Open Letter to Mr Jamie Oliver

Hola,

Yes I don’t post anywhere near the amount I should to get a blog going but that’s because of real life getting in the way of important stuff, I promise to try to do better!

Anyway, I heart Twitter, you guys may know that already. I follow (and am honoured to be followed by) a bunch of truly great women and men who are concerned with the polarisation of wealth, opportunity and nutrition in this country.

The very lovely Sandra Bradley (who writes this rather brilliant blog about how to keep home costs down,) came up with the really good idea of bringing back British Restaurants as per WWII but with an update to make them relevant for now.

Of course the creative and wonderful women I follow wouldn’t let it just stop there and came up with some great ideas for the kinds of things that people really need to help them move forward and eat well. But, you KNEW there would be a but, this kind of idea wouldn’t get off the ground if it was just us – sad but true fact, you don’t get ideas like this launched without somebody who is a) famous or b) already recognised as a voice for this kind of work. Hmm, so who do we know that would fit this particular set of requirements, yes, everyone’s favourite Essex chief and campaigner Mr Jamie Oliver!!!!

So here, is the first draught of my open letter to Mr Oliver:

Dear Mr Oliver,

As you are more than aware the state of nutrition in this country is (in certain areas) dire, a group of us who are concerned about this talk to each other on Twitter and thought that bringing back the idea of the British Restaurant. The British Restaurant, as you may already know, was set up by the  Ministry of Food during World War 2 as communal kitchens to ensure that communities and people who had run out of rations had enough to eat. The Restaurants were run by local communities on a non-profit basis and meals were purchased at a set price.

The need for people in this country for people to just eat is seen through the various food banks set up around the country such as this food bank in Stockport http://stockportsouth.foodbank.org.uk/ or the queues that can be seen for free food anywhere it is available. I’d suggest looking at the queues at the Hare Krishna donations at Senate House.

I’m sure none of that is news to somebody who campaigns on nutrition, we think that something set up in a similar way to Food Revolution combined with the ideas of the British Restaurant are sadly needed at this time.

We envisage a location that provides affordable, nutritionally high value meals available at the front with education at the back end. Education taking the form of teaching people how to cook, budgeting, what is high quality and what is low quality and above all else how to do this cheaply. There would be the opportunity to engage other professionals at the back end (in the manner of Crisis at Christmas) to help people who are having issues with money/benefits/writing cv’s/getting back to work. We think that initially it would start with volunteers but could quickly be taken over by those it was designed to help, which in turn would provide much needed bulk to many peoples cv’s whilst teaching valuable skills for the workplace such as computer literacy.

Local businesses could contribute food that would otherwise go to waste to help keep down costs and boost the local community. There are some amazing blogs out there about how to budget etc during this time of economic crisis and we could try to involve those bloggers in teaching their skills in workshops etc.

This is of course a long time commitment and investment in local communities and a huge undertaking but we can’t be the only people in the country thinking of this. We would suggest a pilot scheme in a few under privileged areas to see if it could be rolled out across the country.

We know you are very busy but really hope that you could find the time to consider this proposal, I’m more than willing to discuss this with you at any time.

Yours sincerely

Dawn Sinclair
MiddleAgedCred
Lynn Schreiber
Sandra Bradley
Ronaldinhio

Right, how do you feel about this, please leave comments and I’ll amend as you do. Also, if any of you don’t want to be included or want the links to your twitter accounts etc taken off I’ll do that.

Mwah, mwah

dxx

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Preserved lemons and wandering off at tangents

I know this blog is predominantly about me and fashion but I love to cook so sometimes I’m going to through in a recipe just to keep things fresh. 🙂

Today for dinner we had this recipe for Moroccan chicken I found on Christies Corner which just happens to be one of my fav sites for recipes and cooking.

If you don’t know me in real life you need to know I never really follow recipes unless it’s a baking recipe and then, only for the first time. So I’ve altered it to suit our tastes, nobody in my family is in the least bit surprised.

To start with there are only 3 of us not 6 – The Cub does have the appetite of an adult right now as we are ‘enjoying’ another growth spurt, aren’t we lucky???? So I’ve used these amounts:

  • 6 skin on boned chicken thighs – it’s all I could get yesterday when faced with the horror that is Morrisons on a Saturday. I’m writing this bit now Sunday morning after starting everything off – ain’t I industrious today? ;~)
  • pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil for cooking, don’t use extra virgin as it’s awful for cooking with, keep that for salad dressings – even for 5/6 people in the original recipe I think a 1/4 cup is a LOT!
  • 1 medium onions, thinly sliced – I got to use my mandolin which is always fun
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin – it didn’t say so I used whole because I had them
  • 1/2 tsp coriander – see cumin
  • a pinch dried chili flakes – we aren’t a family who can take a lot of chilli heat
  • 1 cinnamon sticks – I got a bag of these from Morrisons for 99 pence, I miss living near asian wholesale food stores for this kind of thing
  • 2 bay leaves – same amount because I love the taste
  • enough chicken stock to cover – home made no salt
  • 1 whole preserved lemon rinsed and chopped up roughly, make sure all pips are removed
  • 1 fresh lemon juiced retain the lemon after juicing remove any pips left.
  • 100g dried chickpeas soaked overnight because canned chickpeas are stupidly expensive
  • 6 apricots – no olives because there is already enough salt and nobody here likes them. I’ve popped in apricots (which nobody will eat as we only like the flavour not the fruit) to balance the heat, salt and sour tastes
  • 1tbsp dried mint because we don’t have any fresh in
  • 1 lemons, quartered

In a large frying pan brown the chicken (in the olive oil to stop it from catching) and some of the chicken fat has rendered out. I don’t season at this stage because I think it makes the pepper a bit acrid tasting. Remove the chicken to a large casserole dish. Takes about 4/5 minutes in my large Tefal pan.

Add onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, chili flakes, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves and sauté, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant , about 1 minute. Add some chicken stock, preserved lemon and juice with whats left of the juiced lemon, simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. I tasted it because I was worried about the salt content and added a potato to soak the salt up whilst it was simmering.

Add onions etc to the chicken, add the chickpeas and dried apricots. Stir to combine. Cooked in a fan oven at 160 degree’s until chicken and chickpeas are cooked, took about 1 and a half hours. I would have done this in the slow cooker but mine died earlier this year and I haven’t been able to find a good replacement, if you’d like to recommend one I’ll have a look!

Skim off any oil and stir in the mint and lemon quarters just before serving.

My family don’t like couscous – it reminds us too much of tapioca – so I served it with some rice, carrots and herb bread (from my bread maker) and it was lush. It was still a bit salty even with the potato, so I might soak the preserved lemon for an hour next time to help reduce that. Also, I’d use a green veg to give a bit of colour to the plate.

I forgot to take a picture of it so you’ll just have to take my word, it was good!

I promise the next blog will be about something fashion related!

Mwah! Mwah!

dxx