Mince

Jessica Rowe

Mince is the sixth food group in my family.

Just moments after half a kilo of pale pink squiggles sits in my old Teflon fry pan it sizzles into a meal fit to feed a family of two grown ups, two medium sized girls plus one fat, grey cat and a fancy pants fluffy cat.

This under-rated meat has been the pantry pariah for far too long. I'm standing up in defense of mince! Drawing on the slogans from my student politics days and remaining true to my limousine leftie roots I am mounting a campaign to make mince top of the food pyramid.

'What do we want? More mince recipes! When do we want it? Now!'

'Muummmm, what's for dinner tonight? Can we have hot chips?' asks my eldest daughter. Her persistence in asking the same question in the hope of a different answer is something to behold.

'It's bolognese tonight,' I reply trying to sound upbeat. My eldest daughter hearing the waiver in my voice tries again.

'What about pizza?'

'No! You know that's our Friday night treat.'

'Can I eat dinner in front of the telly?'

'We'll see.' My resolve is crumbling with the thoughts of some mindless Disney channel giving me 20 minutes off any cross examination about why being aged nine is too young for an iphone or ipod.

That's how the conversation ends up most Monday afternoons. And that is how my cooking routine begins with mince each week. Tuesday night is usually Shepherd's pie or nachos for dinner. My girls will eat the mince and kidney bean combinations thanks to the 'healthy' addition of corn chips. Tacos continues the Mexican and mince theme through to Wednesday evening. A friend has recently introduced me to the joys of Chow Mein using mince and two minute noodles. Such an international menu means my family can enjoy the marvels of mince until Thursday.

Clearly Nigella has nothing to fear from me. From a young age I managed to tangle my once long hair in the egg beaters while trying to bake a cake for the tuck shop fundraiser. Since then my baking and cooking skills haven't improved much. It has meant the meals I prepare for my family each week are quick, easy and almost foolproof. That is why mince holds such a special place in my heart. It's impossible to overcook, as canned tomatoes and Barilla pasta sauce can enhance the low notes of any spag bol.

I was aghast when another mother alerted me to an Instagram trend of parents posting pictures of their children's perfect lunchboxes. This insta feed was dominated by heart shaped Vegemite sandwiches, home made hummus, fresh fruit cut into cubes and then sculpted onto skewers, packed tightly with sugar free and fun free muffins. Momentarily my heart sinks, my daughters school lunches look nothing like this! (lunch orders are de-rigeur in our household) And how about what I feed my family each night? That certainly doesn't look pretty, even though it tastes mighty fine in my humble opinion.

Who is it that I'm trying to impress with my 'ability' to cook, do maths homework and get my children to stay in their beds each night? I discovered long ago that life with kids can be messy, tedious and wonderful. So why do I need to keep pretending that I have this domestic caper sorted? Especially when I realise my lack of imagination in the kitchen doesn't matter to the ones I love the most.

I was close to tears of joy at our local Chinese restaurant recently, as my daughters and I munched spring rolls and chicken fried rice. And it wasn't because I had a night off cooking.

'Mummy, this isn't as good as what you cook! You should be a Master Chef!' said my nine year old daughter.

Then I realised I was no longer going to be shamed, my daughters love what I cook. Even if my husband isn't quite so effusive in his praise. Besides if he starts complaining I always suggest that he is welcome to take over in the kitchen anytime.

Although I'm already an over sharer of much of my emotional life I still wondered if there were other women like me. Mothers who are weary of the dinner routine, mothers who dreaded the 'what's for dinner?' question, mothers who had no interest in making heart shaped sandwiches, serving up green smoothies or making paleo, coconut enhanced energy balls.

Once I began posting my real life, filter free meals I have been joined by a posse of like-minded women. I am not the only #craphousewife. And I'm proud to share the kitchen with this bunch of stirrers and mince lovers. The mince revolution begins now!

P.S. I would love some more mince recipes.