CASUAL COOK: Albury's Libby Rouse on baking traditions going back three generations

SWEET START: Growing up in central Albury, Libby Rouse lived over the road from her maternal grandmother whose passion for baking and sweets inspired the whole clan. Weekends were for baking. Pictures: SIMON BAYLISS

SWEET START: Growing up in central Albury, Libby Rouse lived over the road from her maternal grandmother whose passion for baking and sweets inspired the whole clan. Weekends were for baking. Pictures: SIMON BAYLISS

LIBBY Rouse’s fondness for food goes back generations.

Growing up on a tight-knit street in central Albury, Ms Rouse lived over the road from her maternal grandmother whose passion for baking and sweets inspired the whole clan.

“My family loved to bake on weekends,” she said.

“My grandmother Nancy Stedman was into cooking; her recipe for peppermint creams were the sweets I made when I was making confectionery for the local farmers’ markets.”

Ms Rouse made confectionery under her popular Be Sweet label for about eight years leading up until 2012.

Her products comprised Vienna Almonds, nougat and a range of handmade chocolates.

“The peppermint creams were popular; I used to give them out for Christmas gifts to friends too,” she said.

Ms Rouse said her sister Emily Sharkey was the clan’s main biscuit baker – particularly Anzac biscuits.

She said Emily had long made the popular oats and golden syrup biscuits year-round.

“I remember we had a cousin come to stay when we were young and she put in 1½ tablespoons of bicarb soda instead of teaspoons; that was a major disappointment,” she quipped.

“Emily definitely became the chief of Anzac biscuits in our family.

“She makes them bigger and cooks them slower than me for a chewy biscuit.”

Having studied commercial cookery at RMIT in Melbourne, Ms Rouse said food felt second nature to her and she was not afraid to change something.

“I never follow a recipe,” she said.

“I read recipe books but I like to modify recipes and do something different with them.”

In another nod to family tradition, Ms Rouse started preserving organically-grown fruit and vegetables a couple of years ago.

“My mum used to do it; now I’ve got organic produce all year,” she said.

While she still has a sweet spot for sweets, Ms Rouse said she was now consumed with making bread from scratch in the home that is next door to her grandmother’s original home and over the road from where she grew up.

“I’m making sourdough bread, pizzas and dough at the moment,” she said.

“But sometimes I’ll still make chocolate for friends or for events like New Year’s Eve.”

Six things I can’t cook without: Really good balsamic vinegar, parsley, onions, garlic, ginger and Murray River salt flakes.

Got a recipe to share? If you or someone you know wants to take part in Casual Cook, please email details to chris.young@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

CASUAL COOK: Albury's Libby Rouse with her family's Anzac Biscuit recipe

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