Saturday, February 20, 2010

YamDaisy and Celebrations!

Chinese New Year Celebrations in Melbourne last week were captured in a wonderful set of photoes by Pol at White Forge Photoes. She has kindly let me use one of hers here! But do go and check the lovely gallery of them!

I want to write about celebrations because there were SO MANY of them last week! I read blog posts about a whole range of Carnivale celebrations (with the greatest concentration on Pancake Tuesday!!!). Valentines Day filled the food blogs ~ and The Chinese New Year was closest to my heart!

This set my mind to thinking the role of the YamDaisy Cafe in the years celebrations. Australia, my home, has such a diverse population that there are not that many celebrations that are universally celebrated, and those are generally over commercialised and can leave a lot of people lonely on the edges.

What we do have is an extraordinary number of celebrations observed by families and communities, and a lot of ignorance about their significance, their richness and their FOOD!

The YamDaisy Cafe (click on it to read more) will be a community cafe focussing on local clients, especially those with illness, disability and trying circumstances and without the family support for food provision and therefore, most likely, for celebrations.

Each individual cafe will differ according to decisions of the chef, and the needs and wishes of the clients. But I think the cafes have a great opportunity  to nurture community cohesion and delight in the history and understanding of food, by celebrating those dates that are important within the community.

Imagine what fun could be had with Pancake Tuesday each year, with an Asian Focus for Chinese (or Vietnamese, or Korean etc) New Year, and maybe a 'YamDaisy loves you' treat for those people without partners who otherwise suffer through Valentines Day alone.

The aim would be to celebrate and appreciate the different beliefs that make up the community.
And who knows, if the YamDaisy Cafes are vibrant focal places in the community, there is no doubt that over the years they will build up some celebrations of their own.

PS. Despite bad health and not getting out I managed red bean ice cream to celebrate the Year of the Golden Tiger, a raspberry and white chocolate cupcake (thanks to my daughter Rose) for Valentines Day and a magnificent breakfast of pancakes with lemon and sugar to celebrate Mardi Gras! Cheers!

Friday, February 12, 2010

YamDaisy, Jamie Oliver and the TED award

I had never heard of the TED award before Jamie Oliver was announced as this years winner.
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.
The TED Conference, held annually in the spring, is the heart of TED. More than a thousand people now attend, the event sells out a year in advance, and the content has expanded to include science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world. Over four days, 50 speakers each take an 18-minute slot, and there are many shorter pieces of content, including music, performance and comedy.

The winner of the prize makes a speech and a wish. 

I listened to Jamie Oliver's acceptance speech here (it is the second video bit down the page and goes for just over 20 minutes). I loved his speech and, as always, I was thinking about where the YamDaisy Cafe idea fitted in.
Jamie used this diagram to demonstrate the three important places where change must happen. He pointed out that much as we would like it to be, Home is not necessarily the heart of handing on food knowledge.
I was thinking that the YamDaisy Cafe has it's place in Main St (although, preferably in a little quiet street in the middle of a community!). It is part of the business community and part of the area's economy. But it isn't profit driven.
As well as selling meals (delicious, everyday food) at prices its customers can afford, a YamDaisy Cafe is a place with the ability to educate, entice and encourage the community into better food knowledge and practice.
It is also a sustainable model and I think it fits very well as one of the ways Jamie's wish can come true.

Jamie's Wish: " I wish for everyone to help create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food , inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity . "

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Joy and Awards

Given time I can work most things out. It took about 4 weeks to work out how to add a counter to my blog! But eventually I did it.
You might be able to imagine how long it took me to set up my blog in the first place! But the hardest trick was finding other blogs I liked. My only strategy was to click 'next blog' at the top of my blogspot page, and I would find a page in Chinese about motorbikes, and next something even more bizarre.
Luckily I found a couple of bloggers through the Jamie Oliver Forum and then I worked out the trick of clicking on their followers, and a new world opened.
Then I saw awards floating around, and it was so bewildering that I was glad I was in a little niche of my own far away from such things. I did love the way they introduced me to more blogs that I liked though!
Then one day there was a note on my blog from Ruth at I Love Flavour Me saying that she had given me an award! I could not sit still! I had to walk around my little home flapping my arms to fan myself! I was so overwhelmed!
I could not even think about passing the award on at that stage, but a few months later a second one came up from Issy at Clotted Cream Diaries. There I was again, bright pink and flapping.
But this time I thought to myself: I am so delighted, and it is such a lovely way to pass on other blogs that can be a delight to find... if another one comes my way (in another 5 months maybe) I will be ready to pass it on.
TWO WEEKS LATER the darling Claudia at Recipes, Tips, Thoughts passed on my third award. This time I managed not to blush and flap, but I wasn't nonchalant, it is a very special thing! But then, I had to work out how to pass it on. All those links! And which blogs to pick? At least I have linked to those three wonderful ones for starters!
Well, here goes:
If you want to take part in this blogging award you can! Just follow the instructions.
1. Copy the award image into a post.
2. Then list 10 things that make you happy
3. Tag 10 bloggers who brighten your day
4. Put in a link to their blogs
5. Notify the award receivers
6. Award recipients link back to sender's blog 
Here are 10 bloggers that brighten my day, I am going to count them also as10 things that make me happy.:
 I have chosen 10 blogs that either connect to my blog focus (Community Food Projects) or that seem little gems that not so many people have discovered 9except Chaukhat, but there has to be an exception!).
The first 4 blogs are connected with projects connected with Community Food.
1. Transition Town Boroondara Boroondara is the next council area to mine, and I love the innovative things the members there are doing.
3. School Food Matters keep me up to date with things going on around school dinners in UK but relevant everywhere.
4. The Secret Gardening Club is the journal of a school gardening project and it will all start happening once Spring gets going.
The next are a couple of food blogs dear to my heart.
5. Syrian Foodie in London has such beautiful writing and delicious food, my heart always skips faster when I see there is a new post.
6. Miss Vickie's Pressure Cooker is a wonderful resource for those who love the pressure cooker as I do. I know Miss Vickie has not been well but a blog did pop up from her a little while ago, so I have my fingers crossed there will be more.
next come 
7. Deb DiMaggio whose blog fascinates me with design concepts. My own sense of fashion design is not very sophisticated, so Deb's post make me look at things differently, I love it.
8.  Beads, Crochet and Puppydogs demonstrates such a creative and productive delight in the world.
Finally,  two photographers who also fascinate me with their special view of the world
9. White Forge Photography (Pol shows me my home town)
10. The Chaukhat (which shows me another part of the world)

I wonder where this lovely award will travel next!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Shirl's YamDaisy Menu

A menu of 4 Choices is fine for the YamDaisy Cafe, after all, it is more than you usually get at home!
I collared Shirley and pestered her for a menu (this happens to all my friends!). I not only demand a soup, 2 main courses, and a fruit based dessert, but I ask her to think about the chef in a small kitchen cooking for 150 people a day.
And I remind her that it should be seasonal, local food (but I let her pick any season and locality she likes!). I tell her about the three key things about YamDaisy food: Delicious, Everyday Food and Economical. I ask her to think of a community, maybe a community of her friends, that she would be cooking for.
But Shirley is a trooper, she likes a problem to solve, and she quickly comes up with some amazing dishes. 

Soup: Glorious Soup with Turkish Pita Bread
Main 1: Deadly Nightshade Casserole with Braised Greens
Main 2: Asparagus and Corn Crustless Quiche with Roast Potato and Pumpkin
Fruit Dessert: Baked Quinces with Egg Custard

Glorious Soup 
Shirl chose this soup because it is really yummy with Asian flavours and pretty with the beetroot. It isn't insipid, as some vegetable soups can be, and isn't too spicy so it has wide appeal. This soup has beetroot and other veggies  cooked with kaffir lime, lemon juice, coconut milk and Tom Yum paste. She chose to serve it with Turkish Pita Bread. The flavours stretch from one side of Asia to the other!

Deadly Nightshade Casserole with Braised Greens
Won't kids love choosing this! You will be relieved to know that there is nothing deadly in the ingredients, unless you use it the Koori way where 'deadly' means really good! But there is plenty of nightshade! Tomato, eggplant, potato, capsicum and chillies! All from the nightshade family. 
It was invented by Shirl's friend but she hasn't cooked it herself yet. The instructions were to fry up some onions and layer them in a casserole with all the vegetables, put cheese on top and bake it slowly. She would serve it with a mixture of silver beet (chard) and cabbage, because she finds the beet too acidic by itself.
I was very keen to try this recipe, but it took a while for all those nightshade veggies to be lovely in my greengrocers. February turns out to be the right month. (Unfortunately February also means the cabbage is quite rank, so since peas are nice, I would braise them with the chard instead!).
The recipe is a work in progress. I liked it being so onepot simple, but when I went to make it yesterday I had left it a bit late to bake slowly to cook everything in the oven.
I gently fried onions and garlic with a chopped red chili ~ that made a great couple of layers.
I began seeing it as a variation on eggplant parmigiana so I made a topping with cheese and crumbs and thyme.
I thought I should grill the eggplant slices a bit first. And I microwaved the potatoes so they wouldn't be hard. Then the capsicum needed to be cooked too, so I fried them on high heat till they had tasty blackened edges, and then gave them a microwave zap too, to soften them. 
Next I realised I didn't have as many tomatoes as I thought and compromised with a bit of pasta sauce between the layers and the tomatoes on top as you can see in the picture..
I ended up with a kitchen completely full of almost every dish and saucepan I own and I was completely exhausted! Woe betide a YamDaisy chef that cooks it that way!!!!
But it tasted wonderful last night, and perfect this evening when we added a beautiful tomato sauce that contained garlic and capsicum fried in olive oil and tomatoes (a tin) added and cooked til rich and delicious.
Next time I will make that sauce to add in the casserole and I will try it the easier way, where one pot and the oven do all the work. I will let you know when I have perfected it! 
Main 2: Asparagus and Corn Crustless Quiche with Roast Potato and Pumpkin
This is a clever dish for the YD Cafe also. Instead of a pastry case, this quiche is made by oiling the dish and then sprinkling oatbran to cover. Bite sized pieces of asparagus,corn kernels, sliced leeks and spinach (or other veggies in season) are sprinkled evenly over it. Eggs are mixed with 1/2 evaporated milk, 1/2 cream, seasoned and poured gently over. The quiche is baked gently until just set and served with roasted potato and pumpkin.

Fruit Dessert: Baked Quinces with Egg Custard
Shirl's first choice was apple and rhubarb crumble. This must be the most popular Australian dessert. We have had so many close variations of it that I asked her to choose again. So she chose baked quinces. As luck would have it, when I finally get around to posting her menu, quinces have been out of season for months, and rhubarb is beautiful. However, let's say that the clever chef preserved the quinces and can bring them out now to bake back to warmth for a special treat. We might like seasonal food, but a bit of home preserving is good too!

If you would like to see more of the menu's that show what could be done in a YamDaisy Cafe when we finally get them going... check them out here.

I would love your feedback on this menu, and if you are inspired to suggest a YamDaisy menu (just read through the first paragraph, and look at the menu link)  I would be so delighted and glad to showcase it here!