On the limited occasions I cook anything other than a meal, I can't but help remember the wonderful hours I spent with my Nana in her kitchen.
So it was at the weekend when I made Anzac biscuits. I smiled when I thought about standing beside her, watching her and waiting for the okay to lick the spoon or eat some of the pastry off cuts.
The kitchen was a wonderful reflection of home decor in the post-World War II years - which was when my Pop built the three-bedroom fibro home.
There were green laminate benchtops, wooden floor covered with linoleum, fuel stove, curved cabinetry made from masonite and painted cream with pastel blue doors . . . it was like being transported back in time when I stepped inside it. The only modern concessions Nana had made over the years was the addition of an instantaneous hot water system over the kitchen sink, a refridgerator to replace the icebox and an electric freestanding upright stove with a pastel yellow enamel finish (which she refused to update even though she could afford it because she said she ``knew how to get it to do what I want''). She also had what must have been one of the first generation of Sunbeam Mixmasters and much later bought an electric frypan.
This room was the source of wonderful smells, tastes and experiences.
Nana cooked everything from rissoles to chicken broth, toffees to marshmallows. My favourites included pumpkin scones, date scones, date and walnut roll, cakes, baked rice custard, fried chicken (with her own mix of herbs and spices able to rival Colonel Sanders in the minds of her four grandchildren), apple pies, lemon merangue pies and the most amazing coconut ice I have ever tasted.
She also made lemon butter and the most wonderful chutney.
My brother has her recipe book kept safely. It's handwritten in her beautiful Copperplate-esque style. I must get him to loan it to me so I can type up some of my favourites and try to make them.
Nana and her kitchen are irrevocably linked in my mind.
Not only did she spend time there when she cooked, she also like to stand at the bench and look out the window towards a mountain which dominated the local landscape as she sipped her morning cup of tea and ate her toast wearing her chenille candy pink dressing gown.
When I think about it now, I'm not sure if an objective observer would judge Nana a better cook than her contemporaries. All I know is that her cooking tasted good, I loved her and I loved her cooking!