Plate up: Pie and appreciation

By Valerie Ferdinands


It’s taken awhile to put pen to paper for my column.

Who would have thought we would be living within a pandemic and before we could mouth the word Covid-19 all the toilet paper would disappear from the shelves? I wasn’t fazed when supermarket put limits on “food staples” to prevent panic buying —frozen Hawaiian pizza (good riddance), pasta sauces, frozen veges, canned and packeted items —especially when the fresh food section was untouched! 

My family was nervously navigating self-isolation with our daughter expecting her first child. We were coming to terms with the realisation that we couldn’t go to the hospital or see the baby when she went home. Zoom sessions were teary approaching the big day and I knew the only distraction to calm my anxiety was to ramp up the home cooking even more!

Thinking of my gorgeous young niece Monique, an RN at the RBWH, on the frontline every day without a complaint and all the other wonderful medical staff, teachers and essential workers stepping up during this crisis, I set about making about 60 pies: beef and vegetarian. Spicy Masala Beef, slow cooked with cardamom and a robust spice blend of home roasted ground garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fresh chilli, ginger, garlic, and caramelised onions.

For the vegetarians I made a family favourite, “Budgia”, a mixed vegetable curry with mustard seeds, curry leaf, turmeric, ginger, fresh chilli, and lemon juice. I sourced my goods from our excellent local producers: Jason from The Bakeologists made the pie shells (he makes the best pastry), of course Rayners for the beef, and All About Fruit for the veges. After chopping, stirring, sautéing, and baking the result was succulent, juicy pies filled to the brim and encased in the lightest of pastry (which puffed up beautifully).

My friend Deb and I set off to my mother’s nursing home with the pies and containers of delicious lasagne. We took more to the RBWH. When I saw Monique in her full scrubs heading towards us, smiling from ear to ear, I got a bit teary as it hit home how grateful we should be for our frontline workers.

By all accounts the pies were a hit; they all went quickly, and while I got some beautiful messages, one in particular struck a chord:

“Huge thank you for delivering the pies to the RBWH. I’m a RN in ICU and I’m blown away by your kindness.  I’ve just gotten home after a late shift and this will be my dinner, very excited. You’ve really made my week”.

So, 2020 will certainly be a year I’ll never forget as we welcome our first grandchild Evie Rose to the world and Mother’s Day will be more special than ever. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums, new mums and caregivers: you’re doing a marvellous job.

As for me, there’s a lot to be thankful for!