27 September 2013

GUEST BLOG: Waste not, want not

By guest blogger MAZ

What a beautiful sunny day we got to enjoy in Rochdale's Falinge Park last Sunday, working with the community to learn how to Love Food Hate Waste, a campaign run by Recycle For Greater Manchester.

The organiser Catherine and her eager volunteers were already converted and helped us rally the small but committed band of visitors to join Cracking Good Food and learn to cook fresh, healthy meals on a budget, with no waste. We were making tasty tagine, which can use up just about any vegetables you have left knocking around at the end of the week and you can freeze portions if you don’t need all of it. The vegetables are spiced up with cumin , paprika, cinnamon and mild chilli powder and, of course, dried apricots and sweet honey add that special Middle Eastern flavour! I was asked if we wanted some herbs from the community garden so off I went to pick a selection. With four types of mint and other tasty choices, I knew the couscous and tzatsiki would taste even better, and nothing was wasted as I could just pick the amount we needed. What a great start!

Our young participants were happy chopping away with their parents’ support and encouragement, so we quickly had our onions caramelising, creating a smell that everyone was enjoying. Then came carrots, parsnips and peppers followed by the spices, after they had been sniffed and tasted by all, and honey. Finally we added the dried apricots and tinned tomatoes - resourcefully opened as the tin openers malfunctioned!

 As the tagine bubbled away, we discussed how most households waste around £50 month on food. One woman explained how she buys food for visitors and then they can’t come and another mentioned the changing tastes of her young granddaughter from day to day. These circumstances can be hard to overcome, but we managed to convince another woman, who admitted she threw things away before the end date as she knew she wouldn’t use them in time, to put these items in the freezer along with leftovers. We also explored packet sizes and use-by dates, and came up with lots of ideas how to reduce this waste straight away.

The tagine was ready and everyone ate well, including the apprehensive boxing demonstration next to us, some of whom had seconds! I had a great day and felt the community spirit in full swing - everyone had come together to make this event work and I left feeling that our contribution helped inform and remind us all how good it is to cook and eat together.

Our next Love Food Hate Waste session takes place in Dukinfield on 17 October, with further sessions taking place around Greater Manchester until 4 December. All are free to take part in; visit our website for further details and to book your free place. Click here to be redirected.

There are more photos from this event on our Facebook page.

GUEST BLOG: Breaking bread

By guest blogger SIOBHAN KELLY

Saturday’s sell-out Breaking Bread session saw the group make a basic loaf, garlic naan and focaccia with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, rock salt and olive oil. An extra treat for all the participants were the lunchtime pizzas made by me and volunteers Janice and Barry, which we topped with red and green peppers, fresh chilli, garlic, anchovies, mushrooms and cheese, and a special sauce made with red onions, garlic, tinned tomatoes, chopped fresh pear and seasoning, simmered down.   

The friendly group of people on the course today gathered around to learn about breadmaking from Rob, who shared his wealth of information and knowledge throughout the session: from scientific facts and top tips to differences in the yeasts available, good places to buy ingredients, and ‘bakers mates’ and their value in the kitchen.

To start, the group mixed flour with water, yeast and salt to make the bread dough, leaving it to rest under a wet towel while getting on with the dough for the naan and focaccia. With the ovens pre-heating for the loaves, the temperature in the kitchen was rising, making it the perfect environment for the dough to rise. Making focaccia is fun: stretching the dough, folding it over, rolling it and adding ingredients between the layers. And the result is rustic and delicious - a cut above shop-bought versions. For the naan bread, garlic was chopped and mixed with salt to make a garlic paste, and yoghurt was gently heated in a pan using a finger to stir rather than a spoon to keep it at the correct temperature. The garlic naans were then fried in pans of hot oil, giving off a really appetising smell. They can be flavoured as strongly or as mildly as you like, depending on your taste - just one of the benefits of making them from scratch.

Everything came together perfectly at the end of the session: loaves, garlic naan and focaccia, all lovely and warm. Recipe sheets were given out to the group to encourage and enable everyone to try breadmaking again at home and to share their new-found knowledge with friends and family. Another great day in the kitchen!

You can see more photos from this breadmaking session on the Cracking Good Food Facebook page. Click here to view.

2 September 2013

GUEST BLOG: Curry in a hurry

By guest blogger KIM IRWIN

Following on from the success of the Contour Housing Association Roadshow event in Salford where Rob and Tracey rustled up stuffed pancakes, we took the cooks to Oldham; this time with new chef James and new volunteer Mariosz. We were supplied with some amazing produce for the event by Fareshare, the nationwide charity which redistributes food that would otherwise have gone to waste. They gave us tomatoes, onions, potatoes, cauliflower, lemons, peaches and Greek yoghurt to both cook with and for people to take home in packed goody bags. James had soon rustled up a simple curry with the ingredients and a few spices, and I made gram flour pancakes with a hint of chilli and fresh coriander. They were lovingly stuffed with the curry and topped with yoghurt, and yes… they tasted awesome!

For more photos from the day, visit our Facebook page: click here.

If you are interested in Cracking Good Food working with your community group, check out the Community Outreach pages on our website: click here.