On becoming a Foodie

You know, I come from a family of amazing cooks. My grandfathers were both bakers, and one of them even a world class Danish pastry chef, Sven. He had a son who is a professional baker, Gus. He also had a daughter, Susan, who’s deliciously diverse cuisine skills are pro-level. She had a daughter, Ella, who makes the world’s best crèpes, among other delicacies. Together these two ladies, Susan and Ella, have been known to gourmet-cater to over a hundred people… while camping… for THREE days.

Get it? They’re good. Really good.

And I’ve kinda always been the one that wasn’t so good. Not that I’m known in the family as a ‘terrible cook’ or anything…  it’s just I’ve never been the one whipping up new recipes or organising feasts for dozens at a time. I’m the dishwasher in the kitchen, or chopper at best. And I know what my mum would say to this: “but you make great bread!”

My bread is alright. I’ve had better. But you know what? I think I might actually be growing into a ‘good cook’! Whether it was my early passion for heathy, sustainable food (vegan), my various jobs in hospitality, or just my damn good genes, I believe I can now officially call myself a ‘foodie’.

The culmination of my culinary experience has come in the form of my current job – cook on board a privately owned yacht. I’ve had to learn quickly, cater to lots of different preferences and figure out how to do ‘gourmet’ while sweating your weight in salt, inside a steaming, rolling, galley.

And it’s been a lot of fun! Obviously I still have a LONG way to go in being anything close to world-class, but I reckon I can whip up a pretty delicious dinner party these days.

I’ve been learning from lots of different sources, altering recipes here and there to suit. One of my favourite cook books is Pete Evans’ “Healthy Everyday” which I draw a lot of inspiration from. I’ve been baking exclusively sugar-free treats, and a lot of these dishes are gluten free too. Here are some of the things I’ve been trying my hand at:

Polenta patties with mozzarella cream and seared arugala

Polenta patties with mozzarella cream and seared arugala

Sushi with crushed sunflower paste, fresh herbs and raw vegetables.

Sushi with crushed sunflower paste, fresh herbs and raw vegetables.

Pumpkin Soup with grilled prawns and a hint of miso and sesame flavour

Pumpkin Soup with grilled prawns and a hint of miso and sesame flavour

Avocados stuffed with marinated shrimp

Avocados stuffed with marinated shrimp

Mmm, a Pete Evans winning recipe - Pomegranate and herb crusted salmon.

Mmm, a Pete Evans winning recipe – Pomegranate and herb crusted salmon.

Sushi with freshly caught (I love sailing!) fish and goat cheese

Sushi with freshly caught fish, cucumber and goat cheese

Beetroot-goat cheese salad, zucchini boats and rosemary potato wedges

Beetroot-goat cheese salad, roasted zucchini boats, rosemary potato wedges, and quail egg mushrooms

Oven-grilled filo quiche

Filo quiche with oven-grilled smokey vegetables

Sugar-free date and walnut slice

Sugar-free date and walnut slice

 

I love these little guys - Crushed Pea patties with smoked salmon and quail eggs

I love these little guys – Crushed Pea patties with smoked salmon and quail eggs

A wheat pasta alternative - zucchini ribbons with a raw tomato and peppers salsa

A wheat pasta alternative – zucchini ribbons with a raw tomato and peppers salsa

Dairy free, sugar free,  chocolate raspberry mousse

Dairy free, sugar free, chocolate raspberry mousse

 

That’s it! Lots more learning to come, but so far I’m quite happy with the progress… and I sure am having fun!

 

Skipping Waste

Skipping Waste” is a documentary about dumpster diving, created in 2009 by Lily Barlow. It was shot in France and the Netherlands. The movie is distributed under the conditions of the Creative Commons Share Alike NonCommercial Attribution license.

Monopolizing chain supermarkets dominate food sales. Bananas from Columbia and avocados from Brazil are filling baskets throughout European winters. These unsustainable consumer habits lead to a well of waste, burning oil and overflowing landfills. Desperately seeking an alternative, dumpster divers are taking to the streets, feeding hundreds with the found food. “Skipping Waste” follows these communities through France and the Netherlands as they recoup and reuse what capitalist society has deemed as ‘trash’.

Beeing Vegan

Standing between the aisles of a supermarket, empty basket in hand, you spend 10 minutes deciding on cookies. Full cream milk powder? Aroma? A series of 621, 352 and other random numbers… which contain NO animal products to satisfy your vegan label? Does ‘May contain traces of milk.’ count?
A little further up you take as long debating on chocolate. Is vegan regular chocolate better than non-vegan fairtrade, or is poorly paid labour as ethically wrong as any milk content?

Scanning the ingredients of ever item, you’ve quickly learned the German, Dutch and French words for milk, cheese and egg. But aside from improving your linguistic skills, what is the point of all this?

My reasons for veganism may not be the traditional ones, but in a world so full of animal consumer goods, I feel the need to justify them.
Being Vegetarian, with the now somewhat understood evils of factory farming, has become almost accepted. An increase in documentaries like ‘Our Daily Bread’ and ‘Meat the Truth’ have done a lot to expose animal cruelty, but for me, the ethics of what I eat doesn’t stop there. With my understanding of the production chain, sitting down to scrambled eggs, let alone a steak, doesn’t seem justifiable.

The amount of land that was cleared to allow for grazing, the water plowed through to grow those non-native crops, and the total energy consumed to impregnate, fatten, then slaughter that animal, just can’t be worth it. If I’m going to be so concerned about which lightbulbs I use, then i ought to question what energizes my body too.

Which means not stopping at flesh. Not eating meat for ethical reasons makes a hypocracy out of accepting any animal product. A dairy farmer is driven by the same profit motive as a cattle farmer, and often has the same practices. When more yield in less space equals more money, ethics get left way behind… everytime.

A milk cow lives just as short a life as a beef one. She is there to produce, produce, produce and when her prime is over, so is she. The potential of the energy she used gets lost too, when she doesn’t reach maturity.
Even organic or free range options have constraints. Often organic measures just means 80cms of space instead of 70, or only slightly better conditions than their factory counterparts. There are no free range egg classifications in Europe, the United States or Australia that prohibit the cutting of beaks on chickens. If they want to have that many fowl living together in one space, preventing pecking is the only way to generate that precious profit.

That carton of a dozen eggs I was looking at may have a smiley free range logo on it, but unless I see the farm myself, I have no guarantee of making an ethical choice. Those hens may only be let out of their close cages for a few hours a day, allowing then to be labeled ‘free’. How much is that omelette really worth?

These options are certainly a step in the right direction, but we need to bring power back to the consumer. How much do you know about the food you eat? How sure can you be that it is sustainable? Trusting a label has never been enough and corporate companies are not going to make the right decisions for us or our planet.

For me, being vegan is about eliminating the margins for error. Until I can guarrantee that what I consume has neither harmed the earth nor it’s animals, as far as I’m concerned… It’s not fit to eat.

Skipping Waste

Monopolizing chain supermarkets dominate food sales. Bananas from Columbia and avocados from Brazil are filling baskets throughout European winters.  These unsustainable consumer habits lead to a well of waste, burning oil and overflowing landfills. Desperately seeking an alternative, ‘Dumpster Divers’ are taking to the streets, feeding hundreds with the found food. ‘Skipping Waste’ follows these communities through France and the Netherlands as they recoup and reuse what capitalist society has deemed as ‘trash’.

see here the full video on trashwiki.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.