Introduction

Introduction

By
Matt Wilkinson, Sharlee Gibb
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781743792896
Photographer
Patricia Niven

So how is it really at home?

Well, let’s start with what it’s not. This book won’t tell you how wonderful and perfect our lives are; how we get up every morning and bake bread, milk the cow and forage for nuts. It isn’t all cheffy either and won’t give you recipes that take hours to prepare and loads of different gadgets to make. And that’s because we, the Wilkinson-Gibb clan, are like most of you, really busy getting on with a little thing called life. We are a simple, caring and loving family with a never-ending love for food, the seasons and Mother Nature and, hopefully, as you read through the chapters of this book you will get a sense of how we navigate our way through this crazy busy modern world – how we find the time to eat well and share stories and live our lives in our kitchen and house in the most stress-free way we can.

So who makes up our clan? Well, there’s me (Mr), husband, father and son, Matt Wilkinson. Then there’s wife, mother and daughter, Sharlee Gibb (Mrs) and our two pint-sized troublemakers – ‘the hooligans’, as we like to call them – Finn Thomas W-G and Jay Thomas W-G (yes, we were among those weirdos who hyphenated their children’s surnames – I apologise now to ‘FinnJay’, it will get annoying writing your full names out, especially at the airport). Lastly, there’s also a weird-looking-but-cute dog, Quincy, and two very vocal Sussex chooks, Major and Bryan.

I was brought up in Barnsley, South Yorkshire and left home at seventeen to head into the crazy world of hospitality, landing on the shores of Australia just before my twenty-first birthday. Sharlee was brought up in Eumundi, Queensland, and left home at eighteen, also to go into hospitality. Our paths nearly crossed in 2004, but for a week apart, when I had finished working at Vue de Monde after three years and Sharlee had just started. Let’s just say, if we had met back then, this book would not have happened as I was this quiet, reserved lad from England and SG, well, let’s just say that the word ‘larrikin’ describes it best!

While we’ve lived and breathed the industry for a long time (and both know nothing else, really). At home we like to cook simple dishes that are made from quality seasonal, ethically sourced ingredients as we believe the fundamentals of delicious food start with the produce you use. We hope you find the recipes on the pages that follow to be easy, tasty and fun and that you pick up a few tips on how to make your home cooking as stress-free as possible along the way.

Expanding your repertoire

If we could achieve anything here we would love for you to gain 2–3 new dishes to add to your repertoire. I reckon at home most people have a repertoire of about 6–7 dishes that are their go-to dishes – these are the easy no-brainers. We’re no diff erent and, though we do try out new dishes and go back to things we haven’t done for a while when we have time, when in doubt, when we don’t have time to think about a new dish or when we simply can not be bothered, we fall back on our repertoire. My Mum’s repertoire was classic English mother–style – thank god Jamie Oliver came along for British food at home is all I can say! Sunday was the classic roast with the best Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes ever (Mum, just add a li le more salt to your vegies please and maybe take the roast out 5 hours before you usually do). It was then a groundhog week of beef casserole, beef stroganoff (I loved this), spag bol’, corned beef, shepherd’s pie, cowboy dinner then back to the old Sunday roast. Leah, Sharlee’s Mum, cooked wholesome food, so the kids ate a li le diff erently to what most kids I reckon would have back then, her go-to dishes including spinach and feta pie, lentil spag bol’, soy bean pa ies, lentil burgers, corned beef (at least we both had that in common), tuna mornay and lemon chicken. Imagine being one of Sharlee’s friends at school and ge ing soy bean pa ies for dinner when you went around to play? It’s amazing she had any friends at all!

Tips

Preparation

If I can help you at all with cooking at home I can’t tell you enough that it is all in the preparation. Making two meals when you have time, one for that moment and the other for the next day, can be a real saviour and is something we do a lot.

Planning

Planning your weekly food menu is a must. You might have gaps, but on a Sunday we write what we are thinking of eating, then we have a look at what we would need to buy, then we get it. Many people say ‘I don’t know what I want to eat now, let alone in a week’. That is rubbish. Just decide sooner and you’ll be far less stressed when you have to cook quickly later.

As a guide

Please see our recipes as a guide, removing and adding ingredients to your liking. We eat seasonally, so if something isn’t in season we change it to whatever is abundant and tasty.

Time to eat

No matter where everybody is and what we are all up to, we always eat at 6 pm (when we were kid-less it was always 7.30 pm). If you don’t have kids you may not want to do this every day of the week, but we find that it really works for us, putting structure into the day and reinforcing the importance of sitting down and eating together no matter what is going on.

The table

It’s really important to enjoy your cooking but even more important is the act of sitting at the table together to eat it. The table brings us together, it’s a place to share our stories, to laugh, to talk, and is somewhere for our children to learn life lessons and manners (like taking turns to speak). Most importantly, it’s a place to share our love for each other and to remember that, as long as we are healthy, free and have a delicious meal in front of us, we are as wealthy as anyone.

Don't stress

Finally, as a family we also like to go out to eat and we like to eat from the ‘not-so-healthy’ category too, loving fish ’n’ chips, burgers and pizza just like, well, everybody. At home, there is also a small amount of processed food in our diet – we use those pre-made curry bases and satay sauces and are shockers for mainstream pre-sliced commercial bakery bread. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t love sourdough but we make our choices and we think about them. If you’re one of those people who feels guilty about your choices, don’t be. Maybe look again at aspects of your diet but don’t get yourself in a stress about it. I meet a lot of people who do and, well, life is too short.

What’s in our spice drawer, cupboard, fridge & freezer …

SPICE DRAWER*

Oregano Fennel seeds Nutmeg (whole and ground) Dulse flakes Red ginger powder Ground turmeric Cumin (whole and ground) Coriander (whole and ground) Cayenne pepper Sweet smoked paprika Garam masala Ras el hanout Kombu Dried limes Cardamom pods Sumac Dukkah Yellow and black mustard seeds Star anise Cloves (whole and ground) Cinnamon sticks Kashmiri chilli powder Bombay masala

*Where possible we use ethically sourced spices from a supplier called The Hidden Souk

CUPBOARD (BIODYNAMIC / ORGANIC WHERE POSSIBLE)

Unbleached plain flour Unbleached self-raising flour Cornflour (cornstarch) Semolina Spelt flour Baking powder Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) Raw (demerara) sugar Coconut sugar Dried yeast Rice (carnaroli, brown koshi, basmati, jasmine, wild) Dried pasta shapes and spaghetti Soba and udon noodles Couscous Red lentils Rolled oats Popcorn kernels Cobram Estate olive oil (extra-virgin, lemon-infused and garlic-infused) Vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, sherry and rice wine) Soy sauce White soy Mirin Sesame oil Fish sauce Ghee Raw honey Olsson’s salt flakes Kampot pepper (white and black) Tinned tomatoes and passata (puréed tomatoes) Tinned tuna in oil and water (a sustainably caught brand like Sirena) Sugo (homemade) Tinned cannellini (lima) beans and chickpeas Baked beans Assorted jams and relishes Mr Wilkinson’s kasundi and pineapple chutney Preserved lemons Chia seeds Maca powder Raw cacao powder Sesame seeds (black and white) Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) Raw almonds and cashews Blonde sultanas (golden raisins) Dried peaches, apricots and dates Coconut flakes Pine nuts Brazil nuts

FRIDGE

Organic unsalted butter Cheese (cheddar, parmesan, haloumi, Happy Cow) Natural yoghurt (homemade) Demeter biodynamic milk Organic almond milk Wonton wrappers Filo pastry Free-range egs (thanks, Bryan and Major) Miso paste Mustard (seeded, dijon) Tomato paste (concentrated purée) Mr Wilkinson’s red sauce Mr Wilkinson’s brown sauce Worcestershire sauce Assorted chilli sauces (Chinese, Malaysian and Thai) Strawberry jam Pickles (always gherkins) The Fermentary kimchi, raw kraut and red kraut Stuff for stir-frys (kecap manis, black bean sauce and oyster sauce) Maple syrup Heilala vanilla paste Promite Hummus (homemade) Ginger Capers Good anchovies Lemons Kombucha Cordial (homemade) Demeter biodynamic apple and pear juice Beers, a bottle of sparkling wine, two white wines and a bottle of tonic water

FREEZER

Ice cream Butter puff pastry Bananas (peeled before freezing) Peas Parmesan rinds Pesto Stock (chicken and fish) Australian prawns (shrimp), meat only Meat (such as free-range turkey mince, Milawa free-range chicken thighs, Melbourne Pantry bacon and Warialda skirt steak) in portion-size packs

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