Slice of Life Story Challenge March 11 -Food, Life and Love



Food, Life and Love

Yesterday after presenting a day of writing at Ascot Vale Primary School the staff graciously presented me with a book. A book that really hit the mark…





I found myself looking at a ‘just right’ book. A cooking book of recipes (Cooking with Ascot Vale Primary School) with stories conceived and compiled by students and parents celebrating kids in the kitchen. The book also draws in the some of the best offerings from neighbourhood cafes and restaurants. Such a comprehensive view of food. 

For this food lover and occasional cook, it was a real joy to be able to add this beautifully presented title to my ever expanding collection of cook books. 

I love how modern cook books are more frequently examples of hybrid texts, presenting not just procedures for conjuring up cooking delights, but also providing the background story of how that particular recipe came to life.

Sometimes there exists a rich family tradition of cooking a dish of enduring delight. I love these stories. Food memories are evoked in these considered texts. They give the food an authentic context, an essential connection.

There exists an inherent celebration of food and its connection to lives, times and places. This adds a richness and depth to the cooking experience. 

A Taste From the Food Files

Discoveries: 
In recent years I have discovered some wonderful ingredients originating in Middle Eastern cuisine. Pomegranate molasses, sumac, and zatar have become favourites. Our spice drawer is now a sight to behold. Spices from to A to Z in tiny glass jars. Zing is the thing.  We currently have growing in our garden a previously unknown edible green, Yukina.  Yukina is an Asian green leaf vegetable, related to Bok Choi.  Its large crinkly leaves can be used in stir fries and salads. It’s good to experiment. 

Cooking Tools:
I have to say I find the garlic press quite indispensable. Quick and easy to use. I also love the old wooden chopping board my Dad made my Mum all those years ago. Each time I use it I am transported back to the kitchen of my childhood. I can smell the scones being baked. 

Inspiration:
I love cooking shows that don’t involve contrived angst or competition. Cooking is not a competition sport. For me it is both therapeutic, and an act of creative endeavour. To use fresh healthy ingredients to create a meal is a continual source of inspiration.

On The Menu:
I get regular requests to cook Chilli Con Carne. It has become a staple. Served with red rice, sour cream and garnished with parsley directly from our garden it makes for a wonderful winter warmer. The fact the request comes from my culinary mentor and wife, Vicki makes it all the more special to be able to deliver the Chilli of her delight. I also like creating salads full of freshness, texture and colour.  Salads have moved so far from the bland presentation of my childhood and much credit for this goes to Yotam Ottolenghi and his re-imagining of what constitutes a salad. 
A Collage of Salads

Orrechiette Pasta,cheese and caraway seed  bake with cherry tomato and spinach salad

Chorizo, tomato, spinach and goat's cheese Frittata

         




Comments

  1. I love that you got a cookbook from the school! That is such a fun way to bring the community together :) I have recently gotten into trying new recipes and enjoying to cook my dinner, rather than just making boxed food. Thank you for sharing your food creations as well!

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    1. Hannah, I agree entirely regarding the bringing together community. May you continue trying new things in the kitchen- so rewarding.

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  2. You're speaking to my heart! I love food, and I love cooking! Cooking is so much about the heart and soul you put into it. Loved the pictures that accompanied your text.
    My blog: aggiekesler.wordpress.com

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    1. Glad you enjoyed this post. Pleased it spoke to you. That's all a writer can ask.

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  3. What a nice gift to receive! My mother gave me a homemade cookbook this winter, with photos to go along with special family recipes passed down from different family members. Nowadays, so many of my recipes come from Pinterest or online. I agree that having a real cookbook with real stories brings the food to life! Your inclusion of a few snippets under the Food Files makes it feel like a selection from a book - nice touch!

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    1. Thank you Delila for your remarks. May you continue to find books that bring the food to life.

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  4. Delicious slice. You received a wonderful gift. Cookbooks and culinary experiments hold a place in my life too.

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    1. I was indeed most fortunate Terje. Glad to hear cookbooks are central to your life too.

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  5. Love the reminder that cookbooks have become a hybrid. I haven't woven them into curriculum as a mentor text, but I think there are some students who would really appreciate that as an option. Your pictures and vignettes are fabulous!

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    1. Thanks Melanie. I am fascinated by the background stories in these books. The curious learner in me wants this information. Some of them are wonderful human interest stories, rich with history as well.

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  6. Thank you for the inspiration. There was a period when I was reading cookbooks before sleep every night - such tasty dreams ensued! We did a cook book once at school, long ago - time to revisit that idea.

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    1. Go Teri! Hope it leads to some authentic writing and cooking project. Cookbooks at bedtime? That's an idea I've yet to consider.

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  7. What a sweet gift from that school! I do love to cook when I can find the time, and it really does connect my family in a way that take out never will.

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    1. Lorie, you have said a lot in your response. I agree wholeheartedly.

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  8. I couldn't agree more, "For me it is both therapeutic, and an act of creative endeavour." Cooking has saved me. Having just lost my husband cooking soothes me.....maybe it is that I have a bit of control. There is brain science behind this.....I just read an article on Spoon University.

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    1. May you continue to find solace and satisfaction in your kitchen time. The control aspect is interesting. When we feel smart about something or feel a sense of mastery or control, it energizes us. Power on. May the days shine brighter.

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  9. Oh, my word. This was quite the place to visit on a day of fasting...so tempting. I love zatar, bit am unfamiliar with zing, I'll have to search it out.

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    1. Timing is everything Tara. Still, you can store this away for another time. Khalad, a teacher I have worked with introduced me to zatar. So grateful.

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  10. What a great gift from the school! I will have to google several items that you have mentioned because they are not part of my culinary vocabulary. What a visual treat you provide at the end. Those salads are amazing.

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    1. Thanks Elsie. I remain ever grateful for discovery the culinary wizardry of Yotam Ottolenghi. His salads have guided me into fantastic new tastes and food combinations. They have given me the confidence to experiment.It was indeed a great gift.

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  11. What a fun post. My mouth was watering as I read. I too have fallen in love with many Middle Eastern ingredients now that I reside in Bahrain. Pomegranate molasses, sumac and zatar are all in my cupboard now. I love eating labna and zatar on flat bread for breakfast or lunch.

    As I read your post, I also thought of kitchen utensils in my own home with stories of their own.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Denise

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    1. Denise, we are talking the same food language it seems.There are potential writing ideas in those kitchen utensils I'm sure. Thanks for dropping by from Bahrain!

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  12. What a beautiful gift. I love the unexpected blurring of genres around a topic that literally everyone can relate to: food!!

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    1. I like your term, the blurring of genres for that is what it is, essentially. food is a universal topic, with so many different entry points. You are correct Liz, the book I received was a wonderful gift. Such a surprise, and so much about building community through a shared experience.

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