If you hadn’t already heard (I’ve told pretty much everyone I know, and now have moved onto moaning to strangers), I have a cold. It’s a bad one, people. Real bad. My nose squeaks when I breathe and I’ve started ordering mugs of hot water from coffee shops so I can subtly get my fix of Lemsip. Not ashamed.
This didn’t stop me from enjoying my birthday – which I share with my Dad – on Friday, nor will it stop me from writing Sunday Roast. So, with a cough and a splutter…
Okay so I promised that I would start making some of Steph’s recipes, and what better way to start than with a hot grilled cheese & jalapeño sandwich. This may sound simple, but what makes it spectacular is that it is a Totoro grilled cheese sandwich.
So, my family has this thing for Totoro. It’s not a thing for anime in general, just Totoro. We just feel that he encompasses everything good about the world: he’s relaxed, sleeps all the time, encourages nature to bloom and has a theme tune. We will gloss over the freaky cat bus.
My Dad is so enamoured that his Google account photo is Totoro: funny to us, but disconcerting to those who flick through the list of Professors at Oxford University to find a large, fluffy hybrid between a reindeer and manatee staring at them through a sea of suits and ties…
For my Dad’s 50th, I decided to make him these scrumptious Totoro grilled cheese sandwiches… Here is the process, with the instructions from I Am A Food Blog:
1. Place buttered bread butter-side-down in a pan and toast on a medium heat
2. Sprinkle some grated mature cheddar cheese and jalapenos onto the toast
3. Butter another slice of bread and place butter-side-up on top of the other slice
4. Flip and toast (this side will cook faster as pan is hotter) until golden brown
5. Construct Totoro. I used brie for the eyes and chest (just a thin slab) and then mature cheddar sprinkles for the whiskers. Steph uses seaweed for the pupils, nose and chest markings…I used Vegemite…
6. Try not to cry as you have to knife Totoro and cut him into quarters to consume.
You know those hilarious memes
that show what a recipe is meant to look like versus the mess you create when you make it? That’s what I thought would happen here…and to be honest, I’m proud of myself. Yes, Totoro looks slightly like an otter, but win some lose some.
As some of you may know, I planned to be on a culinary/agricultural tour of Asia and Europe but due to various circumstances had to return back to Oxford. This dream is still there and I’m sure one day will be followed through (perhaps with company this time), but in the mean time I thought I should share the blog of two girls with a very similar idea: FEAST, an Edible Road Trip
The blog documents the experiences and recipes of two girls on a coast-to-coast culinary roadtrip across Canada. They describe it as:
“From north to south, rural to metropolitan, we’ll show off Canadian food, this country’s diverse culture, and its ever-changing landscape”
I love blogs that tell the story behind food: knowledge of provenance is essential when it comes to understanding, enjoying and appreciating good food. I encourage you all to read their stories, flick through their photos and perhaps get inspired to start your own culinary journey (even if it’s just in your local town!).
There is the big question of how to feed the world by 2050. We will have 9 billion people on the planet and many fear that a combination of population growth, increased resource use and land use change will push our societal and environmental boundaries over the edge. As John Beddington famously stated: it is a ‘perfect storm’.
To tackle this, routes such as ‘climate smart agriculture’ and ‘sustainable intensification’ have been thrown into the mix alongside more radical views such as ‘food sovereignty
‘. This article looks particularly at the latter: a movement that advocates a return to equitable local, organic smallholder food production rather than rely on global trade, intensive agriculture and unaccountable business’.
The question is – can this actually feed the world and benefit the environment? This is exactly what the authors asked, using UN FAO data to model various future diet and environment scenarios.
The results show that we can feed the world through a ‘food sovereignty’ route. The protein source may be different though, with this outcome only occurring if we shift from a meat and dairy rich diet to that similar to a Mediterranean one; pulses, legumes, vegetables and so on. Not only is this good news for us, but also for the environment: by adopting organic, local agriculture, we also reduce levels of nitrogen contamination and improve water quality.
Sharing research like this is of paramount importance: it just shows that every local initiative really does help make a global change towards a better, democratic and sustainable food system.
On the topic of local initiatives… This news article focuses on how you can grow your own herbs, vegetables and fruits in a simple, affordable way – all from your windowsill at home. It even gives information on growing your own cocktail ingredients (minus the alcohol – maybe I should do a blog on fermentation…).
I’ve had my own herb garden before and it was a fantastic investment. Not only was it cheaper than buying pre-cut and packaged herbs from the supermarket, but you get a sense of achievement every time you use the herbs in cooking or see a new shoot appear. We got a bit attached to our herbs; they were named Justin the thyme, Manuel the basil plant…the opportunities for creative puns are endless.
To just spread a bit more enthusiasm for growing your own herbs, fruit and vegetables at home, check out Vertical Veg and my poster on herbs & complementary foods (for a larger version, click here)
|Copyright Rebecca Roberts
Whether you like it or not, social media is one of the major platforms for education in the 21st century. From live photos and news on Twitter to creating independent films and blogs, media allows for our voices to be heard, shared and inspire.
There is one film I want to focus on this week: The ‘Wanted 18’.
The film documents the story of 18 cows and their role in an underground dairy network in Palestine. Informal markets – or ‘black markets’ – are common in many countries, particularly in times of conflict or scarcity. Local networks are essential in getting resources such as water
and – in this case – dairy products to community members who cannot access full entitlements from formal, state networks.
“[I was told]…These cows are dangerous for the security for the state of Israel…I can’t understand how can 18 cows be dangerous for the security of the state of Israel?”
We often see food as simply a commodity, but it is very much intertwined with politics, power and control. This documentary not only shows this, but uses food – a common value – as a platform to educate about wider Israeli-Palestinian relations and ongoing crisis.
To say I’m looking forward to watching it is a bit jovial…I am intrigued. If anyone wants to join me, the screenings are from March 23rd – 26th in London.
p.s. For more inspirational films, check out Films For Action
hosting over 4900 independent documentaries and short films on topics ranging from philosophy and politics to peak oil and climate change.
Until next week… x