Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The SPFTC production plant

In a small sleepy village outside of Cebu lies the heart of SPFTC’s Fair Trade production of their products, which include dried mangoes, mango balls, dried manangy, dried spices, tamerind, and virgin coconut oil. Theirs is an environmentally sound development consisting of a production area, an office, workshops, delivery vehicles all alongside allotments, plants and trees. We were shown around their site, which was built 16 years ago on leased land. The site gradually grew over the years, designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This was evident form the moment we drove through the entrance of the plant; pass gates and fences made from recycled plastic bottles. A great idea and a cleaver solution to the huge problem of plastic recycling and garbage disposal.

Rolo, the manager and overseer of the production side of SPFTC’s products showed us around. He’s sense of humour and approachable manor, made the tour really interesting. Rolo knew every statistic, all the ins and outs and had insightful answers for our every question. We are very grateful for his patience with us and for letting us pick his brain on the production processes.

The main body of the site is their production area that is made from three cargo containers. We were told that along with using a cheap recyclable structure, it was also chosen as an easy means of moving if they had to due to not owning the land their site is on.  

The SPFTC office was also made from a cargo container, which had a bit of work done to it. With wooden floors, an out door seating area and two large office spaces for admin. 

The grounds consisted of two mango trees, banana trees, managy trees and tamarind. Only the tamarind was grown for the processing process. The other produce came in from Fair Trade suppliers from around Cebu for production. The plants on sight were mainly for experimental processes only.

When we were there, SPFTC were experimenting with making mango balls from dried mangoes as an alternative healthy snack. And instead of buying in machines, Rolo and his team of engineers were coming up with their own inventions in production machines. 

Mango ball machine in the making
We were shown through the steps of process when making dried mangos, which is the same for other dried fruits, but with different timings in the process for depending on the water content of the fruit. We had to wear funny protective gear so not to contaminate the sanitised production areas. As no mangoes were being processed at the time, we weren’t actually able to see much production, but the picture give a good idea of the steps.

Rolo (left), shows us the production stages for dried mango in a sanitised container
1. Fist we were shown the area in which the mangoes are cleaned, peeled and sliced. Each mango had two large slices and four small slices. They had designed special peelers specifically for the mangoes so the inside fruit isn’t damaged and little flesh is removed with the skin. 

SPFTC's own design for a mango peeler
When we were there, a batch of malangy had come in for a similar process, they were placed in the cleaning up room to be ready to be processed. 

Malangy, ready to be processed
2. Then the mangoes are placed in large bowls filled with a syrup which then goes into an osmosis tank. This helps remove with the osmosis process, removing the water from the fruit. As mangoes are 80% water, the process of removing the water takes longer then a lot of other fruit. The mangoes are left in syrup for a day.    

3. After being removed from the syrup, the mangoes have lost 15% of their water. They are then blanched in hot water to remove excess syrup.

4.  They are then placed on racks that go into the dehydration ovens. This gives the mangoes a steady warm heat and an air flow allowing the mangoes to dry fully and lose all their water so they are just fruit. SPFTC has two dehydrating ovens that are heated using a water system that heats up from burning natural waste from coconuts, mango skins, and other waste from the plant. This process takes a day also.

Dehydration ovens
      5.After the dried mango comes out of the dehydrator it has lost all water and is pure fruit. They are left to sit in dark room, then packaged and labelled on site. 

    6. From 1000kg of mangoes the outcome is 150kg of dried mangoes. The mango stone is used in making mango puree. The stone is put through a specially design machine which removes as much pulp as possible. The pulp is then used to make mango juice. The syrup used in the osmosis process is also used in their juices. 

7. Each batch goes through quality control. A sample from each batch is kept if any future problems were to occur. 

Mangoes ready for export
After our tour, we were taken to the meeting room for refreshments and snacks. Her we discovered the full extent of the scale of work SPFTC did. To meet demands from the West and Japan, they had to make changes in their machines, in their production methods, in their packaging and labelling. This was interesting to hear. The changes took a long time, but there were creative solutions around this. For example, the dehydrators were run on a reverse fridge system. This was extremely bad for energy consumption, but with help and guidance, they came up with a water system that was heated using waste from the site.

Cleaver solutions like this and the inventions of machines for the production process not only makes me feel like SPFTC are advanced compare to larger producers in the Cebu area, but that they are very good at adapting to a greener, more sustainable way of manufacturing.

We had a great time, at the production plant. I almost have a problem calling it a “production plant”, because it didn't feel like that at all. It felt more like a place where good ideas sprang and greener possibilities were seen. It felt homely, lush with vegetation, clean, welcoming, and most of all a good example for production of similar products around the world.   

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

“Nearly Organic!” Mango Farmers, GBP Pusto - Carcar

Joel (right) and the Mango Farmers

Two hours car journey west of Cebu City, and 45 minuets by foot, high up in the Carcar mountains (and I mean really high up in the mountains), are 16 mango trees and 6 enthusiastic mango farmers. The journey by foot we were told is not too bad, you can wear flip-flops and do it easily. Well as we found out that was a huge exaggeration.  No motorised vehicles could go up after a certain point as the path get rockier and steeper, and even by foot, it was very dangerous as we carried our picnic in one hand and tried to balance with the other. I was surprised when we were told the mango farmers go down the same rout with 50kg of mangoes on their heads! 

View from the top, with the sea, which can just be seen form behind the mountains
Once we got to the top, we understood the reason for the location. On a hill, direct sunlight, cool breeze from the sea, and seclusion. We had a picnic with the farmers and then took a brief moment to absorb our surroundings.

Our epic picnic, with Yam, Hanging rice, Chicken,
Fish cakes, peanut butter  sandwiches and fresh coconuts
The six farmers of GBP came together with the help of Joel, from Safi and The Cebu Fair Trade Network, in an attempt to see whether the once heavily sprayed Mango trees can return to being 100% organic. Joel warned the farmers the road would be hard and there would be loses to start with, but if successful, the farmers would stand as an example to many other Mango farmers in Cebu. The farmers were brave and took the risk on their 16 medium sized mango trees.

As the trees had been sprayed heavily for 40-50 ears, with each year the percentage dose of chemicals increasing, the trees were in a bad state. Mango trees should only harvest once a year, but these trees were being harvested at least three times a year. There were 16 course of spaying done in each harvest. Meaning the tree was sprayed with chemicals 48 times in one year. There was a spray to increase the flowering of the tree, a spray for the insects (which also killed the good insects), a spray for the weeds and a spray for the mangoes. Sometimes the farmers never read the labels with instruction of dosage ratio, and often over dosed the tree. Sometimes the chemical company would put ground up insects in the spray, resulting in more tree pests, thus the farmer having to buy more pesticide spray. This all resulted in the trees and insects being more and more immune to the chemicals, and with the chemicals, not producing any fruit. 

One of the 16 mango trees
So Joel had a big job on his hand, and he needed to come up with a way of weaning the trees of the chemicals. The way he and SAFI suggested the farmers do this, was to still spray the trees, but to reduce the dosage each time, and eventually only harvesting the tree once a year. This meant the trees would still produce mangos, but each year the yield would decline, but as it did the mangoes were making their way to being more organic.

This process began in 2005, and next year they are hoping to have 100% organic mangoes. The trees looked healthy and the farmers even reported less insects. The numbers are estimated to be 3,000 mangoes per tree. This makes 48,000 mangoes in total for the harvest. It was so good to see the farmers were happy to have been taking a risk which they saw as being beneficial. From talking to other Fair Trade organisation I got the impression that some mango farmers still didn't see the benefits of changing when they could sell mangoes in the market, as organic doesn't have any weight in the smaller local markets. The farmers of GBP had good training from SAFI, and with Joel, they see a positive future in which they can produce marketable mangos which will reach a higher price, and have healthy trees which they can pass down to their children.  

Sat under the mango trees
The mangoes will then be sold to SPFTC to be processed into mango products, which get turned into dried mangoes, mango puree, mango jam, and mango juice. These will be exported to Japan, Itally, Germany, England, Hong Kong and Singapore. 

School and Soya for Street Children, K & H – Talamban

I can safely say Ms Kathy from K&H, Talamban is probably one of the most inspiring women I have every had the pleasure of meeting. Being in her presence I felt she had a sense of modesty that I have only ever seen in people who feel they don't need recognition for their work, rather their reward is the positive impact they make. Ms Kathy ran a school every Wednesday and Sunday for the street children of Cebu City. With up to 90 students in her classes, ranging from 4-19, she still managed to teach a wide range of subjects from maths, social science, english, with even personal care and future planning. Before the lessons, the children get to have a shower, they also get given Soya Shakes and healthy snacks made by Ms Kathy herself, and then attend class.

Chocolate Soya Milk for the children
Ms Kathy made a fresh Banana Soya shake for us to try
“The children are taught they are worth more then to beg,” Ms Kathy told us, “they don't sing Christmas carols on the street anymore to earn money.” Part of the education aims at giving the children a sense of self esteem, and teaches them how to get jobs. This is tough as sometime the children come from families where their parents beg as a means of getting by. If this has been happening for generations, it’s hard to uninstall from the children’s minds. Ms Kathy hopes one day she can get the parents in for special training as well.

Talking to Ms Kathy
Another project K&H are also involved in is educating and teaching pregnant girls/women living on the street about motherhood. They are also given soya milk and snacks. I have heard Philippinoes call themselves the baby making country. As contraception is still forbidden due to the heavy presence of the Church, the growing population is a huge problem. Even families living on the streets will have up to 16 children. Ms Kathy helps to educated the women in family planning, giving them advise, and other options in life.

Even though Ms Kathy is busy with two time-consuming projects, she gets time to help local women farmers and supports them by buying their products: soya, chocolate, bananas, mangos, malangay and coconuts. She makes her soya milk from scratch and uses the other produce in the shakes and varies the flavours each week. She also makes coco syrup, coco vinegar and virgin coco oil, which she sells in the market, using the profits to help fund her projects. Her next aim is to have a day nursery for the women farmers, so they can have a safe place to leave their children during the day time when working. 

K&H's produce left to right: 100% chocolate;  soya shakes; bananas; nuts; coco syrup, vinegar and virgin oil 
The problem is the lack of helpers on hand. Ms Kathy does a lot of work herself, and doesn't have any volunteers. This is something I am working on helping her with. Having her work along side local Universities, so students can gain experience, and Ms Kathy can have extra pairs of hands to help her continuing and expanding the great work she does. The one amazing thing I have found is very evident in the Philippines, is the youth’s interest in helping NGO’s and wanting to make a difference to helping their country. Universities are a great place to start for NGOs in the Philippines, as there is so much enthusiasm from willing, bright students.

Southern Partners and Fair Trade Cooperation (SPFTC), Cebu, Philippines

My recent trip to Cebu to visit SPFT and their member producers was a great insight into how a successful Fair Trade Organisation runs in a country where a vast majority are still unaware of Fair Trade. Yes, the concept is still there: better for the environment, better for the producer, better for the consumer, but this is a general and very obvious switch to meet buyer’s needs in the west. The term “Fair Trade” is still a confusion to many Philippinos and Asians. So I was surprised when I met Ms Gigi and her team at SPFTC, and what a tight nit organisation they ran. With many producers who supply the organisation, and many more that are making a switch to be under the SPFTC title. She has defiantly created a little buzz in Cebu, the second biggest city in Cebu.

SPFTC's Fair Trade Shop, Cebu

So what do SPFTC do, and why are they so prominent in a market sector that is on a steadily growing? SPFTC help small producers in the Southern regions of the Philippines in all matters of things. From community development, to trainings, promotion, finding buyers, product development and packaging. The region of the Visayas, the central region of the Philippines is lush, and is perfect for growing almost anything! Cebu and Bohol are two islands protected by larger islands, and so they are effected less by the typhoons. The Visayas main agricultural produce include: coconuts; mangoes; mascavado sugar; bananas and nuts. So as the West showed more interest in buying Fair Trade products, more producers and farmers wanted help in tapping this market. As the benefits were seen, more wanted to get on board. With the standards of Fair Trade being high, and with there being a lot Fair Trade criteria to meet, the change can take a long time. This is where SPFTC come in.

It is claimed the mangoes from Cebu are the best in the world, and because of this, there has been a massive increase in mango farmers in Cebu. Most of these mangoes get processed into dried mangos, mango puree, and mango juice. To meet large demands from the west, the farmers were spraying their trees. This was something that had been happening for the lat 40-50years, and every year the dosage was being increased. The mango trees were and a large percentage still are under great strain. So SPFTC along with SAFI and the Cebu Fair Trade Network, are working with a select few mango farmers in helping them convert their strained trees to becoming 100% organic. If successful, it will make a massive change to many farmers and be hugely beneficial to the environment. But you can read more about this in a later post.

Dried Mango for the Japanese market

So with Ms Gigi’s help and guidance, I was able to go around the Cebu area visiting small producers and farmers, understanding their trade, how Fair Trade has helped them and their community, and any problems they have… which you will see in future posts. I was lucky enough to have met some amazing people in some beautiful locations doing great work.

Helping with an order of 1500 Banana Chips for Japan

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Pinoy Popular Food Culture So far…

So far I haven’t actually had a bad meal in the Philippines yet. I think I have a good balance of eating out and cooking at home. Convenience is key to Pinoys. Most families who can afford it have cooks, family’s and friends dine out on a regular basis, and instant noodles are as common as packets of crisps.  The selection has to be admired though. With noodles from Japan, China, Korea and the Philippines, you are spoilt for choice.

Fast food chains line the main streets of Manila. Popular places to hang out, and expensive even for the common Manileneo. From Inasal (grilled chicken and rice), to Joilibee, Mc Donalds, and Chowking (chineese fast food). To name but a few. It's always interesting to observe to change in menu from one country to another when global fast food chains are concerned. For example Mc Donalds, Burger King, and KFC all have rice combo meals, as pinoys LOVE their rice – “a meal is only a meal once rice is included, otherwise it’s a snack”. A recent meal in Chowking after a whole afternoon of bargaining, proved to be actually very filling, cheap and tasty. 

Even chains like Starbucks have an interesting ambiance and a menu to match. Entering one of the many Starbuck in Manila, you escape the sticky heat and enter into a plush environment, clean, air-conditioned, warmly furnished, jazzy Christmas songs playing the background, and the sweet sweet aromas of coffee fills your nostrils and takes you to a comfy place in you head. Ah, yes… Starbucks, a million clone replicas each the same as the last. No matter which country you are in, you could be any where. The one thing that has to be admired though, is there drink selection as you can imagine has warm drinks and a good selection of frappuccinos…. But one drink stood out for me… Green Tea Latte… yep. I’m a fan of Latte’s and a huge fan of green tea’s, so when I saw them together, I know I had found my drink. Now, I’m not Starbuck’s biggest fan, and I try and stay away at any cost, a “grande Green Tea Latte” has been my after grocery-shopping perk. Defiantly an idea I’ll be taking back with me. 

A rather amusing craze at the moment is Angry Birds. Angry bird t-shirts, hair bands, Shoes, Earings, stationary, Computer game, Angry Bird toys…. Etc etc. IT is literally everywhere, and I’m pretty cure most of these people purchasing these copyright infringed products have never really even played Angry Birds! Anyways, there’s a cake shop near me called Kinky Cakes, and I saw this on display and thought it hilariously funny! I also recommend visiting Kinky Cakes’s website… the name says it all!!!

Fair Trade, Philippines

Many pardons for not having blogged in a long time, but I’ve been a little busy… in the Philippines. I arrived in early October to for fill my duty as an intern-volunteer for the World Fair Trade Organisation Asia. Based in their main office in Quezon City, Manila, I have been given the task of designing them a new website and of finding ways in which the smaller producers can change production methods, improve packaging and improve marketing so they appeal more to the Asian Market. As of now, there is what is called a “South-North” bond which means that most of the Fair Trade products from producing countries tend to end up in the West, due to market demand. But slowly and surely, the wealthier  countries in the East are starting to pick up on the benefits of buying and supporting Fair Trade. These countries are: Hong Kong; Korea; Japan; Singapore; Malaysia and India. 

“WFTO ASIA commits itself towards enabling disadvantaged producers to improve their livelihoods through Fair Trade by linking, promoting, and protecting the integrity of Fair Trade organizations, and speaking out for greater trade justice in world trade”

My task specifically, will be to investigate three of the most consumed Fair Trade products in Asia: Coco and Mascavado Sugar from the Philippines; Tea from Nepal; and Coffee from Timor Leste. It requires visiting the producers and liaising with possible buyers, a lot of talking and researching, investigating new agricultural methods and reading up on standards. 

The Philippines was ranked in the top 10 Countries most effected by climate change, and when visiting food markets and going to the countryside, this is ever evident. Flood fields, houses destroyed by typhoons and earthquakes, and even drought. The Philippines experiences it all. With 70% of the population some how involved in agriculture, this is seen as a major problem which needs resolving. I have a friend who works for the government in the Climate Change department, and she has given me a massive insight into ways the government are helping by suggesting new modern techniques of agriculture. This may be farming new crops, or even suggesting to go organic. As you can imagine, the Philippines is very fertile and dotted with countless Volcanoes making it ideal to grow almost anything. But even with this, small scale farmers are very reluctant to make changes, making it very difficult to convince and persuade. Understandably so, as they are putting their livelihoods at risk.

So this is one of my major problems. I am also having a hard time of getting the producers to supply basic information, as they are ties into contracts with Western buyers, who control the producers a lot more then one would think.

It’s a challenging task, but I’m fully enjoying it so far. It’s taken me to some stunning places, and I have met some lovely people. People who are so helpful and willing to share information about Fair Trade. 

The new website will be under from mid December through to early January 2011, but please visit the WFTO website in the mean while, and visit our new website in the new year. Show your support and buy Fair Trade. It’s fair for the producers, fair for the environment and fair for you. 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mushroom and Chorizo Risotto

So, it’s been a while since I last cooked risotto. I remember cooking it whilst in halls in Hackney. It was the first proper meal I cooked for myself… and others, and probably the last as our kitchen just got messier and messier. The last time I ate risotto, it was almost bad enough experience to put me off for life. A trip to Jamie’s Italian left me with an overly salty taste in my mouth. The squid ink and crab risotto was so packed full of sodium chloride, either from the squid ink, or from over seasoning. It brought up mucus from the back of my throat, the same thing that happens after a dive in the sea. Even after being offered to have another dish cooked for me, I had to refuse. I put me off for a while….

…Until, by request from my brother who is about to leave for university, I was asked to make my mushroom and Parmesan risotto. When the “R” word was mentioned I shivered a little. I hadn’t cooked it for a while, and even though it may not be that hard, how can I cook something if I don’t have the passion or desire to eat it?

As I made a chorizo salad, it came to me: I needed to add something to the dish, something I find taste bud tantalising, and maybe it will lift and distract from the idea of cooking risotto. I have a pork obsession at the moment, and thought of all the different types of pork I could incorporate into the dish: bacon, pancetta, Parma ham, salami… then it hit me… chorizo, the very thing that gave me the inspiration! Not only does it have a beautiful colour, but it also goes well with mushroom and Parmesan. The flavour is strong enough to distract and not as salty compared to other types of ham.

So here’s a recipe for a beautifully colourful and tasty dish. A dish I enjoyed cooking and enjoyed eating even more. I am back on the risotto, and planning on cooking a bacon and stilton risotto next… watch this space.


2 Shallots thinly sliced
2 Gloves of garlic crushed
Half a dozen mini Portobello Mushrooms, roughly chopped
Half a dozen Porcini Mushrooms, roughly chopped
Glass of a good quality white wine
2 pints vegetable stock
As much chorizo as desired, skinned and roughly chopped
1 cup aborio rice
80 ml of full fat crème fresh
As much Grated Parmesan cheese as desired
Handful of chives
Unsalted butter
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to season


Heat up a large pan. Pour some oil on the base, and add a knob of butter. Before the butter has completely melted add the shallots and the garlic. Stir constantly till golden brown. Add the mushrooms and allow to realises water and reduces in size slightly.

Add the aborio rice and mix until the rice turns translucent. Add the wine and stir constantly until it is all absorbed. Ladle in the stock, which must be kept simmering at all times. This takes patience. Adding the stock bit by bit, making sure all the liquids have been absorbed before adding the next ladle full, is vitally essential. It is also important that the heat is kept on medium full, as this will ensure evenly cooked rice.

You will know when the rice is done when you push a single grain between your fingers and it gives with ease. Five minuets before you think the risotto is done, add the chorizo to a hot pan with only a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Over cooking the chorizo can make it chewy, we only want to make the outside slightly crispy and to release the oil. Once the rice is done, stir in a few knobs of butter and add the crème fresh, parmesan, chives, and season. Serve and lastly add the chorizo pieces and drizzle with the flavoured oil. The contrast is lovely and it also means there is still some texture to the chorizo. I served with the same white wine I cooked with and a fresh tomato salad.

I took my time over eating it, as I do with most things I enjoy. I even had the left overs for lunch the next day, and simply heated it up in a pan, added a dash of wine and cooked up some chorizo again. It tasted even better the next day ; )

Dr Pepper Ribs with Apple and Red cabbage ‘slaw

It’s surprising what you can do with cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken wings and ribs are sometimes seen as messy eating, and less desired because of the bone to meat ratio. My latest obsession… is ribs. I recall I starting four months ago when I discovered a good value Chinese/Japanese restaurant near me in New Cross. I had been in the studio all day and had been sustaining myself on lucozade and quavers. I needed some protein and some cards, and wasn’t really expecting too much on my tight budget. Maybe it was the hunger, or maybe it was the dark sweet and sticky sauce, but that was the day I feel in love with ribs.

Since that day, if ribs were on the menu, it would be on my plate. Salt and pepper, barbeque, dry rubbed ribs, smoked ribs, cider glazed ribs… and baby back ribs. All YUM! So I had heard of this technique of cooking pork with coke/soda, as it tenderises and sweetens. I’d seen Nigela do it, and I have been to a BBQ where it has also been done. But I wasn’t wholly convinced. Then, two weeks ago, I came across an artiocle/experiment on where belly pork was brined and cooked using Dr Pepper. The idea was genius, not only because Dr Pepper has a fruiter flavour then normal coke, but it also contains more sugar.

So I set about thinking up a recipe for Dr Pepper Ribs, and an acompliment of a sweet, crunchy and fresh apple ‘slaw:

Dr Pepper Ribs:

2 cans Dr Pepper
Rack of ribs (membrane removed)

For dry rub:
3 tbsp Powdered onion
3 tbsp Powdered Garlic
3 tbsp Chilli powder
2 tbsp Cumin Powder
2 tbsp Cayenne Pepper
2 tbsp Paprika
2 tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 tbsp Dried Parsley
2 Bay leaves
1 tbsp Black Pepper

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce:
1 can Dr Pepper
3 tbsp Sriracha Sauce
3 tbsp Lingham Sauce
1 tbsp Mushroom extract
1 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Cider Vinegar

Cut ribs into individual rib portions, rub and marinade in the dry rub with a drizzle of olive oil for 6 hrs or even better, over night.

Pre heat oven to 150° Celsius. Move ribs into an oven proof dish and pour ¾ of a can of Dr Pepper into the base of the dish. Cover with tin foil and place on bottom shelf of the oven. Allow to cook for an hour.

Whilst the ribs are in the oven, make a glaze. Pour one can of Dr Pepper into a sauce pan and allow to reduce on a high heat. Add the other ingredients and continue reducing until a sticky glaze consistency is reached.

After the ribs are cooked, there will be quite a bit of liquid at the bottom of the oven dish. Carefully pour into the sauce pan with the glaze, and heat up again. Turn the oven up to 230° Celsius. Glaze the ribs and place on the top shelf. Continue glazing every 4 minuets or so until the ribs are sticky. I served the remainder if the glaze as a dipping sauce.

Apple and Red Cabbage ‘Slaw:

Quarter red cabbage
One green granny smith apple
One Turnip
Juice of half a lemon
Finely Chives
Half tub of Crème Fresh
2 tsp Mustard Powder
Salt & Pepper

Using the fine blade on the mandolin I grated the cabbage, apple and turnip. I poured the juice of half a lemon over to stop discolouring.

I made a dressing combining the chives, mustard powder, and the salt and pepper in with the crème fresh. I mixed everything up and served after keeping cool in the fridge for about and hour.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Mexican style cheese on toast

I know the Mexican make good dips, but I only found out recently they also make good pickled accompliments. One of which is pickled onion with gloves and lime. I made this the other day by simply slicing 2 large white onions really thin, then pouring the juice of three limes over them and a drizzle of rice wine vinegar over the onions, and adding a handful of gloves to the concoction. I stored it in a jar, and in a couple of days it was good to use.

Delicately spiced, yet acidic in flavour, the onions became soft and almost sweet. I had some sweet, nutty Manchego in the fridge and decided to make a rather special cheese on toast. I toasted a couple of slices of crusty white bread, and liberally spread the grated manchego over. I added the onions, some finely chopped green chilies and corriander, then seasoned and drizzled with olive oil. I placed under the grill and let the sweet, glovey, and fragrant smell fill the kitchen.

The combination isn’t by any means authentic Mexican, but it has good potential if used in a quesadilla instead of Warburtons crusty white bread…

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Super Brekkie

Since finishing university, and starting a new job as a waitress, I’ve been fortunate to have a lot more free time on my hand during the day. Lazy mornings are being followed by equally lazy afternoons. And due to super lazy behaviour, I chose to have brunch more often then a breakfast and a lunch. They have to be filling and packed full of energy, as I don’t really get the chance to eat much during work, and my next meal tends to be very late at night, or even very early the next morning when I get back from work.

So I have a few super brekkies that fulfil these requirements. I either chose between something meaty, wholesome and packed full of carbs, like a fry up sub. Or something that is healthy, naturally tasty, and that releases energy slowly, like a Milo and banana porridge.

Buttered baguette, Chipolatas, Bacon, Sunny side fried egg, Fried Portobello mushrooms, Spring Onions.

Heart attack? Maybe… but this is my only meal of the day, and I make the most of it. It does sometimes make me sleepy after having consumed half a baguette’s worth. I tend to make this for me and anyone else who happens to be around, as the guilt is shared, and it feels less like me vs the super sub!

Scottish oat porridge slow cooked in whole fat milk, 1 Banana, 1 tbsp Powdered Milo

I made this when in Ghana one early morning before going out to play golf. An hour after consumption, I had a great boost of energy, and it powered me through for a whole 18 holes!!! It was a definite winner, which is deliciously malty and wholesome.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Food Mile Receipt

I made a food mile receipt, showing where our food comes from and carbon emissions of an average weekly shop, from the supermarket
Supermarkets are the biggest culprits for food miles and waste. This needs to change and they need to take responsibility

Food mile wheel

After the government made it mandatory for supermarkets to show the nutritional value of their products, production of certain products were stopped, as consumers made better choices. I feel the same can be done with products with massive food miles, if the carbon emission was included in the wheel. Above is a rough idea of what it would look like. I included it in the nutrition wheel, as the environment's health is as important as our health.

This would take effect on a larger scale, and in return, the country as a WHOLE will make better choices

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


The EU currently have tight laws around GM farming, which has kept a lot of Monsanto's ugly side out of Britian, but in a world war three situation, these laws may have to be relaxed. I explored the possibility of Monsanto investing in Algae farming in the UK,.
The Celtic sea would be the perfect environment for this as it has a great deal of nutrients for micro organisms to survive quite happily.

What would be the consequences, If Monsanto were to create an algae using genetic engineering: which thrived in cooler water, and less sunlight then usual. An algae high in protein, omega 3 and other nutrients… I gave this aqua crop the name of pro-algae.
Ofcource, pro -algae would be patented like all their other crops. It’d be used in food manufacturing as a nutrient buffer, getting one of the country’s industry reliant on Monsanto… having control over yet another economy.

I designed a few products that could have Pro-Algae in it….
This citrus flavoured algae drink… full of protein, vitamins and minerals. It’s a convenient way of getting essential nutritional requirements.

I wanted this product to question our relationship with food… is it something we indulge in for the pleasure, or a just a basic necessity to live?
Products like this one, would be curtail for lot of people, to keep their wellbeing up, in a time when food is at a shortage.

Seaweed and kelp is part of the algae family, and full of glutamate acid, which is what gives food the umami flavour.

This brought me back to my ‘Who’s U-mami Sauce”. If Monsanto created an algae which was high in Glutamate Acid, it could be used as a flavour enhancer and like MSG, would make Britain dependant on their product.

The catch 22 situation Monsanto put farmers in, made me think back to my ‘sugar coated’ pop-aganda. Monsanto portray themselves as ethical and the future of agriculture, masking the truth behind the matter. This mock pinapple lollypop (made from rhubarb and strawberry, which when combines recreates the taste of pineapple) which is aimed at kids, supports the war, by giving a percentage of profits to war efforts… children buying the lolly pops are instantly playing their part in the war.

I wanted the sauce and the lolly pop to draw parallels with the farmers who get sucked in by buying Monsanto’s seeds, that their lively hoods become dependant on.

These pieces of critical design are more of a insight into a more apocalyptic scenario. Algae is a super food, but because of it's powerful possibilities, it could end up being another one in a long list of super materials that has seen a growth in capitalism, and greater divides in society. Materials like, iron, oil, and patented seeds which has influenced the economic and political world around us.

QR coding: know more about the food you eat

QR coding is everywhere. In newspapers, magazines, on posters, and even on goods we buy from the supermarket. It's fun, easy and very quick. But i feel it has been used as more of a marketing ploy.

As a way of sharing information quicker, i looked at the idea that QR coding could give people more information on what they're eating/purchasing. My idea of eating new protein can be scary and foreign especially when i comes to cooking. I have used the New Protein Farm as an example. …. After weighing and pricing the meat/fish, a label is printed, and stuck on the packaging,It has a QR code on it. When scanned into an android….

… the customer geta taken to the New Protein Blog, where they can get seasonal recipes on meat they’ve just purchased.
In this case, a recipe for my rabbit liver pate comes up, from The New Protein Blog.

The Urban Protein Farm

I scripted and recorded a spoof BBC radio 4 Food Programme interview with an Urban farmer in South East London. A lifestock farmer who, farmers unconventional animals and fish which are better suited for the city environment, using new methods. This is all in the context scenario of WWIII, which would create a forced change in our food culture, and would make us rethink our farming methods...

This piece dated the 8th of May 2018, was to go along side the article in the times newspaper which mentions the relaxation of laws on livestock farming. This audio piece is supposed to be a solution to the problem:

Monday, 2 May 2011


Full of vitamin C, rosehip, is easy to preserve as tea, jam, or even as a concentrated syrup. Coupled with an energy food like oats, which are good for lowering cholesterol and packed full of fiber, this porridge is a great start to the day, especially during the colder months. Like a lot of unprocessed grain, oats also contains phytochemicals, a chemical that lowers the chances of cancer. Compared to soya milk and cow’s milk, goats milk is high in essential fats, amino acids and high in protein content. It’s rich and creamy flavour sometimes has a slightly salty undertone that works well in cooking, especially in porridge. Goats are easier and more economical to farm compared to cows. They eat scraps, take up less space, and unlike cows they’re milk doesn’t have to be homogenized.


1 Cup Scottish oats
2 Cups goats’ milk
1 tbsp Rosehip tea, loose
Handful of Dried Rosehip
Honey to taste


In a saucepan bring the goats milk and loose rosehip tea, to a boil. Turn down and allow to simmer for a further minuet. Strain and return the infused milk to the saucepan. Gently heat, adding the oats and the dried rosehip, stirring continuously on a simmer for four to five minuets or until the milk thickens and the oats are cooked. Drizzle with honey, and serve piping hot.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Protein Politics

I really like the idea of looking into the future and seeing what situations we may find our selves in regarding our gluttonous relationship with food. Our over dependance on foreign imports has made me think about how Britain may have to come to compromising terms with this. Again, i have set these spoof newspapers in a scenario of WWIII, as this would be a forced change in our food culture... it's just something to think about really... please click on the newspapers to enlarge and have a read.

Sunday, 17 April 2011


I’ve been looking at ways of preserving meat, and curing seems like a simple method that anyone could do at home. A simple thing to start with is duck prosciutto, as long as one has acquired the distinctive taste for duck. I decided to flavour the duck with bay leaves, Szechwan peppers and marjoram. Really simple, but strong flavours to counteract that of the duck. So I bought two mallard duck breasts from the butchers, and salted them over night. I rinsed, and patted dry, then added my herbs and spices. I wrapped them up in my mum’s old sari. Really I should have used gauze, but a sari worked well enough. I tied it up in string (actually a clean, never used before shoe lace). I weighted them and labeled them with their weight. I hung them up in the back of my shed, and surrounded them with cardboard boxes to protect them from any creepy crawlies. My brother kindly weighted them every other day until they went down by 30% in weight. This took around a week and a half.

The final outcome was a ducky and I’m pretty sure the sari gave it a perfumed background flavour. It’s pretty bizarre, but it works. The shoe laces were soft enough compared to string, and I think this may have played a part in the evenness of colour in the fleshy side of the duck.

Shoelaces and saris are not ideal, but this just shows how easy it is to do home charcuterie. I’ve read a few blogs, which get really particular about how home charcuterie should be done, but I believe doing it your own way, results in a more personal tasting cure. As long as the concept is understood and care is taken with hygiene, then there is a world of meat waiting to be salted, cured and hung!