I’ve lived far away from my family for almost half my life now. It’s never easy. When something bad happens and I need a hug, there’s 1000 kilometres between me and my mum, thousands more between me and my dad.
When I first moved away, Mum gave me one of the best presents I have ever received. It was an exercise book full of recipes we used to cook at home all the time, nothing fancy or special, just the family classics.
Growing up living with Mum and my Nan, cooking and food were central to our upbringing. And some of my most beloved meals are the old school favourites they used to cook for us.
Pumpkin soup, roast beef with crispy potatoes and so much gravy, spaghetti Bolognese Nan style (she used French onion soup powder and a can of tomato soup. I know, it sounds terrible but it tastes just like home), or a pot of stew that simmered in the oven on low all day while we were at school.
There are so many hits.
So many hits. Image: iStock.
The pikelets my brother and I would shovel into our mouths after hours of playing Marco Polo in the backyard pool.
The light-as-air sponge cakes baked in heart-shaped tins filled with raspberry jam and dusted with icing sugar. The very same cake for every grandchild’s birthday every year. I would peek in the mixing bowl while she whisked the egg whites, but I was never allowed to help.
“Your first sponge, it’s very personal, you have to do it yourself, it’s the only way to learn,” she would tell me, before giving me the bowl to lick.
When I was six she taught me how to make scrambled eggs and toast so I would stop waking her up to make breakfast on Mother’s Day (because it was her Mother’s Day too).
"When I was six, she taught me how to make scrambled eggs." Image: iStock.
Nan’s cooking was at the heart of our family get-togethers. It wasn’t Christmas without her chocolate caramel slices. For birthday dinners she’d make me pumpkin soup, then crumbed chicken and mash, and an apple pie for dessert. (My brother would always pick roast beef and jam tart for his birthday.)
Poor Mum was a wonderful cook, but there was always something extra special about Nan’s recipes. They still have the ability to transport me to our old kitchen, with the broken gas oven propped closed with a plank of wood.
She also did a wonderful line in creative bread. When we wanted a snack, Nan would suggest her version of a Welsh Rarebit (a slice of white bread topped with cheddar cheese and a swirl of tomato sauce). If we wanted something sweet, she’d suggest cinnamon toast (again, squishy white bread toasted, buttered and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon).
And her vegemite toast was perfect. Even our cat thought so. She was forever making herself toast for breakfast, going to answer the phone and returning to discover Joe on the kitchen cupboard, helping himself to her breakfast.
These guys get us and they're pretty cute too (post continues after video):
As an adult I’ve tried to branch out, but sometimes when I’m having a rough day or I just really miss home, all I want is to go home and fix myself a slice of my childhood. Usually it’s the 'Welsh Rarebit' I opt for.
So it’s nice to know I don’t have to feel bad about my secret love of sliced white bread anymore.
Sure, Wonder Smooth Wholegrain bread is almost certainly designed to help convince young kids to eat bread that is both delicious and good for them, but it’s also the perfect base for my trips down memory lane.
They basically put a bunch of grounded down wholegrains in white bread making it high in fibre and a source of protein with no artificial preservatives and no added sugar.
There’s nothing that fills me with nostalgia quite like a sliced white bread sandwich, no matter who made it for me.
What food fills you with nostalgia?
The clever bakers at Wonder White have developed a recipe that both mums and kids will love – the goodness of wholegrains, ground smooth. Baked into the white bread that kids love, new Wonder Smooth Wholegrain contains all the best bits, without the bits.
With Wonder Smooth Wholegrain, children can enjoy high fibre wholegrain goodness in the delicious, fluffy and soft bread they prefer, giving mum the reassurance that she doesn’t need to compromise anymore.
Wonder Smooth Wholegrain is available from supermarkets Australia-wide.