Celebrate Mums

Koskela and Cornersmith have teamed up this Mother’s Day to celebrate the women in our life with good food.

Cornersmith is an iconic Annandale café, community-hub and sustainability haven. Started by partners Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant in 2012 to combine their shared passions around gardening, good home cooking, coffee, pickling and urban communities.

When co-founder Alex was pregnant, she met fellow soon-to-be mother, Jaimee Edwards. Alex and Jaimee decided to put all the things they learned as young mothers about feeding their families efficiently, affordably and sustainably in their very own cookbook. The result is this invaluable guide to modern food wisdom, their book: Use It All.

Alex and Jamiee were generous enough to share their favourite recipe to make mum: As You Like It Pancakes. As well as indulge us in an inspiring Q&A which touches on their experience as mothers, cooking for kids, creating a sustainable kitchen and so much more.

Alex and Jamiee were generous enough to share their favourite recipe to make mum: As You Like It Pancakes.

What’s your go-to weekend breakfast, and what does a typical weekend morning look like in your home?

Well hospo families operate a bit differently - Jaimee and I both teach on Saturdays so the kids probably eat cereal (they are teenagers now, so technically they can feed themselves ). Sundays are bit bitter depending on the tired levels.

French toast is a staple, mainly because it uses up old bread, it doesn’t take much time and it feels like you’ve made an effort! A boiled egg, sardines, sauerkraut, toast and butter would be my dream breakfast if I was eating alone.

What were you both like before you became a mother?

Jaimee and I met when we were very young and pregnant. A mutual friend set us up because we didn’t know anyone else who had ever had a baby. We were 25, bright eyed and ridiculous, and had no idea what having a baby was all about or what motherhood meant. 

I think we just wanted to dress up our babies. Thank god we met. We’ve grown up together and with our kids, I guess. Now everyones in high school and we’re talking a lot about how to be adults in the world without kids. 

What passions have been ignited through your own journey into motherhood?

We were both so excited to meet someone who had kids and loved cooking and dirty jokes. We started talking about cooking, sustainability and food politics and realised there was so much to learn.

We were both in desperate need of something bigger than play dates and play dough and started having weekly kitchen dates and obsessively talked about urban food systems, food waste and how best to feed our households.

We were both interested in cooking from scratch, traditional food crafts and food history. Over 5 years while the kids played we would teach ourselves how to make pickles, sauerkraut, mustard and butter and suddenly we were hooked.

Really it was the start of Cornersmith. We’ve spent the last 10 years talking about how to cook sustainably, work and raise kids without losing our minds. Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of takeaway pizza!

What advice would you give yourself prior to having children?

Parenting is so long. There’s no need to peak early. Don’t worry too much if they only eat spaghetti bolognese and sleep in your bed in their polyester super hero outfits, it all changes and then there’s other things to worry about.

Currently listening to (album or podcast) Watching (TV, film) Reading (book)?

Well we’re mad dorks when it comes to food books. We swap books constantly. Right now we’re obsessing over being witch doctors, I’m reading The Power of Spices and Jaimee is reading The Medicinal Gardener. I’ve just started listening to a podcast called Why Mums Don’t Jump, which is all about the pelvic floor and is very appropriate for a Mothers Day interview.

You’re running late, the day has escaped you, what’s your favourite meal to whip up quickly for the family?

That's most days for me! We’ve been talking about what’s for dinner for 15 years, luckily we wrote a book, USE IT ALL, which has all our best ideas in it. Breakfast for dinner is a once-a-week occurrence: eggs, potato rosti and avocado. There’s a really quick oven baked risotto in the book which is very helpful and all in one pot. Whole broccoli pesto pasta is super simple and full of greens.

Covid has gone, the world is back open, where are you travelling to first and why?

France first, cause my Dad’s are there and I miss them very much. Then Japan is high on the list, because I think travelling there with the teenagers would be an awesome family holiday, and the pickles are amazing!

What do you love about where you live? Tell us what makes it special and what do you love doing in your local neighbourhood.

I live in Dulwich Hill with my partner James and the kids, we have been there for the last 15 years. The inner west has our heart, which is why we live and work there. There’s a good community, good food and lots of fruit trees to pick.

Where to next for Cornersmith? What are you most looking forward to in the future?

I’ve had Cornersmith for almost 10 year now! So we are ready for the next chapter. We’ve sadly just moved out of the Picklery in Marrickville, because the owners are turning the building into apartments. So, our Cooking School will be doing pop-ups around Sydney - a bit like the Pickling Circus coming to town. We’re just about to move in the The Mint, near Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney CBD with lots of great Autumn and Winter cooking classes.

We’re moving more and more into food education. So more books, more teaching and lots more talking about food and sustainability.

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