I’ve desired to be a mum since I was a little girl and, as each year brings me closer to turning 30, I think more about the reality of creating my own family.
I imagine cooking with my husband and children using ripe ingredients plucked from our garden. Little hands covered in pastry, flour dusted hair, sticky fingerprints, rosy cheeks smeared with melted chocolate while licking the wooden spoon; sharing meals over conversations at a long table dotted with our home-cooked dishes and spending quality family time together.
I even have a picture on my dream board of people gathered at a communal food-laden table in a sunny garden while mingling and munching. Another image is of a little girl rolling dough on a kitchen counter with the words ‘eat, play, laugh’ posted on individual canvases on the wall in the background.
I used to get upset as I waited for my circumstances to change so I could finally be happy with this life that I’d planned. That was until I realised that I already had what I was looking for but it was disguised.
Since moving in with my family six months ago, I have happily become the household chef. I’ve converted my mum to a healthier diet, reduced the weekly grocery bills and relieved Mum from cooking duties so she can enjoy more free time. When Mum invites guests over, I take care of planning and preparing the food and I’ve played in-house caterer for high teas, ladies’ lunches and dinners.
For our daily meals, Mum occasionally puts in her requests or I cook whatever inspires me and she tells me, “I feel like I’m being served at a restaurant every night my darling. What will I do when you move out again?” If I go out at night, I try to prepare dinner so it’s ready for Mum when she finishes work, and when I’m home we make an effort to eat dinner together.
When I need herbs or chillies to cook with, Mum collects them fresh from her garden and gets so much pleasure out of harvesting her home-grown produce. Sometimes we cook together and catch up on our day or talk about what’s on our mind.
My young cousins are budding chefs and they sometimes join me in the kitchen too and even bring their own homemade treats over to share with our family. Their mum was amazed at how they recreated a recipe at home that I’d only shown them once.
I’ve had lots of fun cooking up a storm with my sisters to satisfy our latest cravings and preparing banquets for lazy afternoon picnics while we laugh until it hurts. When my sisters and I were little, our dad used to play the ‘ding’ game with us at meal times and we’ve never forgotten it. Dad would pretend to be resting and ask us to say ‘ding’ when we were ready for him to feed us a mouthful of dinner.
It became a race to chew and swallow as fast as we could to stop him from having a break and our meals were served to high-pitched screeches and giggles. This game was more than a clever way of encouraging us to clear our plates; it was our precious bonding time with Dad when he was home from work. I started playing the ‘ding’ game with my best friend’s sons who are just over two and three years old and now they insist on it when I stay for dinner.
Recipes that I’ve shared with my best friend have been passed on to her loved ones and have now become some of their favourite meals. I get so excited when I hear that my culinary creations are being enjoyed beyond my kitchen and that my passion for food is inspiring other people to cook healthy dishes.
I began to notice that my desire to nurture the relationships with those close to me, through connecting with food, was already manifesting. I didn’t need to ‘wait’ to become a mum or a wife to have the positive impact I had envisioned. By ‘waiting on’ or being of service to others, my enthusiasm for creating loving memories and experiences based around food is spreading with every meal. Nothing gives me so much satisfaction as seeing people enjoy the food I’ve prepared with love.
This is a simple, healthy dish that I make for my family that’s perfect for sharing.
2 large potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
10 free range organic eggs
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
Pre heat the oven to 200ºc.
Peel and dice the potatoes into 2 cm cubes and pat dry using paper towel or a clean tea towel. Add the extra virgin olive oil to an oven-safe frypan and cook the potatoes with a sprinkle of salt over a medium heat on the stovetop. When the potatoes become golden on the outside and are nearly cooked, roughly chop the garlic, add it to the pan and sauté until it becomes fragrant.
Beat all of the eggs in a large bowl until combined and add a pinch of salt. Pour the eggs over the cooked potatoes and garlic and gently stir to make sure the mixture is evenly distributed in the pan. Transfer the pan straight into the oven for 10 minutes or until the egg puffs up and feels firm when you touch it.
The omelette should easily slide out of the pan onto a serving plate due to the olive oil. Cut into slices and serve with the tomato salsa and salad.
4 large tomatoes
Place the tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water for a few minutes until the skin splits. Peel off and discard the skins. Pierce the tomatoes with a knife and squeeze out the juice and pulp into a bowl. Finely chop the tomato flesh and add to the pulp and juice.
To enjoy any leftovers, toast some crusty bread, rub it with a raw clove of garlic, spread some tomato salsa on top, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
Rocket, baby spinach leaves or gourmet lettuce dressed with extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt go perfectly with the Spanish omelette.
This is a great dish for breakfast, entrée, tapas, a light lunch, picnics or part of a dinner course and it’s vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free. Best served in the company of people you love.
Jessica Fernandez is a freelance writer with an interest in food stories. Based in Sydney, Jessica also writes a food blog which features recipes, food adventures and experiences. 0431 216 880
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