Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Oh, no! Not the last one?

Suffolk Love Food Champions met formally for the last time and decided they were going to carry on meeting as they had enjoyed themselves so much, not just socially but also because they had enjoyed the whole concept of the project! They have all “found” some new ways to experiment with and enjoy food, whether it is fresh food or using “left-over” food. I think we have all re-accessed the way in which we plan, shop, store and cook food. I would even go so far as to say it has rejuvenated our ideas and enjoyment of physically preparing and eating food – by making it not just a chore, which has to be done for survival!

Dealing quickly with the form filling and getting down to the real business of the evening by enjoying a splash of “bubbly”, which Becky had brought with her as a thank you to the group, we set to work on a round up of the progress from the last meeting. Starting with the “naughty bin” (waste food caddy) we found that there had been a very great improvement and Clare had managed to pare it down to just 2 tablespoons of baby food waste – how’s that for a result!

We looked at the set tasks and decided that there was no need for leftovers to look dull and uninteresting with a little bit of colour and texture added to liven it all up. This sparked off a comment that “picking your own home grown herbs from the garden” really did make a difference. One member of our group has planted-up a herb and vegetable garden and finds it very exciting and satisfying to collect and use the produce “fresh from the ground!” It turns out that several of the group already find the enjoyment of this and others have decided to give it a try – I hope the garden centres are ready for the onslaught in Bury St. Edmunds!

Whilst all the discussion was going on Hannah had quietly been preparing our supper of Pesto Tart. Very simple and exceedingly delicious! (Recipe at end of blog) This was eagerly followed by the promised “Chocolate Fountain Fun.” We had all brought different things to dip into the chocolate and they included marshmallows, cherries, pineapple pieces and strawberries. Well, how can I fully describe different taste sensations going on around the table? With great difficulty! Suffice to say there were lots of “ummm’s” and ahhhhhh’s and not quite so much chatter!

What a wonderful way to conclude our exploration into the delights of wasting less food and saving oodles of money! We have proved that we can save money, can reduce waste and can enjoy the experience all at the same time. Sharing ideas comes top of the “what have we achieved?” list closely followed by more efficient storage, portion control, better shopping practices and far better use of the freezer, which can save time and waste less in the long run.

A very big thank you to Hannah and her group of friends who helped me fulfil this challenge, which, as I said in the first blog, was a bit daunting, to say the least, and I think in spite of all the doubts, we have all thoroughly enjoyed our learning experience and I can end by saying – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Fran Saltmarsh

Pesto Tart

1 x Frozen Puff Pastry – thawed out
Plum baby tomatoes

Rocket Salad
Parmesan Cheese

Heat oven to 200oC

Roll out pastry, put on baking tray and score a 1cm. edge around the sides, (this will form a well for the filling) spread on the pesto, place the halved tomatoes and mozzarella cheese rings.
Cook for 20 minutes then let it cool for a few minutes, sprinkle on rocket and parmesan cheese.

Serve with more salad and just enjoy! Quick, easy and very tasty.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The WI cares about carers...

And the lively debate we had at the recent forum held in Admiralty House proved that. But what a disappointment we had in the absence of Harriet Harman. It was a shame that the Minister for Women missed such a golden opportunity to learn at first hand the raw deal of carers and the care situation.

The intelligence, knowledge, broad expertise, opinion and thoughtfulness that came through the discussion topics from the WI members present provided a rich and, as yet, untapped insight into the kaleidoscope that is caring in the 21st century.

Admittedly, I went into the discussion with a narrow understanding of the issue based on personal perspective of childcare and how small businesses could cope with more employee policy and regulation. However listening to these ladies not only greatly improved my knowledge and awareness of this difficult and sensitive issue and also humbled me in the process.

Availability of respite care, recognition of carers roles, support for carers, two-tier charging of homes and access to benefits were some of the topics, amongst many, that were discussed. What came across clearly is the fact that at some point in a WI member’s lifetime, we are all likely to take on a caring role or indeed need caring for ourselves.

Beyond the WI, as the institute has always been a leading figure (see WI Life Issue 12 for our latest article), carers appear to be the silent majority. Whilst attention is given to diversity policies and ethics, and in spite of the recent Government consultation, the role and value of carers seems to be unappreciated, unrecognised and second rate. The recent news story about the death of a mother and her disabled son in Redditch is tragic and sadly demonstrates the magnitude of stress and anxiety a carer is left to shoulder alone. At NFWI, we believe that needs to change and promptly.

I salute those WI members who attended the forum, in particular the lady who has a 24/7/365 job of caring for her husband who suffers from dementia, and the fact that we all managed to find time from our day jobs to attend this important meeting.

So I urge Ms Harman to speak with WI once more for your gain and to the benefit of carers*. Perhaps we will have a resolution on this next year to support our voice, and then action will be necessary!

Caroline Macdonald

* Our discussions in the forum were recorded verbatim and sent for approval by those who attended. This document will then be delivered to Harriet Harman.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

“And Finally”

On Friday evening, 2nd May, with a supper of take-away fish and chips, mushy peas and a glass of wine, we held the last official meeting of the West Sussex Love Food Champions group.

Over the past 4 months we have swapped recipes, shared ideas on meal planning, compared shopping lists, promised that when we put leftovers in the freezer we will remember to get them out and use them. We have made new friends and will continue to keep in touch.

At the end of each meeting goals have been set and confidence in achieving them increased. Sue had set herself 4 goals at the end of Session 3, perhaps a little ambitious – was she carried away with enthusiasm at the last meeting?

Everyone agreed this has been a very positive experience with the added bonus that 3 of us were involved in the recording of the Ready Steady Cook programme! Sharing new ideas and fresh information with friends and colleagues has been easy and everyone is interested in what we are doing and achieving. One thing we have learnt is that with small children it is harder to keep food waste to the minimum. Sometimes they don’t want to eat, and sometimes they ask for more and don’t eat it. Nick has reduced the waste on the cereal the children eat by giving smaller portions and seconds if asked for.

So with a promise of a BBQ in the summer for the entire group and their families when we will meet Helen’s new baby, due in 2 weeks, could this be the first Love Food Champions baby? We will continue to put into practice all we have talked about and achieved so far in reducing our food waste and try to do better!

Remember to tune into BBC2 at 4.30pm on Friday to see what professional chefs do with a bag of leftovers given to them by Love Food Champion Emily Bennison.

Janice Langley