Food and Drink

Happy Thanksgiving

My wife is American so its customary for me to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Its also customary for us to cook a GINORMOUS turkey dinner and invite everyone and their dog in to eat it with our family.

01 Turkey Gravy Soda

Yep that really is Turkey and Gravy Soda but its made by some other person named Jones.

This Thanksgiving season, we are in Indonesia, staying at a home for vulnerable youth. Tomorrow there will be about 35 young people, some HIV orphans, others whose lives have been saved from nasty stuff and are full of thanksgiving for a new start. That makes it more meaningful to us. We all have a lot to thank God for.

Hope you have a great day.

Related: Our slow, kind, organic, local, Happy Thanksgiving.

South of the Poverty Line: Eating Better

Are you a newbie to poverty? A recent migrant to redundancy? A casualty of the recession?

Welcome to South of the Poverty Line! It might be a bummer that you're here but its not the end of the world. In fact, it might be the beginning of a meaningful journey. It has been that for our family of 7. We have learned that you can still party when you're poor. But you have to be smart and intentional, especially about what happens in your kitchen.

Here's 5 ways to EAT BETTER when you're south of the poverty line:

1. Make a big deal about drinking tea


All around the world, people who live in poverty love to drink tea and they make a big deal about it. You should also. Don't spoil your tea ritual by warming a Lipton tea bag in a microwave [YUK!] THATS NOT TEA - ITS JUST BROWN WATER! Boil the water and make a pot. Enjoy it with friends. Tea only costs you a few cents a cup so you might as well buy the good stuff.

Tea drinking is more about ritual than consumption, esp. with Moroccan tea.

Same goes for coffee. Starbucks is a luxury and should not be a habit but you can make great coffee at home. Invest in the stuff to make it and buy good beans. Btw, talking about drinks, coke is a luxury, when you live south of the poverty line, not a necessity. Growing up, we would have a bottle of Coke or Fanta once a week for the whole family. And if you live in the same city for a long time, stop buying bottled water to drink and start drinking what's on tap. Your body will get used to it and your pocketbook will thank you. And if you don't like the water, DRINK TEA! Most of the world already does.

2. Learn to love your kitchen

You simply cannot live well under the poverty line and not know how to cook. Now's a good time to learn. Learn to love your kitchen, your kitchen tools, your ingredients. Check out the charity shops for great pots and pans and sharp knives and a big cutting board. If you love cooking, you will go out to eat less often at restaurants and that will save you GIANT DOLLARS.

3. Cook slower and enjoy it more.

If you make some extra time to cook, you will enjoy the cooking more, save more money, eat less and better, and you will probably lose some weight rather than gain it. Investing more time means you can cook tougher and larger cuts of meat which not only cost less than sausages and steaks but are also some of the best tasting cuts of meat. You probably will not need your microwave anymore. We threw ours out years ago. And you will never need to buy those horrible microwavable meals ever again. You will also stop buying those preservative-laden pasta sauces and start making your own with real tomatoes. Slow food is good food and it will save you money.

4. Buy better meat


Unless you are vegan or vegetarian you will need to buy meat. I suggest you buy better meat but less of it. Better meat does not necessarily mean that big T-bone steak but it does mean organic, well- treated, well-fed, well-aged. If you buy rubbish meat, you will be craving meat again the next day. Buying quality meat only gets you half as much for the same price, but it will satisfy you! You will have a magical meat moment and that will do you for a few days or longer. Eat pasta the following day. Or a salad. Because it is less, you will need to be creative in how you cook it. Learn to make stews, goulashes, curries and dishes where the meat is cut up and distributed into the group pot or platter of food (see 5).

If you have a big freezer, talk to a farmer about buying a side of beef or a whole lamb or a pig. Learn to cook the various cuts. You can make it last a year and you will have some big beautiful cuts for Christmas (like that rib roast in the picture) or special occasions.

5. Make a feast for the eyes

Many people eat too much, even though they are poor. Sometimes they eat too much because they are poor. When you cook for your family or friends, make a beautiful feast and present it well on a large platter but NOT for each plate. Invite everyone to take from the platter. Many cultures do this. We learned it in North Africa and have been doing it ever since. Once I fed two large families with a single chicken and there was leftovers. The secret is to display it well to the group and let everyone feel like they are at a banquet. Make a feast for the eyes, not the stomach.

Living south of the poverty line might not be everyone's first choice but you can still choose to party if you want to.

What have you learned that has helped you save money and eat better at the same time?

Related on TSK: The Fatkins Diet, Grace to Ewe: Our cruelty-free diet, making your own pizza.

An Episcopal on Cooking, Parties and Spirituality


While in London a few weeks ago, I read a fantastic little book on food and spirituality by Father Robert Farrar Capon called The Supper of the Lamb. I loved the book, even though it was written in the 60's. Especially because it was written in the 60's. Its still works today! This guy has similar taste in cuisine and talks in my language. He loves economy, taste, celebration, hospitality, thrift, pleasure, and more importantly, he sees the divine in the breadcrumbs and the yeast. Now I see that Michael Spencer has a very hyper-linky post on Capon's work that he blogged yesterday at Boars Head Tavern - obviously the first step for anyone discovering this priest-chef.

The church began with a meal. The Church needs to come back to the kitchen and get itself sorted again. The Church needs to rethink the puny wafer and thimble ritual and get back to the love feast which is a MEAL that takes TIME and happens MORE than once a week and has LEFTOVERS which can given to the POOR (the justice element) and resembles a PARTY that is full of HOPE towards the FEAST that awaits us with our SAVIOR who is not drinking wine until we get there to toast with Him. Jesus said DO THIS in remembrance of me. We would do well to ask "WHAT?"

Other books on cooking and spirituality that I recommend are:
- The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking by Brother Rick Curry (also recommended by Michael)
- Mealtime Habits of the Messiah, by Congrad Gempf, which is bigger on Bible than bread but worth reading.

- Appetite, by Nigel Slater, which does not count as a "spiritual" book per se but it will teach you to love cooking and advise you on how to stock your kitchen. Nigel's "New Cook Survival Guide" from this book [read it for free here] is a great guide to get started.

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A Slow and Kind Thanksgiving

turkey.jpgWe are walking over to a local farm today to pick up our turkey for tomorrow's Thanksgiving day celebrations. Once again I am happy to report that our celebration will be slow and kind, as well as compassionate, local and free. And it will be a day of good friends and thanksgiving for all God has done for us. Hope you have a great day also.

Related: Grace to Ewe: Our cruelty-free diet

Slow Food Movement and Joshua Viertel

Josh Viertal is speaking here at The Feast and asking how many of us have "recently engaged in an agricultural act." All of us have, obviously.

Josh is President of Slow Food USA, a movement that I have always appreciated. He is talking about school lunches under the Time For Lunch campaign, diabetes, obesity, waste, and other food related issues that need to be addressed.

joshua viertel

Previously on Tallskinnykiwi, I have suggested a slow Sunday and a cruelty-free Christmas. I also have some thoughts on what the Bible says about a cruelty-free diet

Making Pizzas and Starting Sustainable Churches

I made pizza again last night and they turned out great. Every Friday for the last 8 years, we have made pizza.

Guess what? Somebody took a video of me in New Mexico a few years ago making pizza at the Emergent Gathering. I only just found it. Thanks Randy for uploading.
The video is basically me and my wife Debbie (with the dreads) making pizza dough, showing how to make a sauce, teaching on the yeast of the Kingdom, the theory of bud emergence, and encouraging the starting of simple sustainable churches in people's homes. I think the idea of financially SUSTAINABLE churches should be back on the agenda in the midst of financial hardship. Emerging churches need to thrive in homes and not become too dependent on the restaurants and coffee shops for church events in case they exclude the poor and those with families who cant afford the menu.

We fed 100 people that day with very little cost, and lots of fun. It took about 5 ovens and we had to leave the dough on top of cars outside for the sun to rise it. You will also notice my mullet was only a month from perfection.

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Slow Sunday

Today is Slow Sunday in the UK, a day to celebrate slowness - slow food, slow pace, slow and enjoyable day. My family is cooking a slow stew with beef bones today but the fact is that we changed over to a slow food menu for Sunday a long time ago and have been sticking at it. Sunday is a Sabbath for us, not a day to get all stressed out in the kitchen and go Ramsay on everyone who slows down the process.


The Telegraph has a good article called "How To Go Slow" that I read on the train yesterday somewhere near Glasgow. I am taking a ferry home today from Aberdeen and it goes slower than anything so I think I am qualified to recommend this article. How to Go Slow also recommends other ways to slow your life down. Heres a couple of things from the article and a few I have discovered myself over the past few years to go slower:
- Baths instead of showers, and really early in the morning so I can stay longer.
- In 2005 I took off my watch and went without one for a year. I first did this as a result of advice from Robert Banks in a spirituality lecture at Fuller Seminary. Once I went almost 2 years without a watch.
- Photography with an old manual film camera. I have a medium format camera for black and while film and am building a dark room to develop my own photos. I am learning to sit and wait for nature to put on its show, to wait, as a Czech photographer once said, for the "music to play".
- Walk everywhere and shop local. We now can go for days without using the car.
- Bake bread for our homemade pizza every Friday. It takes a couple of hours to rise. Thats slow.
- Slower but better sex. Sorry. You didn't want to hear that.
- Travel less - not accept so many speaking invitations but be far more picky so i can stay at home more.
- Slow food and slow cooking on a sunday and more often during the week - pot roasts are great. A few days ago I cooked pork shanks in our wood stove for 4 hours.
- I have a vintage treadle printing press that does one page at a time and am about to make some books . . . very very very slowly.

Have a nice, slow Sunday.

Thought for the day - Jesus was not in a rush and refused the hectic schedule of his disciples who were hurrying things up to get the team to the Festival in time. "For you guys", Jesus responded, "The time is always right. But my time has not yet come". The disciples hurried on up to Jerusalem but Jesus arrived later on, in his own time, which just happened to be, as always, precisely the RIGHT time. Think slowly on that one.

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Willy Wonka Party

This is a record of our Willy Wonka birthday party last week and in particular, the media, food and games we created for it in the few hours before the party. Maybe it will be helpful to others doing the same thing.

AndrewaswillywonkaThats me on the left, dressed up as Willy Wonka. I welcomed people at the front door with a rolled out red carpet. This was the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory themed birthday party for our daughter Elizabeth, who turned 15. It was a great time and exceeded expectations. It was done on a budget and done quite well. So . . . I thought I would blog some of the links that were helpful, the games we invented, and, for non-geeks,  some of the hacks I used to get Willy Wonka media like fonts, .mp3 and video into our home. I use a Mac, btw and cant really recommend the best tools and programs to PC users.

There are plenty of Willy Wonka video clips out there (youtube, etc) but importing and reusing can be a challenge. I download them with the Video Downloader 2.0 which is an add on to my Firefox browser. Then I open them up with MPEG Streamclip as a Quick Time movie, or, as DV footage for iMovie. If you can find some movies in .mov or .mpg format, (I search for them on Google) then you can download them directly as QT movies and use them as fodder for your video wallpaper. Some of my downloads needed editing to get the credits and words out of them which i did in Quicktime Pro (costs a little but its worth it). When you are all done, make sure the movie is in "loop" mode and play it on your TV or, if you have a projector, shoot it on the ceiling or a wall.

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Cruelty-Free Chicken Runs

Update: Tesco criticised for £2 chickens and rightly so.

Talk at the pub last night revolved around cruelty-free diets and the effect of the recent Chicken Run Series on Channel 4 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I really liked what Hugh did and what he was trying to achieve in making his town completely free range. For those of you outside the country, Hugh set up his own intensive chicken farm alongside a free-range farm and compare the two. Really great and disturbing program!

We have 5 chickens in our back yard and let them run wherever they want. We handed over our original free-range chicken cooperative down the road to some other families and couples who wanted to give it a shot. There are 10 chickens in the cooperative.

Our chickens are really friendly and they like lots of cuddles.

A lot of the conversation comes down to money. Does the single housewife on social welfare buy two intensively farmed chickens for a fiver at the local supermarket or does she buy only one cruelty free chicken for a the same price, or a little more? You can have your say here.

Our policy for the last 2-3 years has been to completely avoid the cheap nasties and pay extra for the cruelty-free. But to pay twice as much for meat often means to eat half as much so we have added more vegetarian meals to our diet. We are also able to get two meals out of one chicken by keeping the bones and making a soup for another day. And they just taste better, as well as easing the conscience.

My post in 2006 called "Grace To Ewe: Our Cruelty-Free Diet" is, surprisingly, still the Number 2 pick at Buzzfeed for Cruelty free Carnivorism, the number one being Wolfgang Puck's new standards. My post, and in particular, something I wrote in 2005 called "The Skinny on Our Cruelty Free Diet" has some Biblical guidelines for carnivore diets so it good to see it getting read by a lot of people who don't often relate the Bible with their diet. Which reminds me, Hugh F-W's excellent book called The River Cottage Meat Book begins with some principles from the book of Genesis on the contract we have with our animals.

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My Christmas Gingerbread Waffles with Boysenberry Sauce.

I have been asked for the recipe for my Christmas gingerbread waffles. I have to admit that the first time I cooked them for my Christmas guests they were really boring and so I revamped them for Christmas eve with extra cherries and nutmeg and chunks of Chinese stem ginger and they came out far better, despite the cherries turning a little black. Heres how to make them.

The Mix:

Throw half a dozen eggs in a bowl with a little full cream milk and beat it. Throw a few tablespoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt and keep mixing. Then tip a whole load of flour and beat it until it is really thick and gets a life of its own. Melt some butter - a few tablespoons will do - and pour it in. Now gradually add milk until it comes to a good thickness - dripping off the beaters in big heavy drops but not runny enough to pour from them. The mixture is much thicker than what you use for crepes. At this point, I put in lots of ginger powder, a generous sprinkle of nutmeg, chopped stem ginger (soaked in sugar syrup) and glazed cherries. Just mix it in gently or you will crush the cherries. And thats your waffle mixture. BTW - The Belgians use more eggs and sugar and less milk to make the famous waffles they sell on the streets.

B0000Dbjrv.01.Lzzzzzzz-2Hope you have decent waffle maker like mine - a Krups FDD912 Expert Waffle Maker with Rotary System. It was the best one i could find in Belgium. The plastic knob on the top has broken off but it still works fine. The secret on these is to turn them upside down almost immediately after putting in your mixture and let them cook this way the whole time (4 minutes should do it).

The Sauce:

I made a fantastic Boysenberry syrup and I cheated by using JAM. I melted a tablespoon of butter, threw in 2 or 3 tablespoons of Walls Boysenberry jam from Oregon, a few grindings of nutmeg and a splash of Cointreau. The boysenberry is a fabulous American invention connected with Knots Berry Farm in California. Hey - I would use real berries if i could find them. But its winter so I use jam. And if i cant find boysenberries, I use raspberries which are a little more cliché but taste good with the Cointreau.

Related: Waffles for 30

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