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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

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

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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CAULI, FENNEL & GARLIC SOUP

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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POVERTY CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE

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…”

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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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

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.

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

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.

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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SMOKED MACKEREL KEDGEREE

This kedgeree was another recipe idea suggested by my readers based in my food shop – and it was an absolute hit – Thankyou everyone who suggested it! The mackerel can be replaced with any smoked or strong fish, and the spices can be swapped out for garam masala or curry powder, whatever you have to hand. The onions lend […]

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MANDARIN BREAKFAST BIRCHER

Ingredients: (makes one portion) 40g rolled oats 100g natural yoghurt 100ml milk (10g milk powder and 100ml water) 100g broken mandarin segments Mix the oats, yoghurt and milk together in a small bowl, and chill in the fridge overnight to soften the oats. In the morning, serve with the mandarins on top, and enjoy! A drizzle of honey, if you […]

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SPICED SPLIT PEA PASTA BAKE

This was my lunch for today – so simple that it’s barely a recipe but here we go! Basically, I cooked 100g of pasta, mixed it with half a portion of spiced split pea and lentil soup (http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/28/spiced-split-pea-and-yoghurt-soup/) left over from Tuesdays lunch, grated a smudge of cheese over the top and shoved it under the grill for five minutes […]

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BANANA PANCAKES

What do you make for breakfast when you have bananas, eggs, milk and flour? Banana pancakes of course! Ingredients (made 6 good sized pancakes. 100g flour 100ml milk 1 egg 1 banana, or 2 if you want to go wild 2 tbsp oil Handful of sultanas – I’d normally add these but I don’t have any 🙁 Finely slice the […]

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A week in the tummy of Jack and SB: What I made and what I have left, Day 1.

Good morning lovely readers! On Monday night, I blogged and tweeted a photo of my £13.41 food shop for this week and a few bits left over from last week, and asked you what I should make out of it… (http://agirlcalledjack.com/2014/01/27/turning-the-tables-heres-my-food-what-should-i-make-this-week/) The response was overwhelming, over 250 recipe ideas and suggestions were submitted, and I promised to blog the whole week of recipes to show what could be made from a few simple ingredients. Of course – it’s what I do every week, but I don’t get around to blogging every meal that I make in my kitchen! However, it’s the thing I’m asked for most – is a comprehensive set of recipes based on my weekly shop – so I’ve risen to the challenge. It’s tougher than I thought – not the cooking, obviously I do that anyway – but to a cook like me, who flings and slings things together on a whim, actually weighing and measuring everything and carefully writing it down is a real effort – so I hope it’s a helpful effort! In order to be ‘real’, I’ve included the bits that were lurking from the week before, that Turkey and chickpea mince mixture, some half bags of frozen veg, and seemingly bottomless staples like flour, a few spices, and oil. Because I’m not starting with an empty cupboard, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. That’s the point of my blog, it’s really about […]

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TURKEY & CHICKPEA MEATBALLS

TURKEY AND CHICKPEA MEATBALLS This is what I made with the turkey and chickpea mixture that was loitering at the back of my fridge; I had to use it up today, and really fancied meatballs, so here we are! I’ve kept them simple, and will serve them with spaghetti and a light tomato sauce, Lady And The Tramp style. Except there’s only one of me. I’ll leave it up to your good selves to smirk about whether I’m a lady or a tramp! INGREDIENTS (MAKES 2 PORTIONS) 250g lean turkey mince 200g canned chickpeas 2 tbsp flour 2 tbsp oil Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until softened. When the chickpeas are soft, remove from the heat and drain the water. Mash with a masher or fork until soft and pulpy. Tip the turkey mince and flour into the saucepan, and mix with the chickpeas until well combined. Pop the pan into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill. This will make the mixture easier to shape into meatballs without it falling apart. If you don’t have half an hour but do have an egg, mix that in with an extra heaped tablespoon of flour to bind the mixture. Flour your hands and prepare to get a bit sticky! Shape the meatballs with […]

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APPLE CRUMBLE GRANOLA

This decadent-tasting breakfast is simple to make, and almost feels like starting the day with a dessert! It’s easy to customise, use any combination of fruit and spices that you have to hand. Frozen berries with chunks of white chocolate, banana and cinnamon, even grated orange rind and dark chocolate for a luxury twist… Here’s a simple apple crumble combination […]

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PEANUT BUTTER HOT CHOCOLATE

Sometimes I make things that I love so much, I savour them slowly, wondering how I’ll ever bring myself to eat anything else again. This is one of those moments – one of those silent moments of appreciative bliss when I go all When Harry Met Sally about food. (Although this time, it’s a drink.) This time, it’s Peanut Butter […]

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