As we approach Anzac Day, violinist Emma Perkins and husband cellist Cameron Waters together with children Ruby and Zach bake Anzac biscuits. Take some time to get to know Emma as she divulges her love of food and what’s cooking in their kitchen during isolation.
What/who inspired your love of cooking?
Um, probably my love of eating! But seriously, I always liked to experiment with cooking when I was a kid and I’ve been really inspired over the years by both friends and family who are fantastic amateur cooks. I love that it’s something that you can continue to learn throughout your life.
People often find solace in cooking and eating. Is that the case for you, and do you find yourself baking more whilst we are in COVID-19 isolation?
That is definitely the case for me. During normal times, we love to eat out and enjoy meals with friends. Unfortunately we can’t do that at the moment, but we can still enjoy making good food at home, and we have really focused on that in our house. I’ve also been baking a lot more than usual, which is a great outlet and distraction, but not great for my relationship with my jeans!
What do you love about cooking?
I love that it’s a chance to be creative every day. It’s something that you can put as much (or as little) effort into as you like, depending on your mood that day. If I’m having a really challenging day I often find it very therapeutic to head into the kitchen and get stuck into cooking something tasty. It gives me a creative outlet and sense of achievement (which is something I’m otherwise not experiencing much at the moment with two young children at home!).
Is there a cooking rivalry in the orchestra?
I don’t think there’s really a cooking rivalry. It’s more like a community of cooking enthusiasts. I think it comes with the territory of working with creative types and perfectionists! There are a lot of fantastic bakers and we have some pretty great morning teas, although this does mean that if I have a baking fail I can never bring myself to take it in to share around as I’m too embarrassed!
What is your favourite recipe that you love to cook, and why?
I love to make baked cheesecake, mainly because I love to eat it! I LOVE a good cheesecake, but I’m quite particular about how I like it, so I’ve spent a long time playing around with recipes until I’ve got it how I like it – quite zingy with a crunchy, gingery base and usually topped with berries. I hardly ever make it these days though as it’s tricky getting a chunk of time free without little ‘helpers’ around to distract me.
What food do you cook that your family requests the most?
Homemade pizza is probably the most requested recipe in our house. It’s not difficult but you do need to be home for a while to make the dough from scratch and give it time to prove, so we don’t often have time to make it during the usual working week. However, it’s a great afternoon activity at the moment and it’s been on high rotation since we’ve been stuck at home! Unfortunately this means my stretchy pants are also on high rotation…
Do you have any cooking tips or secrets?
Hmm, I don’t think I’m qualified enough to give tips, but I would say don’t be afraid to go off-recipe. The cooking I enjoy the most is when I’m not following a recipe, but do make sure you taste constantly as you go along – once you’ve put it in you can’t take it out again!
What music do you like to listen to when you are cooking up a storm in the kitchen?
A bit of everything really. It has to be something I know really well as I’m often making noise with appliances and my mind needs to fill in the gaps when I can’t actually hear the music. Violin concertos are often on the list, as are iconic works like Mozart’s Requiem and Wagner’s Ring Cycle, but also lots of non-classical (yesterday I listened to Bernard Fanning’s Tea and Sympathy while I was cooking). Unfortunately, I’m often overruled too so I’m now VERY familiar with the soundtrack to Frozen.
My favourite cuisine is…
I’m terrible at choosing favourites – there are so many good things to choose from! I definitely love strong flavours, and particularly love foods that have that balance of salty, sweet, sour, spicy, etc. so I tend to lean towards many Asian cuisines, but I also love Mexican, Italian, Spanish, Greek, actually the list is too long!
My favourite South Australian restaurant or cafe is:
Again, I’m no good at choosing favourites, but a few that I do love are: Golden Boy (Thai restaurant in Adelaide), Estia Greek restaurant, Abyssinian Restaurant, Parwana Afghan Kitchen, Bread and Bone (for a fantastic burger), Karma and Crow (for a great brunch), and Red Robin (for awesome coffee that is dangerously close to where we rehearse at Grainger Studio), just to name a few.
Sweet or savoury?
How could I ever choose? Can I have both please? At every meal…
1 cup (90g) rolled oats
1 cup (150g)plain flour
1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (40g) desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees and line trays with baking paper
2. Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl.
3. Stir butter, syrup and water in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Stir in soda.
4. Stir syrup into dry ingredients.
5. Roll level teaspoons of mixture into balls and place 5cm apart on trays and flatten slightly.
6. Bake biscuits for about 20 minutes or until golden.