I have been lusting over MamaBake for almost two long years. Finally, and with minimal preparation or notice, it has begun!
“MamaBake is a revolutionary, grass-roots movement of progressive thinking Mama’s who take a collaborative approach to Motherhood through group, big batch baking.” (says the About page on their Facebook profile). It can basically be whatever a group of Mama’s want it to be. For us, right now, it is a fortnightly cook-off of things we can big-batch & freeze, then decant to our families as the need arises (I’ve heard families need feeding daily! Is that true???). Other groups might do a big cook of one dish, but also bring other ‘sides’ prepared at home, then distribute that to the other Mama’s. And some groups use it as a distribution point for pre-home-cooked foods. Whatever the direction, it’s an awesome concept.
It’s not a new concept, though. For decades, ethnic women have used the power of family and community (a handy thing when family are in short local supply) to big-batch things on a regular basis. In my university days, I remember seeing a small truck load of tomatoes being delivered to a house in Oakleigh, Victoria, and I thought it was spectacular that there was going to be a power house of passata flowing forth to their cupboards for the rest of the year.
And so we bring this tradition to Kalgoorlie. A mining town where young families are frequently without the support of family, and have to forge friendships anew in the fluid comings & goings of friends who reside here. Sometimes you just get in to the swing of a new friendship, and that friend moves to another town, city, or even state, for new employment. And so the cycle starts again. I am one of the lucky few: my mum lives in Kalgoorlie too. It’s not something that I really appreciated until after Master Sparrow graced us. I certainly appreciate that now! But still, without that strength of the friendship base I had pre-child, MamaBake is forging new depths to my community connections. Just one afternoon and I already feel more grounded.
‘Shut up, woman, and tell us what you cooked!!’ I can hear you demand. Cannelloni, of course. Two kinds: a Vegetarian Spinach & Ricotta, and a Beefy Spinach & Ricotta. For the win! I would have to vote pasta like this, or lasagna, work extremely well as first-attempts for a burgeoning MamaBake group. In fact, the concept of MamaBake was initiated with a tray of lasagna! There couldn’t be a more appealing concept to me: whack a pre-prepared tray of pasta and delicious sauces in the oven after a long day, then take Master Sparrow for a dash to the park, come home & prep a simple salad… Win for everyone!
I don’t have any specific recipes to share. We weren’t working with such sophisticated tools! However, I would love the recipe for the near-fondue styled bechamel! That stuff was mind-blowing. There was also red sauce with the usual suspect of ingredients, and the fillings. At a steady pace, the conga line (or chain gang??) of construction filled the cannelloni tubes, then the trays. More red sauce, topped with white sauce & into the oven! We made an epic 8 trays of cannelloni between four people!
The Kids were also present (excluding Master Sparrow). This made any achievements worth double merit points! I’d strongly recommend putting at least one parent in charge of snacks for both parents and children. Nothing worse than watching all the kids get crabby because afternoon tea has rolled on by without a tray of fruit being presented to them. Some kind of entertainment might be thought of, but if you find one that’s effective, you need to let me know. The craft pompom sorting was bust, and the cloud dough was only entertaining for a short time (but left a suitably large mess!).
All in all, we had some awesome giggles, and vowed the next one is going to include wine and designated drivers (and maybe a cleaner to wash up afterwards??). I have scooped the next session (we’re working on fortnightly) with a pasta-from-scratch afternoon. I have a few flavours planned, and maybe a ravioli if I can find a suitable recipe. And I’ll need to hit the Pinterest boards to look for clean entertainment ideas for The Kids. Hmm… clean… not sounding much fun!
Now… for the rest of the photos!