Friday, 19 July 2013

The Family Table. Part 6. Kim Palmer Berry from Allconsuming

A couple of years ago when I first started writing this blog I thought about what it was that I wanted to share.
It started as a way of me sharing my food knowledge and my passion for preparing real food for our families.

More importantly though I like to think that I give people the confidence to appreciate that the magic that is the Family dining experience is NOT just about the food.
While the food is what draws us to the table it should be considered but ONE of many things that are shared and indeed NOT the most important one.

LOVE to me should always be the single most important ingredient that is shared at our family table. Without LOVE the food and the entire dining experience is just another meal. But with it our souls as well as our tummies are nourished.

It is with this in mind that on Fridays I will be sharing with you my new series- The Family Table- where super special guests share their family dining experiences with us. It is a way of appreciating that there are infinite ways of dining together.
My wish is that every single one of my readers makes The Family Table part of their own family life.
I am so excited about this series and have some of my very favourite family sorts lined up to share with us their Family Table experiences over the coming weeks.

This week I am sharing with you a fellow blogger who is a good friend of mine.
She is also mother to eleventy billion boys... well four but together we have eleventy billion right?!
She is a keen and talented cook.

Kim blogs over at All Consuming  where she shares snippets of her life juggling motherhood of four boys, being the mother of a special needs child, food & cooking and now starting up a food business with her husband (Chef) providing real food to people who are too busy or not inclined to cook their own but want to eat the good stuff!

I love Kim for her super big and very openly worn-on-sleeve heart.  She is one of the cleverest, smartest girls I know.  She just gets it. It is her heart & soul that is what I love.  She lives life - the ups & the downs of it - with authenticity & courage. My favourite style.

You can find out more about her great new Food business here (You can read a little more info about All Consuming Food at the very bottom of this post)

You can follow Kim on twitter here.

Or on facebook here.

Over to Kim.

1. Can you please share a little about how your family shares food? 

Our entire life revolves around food. Chef is – you guessed it, a Chef and I’ve been a passionate cook since childhood. I started cooking family favourites and then, in Year 8 of high school, a friend’s mum introduced me to the magazine Gourmet Traveller. It was a game changer. While most 14 year old girls were reading Cosmo and Cleo there was me with GT and Vogue Entertaining. I was throwing 3 course dinner parties by the end of high school – I now wonder how on earth my Mum coped with the shopping lists and fanaticism.

So for our family food is the gravitational pull that keeps us all together. We are in an infuriating place at the moment where, due to a complete lack of space, our dining room table is now the homework table for the boys and desk for Chef (and occasionally sewing table for me). It makes my neck itch that we are not sitting together around a table each night. It’s all dinner on laps in front of the TV. Most unsatisfactory.

But get this, a friend of mine has a round table from her childhood – a table built specifically to fit her large family. She doesn’t want it anymore and well, has made the outrageously generous offer of giving it to us. I’m beside myself in anticipation and turning a corner of the house into a banquet seat with extra chairs and this table loaded with history. Of course I have no idea where the fridge will go or the crap that currently occupies that space OR the money to get a banquet/booth seat built but I don’t care, it will happen and the one rule I want to enforce – everyone eating together every night – will be enforceable.

Sunday nights are pretty special (for me at least) as Chef is home and we’re all together as a family. Rugby training on Monday nights means the only other night Chef is home we are all eating in shifts.

Chef’s family have a wonderful tradition/habit of getting together over food. I love love LOVE those gatherings. The kids disappear and we all catch up, eat too much and laugh long and loud. I feel truly blessed to be a part of their flock. We move between my in-laws, sister-in-laws and here, with each having its specific offerings as well as some that follow each gathering no matter what!

2. Do you have hard & fast eating rules?

Such a loaded question! I try to only use ethically farmed meat – my dearest friend’s family are primary producers so the information from them about “organic” meat production made me realise that was not necessarily as noble or the solution either. But then she laughs and laughs at me saying I only want to eat meat that has lived a good life and been killed humanely. Apparently farmers don’t take to giving human emotional responses to their stock. When it comes to fruit and veg I’ve started buying most of our needs from a local farmers market. I love the gnarly old apple farmer as much as his gnarly totally delicious apples. I’m not devout to organic produce instead focussing on buying produce from the person who grew it.

In terms of eating I am on a whole new playing field at the moment with a recent diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Disease. It’s an auto-immune disease so I’m approaching it from the angle that the Hashimoto’s is the end point and what on earth is going on in my system to do that. After years of scoffing at the “gluten is the enemy” camp I am living gluten free. Well, almost. It kills me how noticeably better I feel not eating it. Devastating really, I’m still in mourning. I mean, CRUSTY BREAD! with butter as thick as cheese! *sniff*

When it comes to the boys I have become so lax when it comes to food rules. I used to battle with Felix (cost centre #2) over eating everything on his plate blah blah blah and when Jasper (cost centre #3) came along and was the poster child for a beige diet I refused to return to the battlefield. Instead my “rule” was that he didn’t have to eat it, he just had to try it. His diet is still pretty woeful but he’s growing and functioning as a human being so I’m settling for that. Grover (cost centre #4) has recently become incredibly fussy. AT FIVE. (see also: HONEY BADGER) Tonight, for example, the boys were having my sensational (if I might say so myself) spaghetti Bolognese. Grover? About five slices of plastic cheese. Some nights he’ll eat three bananas. I don’t know if it’s because there’s so many of them or because I am very picky when it comes to choosing my battles these days but there you have it. 

3. Can you share with us where your cooking influences/inspiration are from?

For me food has to come from the heart. I love cooking and put my heart into it (although there are times I do lose my cooking mojo) and I think you can tell. My food is genuine, rustic, no frills and certainly not fancy. I haven’t had people – as in friends – over for a dinner party for years. It’s been a case of not having the income to do it, being so busy (and so very tired) and also flying solo most nights of the week. Being married to a Chef means our lives are very much like ships in the night. I don’t really want friends over on a Friday or Saturday for a lovely dinner if I’m also juggling four kids and Chef isn’t home to enjoy it as well. We also only have one living/dining area so it can get very noisy/crowded/stressful.

My big influences when I was younger were Gourmet Traveller and Vogue Entertaining. Terry Durack and Jill Dupleix were also instrumental in developing my love of food and cooking. I grew up with them as the power couple in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living section. I’ve been a Jamie Oliver fan from the very beginning – the man is all about flavour and keeping it simple which is pretty much my cooking mantra. I also adore Nigella. Another husband and wife team – Melbourne-based Michele Curtis and Allan Campion – are also my ‘go to’ when it comes to fail-safe fabulous recipes. Their book In The Kitchen is probably one of my most referenced kitchen tomes. My absolute hero and recipient of unending love and adoration is Maggie Beer. I mean, you can just tell she has a heart as big as an ocean and her food/recipes are the business.

4. Do you have a favourite cuisine?

No, not really, but I do go in waves – so I might go on an Indian bender for a few weeks then shift to Thai, then Chinese and so on. More often than not I become fixated on a particular dish and make it continuously until the itch is well and truly scratched. See: Sichuan pepper and salt tofu (YOUR FAULT!), Hainanese chicken and rice, spring onion pancakes, rogan josh, chicken noodle soup…

5. Can you recall a super special meal or eating experience that has stayed with you forever?
Chef and I went to Quay for my 40th last year. I doubt that experience will ever be topped. You think all those micro herbs and flowers and fancy presentations would be pretentious but it’s just not. It’s thoughtful. The food is sublime, like eating a work of art. It’s impossible to describe it in a way that would actually do justice to the experience.

6. Would you please share the recipe of your favourite family meal with us?

The current meal on high rotation in this house is Hainese chicken and rice. It is so so simple and yet delivers such flavour it’s like it’s punching you in the face. In a good way. Yes there are a number of components so for some doing this on a weekday would be impossible, but I am all about cooking being as much about the process as it is about the eating. I love recipes which make me slow down, find the rhythm of the dish and end up with something that was as blissful to make as it was delicious to eat. I think that’s why I love making bread and pastry – you have to slow down, get a feel for the dough and listen to it. This is based on the recipe from Adam Liaw’s book Two Asian Kitchens.

For the chicken
• 1 Chicken
• 5 slices of ginger
• 5 unpeeled cloves of garlic
• The white ends of a bunch of shallots
• 1 tbsp salt
1. Place the ginger and garlic inside the chicken then put it in a saucepan, breast side down, and cover with water.
2. Bring the water to the boil then simmer uncovered for 25 minutes. Then turn the heat off, put the lid on and let it sit for a good 30 minutes. (I tend to totally forget about it and it can sit in there for an hour or so!)
3. Take the chicken out of the water, put on a plate, sprinkle over some drops of sesame oil and soy sauce and then cover tightly with glad wrap. Let it just sit there while you do the rest.
4. DON’T throw away the stock!

For the rice
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 2 slices of ginger
• 675g jasmine rice
1. Heat some oil in a saucepan then sauté the garlic and ginger. Add the rice and stir so it all gets nicely coated in oil.
2. Add 1 ¼ litres of the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until you see tunnels in the rice then turn the heat right down low, put the lid on and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Let it sit.

For the ginger and shallot sauce
• 8tbsp peanut oil
• 2tbsp grated ginger
• 1 heaped tsp salt
• The green ends of the bunch of shallots, finely sliced
1. Gently heat the oil with the ginger and salt then add the shallots and cook until they collapse.
2. Try not to eat the whole lot yourself, this sauce is seriously addictive.

For the chilli sauce
• 6 red birds-eye chillies
• 2tbsp grated ginger
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1tsp sugar
• Good pinch of salt
• Dash of lemon juice
1. Put everything except the lemon juice in a mortar and pestle and pound until it’s a paste. Add the lemon juice and some of the stock to taste.
2. It is blindingly hot but sweet and salty all at once and almost as addictive as the ginger and shallot sauce. Depending on your chilli tolerance you just need a smidge to lift this dish from good to awesome.

7. What song would be playing at the dinner table?
You introduced me to The Tallest Man on Earth last year and it’s basically been my soundtrack ever since. So either him, maybe Ben Folds, Alabama Shakes, Birds of Tokyo, Macklemore. I’ve just discovered Jack Savoretti who might bump everyone off the list.

A little more about All Consuming Food:
Allconsuming food is about bringing the restaurant to you. Every week we will release a menu for the following week with a range of dinner solutions. Put your order in and get a delivery the following week of restaurant quality meals with minimal preparation required. Think long slow braises or maybe a flavour-punching curry, pasta sauces, soups, you name it. The meals also come in a range of sizes so whether you’re a busy urban professional or a manic family juggling work, school, sport and all the rest you can order to suit you. We’ll also have items in The Pantry so if you’ve got a hankering for hand-made beautiful quality jams, chutneys or relishes they’re also on offer. Initially we’re just delivering on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and North Shore but world domination is our goal.       (

Thankyou Kim for sharing your Family Table. I am so grateful. xx


  1. Love how in depth & honest Kim was in this post :)

  2. This is a lovely and heartfelt post,I love Kim's blog and her honesty,Thankyou for this Ruth.

  3. Kim is the real deal.

    I think every family should have a round table, Kim. x

  4. Look at me up there sounding so together! We now have that table. It required hiring a truck TWICE - once to the Blue Mtns to collect it (and a raft of other things including 8 1920s chairs with worn green velvet seats to go with the table that my beautiful friend just GAVE to us.) and once to Picton to return the TWELVE seater table and FOURTEEN chairs to my Dad and stepmother's. It took TWENTY SIX massive garbage bags of just STUFF collected over the years that we had or were keeping for no rhyme or reason and the complete re-arrangement of our back living room - including the building of a longline desk along one wall and children crawling under the house responding to Chef's yelled instructions as to where to move all the cables. All while I had four boys home on school holidays. All while we were starting the business. All while Chef lost his job. No wonder I'm a little wrecked at the moment.

  5. Loving the family table posts- they are such a nice way to have a peek into someone's life.

  6. It has transformed our living space. Seriously. I can not express how much it has changed the energy in our one and only living area.

  7. I love you guys!

  8. Maggie MacKellar21 July 2013 at 10:06

    Long time reader/first time commenter. Kim sent me in your direction a year or so ago. I love your blog, (especially the music) and I love looking at the recipes that you post but i've never tried cooking one. In the last 18 months I've cooked more than i have in the rest of my life - thanks to moving in with a farmer who eats dinner every night (weirdo). On top of that and because in some ways Tassie is stuck in the 1940s - i've been cooking for the shearing crew several times a year. In this new venture Kim's blog has been a lifesaver and even the Farmer (who is deeply suspicious of spice, chilli, curry...just about everything that is not meat and 3 veg) has learnt that if the recipe is from Allconsuming, then it will taste bloody fantastic. But the recipes i do from Kim's blog are generally her twist on old favourites like roast, or spag bol or shepherds pie (you getting the picture). Anyway this is a very long winded way of saying that I cooked Kim's chicken last night after reading her post here. The farmer came home and saw me pounding away at the chilli and was immediately suspicious, but i placated him with a 'don't worry it's one of allconsuming's recipes' and he went off to the shower with a 'i'll try anything once'. Of course he LOVED it and the kids loved it too. I think Kim has a real gift in breaking down a recipe and translating how to cook it. If i'd read this in a cookbook i'd never have given it a go, but when Kim tells me how to do it, i think, yeah, i can do that. It tasted so good, and was a radical departure from what we normally eat. Thanks for your lovely blog. I will keep reading and listening...!


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