Family food traditions

6 July 2017
Good food doesn't have to be expensive or fancy. Given half a chance, I would gladly live on stew, soup, sandwiches, a few Italian dishes, fish and salad. What could you live on?  One thing I'm looking forward to when our backyard tomatoes are ripe is a simple tomato sandwich on rye bread. I'll add salt and pepper and dash of malt vinegar and I'll be set. Another favourite sandwich is our backyard eggs, boiled, with a sprinkling of parsley, crisp shredded lettuce and a teaspoon of mayonnaise on fresh warm homemade bread.  If I could drink icy lemon cordial or a cup of black tea with my sandwiches I'd be happy.

Here is some of the food we've eaten here recently. It was all cooked from scratch, some of it was grown in our backyard, all of it was very tasty.

This is a simple and easy chicken meal. I cut a whole free range chicken into eight pieces add a little extra virgin olive oil to a baking tray and place the chicken on the tray.  I add a selection of vegetables, they could be any vegetables you have in the fridge or cupboard, sprinkled on salt, pepper, fresh thyme, lemon juice and finish off with homemade chicken stock.  Slowly baked in the oven for about an hour, it makes its own broth and is delicious.

You can add extras like garlic, chilli, or cream in the final sauce, but it doesn't need much more than what is there to be a wonderful dish. I could drink that broth in a cup.

These last two are very similar, just cooked with different cuts of beef and vegetables. Both follow the recipes for my other stew and casserole meals. On a cold winter's day with the wind picking up, there nothing better that having the house filled with these aromas and then sitting down to a meal that is warm and nourishing. These stews are meals that my parents, grandparents and great grandparents would have recognised immediately. I love cooking them to share with my family.

I cook in a very similar way to my parents and grandparents. I think they were taught by their parents and they by theirs.  I often cook for Jamie when he's here and he's always eaten what we eat.  It's only now that he tells me he likes what I cook and that gives me hope that along with all the fine foods his chef parents cook for him and all the food he'll enjoy in the future, he will hold a place in his heart for this simple food too. Carrying on these family food traditions feels right and although I eat and enjoy what my family serves up, including sushi from their shops, it is this food that I have a strong connection with and return to time and time again.


  1. Hi Rhonda
    I also love the traditional family dishes my grandparents and parents cooked.A particular favourite with my family now is oxtail casserole with dumplings. Best cooked in the slow cooker over two days so the flavours develop - in our family we always ask if the dumplings are sinkers or swimmers which was the way we teased my Mum about heavy dumplings.

  2. I make a very similar dish with chicken and veggies all on the one tray and baked in the oven. One day a friend knocked on the front door whilst this dish was in the oven and she commented on the wonderful aroma. She asked all about it and now makes this for her family.
    I cook just like my parents. When you look at it you see that it's real food. Using flavours from herbs, pan juices etc. Our kids will stay at Mum and Dad's and feel right at home with their cooking. Our daughter just spent a few days with them recently and commented on Nanna's homemade veggie soup and even a meal of meat and veg.

  3. Goodmorning Rhonda,
    Those meals look so warming and comforting, just what you need during our cooler months. Hearty and wholesome. I have been cooking many soups, shepherdness pie, simple beef stews and curries to warm our hearts and souls when it is cold and dark outside. Have a lovely day.

  4. Those meals look delicious, Rhonda. It's early morning here right now and those photos have got me thinking about dinner already!! I have meals I make over and over again and they simple things and many are the dishes I learnt to cook by watching my Mum. Meg:)

  5. Thanks you Rhonda for these thoughts, it brought back a memory of a dish my Grandmother taught me. It is true that a simple home cooked meal can be your link to the past bringing back memories. I can picture the kitchen and the conversation,the smell and the sense of connection and love. The pleasure of eating a meal I helped to make and the time I spent with someone special. I now have her recipe book and each hand written note links me with my grandmother and her mother. It is a sense of continuity with my family.

  6. I wanted to thank you for mentioning the bear cam in Alaska in a recent post. My husband and I are completely enthralled worth watching the bears. Thank you!

    1. It's quite addictive, isn't it. There's plenty of activity there today with a lot of fish in the river.

  7. HI Rhonda, I coul live on fruit in the hot weather. Your meals look delicious. Beef stew is my favorite. My mom used to bake a whole chicken the way you do your pieces. Thanks for reminding me. I also love the broth, and drink a few mugs of it after making chicken stock. The dogs love it, too!

  8. Good morning Rhonda. Isn't it interesting how we need to live life a little in order to earn some wisdom. I love love slow cooking on my stove using my big cast iron pots. That can be soups, casseroles or a roast. The aroma in the house is magic. I know what is in my food and it actually tastes quite good indeed. I now look at packaged foods with a roll of the eye. They can be either cheap or expensive and some can have interesting ingredients, lol. Having just turned the magic 60, I'm loving the simple life with the ideas thrown around this blog and hopefully, earning some more wisdom. Afterall, we need to keep learning.My grandparents would be proud I hope.

  9. Good morning Rhonda. these pictures look very familiar! My mum cooked a very similar roast to your chicken only she used rabbit. She would slow cook it for hours, usually on a Sunday and it would fill our little home with the most amazing smells. She always cooked from scratch and her and my father grew almost all of our food. We ate in season, healthy and wholesome, and very simply. Dad grew the veggie patch and we had a copious amounts of chooks. Fish was caught from the river and frozen for later, along with yabbies as well, and I can remember our milk being delivered in bottles to the front gate (we lived in a vineyard on the outskirts of a very small rural town). The only thing she didn't make was bread because she thought the baker in town made a fantastic loaf and was all for supporting the local community. its funny the things you remember, just from seeing a picture. thank you for this blog and the wonderful things it contains. I look forward to reading it everyday. Marisa

  10. Hi Rhonda, that food is the same sort of food I make, I recently installed a wood stove and I am now making the best slow cooked meals ever, last night was silverside yum, and my homemade bread is just the best.
    Regards Katrina

  11. I tend to cook as you do, perhaps because I also refer to several of your recipes ;-}. I made strawberry cordial yesterday and we loved it! I am really trying hard to first try to find recipes for some products before buying them, like BBQ sauce, It was great and no purchasing of plastic!!! Love the blog...thanks Rhonda.

  12. That looks really delicious Rhonda. I am a big fan of the traditional home cooked meals favoured by my Mum and no doubt her mother before her. I am currently enjoying the date and walnut loaf from your book - takes me back to my childhood and is hands down the best recipe I've tried - thank you:). Margaret

  13. My mother is NOT know for her cooking - she hated to cook so it was basic homemade meals, never dessert, or snacks. When I was 12 I had lasagna at my best friends house and still remember it as one of the most exotic meals of my youth. Who knew food could be so fabulous! However, mom's goulash is still one of my all time favorite meals - my husband loves it too. I seriously believe my moms basic cooking has added years to my parents lives. The older I get the more I cook like mom and bake like my grandma. I couldn't be happier to be carrying their style of cooking/baking.

    Rhonda - you don't hear from me often but I want you to know I enjoy your blog and all the words of wisdom. Best regards from Chicago!

  14. Hi Rhonda,

    I always enjoyed my Grandma's cooking and always looked forward to spending my holidays with her. Now that I have my own family I enjoy cooking some of my Grandma's favourites.

  15. I am planning a similar dish to your chicken one for tonight's dinner, I bought bulk chicken marylands on sale and Will my eldest has been looking forward to it since Tuesday.


  16. Good afternoon Rhonda, I too love basic home cooked meals and I am even lucky enough to have a notebook of my Grandmas hand written recipes. I often find the food you photograph brings nostalgic memories for me and make me feel hungry, thank you. from Judi.

  17. We enjoy traditional meals over the winter and summer too.

  18. Your dishes look delicious, Rhonda. I too bake chicken with veggies, just like you do. So easy and yummy.
    My mom doesn't cook meat often, but I love her veggie and fish curries a lot.

  19. My mother also was not known for her fine degree of cooking-tough as leather lambs fry (liver( served as a dark brown slab with no gravy, limp watery pink corned beef slapped on the plate with no sauce, fish cooked with the slimy grey skin still on, eggs that weren't even boiled enough for the white to set. And we had to eat it all. So I don't cook like my mum (& I am 57).
    But I was allowed to cook dessert and that brings back happier memories of golden syrup dumplings, jam roly poly, steamed puddings and believe it or not flaked barley custard was one of my favourites.
    Claire in Melbourne

  20. I could live on homemade muesli with yoghurt, quick, simple and even better when it's got our homegrown blackcurrants in :)

  21. your meals always look so delicious!
    i'm stumbling my way with a slow cooker, am new to the electric one (always did slow cooking in wood oven) i did my pickled pork a week ago in the slow cooker with friends help as i wasn't sure how.
    big fan of stews, grew up on them, always the best meal
    great post
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

  22. I was raised by my grandparents (as was my husband) and I too am drawn to comfort foods of my childhood, such as stews, soups, roasts and sandwiches. I also love the simple desserts my nana made - baked rice custard, baked bread and butter custard, banana custard, sponge cake.
    I had an epiphany a month or so ago about the meals I cook these days...think I've been watching too much Masterchef because I'd strayed from the nourishing meals of my past and begun wasting $ on unusual (and often pricey) ingredients to keep meals interesting. Funny thing, hubby and I realised we prefer the simple tasty meals we grew up with and only occasionally want something different. Sorry for rambling, I just found my heart grew happy reading your thoughts.

  23. I, too, cook this way, Rhonda. A lovely roast and veggies (with Yorkshire Pud, of course) or a roast chicken and mash with gravy are great meals. I like a simple salad as well, with a homemade dressing. I often wonder if we are bored serving the same things, but as someone else pointed out it gets expensive buying exotic ingredients you may use once or twice, then forget about when they are put back in the cupboard. I make traditional cakes and rolls and fruit pies, too.

  24. Nothing like a good stew or soup to warm your insides and bring comfort. I make a lot of vegetable, chicken and beef stews and fish chowders and bean medley chillies and every kind of vegetable soup. Could not live without them. At least my husband could not as I am a vegetarian.

    A lot of our family food traditions are based on my Mom's cooking which was very French and Hungarian and that of my Mother-in-law who was very Scottish. Lots of variety. I make a lot of Hungarian dishes such as Paprika Chicken or Percolt (paprika beef and pork) goulash and stuffed peppers. Both paprika chicken and percolt are simple and delicious with either rice or potatoes and if you add a big green salad you have a really filling meal but not really heavy.

    As we are aging we find that we eat less and prefer lighter meals and are not as interested in sweets. I have adjusted a lot of our traditional family recipes to be lighter. But smaller portions are the way we seem to be going.


  25. Lovely, just lovely...I can "smell" em cookin!! Thanks for sharing your ideas. I think as we age, it is the simple things we most long for...tasty yet simple. My mom could make excellent soup of, not so much. But I make awesome chili, chicken and veggie soup, tomato soup. I miss a lot of foods I can no longer eat due to my allergies, so I make the most of the ones I can. I miss having homemade lasagna...the last one I made in Dec. was for a bunch of folks and it was a vegetarian one...I used up all the cheeses I had on hand in it as we were moving soon. I am told it was to die requests for the recipe so had to write it down when I got home. The secret ingredient I think was using about 1/3 of the cheese as SMOKED GOUDA ...otherwise, the ingredients were all I have always used. I could not even taste it as my milk product allergies are so bad, but hubby and the others ate up. Oh well...I fully expect a new body ere too many years (in the next life)...then we shall see what lovely things we cook up maybe!! ;)
    Elizabeth in WA

  26. I think I cook similar to your way of cooking...we eat lots of potatoes here in holland with vegetables (of the season) with a piece of meat! I've learned from my parents, they both could cook very well...and I miss having them around 'cause my dishes don't taste as good as theirs. Of course I added a bit of myself in to my cooking but that's okay. Thank you for your meal ideas and for your steadyness here on your keeps me grounded when the fast world has me in it's grip again!!

  27. Mince and doughballs bring my adult sons home.

    They never stood a chance. Raised on a mixture of Scots and German cooking.

    One has even taken all of my tea towels with recipes printed on them to act a recipe guides for his spouse!

  28. I could live on spaghetti which is one of the few things I can make really well.

    All of your food looks amazing!!!


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