Small knick-knacks adorn my little kitchen. It's a cosy space, and where I feel most at home. The walls are covered with family photos, jeans labels, T-shirt tags and found objects. For instance, an oxidised 12-centimetre copper nail – which I'd snorkelled deep under Tathra pier to get, some 12 years ago. Each has some form of history or meaning, and some are even dated and labelled.
At 62, I'm an older father to 12 and 16-year-old daughters, who leave most of the cooking to me. They never got to meet my mother, but each night we eat with her daggy 1970s wooden-handled Splayds. It's one way of sharing Mum's spirit.
When I was a teenager, there would be an extra two or three boys in her country kitchen on any given Saturday morning, and the teapot was always on the go. Saturday nights became impromptu dinner parties as a few extras would stay on, including occasional young women. Mum would chat away, and nobody'd stop listening.
When she died in 1991, I'd also gathered up her bread knife, paring knife (my absolute favourite kitchen piece) and three bone-handled butter knives. Still owning – and using daily – this aged cutlery feels like a blessing for me. To anyone who's losing parents and is about to empty the family home, I sincerely recommend you dig into the kitchen utilities – and see where your heart leads you.
I use the one heavy pan for all my cooking. It comes on holiday each time we three go up or down the coast (usually with one or two extra kids included). The kitchen salt is a home-brew job. Its grinding head is porcelain, and it currently houses Murray River salt, a few peppercorns and dried porcini. It comes on holidays with us, too, along with my favourite wine vessel – a stemless, bland water glass, the type stocked in really cheap motels. I'd die without it.
And what's a favoured glass of red without music when cooking? One kitchen cupboard is stacked high with home-made cassettes. I recorded them at night in St Kilda during the 1990s, where I'd listen to 3RRR and JJJ while working until birdsong several times a week.
There's enough space left here to mention my favourite ingredient: organic garlic in big chunky knobs. This garlic oozes oil when cut, and is guaranteed to make a cold germ run a mile … when eaten raw with a piece of bread and butter. Because garlic browns easily, it goes onto a cleared spot on the pan, later in the process, and under latent heat only. Well, I love it.
Roger Harvey is a Good Food reader from Balgowlah, New South Wales.