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SISTER MARTHA’S CHICKEN SOUP

While in Tanzania, I visited last years winner of Oxfam’s Female Food Heroes competition: an Africa-wide search to celebrate female farmers and food producers who were making a difference to their lives and communities. (I’ll write more about Sister Martha separately). While we were at her house, I are very little, having spent the night before being horrendously ill. She […]

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CHEAP REPLACEMENTS FOR FANCY-PANTS INGREDIENTS

So here goes – I shall have to repurpose one of my large empty potato tins as a hat to avoid the comments from outraged food purists after this one, but my skin is fairly thick, I can take it. Do you ever see a fancy-pants ingredient in a recipe and think you can’t make that dish without it? You’re wrong. As was I, til I started fiddling about a bit (oo-er!) This is my list of discoveries so far, feel free to add your own in the comments below! Tahini: instead of using this expensive sesame seed paste, add peanut butter thinned with a little water. (I have Nigella to thank for this, her peanut butter hummus recipe put the idea in my head!) Juniper berries: I shamefully admit I have a tiny pot of juniper berries in my cupboard. They’re about four years old, have moved house many, many times with me, and I used them once to marinade some pork and they’ve even lurking at the back of my cupboard ever since. They’re probably not edible but I keep them as a dusty reminder that fancy ingredients aren’t worth it!! If you have a recipe that asks for juniper berries, use rosemary instead. Whole grain or Dijon mustard; For gods sake, it’s mustard. I use the Basics English mustard in everything, to marinade a gammon joint, in a ham sandwich, to pep up a chicken casserole or […]

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KITCHEN CUPBOARD BASICS

Every week, I answer the same email again and again and again – and I keep meaning to do a blog post about it but just haven’t got around to it. So what better time than a 3 hour drive through Tanzania? Now before we start, I’m not suggesting that you rush out and buy everything on this list all at once – because I know that for a lot of my readers, that’s not possible to do – and anyway, you might not like everything on the list. That’s the thing about your kitchen cupboard, it’s YOURS. I built mine up a spice a week – in the weeks that I could afford to do so. I already had herb plants on my window ledge from “the better days”, so I didn’t have to buy them, but I found a 30p jar of mixed herbs an invaluable alternative to any woody herb, like thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, etc, and great to sprinkle into a carton of chopped tomatoes for a quick and simple pasta sauce. When I was eating on a budget of around £10 a week for myself and my young son, I bought ‘a carb a week’. So, one week I bought a bag of rice, the next week pasta, the next week would be flour, and the week after would be ‘fancy carbs’ – pearl barley, or red lentils, or something like that. So sure, week […]

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STARS

I sat outside last night, gazing at stars. Stars, here, for me, are like the chickens; I know they exist and I’ve seen them before, but suddenly they are all around me, as much a part of the day-to-day landscape as the terracotta coloured dust ingrained in my feet and ankles. I counted 25 right above my head, one for every year of my life. I tried to take a photograph, but of course, I failed. There is only so much that this tiny little piece of technology can do. So instead, I tipped my head back and stared, and tried to recall the little Yeats I know… “Had I the heavens embroidered cloths, Enwrought with golden and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths Of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet…” Of the houses I have visited, Lydia’s, Cheresia’s, Irene’s and Maria’s, none have boasted lightbulbs glaring their synthetic lights from the ceilings at all hours of the night. You quickly adjust to sitting in the half-light that softly through tiny windows and chinks in doors, a welcome relief from the glaring sunlight outside. Back home, I will miss the stars. I wish that I was in Tanzania long enough to reset my circadian rhythms – even the jet lag from a 10 hour night flight pales into insignificance when I manage to wake with the dawn. […]

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THE RICE FIELDS: TANZANIA

We bounded into an Oxfam Land Cruiser early this morning – after a breakfast of mandazi (deep fried donuts) and fresh eggs and banana at the hotel. I’m really enjoying the local cuisine, but it deserves it’s own blog post I think! We (me, Mora from Oxfam GB, and Bill and Teresa from Oxfam in Dar Es Salaam) were setting […]

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WHY I’M IN TANZANIA

I watched the sky darken for the impending sunset at Heathrow Airport, in England, and a night-flight later stepped out into glaring sunlight – a brand new day in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. I am here with Oxfam GB, meeting up with Oxfam Tanzania, to work together on a few projects. I have been involved with Oxfam since their Walking The Breadline report last year, which exposed the scale of food bank use in Britain. I was one of the case studies in the report, and indicated a wish to work with Oxfam on further projects. Later in the year they asked me if I would consider being an Ambassador for their UK poverty projects, and I accepted. So why, as a UK ambassador, do I find myself in Tanzania? It is a good question, with no straightforward answer – but I will attempt to clumsily put down my thoughts. I was invited by Jane Foster, the UK country director for Oxfam in Tanzania, to visit some projects centred around women, motherhood, farming and land, and to write about them for Oxfam. I have guest blogged for Oxfam on a number of projects and issues this year, including the G8 summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, last summer, as part of the Enough Food If campaign. I have said since I first signed my book deal (and later Sainsburys) that I would be donating a percentage of my royalties to projects […]

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READER RECIPES: TOM’S CORNED BEEF BOLOGNESE

I just received the following email and I haven’t managed to test this as I’m in Tanzania right now, but the combination of corned beef and red wine and tomatoes makes it a winner in my book! Thanks Tom! 🙂 “Hi Jack My wife is a big fan of yours and told me to drop you a line and see if you want to add this simple recipe to your site Very simple Corned beef Onion Tin of tomato Pepper Garlic granules Splash of left over red wine or Worcester sauce if you have it Spaghetti Pasta Simple spaghetti bolognaise that costs little and tastes great! Hope you like 🙂 Tom” Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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A GIRL CALLED JACK AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK

Dear readers – I had a fantastic email this morning from Tamsin at Penguin, which I just had to share – as it answers a question I’ve been asked about a hundred times since I announced I was writing a book… “Happy new year, Jack! Hope you’ve had a wonderful break. Just letting you know that we have decided to release an ebook to go along with the print edition. We don’t always release cookbook ebooks but our digital sales team feel very strongly that we should have one, which is very encouraging! All best wishes, Tamsin x” 🙂 So to answer an often-asked question, I’m delighted to say that YES, my book will be available as a digital version as well as paperback. I hope that makes a lot of you very happy! Of course I’ll let you know how to order it just as soon as I know myself! Happy new year everyone – I know it’s been 2014 for six whole days already but I just like saying it. Six days makes it a pretty ‘new’ year in my books… Best wishes, Jack x Twitter: @MsJackMonroe Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/agirlcalledjack

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LOOK MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2013

Published in Look magazine, 30th December 2013. One little correction, I’m actually single, no girlfriend, no getting married in the Spring. The best laid plans and all that. The press will catch up eventually, but that’s one of those details that as a journalist, I’d definitely check before publishing. Never mind hey? Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

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A PRETTY GOOD YEAR

I started this year living – existing – on a £10 a week food budget topped up with five items of food from the Storehouse food bank once a week. I ended it with a recipe book deal, baking biscuits on Woman’s Hour, with a Guardian column, a debate in the House of Commons and regular political and campaign pieces […]

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BRANDY BUTTER ICE CREAM

Brandy butter ice cream with white chocolate chunks. This is a delicious use for any leftover brandy butter (or swipe it from the reduced fridge!) and a perfect accompaniment to a warm mince pie crumble 🙂 I have given a method for those with and without an ice cream maker. I have an accidental one, but not for much longer! Ingredients, serves 6: 300ml double cream 200ml milk 100g white chocolate 50g sugar 50g brandy butter First pop the brandy butter into a heatproof dish in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt. Remove and allow it to cool. Chop the white chocolate into small pieces, either with a sharp knife, or pop it in a freezer bag, tie it up, and bash it with a rolling pin or mallet. Then pour the cream into a large mixing bowl, and add the milk, sugar and chocolate. Stir through. Add a little of the brandy butter and stir in quickly to stop the cream from splitting. Add it little by little until combined. Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 30 minutes clockwise, then 30 minutes anti clockwise. Repeat if necessary – it should be thick enough to not fall off a spoon but still soft enough to spoon into a tub. Line a loaf tin or other container with two layers of clingfilm, folding it over the edges. Pour the ice cream in, smooth the top […]

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MINCE PIE CRUMBLE

And the dessert from the One Show! Here’s my twist on a festive dessert – because everybody loves a crumble, don’t they? I served mine with brandy butter and white chocolate ice cream, recipe for THAT to follow… ‘Mince pie’ crumble, serves 6: Ingredients: 100g flour 100g oats 100g butter 100g sugar 400g apples 200g mixed fruit and peel 200g […]

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MACKEREL PATE

In an effort to make an almost-traditional Christmas dinner for an episode of The One Show, here’s a seafood starter. Have more, if you want bigger portions – but save some room for dinner and dessert! Ingredients: serves 8 as a starter 220g Mackerel 100g cream cheese 100g butter 1 tbsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp black pepper 200g fresh spinach 1 small loaf fresh baked bread – I used the ‘giraffe’ bread for a change, and it was delicious! First remove the skin from the mackerel, it should peel off easily with your fingers, and discard. Put the fish into a large mixing bowl, and break up into flakes with a fork or wooden spoon and some elbow grease. Pick out any bones you can see – but small pin-bones are usually fine. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds in a heatproof dish, and pour on top of the flaked mackerel. Add cream cheese, pepper and lemon juice and beat well to combine. I added a handful of chopped parsley from my window ledge for colour, it’s not essential. Press into a lightly greased tin (I find an old butter tub a good size for making pâté!) and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. To serve, cut up the bread (some like it toasted but I like mine soft and fresh) and pop in a bowl in the centre for people to help themselves. […]

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What they really said at the #foodbankdebate: Spot the difference between MPs speeches.

What they said at the food bank debate, excerpts from Hansard: Maria Eagle (Lab): Britain can do better than this. We need a long-term plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and reduce dependency on food banks, including a freeze on energy prices while we reset the market, a water affordability scheme and tough new powers for Ofwat to cut bills, measures to end the abuses of zero-hours contracts, Make Work Pay contracts that reduce company’s tax bills to incentivise Natascha Engel (Lab): The food bank in Chesterfield that opened six months ago has reported that 50% of people presenting to the food bank are there because of benefit changes and benefit sanctions and because the DWP has really messed up. In what way is that not the responsibility of the DWP and the Government, who are actively forcing people into food banks? Sir Gerald Kaufman (Lab): “It is disgraceful that the junior Minister, having made one of the nastiest Front-Bench speeches I have heard in my 43 years in this House, has now sloped off and not bothered to listen to the views of the House. Last Sunday I attended a carol service at New Covenant church in my constituency, where a leaflet of activities distributed to the congregation read, “Food bank to alleviate poverty among the unemployed and low income earners.” In my constituency we have widespread poverty and deprivation. Today’s unemployment figures show that we are […]

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The 296 MPs who voted AGAINST investigating food banks use and UK hunger: THE LIST

Taken from Hansard, 18th December 2013. Adams, Nigel Afriyie, Adam Aldous, Peter Amess, Mr David Andrew, Stuart Bacon, Mr Richard Baker, Steve Baldry, rh Sir Tony Baldwin, Harriett Barker, rh Gregory Baron, Mr John Barwell, Gavin Bebb, Guto Beith, rh Sir Alan Benyon, Richard Beresford, Sir Paul Bingham, Andrew Blackman, Bob Blackwood, Nicola Blunt, Mr Crispin Bone, Mr Peter Bradley, Karen Brady, Mr Graham Brake, rh Tom Bray, Angie Brazier, Mr Julian Bridgen, Andrew Brine, Steve Brooke, Annette Browne, Mr Jeremy Bruce, Fiona Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm Buckland, Mr Robert Burley, Mr Aidan Burns, Conor Burns, rh Mr Simon Burstow, rh Paul Burt, Lorely Byles, Dan Cable, rh Vince Cairns, Alun Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair Carmichael, Neil Carswell, Mr Douglas Cash, Mr William Chishti, Rehman Chope, Mr Christopher Clappison, Mr James Clark, rh Greg Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Coffey, Dr Thérèse Collins, Damian Colvile, Oliver Cox, Mr Geoffrey Crabb, Stephen Crockart, Mike Crouch, Tracey Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth) Davies, Glyn Davies, Philip Davis, rh Mr David de Bois, Nick Djanogly, Mr Jonathan Dorrell, rh Mr Stephen Doyle-Price, Jackie Drax, Richard Duddridge, James Duncan, rh Mr Alan Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain Dunne, Mr Philip Ellis, Michael Ellison, Jane Ellwood, Mr Tobias Elphicke, Charlie Eustice, George Evans, Graham Evans, Jonathan Evans, Mr Nigel Evennett, Mr David Fabricant, Michael Fallon, rh Michael Farron, Tim Featherstone, Lynne Foster, rh Mr Don Fox, rh Dr Liam Freeman, George Freer, Mike Fuller, […]

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Let’s debate our need for food banks; it’s a national disgrace. My Guardian column, 18th December.

Jack Monroe The Guardian, Wednesday 18 December 2013 Jump to comments (…) ‘Food banks are not a negative thing – they are evidence of communities getting together to try to help their neighbours, but they should not be needed in one of the richest countries in the world.’ Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian Two weeks ago, along with the […]

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