Monday, June 8, 2009

The Weekend - Jamie's Ministry of Food

Matt was telling me that for a golf tournament this weekend, Jack Nicklaus hosted all the golfers and their wives to a lobster dinner. Can you imagine how much that must have cost. Bit extravagant for the current financial situation I thought. Mind you I wish Matt was a professional golfer, I would have made a nasty mess of that meal. As I have mentioned before, I sell Avon products and this last campaign I bought myself some corn on the cob holders. I never have much success with such things, the pins always break off or something. However, these may well be better, they screw in to the cobs. You do that before you cook them - I cook mine in the microwave anyway - otherwise you would burn yourself trying to screw them into the ends. I just checked the catalogue, they are OK in boiling water too. There is corn in the stores, but its not local yet, so I won't be bothering just yet. I enjoyed my visit to the theatre on Saturday. Turned out to be a lovely day, warm enough to be without coats for a change. The show was very well done, they usually are. I had a couple of criticisms: if you know the film or the show or saw the series on TV, Oscar was a total slob. In the theatre he wore bright, white, brand new sneakers. Struck an odd note. The other was that the two English sisters couldn't/didn't maintain their English accents very long. Neither item really detracted from the show though. If you don't know the movie and get a chance to see it, it really is funny. Of course if you live in Ontario, you should go see the show. Last night for supper we had lamb's kidneys in sherry sauce. Haven't had it for a long time, but a dish we are very fond of. I know lots of people hate offal or organ meats, but we are not amongst them. I posted the recipe on May 30th if anyone is remotely interested. Now we are out of kidneys so I will have to go to market again. Luckily, because so many people don't eat them, they are very inexpensive, so thank you. Last night we watched a programme by Jamie Oliver the English chef. It was called Jamie's Ministry of Food. I was horrified. I knew the English generally were not good cooks (some of them are wonderful cooks of course) but Jamie has started a campaign beginning in Rotherham in the Midlands of England to teach people to cook. Until we watched the programme I had no idea how bad things had become. Women who literally don't know what boiling water looks like. If you would like to read more about it, Jamie has a website Ministry of Food where you can watch video and get simple recipes. The idea he started with was to teach 8 people ten recipes and for them to teach two more people each and then those two to teach two more - kind of pyramid system. I gather there are problems - we shall try and remember to follow the programme for the next week or two. One of his pupils turned out to have the knack of food handling and Jamie was most impressed with her, unfortunately she also has no money and is at the stage of "food or housing". She says she has pawned all her jewellery (she was wearing a necklace and earrings) and is at her wits end how to pay the bills. I felt sorry for her until she lit up. We didn't see a husband, just kids, but we figured if there is one, he is probably a smoker too. She used to feed her kids on 'take-out', I know I can cook a meal cheaper than a take-out. Once upon a time mothers passed down cooking techniques to their daughters, I don't know what happened, but hundreds of people don't know how to cook in England. I think Jamie started this programme when he discovered what rubbish was being fed to kids for school dinners, stuff which he said he wouldn't give his dog. He began a campaign to teach both kids and school cooks how to prepare and enjoy decent meals - you cannot imagine the opposition he got - he did manage to get some backing for that, I don't know if he still does. It is, of course, affecting the health of these children, some of whom cannot identify the most ordinary vegetables. He said on the programme last night that he had been Soweto and found the poor ate better than English families. I wondered how bad it is over on this side of the pond and whether families cook here. I saw one kid cover his food with ketchup and I have definitely seen that done here. I know I have English readers - can't you bug your government to start cooking schools or something or at least to support Jamie. Looking for a recipe last night, I came across a reference to Monkey Dishes.I had never heard of them before. Googling this morning I find generally it is a restaurant term used for small dishes in which vegetables might be served. I have never worked in a restaurant which I guess accounts for the fact I have never heard the expression but I found it in an Ontario Asparagus leaflet in a recipe for Asparagus Butter. Asparagus Sukiyaki Ontario Asparagus Growers Marketing Board 1/2 lb round or sirloin steak 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 clove garlic, smashed 1 tsp soy sauce 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 cup water 1 medium green pepper 1/4 cup celery 1 small onion 1 lb fresh asparagus Cut beef into diagonal strips with a sharp knife. Brown in hot oil with garlic for 10 minutes. Remove garlic. Add soy sauce, salt and water. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut green pepper into strips, cut celery in diagonal slices about 1/4 in. thick and chop onion. Add to meat and cook 10 minutes. Wash and break off woody ends of asparagus stalks. Cut asparagus in 2 inch diagonal pieces. Add, after the other vegetables have cooked 10 minutes and continue cooking 5 to 8 minutes, or until asparagus pieces are just tender. If the liquid is too thin, thicken with a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with water. Cook until clear. Makes 4 to 5 servings. Serve with rice or Chinese noodles. Have a great day.

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