenge element to writing my nan’s story; I’m going to cook everything in her little blue book.
There are recipes in this book that I use all the time — her famous biscuit recipe is my favourite and I know it by heart — but there are some that I’ve never even more than glanced at. That makes me sad given the effort she went to putting it together. So I’m going to cook them all, and eat them all, and think about her love and care, and then, I’ll write about it here.
Sometimes, I’ll share the recipe, other times (like with the biscuits), I’ll keep them safe and secret and just tell a story. It’s a blog stunt that’s not going to be like any other because this is about me and my nan.
There’s ingredients for three recipes in my fridge now, so I’ll be kicking off for real very soon. But in the meantime, if you’d like to read what I’ve already written about Nan, here’s a master list: