THE NEW YORKER, 25 FEB 2014

In January, Jack Monroe, a young British woman in her twenties with a shagged, boyish haircut, uploaded her fourth video to YouTube. It showed Monroe in a gray T-shirt and cardigan, pushing sweated onions and greens around a saucepan with a wooden spoon on an electric stove. “Hi,” she says, meekly, and waves. Tonight she’s making turkey meatballs and spinach pasta. “I’m really tired and I don’t really fancy haute cuisine tonight, so here we go,” she explains with wry weariness. Monroe then squeezes the last of a tube of tomato paste into the pan. A fluorescent light casts a yellow glow as Monroe cooks, and the sizzling vegetables overpower her voice. A cat perches on a wooden IKEA stool in the background. Monroe is a resourceful and skilled cook, with a recipe book out this month, but she is the opposite of most celebrity chefs. Since May, 2012, she has posted hundreds of budget recipes on her cheerful blog, called “A Girl Called Jack,” ranging from peach-and-chickpea curry (“a good place to hide extra vegetables”) to at least a dozen kinds of bread. She had no computer, so she typed out each recipe—and even her book—on a pay-as-you-go Nokia phone. Each recipe includes the price of each ingredient and the total price of the meal per serving, which typically adds up to less than one pound. Back in July, 2012, though, while she was posting recipes for friends and […]

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SUNDAY BRUNCH

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This morning I conquered my fear of cooking on television with a brief stint on Channel Four’s Sunday Brunch – awesome, loved it, and had lots of lovely messages on Twitter afterwards too from people who had seen it – including a picture of a bowl of dough proving, from one reader who was cooking it along with me! I […]

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BUSKING WITH BILLY

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It’s been a totally crazy week this week, and nothing beats when one of your musical and political heroes offers to take you out busking for an afternoon. I lost my voice on Sunday – still don’t have it back – but there was no way I was going to let that stop me. Slight mortification about having to bellow/holler […]

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BOLOGNON

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Faced with a leftover hunk of beef last night to stretch between two grown women with fairly healthy appetites, I started making bolognese, changed my mind and wanted bourgignon, and changed it back again halfway through. This is my first dinner cooked for Someone Very Special (who doesn’t like white chocolate, so Headrush Spaghetti was out, and who cooked for […]

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CAULI, FENNEL & GARLIC SOUP

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This wholesome, earthy soup is packed with flavour from the sweet roasted onions and unmistakable taste of fennel. (Serves 2) 49p a portion 400g cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen, 60p 1 potato, diced, 9p 1 onion, quartered, 9p 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled 6p Scant teaspoon of fennel seeds, 5p 2 tbsp oil, 6p 500ml vegetable stock, 2p Preheat the […]

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CHOCOLATE, CHILLI & BLACK BEAN SOUP

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It’s just a matter of days until my book launch on the 27th, so I’ve decided to blog one of my favourites from the book, featured in last weekend’s edition of the Observer Food Monthly magazine… First up, Chocolate, Chilli And Black Bean Soup. Photography by Susan Bell. I knocked up this soup last winter. It combines onions and garlic for detoxifying goodness […]

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POVERTY CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE

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I didn’t manage to say very much on Channel 5’s The Big Benefits Row, beyond an opening remark about people not being able to just rock up to a food bank with a carrier bag and help themselves. I started to talk about the Trussell Trust when Edwina Currie, also on my panel, cut over me to talk about my […]

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“I’M A LEFTY LIBERAL LEZZER…”

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When I arrive at her flat in Southend-on-Sea Jack Monroe is where fans of her compulsive blog A Girl Called Jack perhaps imagine her always to be, in front of her cooker, making an omelette. The flat, which she moved into three weeks ago, overlooks the wild grey Thames estuary, just up from the longest pleasure pier in the world. […]

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MY FEMALE FOOD HEROES IN TANZANIA

Last month I spent 10 days in Tanzania with Oxfam, meeting women and farmers who had been involved in Oxfam projects including Raising Her Voice and Female Food Heroes. Click here to watch the video. My trip to Tanzania is something that I think about every day. I miss Anna and Sister Martha terribly, and I hope to return very soon. With thanks to Oxfam Tanzania, Oxfam Ireland, Oxfam GB, Fred Nyatori (director), Mora McLagan (photography), and Caterina Monsanzi and Michael Tait at the Guardian. Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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HEADRUSH SPAGHETTI

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Traditionally, on Valentines Days gone by, I would knock up a pan of tagliatelle with a slow-cooked chilli and tomato sauce, hand torn basil and parsley, a few finely chopped olives and two lobsters from Leigh Fishermans Co-op nestled on top… I’d carry my big, faithful copper-bottomed sauté pan into the dining room, hand over a fork, and begin, following […]

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VALENTINE

Just because, this is one of my favourite pieces of writing. For love, for food, for words. From ‘Rapture’ by Carol Ann Duffy. Not a red rose or a satin heart. I give you an onion. It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. It promises light like the careful undressing of love. Here. It will blind you with tears like a lover. It will make your reflection a wobbling photo of grief. I am trying to be truthful. Not a cute card or a kissogram. I give you an onion. Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips, possessive and faithful as we are, for as long as we are. Take it. Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring, if you like. Lethal. Its scent will cling to your fingers, cling to your knife. – Carol Ann Duffy.

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BLUE CHEESE TATTIE SCONES

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These simple but hearty scones are ideal for any time of day. I serve mine for breakfast with a runny egg on top, or for dinner with buttery cabbage and succulent chicken thighs. (Serves 4) 38p per person 500g potatoes, diced, 14p 25g butter, 12p 1 onion, finely chopped, 10p 1 egg, beaten, 22p 50g blue cheese, crumbled, 35p 2 […]

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BRAMLEY APPLE SODA BREAD.

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Bramley apple soda bread (makes four generous portions): 200g flour (any will do – plain, self raising, rye, whole meal…) 1 rounded tsp bicarbonate of soda 2 tsp lemon juice 200ml milk 1 large Bramley apple (or other variety, but they do work incredibly well here!) First, measure out the milk and add the lemon juice, and leave to stand […]

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PEACH CRUMBLE

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For this dish I’ve combined honey and peach with a generous squeeze of lime to cut through the sweetness. (Serves four) 200g flour 100g sugar 100g oats 150g butter 400g tinned peaches in syrup 1 tbsp honey 1 whole fresh lime Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Melt the butter in a […]

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CURRIED EGGS.

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I’ve had a hankering for Curried eggs for the past couple of days, I’m not sure why… So tonight, I knocked this one together. Rich and simple, cheap and easy, this is set to become a Major favourite in my household… Ingredients: (Serves 2) 4 free range eggs 1 onion 1 tbsp oil 1 fresh red chilli or pinch of […]

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A week in the tummies of Jack and SB, the results!

Hi lovely readers! Do you remember last week I asked you to help me out with recipe ideas for my food shop? Well, over 300 ideas were sent in here, on Facebook and on Twitter, and I spent the week making a few that had caught my eye. To recap: here’s what I had to work with: http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/27/turning-the-tables-heres-my-food-what-should-i-make-this-week/ And here’s what I made: TUESDAY: Breakfast: Apple granola – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/28/apple-crumble-granola/ Lunch: Spiced split pea and yoghurt soup – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/28/spiced-split-pea-and-yoghurt-soup/ Dinner: Pasta with turkey and chickpea meatballs, tomato, spinach and Greek cheese – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/29/turkey-and-chickpea-meatballs-with-pasta-spinach-onion-and-crumbled-not-feta-cheese/ WEDNESDAY: Breakfast: Apple granola – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/28/apple-crumble-granola/ Lunch: Spiced split pea and yoghurt pasta bake with cheese – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/30/pasta-bake-with-leftover-spiced-split-pea-and-yoghurt-soup/ Dinner: Turkey meatball and two bean stew – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/29/turkey-meatball-stew-with-green-and-white-beans/ THURSDAY: Breakfast: Banana pancakes – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/30/banana-pancakes/ Lunch: Spiced split pea and yoghurt pasta bake with cheese http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/30/pasta-bake-with-leftover-spiced-split-pea-and-yoghurt-soup/ Dinner: Mackerel and spinach chowder – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/30/mackerel-and-spinach-chowder/ FRIDAY: Breakfast: Sweet mandarin Bircher – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/31/sweet-mandarin-breakfast-bircher-31p/ Lunch: Roast carrot and Greek cheese soup Dinner: Smoked mackerel kedgeree – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/31/smoked-mackerel-kedgeree-89p/ SATURDAY: Breakfast: Pitta bread with fried sardines and runny egg – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/02/01/toasted-pitta-bread-topped-with-chunks-of-fried-sardine-and-a-runny-egg-44p/ Lunch: Roast carrot and Greek cheese soup Dinner: Carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers with rainbow rice – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/04/06/carrot-cumin-kidney-bean-burger-9p/ SUNDAY: Breakfast: Apple pancakes (these without the sultanas) – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/11/20/apple-sultana-pancakes-22p/ Lunch: Avgolemono soup Dinner: Mushroom, spinach and garlic risotto MONDAY: Breakfast: Sweet mandarin Bircher – http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/31/sweet-mandarin-breakfast-bircher-31p/ Lunch: Mushroom, garlic and soft cheese soup Dinner: Carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers with rice and green beans – […]

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DEAR EDWINA…

Dear Edwina; It’s 9 o clock on Tuesday, the morning after the night before, where we were both on a panel on The Big Benefits Row on Channel 5. I haven’t watched it back, I was there, and know what I look like when I’m angry. I need to get this out – because it’s everything I wanted to say last night but couldn’t, as I kept being rudely shouted over by you. Honestly, my three year old behaves better than that. At least he knows that when Mummy does her ‘will you just be QUIET and LISTEN to me’ then the best thing to do is to stop running your mouth and let Mummy say her piece. But you didn’t. Because you were terrified of what I had to say. I wanted to say, when asked by Matthew Wright, that poverty is almost indescribable to someone as blinkered as you. That turning off the fridge because it’s empty anyway, that sitting across the table from your young son enviously staring down his breakfast, having freezing cold showers and putting your child to bed in god knows how many layers of clothes in the evening – it’s distressing. Depressing. Destabilising. Sure – you could probably live on benefits for a week to ‘prove it could be done’. But imagine living for 11 weeks with no housing benefit, because of ‘delays’. Imagine those 77 days of being chased for rent that […]

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TOASTED PITTA AND SARDINE BRUNCH.

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This speedy little breakfast was utterly delectable this morning – eliciting appreciative ‘mmm’ noises to myself and raising a eyebrow at the cat, who was very interested in my sardines. Sorry moggy, but these were mine all mine. Try at your peril – I fear breakfast will never be the same again. Ingredients (serves 1, adjust as required). 1 pitta […]

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