Relive your Milkbar Memories with Jane Lawson »

A cookbook of childhood dreams... fun food favourites to make memories at home

By Katie Notley
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<i>Milkbar Memories</i> - Jane Lawson

Milkbar Memories - Jane Lawson


Australia's increasing appetite for sophisticated and culturally diverse cuisines has seen the decline of humble milk bar fare. Likewise, a weekend trip to the corner store has been replaced by supermarkets now seemingly always open. Milkbar Memories by Jane Lawson looks back to when the local milk bar was the hub of after school and weekend life.

Juicy burgers with the lot – remember the slab of tinned beetroot and the ring of pineapple? – handfuls of lollies and cold frothy milkshakes, there is something for everyone. It is a collection of classic, popular and iconic Australian milk bar menu items.

Milkbar Memories is part personal memoir, part time capsule. It is Lawson's poignant tribute to her beloved father, but also to a disappearing era.

Those who can recall riding their bikes to the local milk bar for a bag of mixed lollies or their parents’ weekend papers will be captured by Lawson's vivid recollections. The smells and sights of the milk bar are as lovingly recreated as the recipes themselves.

For newer and younger generations Lawson's book is the perfect introduction to this food. The recipes are easy enough for the novice to follow, yet offer plenty of variations and challenges for more advanced cooks. It is unashamedly fun food and certainly a little on the naughty side. However, Lawson's fast-food-from-scratch approach will convince even the healthiest of home cooks to give these recipes a go.

From milkshake syrups to pie fillings and even a chapter devoted to homemade confectionary favourites, no stone has been left unturned in recreating an authentic milk bar experience at home. The real bonus is additive and preservative free milk bar treats easily made from scratch.

There are great tips on making the best burgers and steak sandwiches in your own kitchen. The homemade sauces and condiment recipes will really lift your game. The Beef Burger with The Lot is loaded with flavour and, of course, those classic Australian ingredients like beetroot, pineapple and an egg! Serve with a side of Double-Crunch Hot Chips and you will convince even your fussiest diners of your “fake-away” talents.

The Lolly Shop chapter – including recipes for homemade Liquorice Twists; Musk Sticks; Wonder Wheels and Marshmallows – are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. There are also homemade pastry recipes, such as Puff Pastry, that are fantastic essentials to any home cook’s repertoire.

The recipes and ideas are too many to list, but think of your own milk bar favourites: fish and chips, sausage rolls, doughnuts, ice-cream and more... there is a recipe for them all.

Lawson’s warmth and depth are clear and present. The book is informative yet accessible and written with an obvious knowledge and love of good food. Brimming with take-away inspiration and vibrant retro styling, it is guaranteed to bring many happy childhood memories flooding back. It’s an ideal cookbook to bridge the gap between generations with old and new food memories.

Whilst not everyday food, it is a great family cookbook for those special occasions or just lazy weekends or school holidays at home with the kids (of all ages!)


Milkbar Memories by Jane Lawson is published by Murdoch Books (Sydney, Australia, May 2016; sc, 240pp, RRP A$39.99). It is available in good bookstores and directly from the publisher here »

Milkbar Memories can also be found online via Booko here »


About reviewer Katie Notley

Katie lives in the beautiful and historic town of Latrobe in Tasmania’s north west with her husband, two children and her productive and friendly chooks. She is currently studying law but also loves cooking and creating; especially with a variety of home-grown produce from the family’s ever expanding kitchen garden. Growing, cooking and sharing good food and writing about it, is something she does with deep love, great wit and an enormous amount of pleasure.



  • Sydney (NSW)

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October 14th, 2016
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