Home cooking the old fashioned way

28 May 2010
I'm at a loss to understand why foods go in and out of fashion.  It seems that people get sick of one thing, then go on to the next.  I'm the opposite, if I like something, I like it forever.  Is the TV program Masterchef only in Australia or is it in other countries as well?  Here in Australia, it's revolutionised the way people cook and has made cooking popular again.  I think that is a great thing but I don't like the emphasis on fine dining, it is not home cooking.  When we cook at home, unless it's for a celebration or special dinner party, I believe home cooking should look like home cooking.  Why make food into towers that are difficult to cut, drizzle sauces and oil, and strew flowers over a plate when what we home cooks are trying to do is present good nourishing food with a mimimum of fuss, several times a day, week after week. Restaurant food focuses on one plate, home food is best served, I believe, from the table with everyone serving themselves, taking exactly what they want.  Both have their place but if you're new to cooking don't confuse restaurant presentation with the more casual approach of the home cook.

Both my sons are fine dining chefs, so I do have an interest in both camps, however, I am an old fashioned cook.  I often read their ever growing collection of cook books written for chefs, and while I love both their cooking styles (one is French-based and the other mostly Asian), I remain firmly in the old fashioned camp. My favourite cook books are Nourishing Traditions and my old Barrosa Valley CWA (Country Women's Association) cookbook, circa 1950s.  But most of my recipes are in my head and while I do try new things occasionally, I generally stick to what I know.  The thing I really love about old fashioned cooking is that it often uses food that might be wasted, or foods that sit on the pantry shelf in a jar until it's needed.  This first recipe is a recycled food one and is one of Hanno's favourites.  


Stale bread, stale fruit bread, stale cinnamon rolls or stale fruit scones - about 3 or 4, cut in thick slices and buttered.  Lay these in a buttered baking dish.
Make a custard - 4 eggs, beaten, plus 3 tablespoons of sugar, a slurp of good vanilla, and about 600 mls/or a little over one pint of milk.  Whisk together making sure the eggs have broken up and mix into the milk well.
Pour the custard over the bread slices and allow to sit for 30 minutes for the milk to soak into the bread.  Then put it in a slow oven (around 170C/340F) for about 20 minutes.  You want it to be golden brown on top with a hint of milky wobbles in the custard.  You don't want the custard to be completely set when you remove it from the oven.

Serve warm with a drizzle of cream.

Cook about 300 grams/ of dry pasta shapes - something like penne, bows or shells.  Drain and leave in the drainer.
In a frying pan, saute one chopped onion, 250 grams/½ pound fresh mushrooms (or more) and one or two garlic cloves.  When the onion is translucent and the mushrooms have wilted, turn heat off and leave in the pan.
Make a cheese sauce - mine is: 2 tablespoons plain flour and 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, mix together and add salt and pepper.  Cook on low heat for about 2 minutes.  Add a dash of Tabasco or a sprinkle of chilli powder and stir in.  Add about 500mls/one pint of milk. I often use powdered milk for this.  Whisk this mixture together over medium heat until it starts to thicken, then add one cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Stir the sauce until thick and smooth.
Then put the meal together.  In a lasagna dish, add the pasta, mushroom and onions and mix.  Pour the sauce over and mix in.  Top with some Parmesan and bake in a medium over until the top is golden brown.  Serve with a salad.


I kneaded the dough for this in the breadmaker.
375mls water
2 tablespoons soft butter
1½ teaspoons of nutmeg
1½ teaspoons of cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk powder
4¼ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons yeast

2/3 cup mixed dried fruit in the fruit dispenser, or thrown them in half way through the kneading process.

Place everything in the machine and turn on to the dough setting.  When finished, shape and place in your bread tin and allow to rise again.  When doubled in size, place in the oven on about 190C/375F.

Cinnamon Glaze for the bread (optional)
Mix ½ cup icing/confectioner's sugar with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and add 2 teaspoons of water.  Drizzle or paint on with a brush.

Happy cooking everyone!

Thank you for your visits and comments this week.  I'll be going through the simple living comments on the weekend and visiting the blogs listed there.  I hope you have a wonderful and interesting weekend.  See you next week!  ♥