Vegetarian Cottage Pie

Source & History

I had a hankering for Grandma’s shepherd’s pie, but my girlfriend Yolanda is a vegetarian. So I threw this recipe together from a few others. The lentils really make a good substitute for the meat.

Sterilising Jars (The Easy Way)

Source & History

I found this in one of Doug’s recipes for pickles and thought it might be useful if anyone wanted to make jams or pickles or chutneys and needed sterile jars. Don’t forget to include the lids in this process.

So this is what you do:

  1. Wash the jars (and their lids) in hot soapy water. Rinse well & dry.
  2. Put the jars (and their lids) on a wooden cutting board, right side up, and put the board into an oven heated to 110°C and leave it in there for 15-20 minutes. Make sure that the jars do not touch each other or breakage will be a very real possibility.
  3. Turn off the oven and leave the jars in there until you need them.
  4. Remove the jars, keeping them on the wooden board and not touching each other, when it is time to fill them.


I had some problems with breakage using the original method described above (I have since modified it to make it better) – this is what the Women’s Weekly jam cookbook says:

  1. Put jars and lids through the hottest cycle of a dishwasher without detergent, OR
  2. Lie jars down in a boiler with lids, cover them with cold water and bring to the boil over a high heat and boil the jars for 20 minutes, OR
  3. Stand jars upright, without touching each other, on a wooden board on the lowest shelf in the oven, place the lids in too. Turn the oven to the lowest possible temperature, close the oven door and leave the jars to heat through for 30 minutes.

Next, remove jars and lids from the oven or dishwasher with a towel, or from the boiling water with tongs and rubber-gloved hands; water will evaporate from hot wet jars quite quickly. Stand jars upright and not touching each other on a wooden board, or bench covered with a tea towel. (I’m not sure if the bench or the jars should be covered with the tea towel. I think the bench because there was no comma).


I asked Grandma what she did and she said that she puts the jars and lids in the microwave with a jar without a lid and half-filled with water. She microwaves them on high for 3min. This might explain why she prefers jars with plastic lids!


After a number of failed attempts at making mustard pickles (a return visit to Grandma for an in-home demonstration is required), I have become better at the sterilising of jars part. I follow the instructions for sterilising the jars in the oven and sterilise the lids separately boiling them in a pot of water on the stove-top for 10 minutes.

Gram’s Heavenly Jam

Source & History

This is a jam recipe that Doug got from Mum. He says that it’s name is appropriate. He is also the one who reduced the quantities to a more manageable level. The original recipe called for 4 oranges, 2 lemons, a dozen each of pears, peaches and apples. The quantity it made must have been huge! I am giving you the reduced version here.


  • The fruit mixture made 8 cups and, as the requirement is to add 3/4 that amount in sugar, 6 cups of sugar were used.
  • Doug used MacIntosh apples which we can’t get in Australia so I am suggesting that the best alternative would be Pink Lady or Grannie Smith apples.
  • This made seven 250ml jars of jam. 
  • If you’re not sure how to sterilise jars, try this link Sterilising Jars (The Easy Way)


I tried making the jam and the attempt was pretty successful. Just a few more notes for clarification:

  • No you don’t peel the oranges & lemon.
  • I used Pink Lady apples and I think next time I will use Grannie Smiths – I would like the extra tartness from the Grannie Smith apple.
  • I measured how much fruit mixture I had before adding the sugar and then used the calculation (no. of cups of fruit x .75) to work out how much sugar to add.
  • The sterilising technique worked well, just be careful not to put the oven up higher than it says in the instructions – I did that and 4 of the 5 jars I had in the oven broke
  • I think I could have boiled it a little longer than I did because the first attempt didn’t set. However, I bought some Jamsetta (pectin) from the supermarket and reboiled the jam following the instructions on the packet and that did the trick.

How to Make Gravy

Source & History

It occurred to me the other night when I was making gravy to go with the roast that I had never written down how to make gravy. Every time I ‘say’ that, the Paul Kelly song comes to mind. I make gravy the same way that my mother did, more or less. There are always adjustments in any recipe based on personal preferences and availability of ingredients.

My mother always used to use the water from boiling the vegetables in her gravy. I don’t boil vegetables, except for potatoes occasionally. I steam in the microwave. She also, like Jamie Oliver in his 15 or 30 minute mindset, used to use boiling water from the kettle if there wasn’t enough water from the vegies.

The basic methodology is the same as that used in a Basic White Sauce except that you use water or stock instead of milk. I make the gravy on the stove-top though, unlike the white suce which I usually make in the microwave.


  •  I pour the liquid from the roasting pan into a measuring cup (4 cup) and top up with stock or water and/or wine to make 4 cups (because I like to have about 4 cups of gravy).
  • I used to make the gravy in the roasting pan (like my mother did) while the meat rested, but lately I have been using a small sauce pan instead.
  • I skim off as much of the fat as I can and sometimes I use it instead of (or in addition to) the margarine to make the gravy
  • I use chicken stock for chicken or pork and beef stock for beef. You could also use vegetable stock if you wanted to.
  • You can also stir in other spices or chutneys to make the gravy more interesting. I like to add a couple of tablespoons of Rhoda’s mango chutney or apple sauce to gravy for pork. The gravy for sausages and rissoles usually has some tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in it (and, yes, that’s my hand making gravy for the rissoles we had the other night).



  • the amount of stock powder I include depends a lot on the tasting result in step 2. I use the Massel powdered stocks because I like their flavour.




Cream Cheese Frosting

Source & History

See the Moist Carrot & Walnut Cake – these 2 recipes go together.

Moist Carrot & Walnut Cake

Source & History

I put this recipe in the Kewarra cookbook but am not sure where I got it from. I think I might have gotten it from Rhoda – I did). There was a time when I made this fairly often.


  • Use Cream Cheese Frosting if you want to ice this.
  • I make this with white sugar but the original recipe calls for castor sugar and that’s what Rhoda uses.
  • instead of 1 cup plain flour, Rhoda uses 1/2 cup plain flour plus 1/2 cup self-raising flour.
  • we usually make this in an 8-inch ring tin (20cm)

Gram’s 2-hr Buns

Source & History

Doug has this in his collection.  I think that this might be the recipe that Mum used when she made her famous (in the family, anyway) cinnamon buns.

I remember my Grannie teaching me the ‘right’ way to shape buns. She always buttered her hands when she was doing it.


  • made these last weekend and they were gobbled down. However, they do go stale overnight (still good toasted) so I would be inclined from now on to make these to be eaten on the day they are made. 

Gram’s Wholemeal Bread

Source & History

This is my mother’s recipe for wholemeal bread. My brother Doug, from whom this recipe comes calls it Wholewheat Bread. I watched him make it when I was in Canada in June 2011. It was the first time in a very long time that I had freshly baked bread!



I made this last weekend for the first time (and have made it again since then) and there were a few things that you might like to note:

      • molasses in Australia isn’t the same as molasses in Canada – the first time I made this I substituted golden syrup for the molasses and it worked but the bread was a little sweet. The second time I used treacle – it worked really well. The bread tastes just like I remember it.
      • It doesn’t tell you how long to knead the bread – the recommended time is 10min. The first time I estimated the time.  But the bread rose much better on the second attempt when I timed the kneading and really did do 10min.
      • If you’re not sure how to knead the bread, have a look at this:



  • Before placing the dough into loaf pans you need to shape it into loaves – have a look at this to see how to do that


  •  And finally, Mum said that to test whether the bread is properly cooked, you should tap it on the bottom when you turn it out of the pan. If it sounds hollow the bread is done.

Macaroni & Cauliflower Cheese

Source & History

This is a recent favourite which I found in the May 2012 issue of Australian Good Taste. It wasn’t even one of their featured recipes – it was part of an ad for Bega So Light Vintage Cheese. The Dijon mustard really makes this more than the usual macaroni cheese.


  • The instructions say to make this in 4 individual dishes but I just whack it into one.
  • In my usual fashion, I don’t make the white sauce on the stove. I do it in the microwave then add the cheese & chives. See the notes for Basic White Sauce for the microwave method.
  • I have made this without the cauliflower when Andrew was eating it – Amy & I like cauliflower! I reckon you could use broccoli instead of the cauliflower (I’ll have to try that the next time I make it – Andrew might eat that).
  • I tried it with broccoli – Andrew still didn’t like it but I did.

Spring Rolls

Source & History

I can’t remember where I found this (on the internet somewhere, I would guess). I just remember that I tried a few versions before I settled on this one as the preferred option.


  • This recipe makes the larger version of a spring roll. If you want them smaller, cut the wrappers to a suitable size and go from there. You might want to reduce the baking time for the smaller version.
  • If you want other vegetables (capsicum, celery, cauliflower, or broccoli, for example) just add them to the mixture. You could make vegetable ones if you wanted to or you could add cooked prawns to the meat mixture if you wanted to.
  • Keep these in the freezer, uncooked, until someone wants a snack. I separate layers in the storage container with baking paper (I love that stuff!)
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