Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Fair Shares for All

As the Tesco delivery was yesterday, decided to take the food to the Morecambe Bay Foodbank during the afternoon, instead of today as planned.   B left me there so that I could have a long chat with one of the organisers, and he collected me a couple of hours later.

It was good to see people bringing in donations of food, and also some students helping to sort it.  No food given out that day, they said it was normally Friday that people collected the food.  Unfortunately they don't supply fresh foods or anything home-made ('elf and safety regs), but they will accept home-cooked cakes and jams etc to hand out to those who come to collect the food parcels, so they can sit down and have a warming cup of tea and cake etc. In the depths of winter they will probably provide freshly cooked soups as they have excellent and newly fitted kitchen where the food can be prepared, and - in a few weeks - once everything is up and running, they will call on me to help with the food side of the above 'snacks'.

It was interesting learning about the different charities that give out the 'food parcels'. I had been a bit confused about this, but good to know that Fairshare provide food for the homeless, and I understand have 'soup kitchens' every day where the homeless can have a hot meal.  Fairshare also get given the still edible foods (fresh and chilled etc) from many supermarkets - foods that in the past would have reached their 'use-by' date and binned.  This because they will be cooked/eaten almost immediately. 

The Foodbanks on the other hand provide food to those who have - at the time - no money due perhaps to a loss of employment, or a change in benefits where - as always - people have to wait until the new financial benfits have been sorted out, and so find themselves for maybe several weeks without any money coming in.  Apparently there will be another change in benefits shortly, and not for the better, so more and more people will be needing help when it comes to feeding the family
There is much being done to help youngsters understand about budgeting and also learning how to cook, so am also hoping that I'll be able to give some input there, if not personally at least by way of supplying easy recipes, hints and tips.   It doesn't need much skill to open a can of minced beef and onion, put it into a dish and top with mashed potato (made with instant potato), then heat it up in the oven.  Chefs would not even consider doing this, as it is NOT the best way to make Cottage Pie, but at least - with canned cooked veggies also heated - it will make an easy hot meal, and it doesn't take much more effort to use 'real' potatoes to make the mash next time, and later learn how to fry 'real' meat and onions to make the base.  When it comes to cooking (when never having done it before)  it is like a baby needing to first learning to crawl before it can walk.  Only much later can it attempt to run.  So no reason not to start the easy way even if it is not the best way.

Yesterday mentioned the radio interview and checked the details.  Seems it is a 'community based' radio station in Cheshire, and the best way to find out more details is to look up their website: where 'Clippy' has a radio spot each Monday between 7pm and 9pm. 'Clippy' is a young lady who - amongst other things - also makes some good preserves et al.  She sent me a jar of her 'Marma chilli' (a chilli flavoured marmalade) which was really lovely, tasting as orange marmalade does, but with a lovely and subtle 'kick' to it, perfect for giving ourselves a warming glow at breakfast time (or any other time for that matter).   The other day I spread some Seriously Strong Spreadable Cheddar on toast (had to buy that, unfortunately no free sample), then spread Marmachilli on top and this was was even more gorgeous.  This preserve is for sale in several supermarkets, so treat yourself.

That organic farm near where you live CTMOM sounds as though once you have paid your money up front, you can then go and harvest as and when you wish, and probably as much (or little) as you need.  We do have 'pick your own' farms here (not necessarily organic), but the food is weighed and we pay on the way out.

With a mention of attempting to grow spinach indoors Marjorie (unfortunately not very successfully), I have found in our kitchen where we have strip lights over the kitchen units - fitted under the cupboards - that any small plants (herbs etc) stood under and fairly close to the lights do grow quite well, probably due also to the small amount of warmth the lights give off (I stand a dish of butter close to the lights as well as this helps to soften it during the winter months - otherwise it stays rock hard, as 'room temperature' is pretty chilly in the Goode kitchen).  We have these lights on all day, and sometimes at night (they don't cost a lot to run) as we have no windows in our kitchen, the only light coming from the conservatory at the very end of the long 'L' that is the shape of the room.

Have mentioned above the foods that supermarkets pass on to help the needy Campfire, so am moving on to your next query.   Having looked up kohl rabi my books says this rather strange-looking vegetable is cooked in much the same way as butternut squash, parsnips, turnips etc.  The root part only used, and when young and tender it can be eaten raw mixed with others (also fruit such as apples) as an ingredient in coleslaw etc., also cut into thin strips eaten raw with dips.  The season for this is just about over, but some may still be on sale.

Kohl rabi has a slighty sweet and mild flavour and has the ability to absorb the flavour of other ingredients, so ideal to add to soups, stews and stir-fries.  This veg can be boiled to eat like potatoes, and also mashed, or thinly sliced and fried (takes about 10 mins), and can also be roasted (about 30 mins turning halfway).

Am wondering which two books (of mine) you saw mother noah, do hope one was 'Have a Goode Year' as this is my favourite (the previous two BBC books were commissioned and I was told what they wanted me to write about), the above H.A.G.Y. was all mine and I could write what I wished (so I did!), sometimes I still sit down and read it again as it inspires me to think up new ideas and find new days to celebrate something.

The past couple of veggie boxes have contained Portobello mushrooms.  These are very similar to the big flat white field mushrooms on sale, but the Portobello are the chestnut variety.  Myself always prefer chestnut mushrooms to the normal 'whites' as they seem to keep longer in the fridge, and are also much firmer and taste more 'meatier'.
So here is a 'mock pizza' recipe using large mushrooms as a base instead of the more normal dough.  As with most pizzas, the topping can varied, so instead of  using 'as given' you could add chopped crispy bacon, sliced peppers, sliced chorizo or ham.  As ever. it always works out cheaper when we use what we need to use up.  If you wish, use canned and drained chopped tomatoes instead of the fresh, and freeze the drained juice to add when making spag bol sauce, or chilli can carne, or even adding to a beef stew... .
Mushroom 'Pizzas': serves 6
6 large flat mushrooms (see above)
3 large tomatoes, finely chopped (see above)
1 small onion, finely chopped
handful fresh basil leaves (or a teaspoon of pesto)
balsamic vinegar (to drizzle)
olive oil (to drizzle)
salt and pepper
6 oz (175g) hard cheese (pref Gruyere) grated
8 small tomatoes, sliced
Remove stems from the mushrooms (keep these), and place the mushrooms, gills side up, on a greased baking tray.
Chop the mushroom stalks finely, and place in a bowl with the chopped tomatoes, onion, and basil (or pesto), and mix together.  Drizzle in a little vinegar and oil with seasoning to taste, and mix again.  Put this mixture into a small frying pan and fry until softened and thickened, then return to the bowl and add half the cheese.
Spread the tomato mixture on top of each of the mushrooms, and arrange the sliced tomatoes on top, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.  Bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 15 minutes, then serve.

As the above recipe could be thought of as a mite expensive (due to using large mushrooms) it is still possible to make a very similar - but cheaper - supper (or light lunch) dish by using bread instead of the mushrooms. Use either crumpets, muffins, or naan bread as the 'pizza' base (I've also used lightly toasted thick slices of baguette - or even toasting bread).  Use the base of your choice, then make the topping (or similar) using the above recipe.

Another busy day lies ahead of me, so must now take my leave.  Norma the Hair comes tomorrow - early - so depending on what time I rise (it was 6.15am today) my blog will either be early or later, but still hope you'll find time to 'have a read', and look forward to 'seeing you then'.