Let me begin this review with a confession: I am not a domestic goddess by any stretch of the imagination. I am disorganised. My kid has been known to have cereal for dinner. We often have library fines because I shudder at the very thought of finding all those books we ambitiously borrowed. My attempts at crochet are misshapen and random and my themed birthday cakes are liable to make it onto cakewrecks.com. No – I’m no super mum, but I have fun trying!

So when I found out my brother, his wife, three kids, his sister-in-law and her son were coming to stay with us for a week, I was apprehensive, to say the least.

Then I remembered the MamaMake Big Batch Cookbook I had just bought. “Aha!” I thought to myself. “Here’s my perfect opportunity to put that sucker to the test!” Then I thought, “I know! I’ll kill two birds with one stone – I’ll make a review for my beloved MamaBake community as well.”

It all sounded splendid until the dreadful realisation dawned on me: I’m a domestic klutz. Yet again, my overambitiousness had gotten me into a right pickle. I sat there berating myself, until it occurred to me. Of course! Who better to dummy-proof a bunch of recipes than me? I’m pleased to announce, the recipes I tried were pretty much impossible to stuff up.

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In fact, probably the most difficult part of the process was deciding on a recipe. Flicking through the pages, we ummed and ahhed. Which delectable items should we choose?  They all sounded so appetising. We’d made MamaMake’s big batch nuggets before, and these were demolished with relish by all. I wanted to play it safe and make them again, but I was outvoted. Eventually, we settled on Butter Chicken, Dahl and Mamabake’s Winter Green and Spinach Triangles.

A few disclaimers:

We made a few small changes to the recipes. the triangles originally called for pecorino cheese, but we used parmesan to make them a bit more budget-friendly. We also added pine nuts – I was nervous about little baulking fusspots, but we went ahead and added them anyway. We also used silver beet for our ‘winter greens’. We added some breast fillet to the butter chicken to allow for a fussy eater in the house. Other than that, we remained pretty faithful to the recipes we were given.

So, how klutz-proof were they, anyway?

I was dead nervous about the triangles. I am all thumbs and have an aversion to fiddly cooking. I assure those who are scared of assembling pastry things, these triangles are dead easy. Just spoon and fold – it reminded me a bit of stuffing envelopes. Trust me: if I can nail these, anyone can.

Butter chicken: this one allows the cook to blend spices from scratch. Sound daunting? Not really! Really, if you can follow a recipe, measure things and toss them in a frying pan, you can make curry from scratch. I’ve been making curries from scratch for a while now, and I’m telling you – it’s so easy! If you have never made curry from scratch before, I guarantee your confidence will rise when you taste this butter chicken. Easy peasy!

Dahl. Fry onion and spices, wash lentils, open cans of tomatoes, chuck in slow cooker, turn dial. Wait six hours. Done! Enough mild vegetarian curry to feed an army. You could even make it vegan by frying in oil instead of ghee. All in all, the three dishes took us about 2 hours to prepare – that’s not including shopping and faffing time. We took all three to the stage where we could simply ‘heat and eat’, freezing the triangles and half the butter chicken and dahl. Time for a cuppa!

All this is very well and good, but the true test was yet to come: would the kids eat it? Here’s the verdict:

Butter chicken: Everyone gobbled this up like starved dogs, even the household fusspot. A word of warning: this dish contains cardamom pods. Warn kids not to crunch on the pods and to pull them out – they do not make for pleasant eating. Other than that, the dish is mild and kid-friendly.

Triangles: an absolute 10/10 winner. Kids and adults ate these things until they were filled to bursting point. Dinner was a breeze – chuck them in the oven, toss together a salad and bingo! These would also make excellent school lunches. I will definitely make these again.

Dahl: this one is mild enough for even the tenderest palate. My son, who cries if he eats onion, wolfed this dahl down with no problems. I will most definitely make it again. It was extremely budget-friendly, too. We made it on homemade stock which we made out of old vegie scraps, making it cheaper still.

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Big batching: kind on the planet… and on the hip pocket. I was also most happy with my food bill. Although I initially baulked at the cost of the cheeses in the triangles, I was surprised and delighted by the size of the shopping bill. In fact, I found that we saved a substantial amount of money (per capita).

One more thing.

The best part about it all was that I managed to fantasise for a week that I was a Nigellaesque domestic goddess. Yes me – the self-proclaimed kitchen klutz, the kidult with organisational deficiency syndrome. Little old me! Just like Nigella! I’m telling you! Each night was a matter of breezing about, popping stuff on the heat, whacking plates out and serving. I even managed to sneak out for a crochet class! Ooh la la! Normally, I would have spent my evenings feeling like a headless chicken trying to cater for a henhouse of family. Thanks to MamaBaking, I could relax and enjoy myself… and my precious family. Will I be big batching again? Will I what! I am LOVING the savings of money, energy and time that this style of cookery offers. I will most definitely be trying more. Stay tuned for more reviews!

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