Cook Books

Or ‘101 Ways with Mince’

Can you remember your first cookbook?  Where did you buy it or was it a gift from your mother or aunt when you were leaving home to share a house or apartment, maybe off to college or university or your first ‘real job’!

Was it in the style of meat and three veg that you grew up with? Or something more exotic?  I can’t remember if mine was a gift.  Probably not but I do remember it!

“101 ways with Mince” by John and Barbara Hay

It has been out of print for years now…….dare I say decades but I would often stumble into an overstocked 2nd hand bookstore  (aren’t they the best?)  and painfully ask if they had a copy. No joy!

Until recently when I visited such a shop and began rummaging through rows of musty old cookbooks.  And there it was. A different cover.  Mine was possibly a 1970 edition.  This was a reprint 1977 and I was charged $ 6.50 though I saw the original cost was $1.95

In spite of the 101 recipes, I don’t think I ever made more than half a dozen of them.  I was in one of those share houses and we each had one night each week to make a communal meal. Weekends we fended for ourselves. ….parties, barbecues and not so hot dates.

Moving on and with my own small mouths to feed mince was a standard meal.  It was economical, quick to prepare and everyone liked it….and you would usually add some undercover vegetables to plump it up. It was on high rotation. ..first as a meat sauce with pasta.  Then a can of red kidney beans was added with some spice and served with sour cream and rice.  Another favourite was a minced meat version stuffed in some puff pastry and served with tomato sauce of course.  Everything tasted better with tomato sauce. Hamburgers were another favourite…certainly not the over the top ones you see now in Instagram with everything except the kitchen sink.  Tacos too were a family favourite.  Maybe the world’s only tacos with an accompaniment of grated carrot to go with the lettuce, avocado, tomato and cucumber salsa and sour cream.  Making your own was always fun and even some chilli sauce added for additional flavour.

Lasagne was a success as were meatballs but not moussaka.   Eggplant came later.

Although I tend to eat a mainly vegetarian diet now I still enjoy mince dishes.  Pork mince, lamb, beef, chicken and fish though leave the supermarket variety alone and rely on my butcher to mince it freshly.

My cookbook collection has expanded!  Maybe an understatement and I rely on more modern day cookbooks for inspiration.

Marion Grasby’s ‘Asia Express’ is one of my go-to recipe books now.  And with the little notes poking out with comments on the recipes it is well used.  Marion was a Masterchef favourite of mine who has gone on to huge success with her range of Marion’s Kitchen Cooking kits, cooking videos with her charming mum.  She now has her own little mini mouth to feed too.

This is one recipe of Marion’s recipe I keep returning to.  It is quick and easy to make and packs a punch.

Pork and Eggplant Stir-fry

2 T vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)

2 bird’s eyear chillies (finely chopped)

300 – 350 g pork mince (or beef)

1 large eggplant…roughly chopped

2 T fish sauce & 3 T oyster sauce

1 cup Thai basil leaves (or regular basil)

Method: Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over high heat.  Add garlic & chillies and then add pork mince until almost cooked.  Add eggplant and 2 T water and cover and cook for 2 – 3 minutes to steam.

Remove lid, add sauces and stir-fry for a few minutes until eggplant is soft. Toss through the basil leaves.

I like to serve mine with steamed rice.

There are many more mince recipes I will share with you….lamb, chicken, a mixture of pork and veal and even fish!

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