I find that as a single parent you’re always planning ahead and particularly so for meals, now with only Sami at home I like to get ahead of the week and plan meals and shop well in advance.

Most Saturday’s I have a rough idea of what I’m going to cook or experiment with over the coming week, but then temper that against the nights I have Sam with me.  Most weeks giving her an opportunity to weigh in on what dishes she’d like to have, mostly to match her schedule.  Having her choose is very helpful, although growing up we had no choices so I guess the pendulum has swung the other way.

Case in point, Sami is with me two nights this week through the weekend and last week mentioned how much she enjoys my homemade fried rice.  Now that Zach is at University our evening meal options have opened up a little more given that he was a creature of habit and liked about 6 or 7 favourites dishes and wasn’t a huge fan of anything more exotic.

As we talked last week she said “we haven’t had the special fried rice in a while” as she looked at me longingly…  Hey, I’m no rocket scientist but it was clear to me with her little nudge that this should be on this week’s menu!  🙂

So on Monday night I decided to have red lentil soup for dinner as was cold and rainy out, and while I was busy getting that ready I also decided to cook the rice and baked a ham in readiness for our Tuesday night special fried rice. Interestingly, the only thing “special” about my fried rice is the name.  Lol!!!    I suppose when it was first created it had to differentiate itself from any other fried rice dish so the way I’d interpret that is that they just added the word “special” to garner that little bit extra attention.

Tuesday night came around and after picking her up and her driving home I made the special fried rice. Of course no asian meal is complete without the Vietnamese chopsticks and our chinese bowls from Hong Kong.  Yes, I’m a shameless name dropper, but already knew that!

For some reason this weeks special fried rice was particularly yummy with shrimp, ham, scrambled egg, mini corn and peppers, but I think using coconut oil was what made it especially delicious.

I’ve always been a huge advocate for home cooked meals, as I know how important a healthy and nutritious meal can be especially for teenagers.  But it’s more than that it also provides me the opportunity to sit down and talk, something that sometimes can be difficult to do with teens, but a time that I personally enjoy.  🙂

Many of our best conversations have been over a good meal and whether it’s at home or on our travels.

As a cook there’s nothing like an enthusiastic and hungry audience to warm the cockles of a cooks heart and make you feel appreciated.

This all triggered memories of my mum and her cooking. I remember growing up there were a few things that I really liked that my mum cooked on a regular basis.  My absolute favourite was the roast leg of lamb she cooked for Sunday lunch almost every week.

My second favourite was Sunday night’s dinner.  Mum would make homemade vegetable soup (meh, I could take it or leave the soup).  Sure it was nutritious with only vegetables from our garden but I think I had it just too many times to truly appreciate it.  However,  it was what accompanied the soup that caught my fancy…freshly baked scones, steaming hot out of the wood oven.

I can almost taste the butter melting on them now as I write this, the steam spiraling upwards when I cut them open.  A little crusty on top and soft and fluffy on the inside. Of course I’d slather on the butter and jam so thick I may have well as just put the scone on the stick of butter and placed it inside the jam jar.  Mmmmmm…..

Over the years I’ve tried but have never been able to even come close to recreating mum’s incredibly fluffy scones, sometimes she’d even make them with raisins which were equally delicious.

Unfortunately my scones are almost always hard on the inside as well as the outside…yeah, haven’t been able to finesse this recipe or even come close.

She also made an interesting “mangia” or as she would call it “mangarie” (spaghetti in meat sauce), it took me years to figure out how it tasted the way it did.  My sister and I were racking our brains one day and we stumbled upon using bacon to start the meat sauce and viola!  We’d finally cracked mum’s secret spaghetti sauce recipe, but we all know that bacon makes everything taste better!  Lol!

Although mum had a couple of old book-keeping journals that she used as cookbooks I don’t think I ever saw her refer to them once during my childhood, as with that generation they kept all of their recipes in their heads.  As I remember them  they were perfectly written in a beautiful longhand script. Wonderul memories indeed!

Oh how I wish Zach and Sami could experience mum’s lamb and scones…even just once!

Bittersweet memories to be sure.