The Dysart Petersham has teamed up with the Ham and Petersham SOS and we are donating each Saturday carefully chosen packages of ingredients to 10 households in need in Ham and Petersham. The Ham and Petersham SOS are choosing the individual households to receive the packs, with the great benefit of knowing them well. They know that each person who receives the package is a cook (one 95 and alone), can safely cook the dishes and will be raring to do so.
Barny and Kenneth, on furlough, and Barny’s wife Julia decided they wanted to volunteer to do something focused for the community and together created the initial idea and then worked together on the weekly changing recipes, coordination with suppliers, receiving the supplies and packaging them.
They are making this just a little different and more interesting by choosing recipes for the week ahead that ring the changes and by linking the ingredients in the packs to the recipes, even down to the sachets of yeast and ‘bicarb’ where needed for the recipe.
The idea is not to replicate the staples (that might be) on the supermarket shelves, or in the doorstep delivery from an on-line order, after a patient wait in line, or on line and another long wait for delivery, but to bring some lightness of spirit, thoughtfulness, anticipation and excitement right into the very hearth – and, of course, with the same wonderful, organic ingredients we use from the same suppliers – foods that are healthy and nutritious for households that are ‘locked down’.
This needs some careful planning – with our suppliers for what they have as everything we do is seasonal – for devising the recipes, carefully not too ‘cheffy’ and thought out to be ‘good to go’ at home – and packaging with care for presentation so it’s a treat to open, explore and use – in short an experience to lift the confined spirits and bring some change to cooking and the table.
Some of the ingredients are old fashioned, some distinctly challenging and interesting; all are grown carefully by farmers dedicated to their chosen area of produce. Each item has the vibrancy and depth of flavour that come from freshness, absence of ‘treatments’ and directness from the farm. Vegetables have included.
The meat comes from our own farm suppliers too.
In each case the amount we can get and what we can get depends on our suppliers and what they have that is ready, another difference from some supermarkets where some ingredients have ‘been around’ for a while and have been treated for shelf longevity.
This is a big commitment, but also a big joy, especially rewarded and rewarding when we receive such comments, verbatim, but names removed, as:
“I would like to Thank You for a most welcome food parcel that was delivered by a very nice young man. We will have a great time trying out the Recipes you have included. Once again Thank You”.
“And to thank you for such an interesting box of goodies. I’m thrilled especially by the yeast and wild garlic! But the lamb is smelling delicious as I write and the fruit was a lovely touch. Thanks again and very best wishes for Easter-tide”
“Good Evening I hope you’re all keeping well. I’m the daughter of one of the recipients of a food package that my parents received on Saturday. I just wanted to thank you on their behalf as they don’t have email, and from me, as it really made their week and your generosity and care shown to people in your neighbourhood is brilliant to see. Thanks again and we wish you all the best for the future”,
“I have had a chat with my 97 year old mother, in Ham, this evening. She told me that she had had a food delivery from yourselves. Just wanted you to know that she was very pleased with this gift. No plastic, and recipes! Mum is still able to do some cooking and, being adverse to ready meals, will make good use of all the ingredients supplied. So thank you for your generosity and goodwill towards the elderly folk in your neighbourhood”.
“I am writing on behalf of my Mother who lives at Parkleys. You very kindly delivered a food parcel for Butternut Squash Soup, Roast Lamb, Parmesan Shortbreads with vegetables and fruit. I am visiting her today and as I write the lamb is on, which will give her a very special Easter Sunday meal with lots of leftovers. We are very grateful for all the help and support she has had since her stroke 5 weeks ago. Thank you for the part you are playing supporting the local community working with Karen and the Ham & Petersham SOS”.
Some of the recipes are included below.
Barny and Ken found that our suppliers welcomed this [we all need help through this] and within the limits of what three volunteers can do decided it was a good way of their keeping in touch with the friends they had made within our carefully chosen suppliers, often individual farmers, and with other members of the community, both local friends and regulars who have become friends.
The same recipes and same package of ingredients are now provided to a limited number of our customers, each covering the costs of their own pack. Some ask Barny if he would choose a bottle for them to accompany the main recipe.
We know it’s great to work with great ingredients, with food grown slowly and delivered with all the goodness in it, fresh from field. We know the flavours are different from the highly standardised food on the shelves. In a busy world this is the overlooked in everyday life, usually perforce, and its value forgotten too easily, including the value of the health benefits of good ingredients, cooked well.
Although not ‘cheffy’, the recipes are not ‘push-overs’ either and part of the fun and interest generated by the approach is the conversations with everyone who participates over their experiences cooking for what becomes an event, the cooking and the eating.
As the packages are collected on a Saturday, one of the recipes is usually suitable for that ‘old normal’ event of Sunday lunch, with a few thoughts for the week ahead. It is reassuringly certain Sunday lunch will be part of the new normal too and perhaps all the more valued as we pull though this.
It is a great way of showing the difference made by carefully selected ingredients, the pleasure of working with them, the relief of getting something not standardly available from supermarket shelves, value of ‘slow-time’ spent cooking and ‘slow-time’ spent enjoying the results.
This is, par excellence, slow food, time spent at a slower pace and eaten with some sense of slow ceremony.
Time is what many of us need to fill. This is one of the oldest ways of doing so. Is it not interesting that the ‘stove’ so quickly again becomes a heart, even alone?
There are mishaps – we are told of soda bread not quite done enough, of soda bread just a bit too cooked! The mishaps are taken in good part and add to the interest and fun. In any event, they are hugely outweighed by the successes reported to us.
The other rewarding aspect of this is the excitement we know is created about the recipes, opening the pack when it arrives on Saturday morning and planning the cooking.
For Barny there is the pleasure of greeting again, at a suitable distance, and of seeing people again who come in to collect – for him and us the pleasure of welcome is what it is all about – and Barny misses this.
Pleased to see the following Instagram post from Ham & Petersham SOS.
This week’s offering to the community from @thedysartpetersham Our clients are enjoying the produce donated and the wonderful recipes that accompany the food. Thank you to Nicholas, Barny and the team for they support at this time.
View this post on Instagram
Click on any of the links below to download our recipes.