Our roving chef Jane Hughes spent a morning cooking with volunteers at a drop-in centre.
Folks at the Grafton Centre in Hyde are taking food matters into their own hands. When the local council cut the catering service at this drop-in centre for over-55s, they simply walked into the kitchen and started to cook, producing daily lunches for up to 30 people.
Their determination and tenacity is remarkable. They’ve got a flourishing vegetable garden and one lovely gentleman comes in every single day to do the washing up.
Working with older people in the kitchen is a joy because this is a generation that knows how to cook. When I mentioned that we would be using puff pastry, one or two ladies were quite prepared to roll up their sleeves and get to work making it from scratch.
I explained my role at Vegetarian for Life, and we discussed exactly what vegetarians and vegans do and don’t eat. Then it was down to business, with veg prep, custard making, pastry rolling and strawberry chopping quickly delegated. Two local councillors stopped at the serving hatch to admire our teamwork and were easily persuaded to return for lunch. I whizzed up a vegan cream with cashews and silken tofu, which everybody declared to be delicious.
A quick harvest of some beautiful kale from the veg plot completed our planned meal of sausage stars, steamed new potatoes, baked broccoli with lemon and ginger, a hearty ladleful of gravy and mini trifles – and the whole lot was vegan.
The group was a lot of fun to work with and between us we pleased thirty diners at the centre that day. One high point was getting a thumbs-up, across the crowded dining room, from one vegetarian regular – result! We all enjoyed ourselves and through a combination of a short talk, lots of recipe leaflets, lots of chat and some very good food, I hope I delivered a message that vegetarian (and vegan) food is easy to prepare and tasty too.