Sunday, 16 October 2011

Blog Action Day: Sharing Our Food Knowledge

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011 www.blogactionday.orgIn this post I'll be combining Vegan Mofo and Blog Action Day. Blog action Day this year is about food so it's not that hard to combine the two. That hardest part is picking a topic. Food seems to be the most simple and the most complicated thing in our lives. I've picked a topic that is very close to my heart. I want to talk about sharing. Not just sharing food but sharing the knowledge that goes with it.

Everyone is saying it. Days barley pass before another newspaper complains about it. Kids today have lost touch with were there food comes from. I think that's wrong. Young people haven't lost knowledge. They aren't born knowing everything and then forget it just to annoy us. It's our fault. We've failed them. We haven't been passing knowledge down. In some cases we've been failed too. Nobody gave us the knowledge, nobody certainly gave us any confidence, or money for ingredients, or time to cook, or decent kitchens. We're in a mess.

One of the ways I try to dig myself, and my community, out of it is to teach young people how to cook. I've held impromptu lessons with my brothers, roped kids walking through Occombe farm into a quick lesson on herbs and vegetables, I've helped at cookery classes for young people and grown-ups alike. One of the best things in my life is volunteering for Girlguiding UK. And you can be sure I've slipped some food into that.

Actually it's not all that hard to combine food and Guiding. It's one of the things we're famous for. Most, if not all of our planning also comes from suggestions from the girls and they suggest eating an awful lot. It's almost always the first thing mentioned when asking my Brownie unit what they want to do this term. We're always happy to oblige.

My Guides, who find it less cook to shout out 'cooookies' when we ask them what they want to do this term also enjoy cooking. And eating. I try to broaden their horizons with food. We've had thinking day with global pot lucks and I've taught the girls how to roll sushi. Guides is over 100 years old and we've cooked our own traditional food: smores, bananas with chocolate inside, sausages (veggie variation)... We've cooked with them over flames, on gasses, in kitchens. They've tried new things and cooked old favourites. They have fed themselves and each other. It's really cool to watch and be a part of.
Our young leader demonstrates knife skills
Brownies is more basic in a way. I wouldn't try sushi on them. The younger girls especially don't have the manual dexterity for tight rolls. We have made pizza and soda bread. Right now we're exploring foods from our little corner of England. We've had scones, obviously. Last year we sat them down and had them try different varieties of apples from around the UK. They learned not to judge an apple by it's cover, that all different apples have a different taste, that even if you don't like supermarket reds you may like a sweet, smooth Discovery, and that russets may look boring but taste lovely.
Pastry gets pressed in cases and we learn the meaning of the word gently
This year to celebrate apple day we had mulled apple juice and made these little apple tarts, based on the apple galettes from Veganomicon, I don't have a picture of the finished things and you can probably guess why. At the end of this meeting we invited parents in to try the apple juice and each girl took three tarts home. Enough to show off her new skills to her family. So as well as teaching them the skills we taught them the art of sharing food and brought together the parents who support us.
We learn what half a tablespoon means and what happens when you overfill a tart
I find it so much fun to share my food passions with young people especially as they are often equally passionate. Watching the girls learn new things, gain confidence, and try new things is great. Even if they decide that they really don't like juicy apples or nori. Giving them a space where they can try new things, no pressure if it doesn't work out, is a great part of my job. You don't need a Brownie unit to share your food passions with, although if you want one then go ahead, swap skills with friends, drag your kids into the kitchen, or relative's kids, or friends kids. Share your kitchen. It is a joy and a privilege.
Cute shapes!

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