Mother of five Jane Kennedy has many descriptions – actress, comedian, radio presenter, television producer and director. The long-term food and cooking addict has now added ‘author’ to the list with the release of her new cook book ‘Fabulous Food Minus the Boombah’.
Jane has been scribbling out her favourite recipes to friends for years and finally decided to collate them all into a book. She chats to Melina Cruickshank about the juggle of five children and how writing this book realised a long held ambition.
Marinated chicken wingettes, I call them Slippery Suckers because the kids 'slip' the meat off with their fingers!
Jane, how many children do you have and what ages/sex are they
I have 5 kids - Mia who is 8, Joshua who is 7, Max is 6, and twins Bailey and Andy who are 3. One girl and four boys… obviously in quick succession.
What has surprised you the most about becoming a mother?
I think I'm surprised about how much you really have to do for kids. They're so little they can't even reach the kitchen sink to get themselves a cup of water. I also realised that I had to start being semi-mature as apparently I'm one of the grown-ups in the house!
As part of the team behind ‘Working Dog’, did you take much time away from work when you had children?
I'm lucky to be in a situation where my husband Rob and I are partners in a business so I was able to put work on hold to be at home with little kids. My head was spinning with the day-to-day whirl of running a family and I knew I didn't have the headspace to be 'creative.’ All up I had about five years away from ‘official' work.
Logistically, how do you manage your work and childcare?
Well - the blackberry has become my office. I do a lot of our casting and I'm able to see head shots and read emails wherever I might be...so even at my daughter’s gymnastics classes I can appear engrossed in her lesson and send a return email at the same time.
Rob and I share the load, so it's very much a team effort. I have a fabulous babysitter who helps me out during the week and my parents are very helpful too. Make no mistake, it's hard though!
What do you think about 'me time'? Do you manage to get it and what do you like to do?
'Me time' is really important as a working mum. I love being able to have dinner and a glass of wine with Rob each night with all the kids in bed so I get pretty tough about bedtime discipline.
I also love seeing my girlfriends - having a lunch or dinner with them makes me happy and momentarily clears my head from the constant lists I seem to make.
Have there been times when you’ve thought ‘this is just too hard!’ and considered giving up your work to become a full time mum?
Yes...at times it's been incredibly difficult to work it all in. But you never stop being a full-time mum really - and with five kids life gets very expensive so I need to work as well!
I guess I've been able to modify what would usually be classified as 'part-time work' into hours that suit me. I wrote my cook book mostly in the middle of the night when the twins were both teething.
What is the one thing you miss from your 'pre-children' life?
Oh being able to stay out late and sleeping in!!
As a mother, what do you think you’re pretty good at?
I think I'm a pretty good cook, I make up really fun games and I'm an excellent story time reader.
….and what are you terrible at?
Aaaargh! So many things!
I am hopeless at helping kids with Maths homework - I don't excel at playing with toddlers in a park and I forget a lot of stuff the kids need for school like school lunch. I forget to buy my children new shoes and it always gets to the point where they tell me their feet are sore.
What are the qualities most important to you that you’d like to pass onto your children?
Have a good sense of humour, never tease or bully another child and have lovely manners (we are working on the manners part).
Why did you write this cook book?
I wrote it because I've been giving my hand written recipes to girlfriends over the years and I guess the time came when it felt right to publish them in a proper book. It's been a life long ambition to enter the world of cooking in a 'professional' way so it’s very satisfying.
How long did it take you to finalise the recipes?
It took me about a year to get the recipes finished and to write the introduction to the book. The introduction was very important to me as I really wanted my voice to be heard in a natural and honest way and to share my own stories about my love affair with food.
What has the response been to the book so far?
I've really been overwhelmed by the positive feedback. People reckon 'cauliflower rice' will change their lives!
And also so rapt men are trying out the recipes…they tell me how easy the recipes are and that the dishes really do match the photos!
Jane, finally a question all mums must face - what are you feeding your children for dinner tonight?
Slippery Suckers for dinner tonight.
Chicken wingettes quickly marinated in soy, honey, a little fresh ginger, and a splash of sesame oil. Line a baking tray with baking paper and cook the chicken for about 25 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius. Serve with rice and cucumber cut into circles.
I call them Slippery Suckers because the kids 'slip' the meat off with their fingers!
Fabulous Food Minus the Boombah, Jane Kennedy, Hardie Grant Books, $39.95