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Store cupboards and a fast reaction from Jamie

"Let’s celebrate freezer faves, big up the store cupboard and get creative with whatever we have to hand. Let’s keep cooking and carry on!" Jamie Oliver

I wrote last week about Mercer's response to COVID19, and I believe it was a big hit - last week's meals were sold out. Of course this kind of response may not continue, but I do wish them luck.

Over there in Britain another response has come from Channel 4 who chose Jamie to front a cooking program showing people what they can do with what's in the store cupboard - plus a few fresh ingredients. Yes it's creating opportunity for more viewers, and probably for marketers of all the things he uses and yes somebody will make money out of this - Jamie being one of them, but if it helps why not? And top marks for quick thinking and even quicker execution. It began on British TV on 23rd March and was shown on consecutive nights. Here, Channel 10 will be screening the program, beginning this Sunday, April 5 at 7.30 pm. But already you can access the recipes on Jamie's website at Keep Cooking and Carry On and also on YouTube where, it seems to me, you can already access the videos.

The title has a touch of WW2 stoicism about it does it not? Very British. But there's not really a lot of hardship on show in the recipes. I checked out the first episode recipes which had one meatless chill recipe using tinned beans and various other lovely things, and the rest was pasta - beginning with how to make your own with just flour and water and no pasta machine. I have to say I thought for a moment that this was all very well and most of us always have flour in the store cupboard, but currently flour is one of those things you can't get in the supermarket. Ditto for the tinned tomatoes which also feature in the pasta recipes, and the frozen peas from which he makes a pesto. Mind you to begin with we probably all have some frozen peas in the freezer.

So in one sense he hasn't responded properly, because he is using ingredients which are no longer on the shelves. Mind you that whole experience shows how you really should have a store cupboard ready for emergencies at all times. I learnt that from Robert Carrier way back, when one of his early books had a whole section on what you should always have on hand. And sine then I always do have emergency stuff on hand. Until you run out. Hopefully by the time I run out of the staples the panic buyers will have seen sense and I shall be able to get some more flour!

Over there in Britain there was apparently a bit of a hoo-hah over the choice of Jamie Oliver to front this program with many young people saying that they should have chosen Jack Monroe instead. Who is Jack Monroe you may ask?

Well she - yes she - well sort of transgender I believe - who knows these days? - has written a book called Tin Can Cook which is all about store cupboard food. In response to the current crisis she has made herself available on Twitter (#JackMonroesLockdownLarder) to answer people's questions about what to do with what they have in the cupboard. Every day at 5 o'clock she goes live to offer advice, inviting followers to send pictures or lists of what they have in their cupboards to give advice on what they could make. Such as the following exchange:

"One person tweeted Jack saying they had "past its sell by date lettuce, one & a half leeks, slimy mushrooms, half a thing of cream cheese and some possibly past it’s best fake feta? #JackMonroesLockdownLarder"

She replied: "Mushrooms, leeks and cream cheese all together with a little stock makes a brilliant pasta sauce, or topping for mash, baked potato, risotto base. Lettuce is actually great wilted through pasta - add that feta and a bit of lemon!" Mirror

In some ways this is not very original advice, but then I am a cooking fanatic. I guess most people would not know what to do with those things. I also know nothing about Twitter and do not have a Twitter account. I tried to have a look at that hashtag site but frankly could not really navigate my way through it. Her website either. But (a) I do not have a Twitter account, and (b) I am so not into technology such as Twitter, Instagram and even Facebook. I am old. But obviously she is a role model and her advice is good - simple, interesting and encouraging to those with few resources and fewer skills.

I have checked out various other of my favourite online cooks and most of them do not exactly confront this crisis. Nigella, on her Home page has 3 favourite store cupboard recipes, but she is the only one I have seen who says anything about it. You would have thought Delia would have taken the opportunity to push her Cheat's Cookbook but no. But then again she had a lot of flak over that book anyway. Maybe they are all on Twitter furiously giving advice but not so far I think. Time to get out Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Love Your Leftovers, and Easy as well as all those 3, 4, 5 Ingredients kind of books.

The March Coles and Woolworths magazines did not mention COVID19 at all. I suppose it was a little bit early. No doubt these things are actually put together at least a month before they come out. It will be interesting to see what they come up with in their next editions, because, in a way, these are the front line in recipe suggestions, tips and tricks. I should also check out delicious and the women's magazines. Will the Australian Women's Weekly produce one of their books on cooking in emergencies?

By the way Jamie's website, which has the recipes has little bits on the side and at the bottom referring to other potentially helpful things such as 14 store cupboard meals. But what I actually want to know is not what to do with the usual store cupboard stuff. No I want to know what to do with those things lurking at the back. Surely now's the time?

I've tackled some of them on this blog before I know - raspberry vinegar springs to mind, but perhaps now is the time to start an occasional series on some of the other things. Starting with chutney tomorrow I think. I have a half used jar of my own home-made peach and date chutney sitting on my benchtop now.


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