In 2004, I published Fern’s Food – a cookbook of the recipes my family ate when I was growing up in northern Canada. The motivation was to create a memorial to my mum, who died the previous year. I spoke to my brothers, sister-in-law and dad about the dishes they remembered, and included photographs and anecdotes from those years.
I had fourteen copies printed and bound, and gave the book to family members on the first anniversary of mum’s death. Fortunately, I had a couple of extra copies, as my second daughter was born three years later. I love the thought of giving my girls a copy of Fern’s Food when they leave home and start cooking for themselves.
I cook recipes from Fern’s Food regularly, but we’re also developing our own set of family meals. Occasionally, one of the girls will say something like, “Is the chickpea pasta recipe in the family cookbook?” And if I say no, they ask, “Then how will I know how to cook it when I grow up?”
That’s where I got the idea to build a collection of the meals we eat as a family. Of course, it will include recipes from Fern’s Food. Those dishes form part of the food heritage I am passing on to my girls. But there is lots that is unique to our evolving family as well.
Adam and I both love good food, and are keen to share the pleasures of eating well with our girls. Over the years, I’ve continued to cook a wide range of dishes, and from a pretty young age the girls ate whatever we did. It hasn’t always been easy, but I think it’s worth the effort.
The girls still don’t like everything I make, but are pretty much always willing to give new foods a try. When Lyra was very young, she would sometimes ask, “Do I have to eat all of this?” “Not if you really don’t like it,” I’d say, “Just try a few bites.” “How about ten more bites?” she’d always reply. Good enough for me…